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Things you probably didn’t know about Paul Ryan

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is a 'gym rat' who considered becoming a pro skier before turning to politics. He's a budget hawk and strongly antiabortion, but he's gone against the GOP on some issues. And what about his job driving the Wienermobile?

By Staff writer / August 12, 2012

Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gives a thumbs-up at a rally Sunday in Mooresville, N.C., at the NASCAR Technical Institute.

Jason E. Miczek/AP

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Like all politicians, Paul Ryan is a lot more interesting – and a lot more complicated – than any superficial image based on what he’s said (or others have said about him) regarding one or two issues.

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Yes, the young (42) congressman and now Republican vice presidential nominee is a budget hawk who thrills conservatives and annoys liberals. When the GOP regained control of the US House in 2010, he became chairman of the Budget Committee – a principal player in the fierce struggle between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration over how to handle federal deficits, national debt, and economic recovery.

But he’s also declined to become part of his party’s leadership in the House – mainly, he told Time in 2010, because “I don’t want to spend my weekends flying around the country campaigning and raising money.”

“I want to spend my weekends at home with my little ones,” he said, noting too that “I like policy over politics” (confirming the wonkishness for which he’s known).

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This importance of family no doubt is tied to the fact that his father died when Ryan was just 16 years old – one reason he stresses the importance of physical fitness.

Ryan, reports Time, “is a health freak who runs daily grueling P90X classes for members and staff at the congressional gym. He was voted biggest ‘gym rat’ by an anonymous poll of congressional staffers by the Washingtonian magazine in 2010.”
 
 Ryan and his wife Janna have three children, two boys and a girl ages seven, eight, and nine. Mrs. Ryan, a tax attorney with degrees from Wellesley College and George Washington University Law School, comes with a political pedigree of sorts: She’s the niece of former US Sen. David Boren (D) of Oklahoma and first cousins with US Rep. Dan Boren, also an Oklahoma Democrat.

Rep. Boren’s comment on Ryan’s being named to the GOP ticket reflects what many of both parties on Capitol Hill think of the Wisconsin Republican.

“Paul has a firm moral compass and has always approached his job as a congressman with diligence and honesty,” Mr. Boren said. “Having many friends on both sides of the aisle, he is an effective and talented leader. Although we belong in different political parties, I see Paul as a friend, a fellow hunter, and most importantly a family man.”

Like a lot of young conservatives, Paul Ryan was attracted to the works of the controversial writer and philosopher Ayn Rand – so much so that he gave Christmas gifts of “Atlas Shrugged” to staffers.

“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told a group promoting Rand’s works in 2005. “And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”

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