Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s 15-minute visit Saturday to an empty Ohio soup kitchen was no more than a staged photo op, said the charity’s president. "He did nothing!"
After a campaign event Saturday at Youngstown State University, where Romney's running mate told supporters “the best way to represent people well is to understand people well,” he proceeded to do just that and take some time out of his busy campaign schedule to stop at a Youngstown soup kitchen, according to the Cleveland News.
Ryan didn't have to worry about big crowds. That's because Ryan barged into the Youngstown dining hall long after guests had been served.
Ryan, along with his wife Janna and their three kids, headed to the kitchen, grabbed aprons and pretended to scrub clean dishes while TV cameras and photographers snapped away, The NY Daily News said.
They stayed about fifteen minutes, then left for the airport.
It was an unannounced visit, the kind designed to capture local headlines and TV news time, Cleveland.comreported.
And capture headlines, it did.
Soup Kitchen Prez: not happy
On Monday, The Washington Post got in touch with the president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, which runs the kitchen. And he wasn't happy about the Ryans' drop-in.
Brillo Gate was born, Cleveland.com said.
Brian J. Antal told the newspaper that the Republican campaign did not contact him beforehand.
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon to The Washington Post. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
“He did nothing,” Antal told The Washington Post. “He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
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.
NY Magazine said: some might conclude that Ryan's appearance at the soup kitchen was nothing but a superficial, self-serving photo op designed to counter recent remarks from the GOP ticket that seem to show disdain for the poor.
Not according to Chris Maloney, Ohio communications director for the Romney campaign. He said that the visit by Ryan had been intended to highlight the work of the soup kitchen volunteers.
“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.