Angela Major
House Speaker Paul Ryan answers questions from children at St. Patrick School in Janesville.

Speaker Paul Ryan tells St. Patrick students about his vocation

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

JANESVILLE—Speaker Paul Ryan likes rainbows.

Also, he has three dogs and enjoys pheasant hunting and economics.

Ryan met Monday with students from St. Patrick Catholic School in Janesville to answer their questions about his job and life.

None of the kids asked questions about town hall meetings, health care, immigration or any other hot-button issues, but they did get his opinions on plenty of other topics.

St. Patrick Principal Angie Benson said the school originally wanted to have Ryan speak as part of career day during Catholic Schools Week in late January. He was not available then, but school officials said they'd be happy to have him anytime.

As such, most of the questions were about his career, how he got there, what he does and what he likes about it.

“The basic part of my job is to make sure that the laws we have are good laws, and if we have bad laws, I try to fix them,” Ryan said.

As the speaker of the House, Ryan said it was his job to "make sure that Congress functions.”

He told kids that he originally wanted to be an economist, but he found his calling in public service.

“My favorite part of my job is that you can make a huge difference in people's lives,” Ryan said.

It's a vocation, he said.

“Part of Catholic teaching is learning what it means to be a Catholic, not just in school or in church but in everyday life,” Ryan said. “And as a Catholic in public life … my goal is to make the biggest, most positive difference in as many people's lives as possible. The opportunity to do that is the most exciting part of my job.”

The downside?

He doesn't get to see his family as much as he would like. Most weeks he's in Washington, D.C., for four or five days.

What else did the students learn?

His favorite restaurant is in Milton. It's the Buckhorn Supper Club.

“I've been going there since I was a little kid,” Ryan said. “It's a cool place.”  

A kindergartner asked if he liked rainbows.

“Sure, I like rainbows,” he said. “I love rainbows.”

Did he ever spill coffee or something on himself before meeting with important people?

Yes, especially on his tie. Sometimes he has to button his suit coat higher to cover the spot.

The speaker has three dogs at his Janesville home: Gomez, Sooner and Boomer.

Ryan's visit was meant for St. Patrick students, so the tough questions had to be answered by Ryan's press secretary, Ian Martorana.

When did the speaker plan to hold a town hall meeting?

When the schedule of town hall meetings is completed, it will be posted on Ryan's website, Martorana said.

Last weekend, local progressive and Democratic groups held an “empty chair” town hall meeting in Janesville.
Ryan was invited to attend, but it conflicted with his previously scheduled events, Martorana said. 

A similar town hall meeting was held in Kenosha. 

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