Generation Me: Paul Ryan Tells America 10 Neat Things About Himself to Celebrate the Fourth

Gregg Segal/TIME

As Americans gather with family and friends this Fourth of July weekend to celebrate our founding and the war that brought us our freedom, Speaker Paul Ryan offers the nation “a few conversation starters” — about himself. Linking to an interview he did with #NeverTrump leader Erick Erickson, Speaker Ryan sent out an email blast divulging 10 facts about himself that he thinks Americans may want to share with each other over fireworks and hot dogs this Fourth. We’ve provided the full text below.


A screenshot from Speaker Ryan’s the email blast lest you think we’re having you on.

Looking for a few conversation starters ahead of the Fourth of July weekend? We thought you might be. And because they—whoever “they” are—say to keep politics out of social conversations, we’ve got just the perfect alternative for you.

That’s right—Speaker Ryan joined Erick Erickson’s podcast last week for a 16-minute long discussion about everything but politics. We’re talking fly fishing, hunting, and…classical music? (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

So, in the spirit of his favorite band, turn on a little Led Zeppelin and continue reading—here are 10 non-political things you probably didn’t know about Speaker Ryan:

1. When he was a child, he practiced fly fishing in a field.

“When I was a kid, I practiced in a field—in a park. We had this little park in our neighborhood and I’d just go practice up there. It’s all about getting the cast right.”

2. His favorite sport is bow hunting.

“That’s my favorite passion . . . my favorite sport, my favorite hobby of all is bow hunting.”

3. He takes his family to Deer Camp.

“I grew up doing Deer Camp, which is during opening weekend of deer season . . .  I hunt in the morning by myself and then I hunt with kids in the dusk.”

4. Homer is his favorite character on The Simpsons.

“Troy McClure’s not so bad—he’s a good side character. I mean, you can’t get better than Homer—what can you say? Homer’s the best.”

5. He listens to Beethoven.

“I listen to country, I listen to heavy metal, hard rock, and classical music. I’d say Led Zeppelin is probably my favorite thing, but I do listen to classical music—and Beethoven’s 9th is by far my favorite.”

6. He wanted to be a doctor.

“I wanted to be a doctor growing up. I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid, like my grandfather. My grandfather—I adored the guy . . . He was a doctor in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin—and when I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. And then I realized, you know, I just sort of lost my interest after taking chemistry.”

7. When he came to Washington, he figured he’d become an economist.

“Jack Kemp, who I adored, was looking for a young staff economist—basically somebody to do his economic policy work at this new think tank he was forming called Empower America. And he hired me to do that, and I thought all along, ‘I’ll do this for a few years—you know two years, three years.’ And then I wanted to go further my education in economics and go into the field of economics.”

8. But, as time would tell, Jack Kemp inspired him to do something different.

“Jack was my mentor, and he basically taught me that the Battle of Ideas—as he described it—is fighting for principles, public policy, we were part of the conservative movement. And I learned so much as a young sort of ‘foot soldier’ in the conservative movement in those days that I just really took it on as my vocation. And I realized that was my passion—fighting for conservative ideas.”

9. He was reading Milton Friedman books at the ripe age of 16.

“My parents were Milton Freedman fans so I read Free to Choose when I think I was like 16 or something like that.”

10. And finally, you can take the guy out of Wisconsin, but…

“I drink Miller Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon . . . it’s what we drink where we come from. You know, you can take the guy out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take the Wisconsin out of the guy.”

“This is the first [conversation] I’ve had like this in a long, long time,” the speaker said in closing. We think conversations like this ought to happen more often—don’t you?


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