MILWAUKEE — Early on in the presidential campaign, protesters have disrupted multiple appearances by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan — not even one week after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced the Wisconsin congressman as his running mate. Wisconsin Democrats are asking its supporters to knock it off — saying the antics can backfire.
Ryan hit the campaign trail solo Monday, August 13th — just two days after he was announced as Romney’s running mate selection. Ryan spoke to a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, and it was also his first time not speaking to an all-friendly Republican crowd. As soon as Ryan took the stage, protesters began to shout him down.
Some protesters were also escorted out during a rally in Waukesha Sunday.
UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee bemoans the protests Ryan has encountered — not those setting up outside the events, but rather, those disrupting the candidate’s speeches.
“There are some people who are father to the right and farther to the left who could care less about the civility of American politics or the two-party system and somehow they think it’s a good thing to drown somebody out,” Lee said.
Wisconsin Democrats are also urging supporters to stop with the disruptions — saying it may actually be benefitting their opponents’ campaigns.
“Whether you want Mitt Romney or President Obama re-elected, wherever you are, none of it — your heckling, your disrespect, your rudeness does not help your cause. You really do forfeit some of your political capital when you turn generally uncivil,” Marquette University Professor of Political Science John McAdams said.
Sunday night in Waukesha, Ryan himself directly responded to a protester’s disruption.
“You oughtta find a different place to be disruptive because here, we believe in treating people with dignity and respect,” Ryan said.
If these scenes become even more frequent, which some say they likely will as the campaigning continues, Lee says everyone would lose.
“We want American politics to be about ideas, about substance. We don’t want it to be about these horrible incidents,” Lee said.
Both Lee and McAdams say it’d be best if the media ignored the hecklers. However, McAdams says if it’s still happening in the fall or is a part of an organized movement, then it’s a big issue.
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