Congressman and potential GOP presidential contender Paul Ryan enjoyed the biggest crowd thus far in his book tour Saturday afternoon at the Barnes & Noble at Lake Sumter Landing.
When his publicist walked into the store ahead of Ryan’s entrance, he looked at the long line snaking through the bookshelves and confirmed that it was the Congressman’s best crowd since the tour kicked off this week in Philadelphia.
The crowd included many like brother and sister Jack Jankowski of the Village of Silver Lake and Beryl Buckler of the Village of Piedmont.
“He’s got great ideas,” Buckler said. “He’s not like the old albatrosses of the Republican Party.”
Many of the central themes in Ryan’s book, “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea,” were formed back when he worked for Congressman Jack Kemp.
Ryan describes himself as a “full spectrum conservative,” and has demonstrated that he is bold enough to lay out a plan for reforming Social Security and Medicare, a topic many with political aspirations would prefer to sidestep.
But Ryan’s bold plan, while attractive to some, brought out about 30 local protestors who were out in front of Barnes & Noble eager to greet the Congressman with signs declaring, “Your plan is a sham, hands off our Medicare” and “Save My Social Security.”
The crowd of protestors included members of The Villages
Democratic Club and David Koller, a Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, a Republican who represents The Villages.
Ryan’s bus pulled to the back of the large bookstore and the protestors never had direct access to the Congressman.
Inside, not all of the talk was about politics.
When Damian Neumann, a new resident of the Village of Lake Deaton, approached Ryan wearing a Green Bay Packers ball cap, the talk quickly turned to the NFL and Wisconsin.
Neumann moved to The Villages from Waukesha, Wis. Ryan resides in Janesville, Wis.
Del and Cheryl Hatfield drove down from Ocala to meet Ryan. Their son-in-law grew up with Ryan’s wife Janna in Madill, Okla. and had attended their wedding back in 2000.
“We didn’t think we’d ever have a chance like this again,” Cheryl Hatfield said. “He was worth the trip.”