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Getting to know VP candidate Paul Ryan

He's been the GOP's man with a budget plan. The fresh face of the Republican Party.
Paul Ryan, avid hunter
Paul Ryan, avid hunter

He's been the GOP's man with a budget plan. The fresh face of the Republican Party. The 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin is taking on one of the biggest roles in town as Mitt Romney's running mate.

But who is Paul Ryan? We know he hearts Ayn Rand. Dick Cheney "worship(s) the ground" he walks on — yeah, that's a quote. But did you know he voted in favor of the auto bailout of GM and Chrysler and, in a totally unrelated nugget of trivia, used to drive the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile?

The Last Word took a closer into the Republican's personal and congressional background: 


  • Federal financial disclosure forms show last year Ryan, 42, had assets of between $2.1 million and $7.8 million.
  • Ryan paid state income tax of $14,150 in 2011, which, at the maximum state tax rate of 7.75 percent would equal taxable income of about $182,000. Members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually.
  • Ryan's investments generated income of between $72,905 and $223,000 last year. Many of the investments are in trusts or partnerships managed by other family members, according to an email from Kevin Seifert, a Ryan spokesman.  The investments include a partnership and several companies that lease "land and mineral rights to energy companies," Seifert said. Ryan valued investments in those companies at between $350,000 and $800,000. They provided the Ryans with income of between $40,000 and $130,000 last year.


  • Miami University in Ohio B.A. in 1992 - a double major in economics and political science.
  • Also studied at the Washington Semester program at American University
  • Ryan's father died when Paul was only 16. The Social Security survivors benefits he received until his 18th birthday helped pay for his college education.


  • His great-grandfather Patrick William Ryan founded the Ryan Incorporated Central construction business in 1884.
  • Ryan's grandfather was appointed U.S. Attorney for Western Wisconsin by President Calvin Coolidge.
  • His father was an attorney
  • Ryan’s mother Betty Ryan Douglas, 78-years-old, lives part time in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, a small beachside town in Broward County, Florida. A Republican, she has been registered to vote in Florida since 1997.


  • Staffer for Wisconsin Republican Sen. Bob Kasten while attending college and after he graduated college.
  • During summers, he was a salesman for Oscar Mayer and once drove the company’s Wienermobile.
  • In 1992, Ryan served as a volunteer on John Boehner's campaign, putting up yard signs.
  • In his early days as a congressional staffer, Ryan moonlighted as a waiter and a fitness trainer.
  • Speechwriter for Republican Rep. Jack Kemp of New York
  • Then, analyst at think tank Empower America founded by Kemp and conservative pundit William Bennett.
  • Legislative director for then-Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas.
  • Returned to Wisconsin as a marketing consultant to his family’s business, Ryan Incorporated Central.


  • In 2003, Ryan voted in favor of the Medicare Part D prescription drug law.
  • In 1999, Ryan voted in favor of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which repealed certain provisions of the depression-era Glass–Steagall Act that regulated banking. 
  • In 2008, Ryan voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as well as the bailout of GM and Chrysler.
  • In May 2012, Ryan voted for H.R. 4310 which would increase defense spending, including spending for the Afghanistan War and for various weapon systems, to the level of $642 billion – $8 billion more than previous spending levels.


  • Ryan will appear on the ballot as both a candidate for the House and for vice president. If the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket is not successful, but he wins his congressional race, Ryan can keep his seat. If the national ticket wins the White House and Ryan holds his House seat, a special election would be held to replace him in the House.