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State of the Union 2011: Who is Paul Ryan?

Rep. Paul Ryan has been chosen to give the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address. Why did Republicans choose this seven-term Congressman from Wisconsin?

By Abraham McLaughlin / January 22, 2011

A jubilant U.S. Rep Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, in Racine, Wis. on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.

Scott Anderson/journal times/AP

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Paul Ryan is “the man with the plan” to save America, in part by making deficit reduction “sexy for the iPod generation.”

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He’s the man who’s tangled with President Obama in public a year ago – and won.

He’s a Republican who can rattle off a list of his favorite Democrats to work with (see video).

And now Rep. Paul Ryan is the man who’ll deliver Republicans’ response to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

He may be a seven-term congressman, who’s now Chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, but on first blush Mr. Ryan looks and acts like the average white yuppie dad you’d see tailgating at a Green Bay Packers game in his native Wisconsin.

Quiz: Test your knowledge of the Green Bay Packers

It’s that casual, everyman exterior – with a budget-wonk brain – that’s made Ryan a Republican up-and-comer.

He’s best known for his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which would dramatically decrease federal deficits, including by attacking social security. And he’s one of the founders of the GOP “young guns” leadership group. Although, interestingly, he didn’t attend the young guns’ roll-out last fall of their Pledge to America – perhaps because it didn’t do enough to tackle the deficit.

He’s conservative – having worked for Republican stalwarts William Bennett, Jack Kemp, and Sam Brownback early in his career. He may not get as rhetorically fired-up as some Tea Party icons, but he’s certainly in sync with Tea Party philosophy, telling a Monitor opinion writer recently, “The progressive movement and ideology is a repressive, big-brother movement that drains you of your freedom and liberty, and therefore of your prosperity... The government is taking away your discretion, taking away your choices.”

For a preview of how he’ll likely handle Mr. Obama on Tuesday, here’s a video clip of Mr. Ryan at a Monitor Breakfast last month.

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