Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s visit Saturday to an Ohio food kitchen was no more than a staged photo op, fumes the charity’s president.
Ryan barged into the Youngstown dining hall long after guests had been served and left, grabbed an apron and scrubbed down a few measly dishes while TV cameras and photographers snapped away, said Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, the charity that runs the soup kitchen.
"Had I been on site, he would not have been allowed in," Antal told the Daily News on Tuesday.
Antal says "it's not a political issue," but he's furious because the charity is apolitical and doesn't endorse candidates. Ryan's visit could affect funding from donors, he explained.
"Now I'm stuck in the middle of a political firestorm that I didn't want to be in the middle of," he said.
He added that the Romney-Ryan campaign didn’t follow proper procedures for the visit — they just showed up without permission.
"They talked to a volunteer who didn't understand the bylaws and the rules of our society," Antal said. "I get the fact that they were starry-eyed. I don't fully blame them."
Ryan came with his wife Janna and their three kids, after a town hall at Youngstown State University.
They stayed about ten to fifteen minutes, Antal said.
The campaign says it sent a staffer to the soup kitchen ahead of Ryan, to make sure it was okay for the congressman to stop by.
The purpose of the visit was to highlight the charity’s good work, according to communications director Chris Maloney.
“Our campaign and Congressman Ryan were pleased to bring attention to the meaningful charitable contributions the St. Vincent De Paul Society makes to people in need,” Maloney told The Washington Post.
Antal says it's nothing personal against Ryan, and he would have had the same issues if President Barack Obama stopped by.
"Our concern was our donor base," Antal said. "We're not here to fight the war between republicans and democrats. We're here to fight the war on hunger."
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