Reporters barred from covering Paul Ryan exchange with homeless Ohioans

October 13, 2012

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Paul Ryan visited a soup kitchen here Saturday on his way to the airport, but by the time the GOP vice presidential nominee and his family had arrived shortly before noon, the grits, sausage and doughnuts had been served, the hall was empty of patrons and the volunteers appeared to have already cleaned up.

When Ryan did talk to some men who appeared to be homeless, as he did when he left the venue, reporters were not allowed to listen in on the exchange.

The visit by Ryan came after a town hall meeting Saturday morning at Youngstown State University.

After greeting and thanking a handful of volunteers from St. Michael's Catholic Church in Canfield, Ohio — who said they typically visit the St. Vincent DePaul Society every Saturday and serve food from 10 to 11:30 a.m. — Ryan, his wife and their young children headed to the kitchen, donned white aprons and offered to clean up some dishes.

Ryan stood at the sink and took some large metal pans that did not appear to be dirty, soaped them up and rinsed them, remarking as the cameras clicked and the TV cameras rolled that he had spent a summer washing dishes when he was younger.

"We had a Hobart, though, which was — you get calluses on your fingers because it's so hot," he said, referring to the Hobart industrial dishwashing machine.

A few minutes into the dishwashing, reporters were escorted out of the building and onto a press bus.

As Ryan exited the building some minutes later, a small group of people, some of whom appeared to be homeless, seemed to engage Ryan, and the candidate stopped for several moments and spoke with them.

The campaign escorted photographers from the bus for Ryan's exchange, but reporters were not allowed to do so. Ryan's motorcade took off for the airport a few moments later.

A campaign aide said that the exchange was not open to press because it was an impromptu conversation.

Ten volunteers had served 180 people at the soup kitchen before Ryan arrived Saturday, the aide said.

Spokesman Michael Steel said that the visit by the Ryans to the soup kitchen "emphasized the importance of charities and volunteerism to civil society."

"Breakfast service at the soup kitchen had ended during the town hall at Youngstown State," he said when asked why Ryan had stopped by the venue after food had been served.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

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