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Paul Ryan tries to clarify Medicare position at hot dog eatery

August 16, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) enjoys a hot dog in Warren, Ohio, where he addressed criticisms of his healthcare proposals.
Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) enjoys a hot dog in Warren, Ohio, where he addressed… (Alana Semuels / Los Angeles…)

WARREN, Ohio -- Paul D. Ryan sold hot dogs to put himself through college, but during his most recent encounter with hot dogs, he was pushing his position on Medicare.

At an impromptu stop at the Original Hot Dog Shoppe here in northeast Ohio, Mitt Romney’s running mate ordered two dogs and some chili cheese fries and made his way around the restaurant, introducing himself as “Paul,” shaking hands with voters and giving parents advice about their babies.

“I’m just here to get some dogs,” the Wisconsin congressman said as he entered the shop, an institution in Warren that has a spinning hot dog on the roof and a sign that said, “The highest knowledge is the knowledge of God.”

PHOTOS: Paul Ryan's past

Ryan sat down at a table with three men,  including a manager and a reporter, and his chili cheese fries, and was asked about his criticisms of the president for cutting $716 billion from Medicare (Ryan’s proposed budget also included those cuts).

Perhaps befitting a budget expert, the answer was a bit technical. Ryan answered that Obama had put those cuts in “the baseline.” He continued that “we voted to repeal Obamacare repeatedly, including those cuts. I voted that way before the budget, I voted that way after the budget,” he said.

 “It gets a little wonky but it was already in the baseline,” he said. “We would never have done it in the first place. We voted to repeal the whole [healthcare] bill.”

Ryan kept the rest of the meeting light, chiding one man about being a Packers fan in Ohio, asking another about pheasant hunting, teasing a woman who happened to have a baseball for him to sign with a Sharpie marker. He also reminisced about his days driving the Wienermobile.

“I used to work for Oscar Mayer,” he said. “We used to sell a lot of light wieners. We were pushing Lunchables. That was a big thing.”

Ryan’s total charges for three hot dogs and the chili cheese fries? $8.78.

A fitness fanatic who can be spotted in the hotel gym most mornings, Ryan is usually a healthy eater. A woman at the diner across from his office in Janesville, Wis., said last weekend that he usually gets a turkey burger -- with fruit – when he dines there.

But Ryan appeared to dig right into the hot dog, which was smeared in sauerkraut and mustard – perhaps to fill his mouth so he didn’t have to answer any more questions about Medicare.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

Twitter: @alanasemuels

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