DES MOINES, Iowa -- Rep. Paul Ryan, whom Mitt Romney's campaign plans to deploy heavily in Iowa, was greeted on Monday with resistance from an aggressive group of hecklers at his first solo campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair.
Just minutes after the Wisconsin congressman began speaking, protesters began yelling questions at Ryan about whether he was going to cut Medicaid and demanding he stop waging a "war on the poor." As the heckling rose to a fever pitch -- and the crowd started jeering -- two women tried to rush the stage. They got within at least five feet of Ryan before security guards removed them.
Ryan kept his cool but suggested that the protestors lacked Midwestern civility.
"It's funny, because Iowans and Wisconsinites we like to be respectful of one another and peaceful with one another and listen to each other," he said. "These guys must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin."
The heckling continued as he outlined the broad policies he and Romney would pursue in the White House, but Ryan was able to speak over them and finish the remainder of his 10-minute speech.
The appearance was Ryan's first solo campaign trip after being announced as Romney's vice president on Saturday. The two men campaigned together in Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin over the past two days. His appearance at the fair came almost exactly one year after Romney, answering hecklers in a speech there, declared, "Corporations are people, too, my friend" -- a remark that critics called callous.
Ryan was in Iowa the same day as President Obama, who is doing his own bus tour that will end in Des Moines on Monday evening. At a speech in Council Bluffs, Obama hammered Ryan for being one of the roadblocks to congressional approval of a farm bill to help farmers affected by drought.
The Wisconsin congressman wouldn't resist taking a partisan shot of his own at the president, who has not announced plans to visit the state fair. "My guess is the reason President Obama isn't making it here from Council Bluffs is because he only knows left turns," Ryan said.
He had harsh words for the president's recent executive order that grants states more flexibility on welfare work requirements, which the Romney campaign has said is tantamount to gutting the core of the 1990s-era law.
"That's going to send us in the wrong direction. That's the wrong way to go," Ryan said. "We want to give people hands up, not handouts."