Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Politics

Paul Ryan's mother, a Florida resident, feared he'd be a ski bum

WASHINGTON — Newly minted vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, confronting charges he is trying to dismantle Medicare, pulled the mother of all cards Sunday on 60 Minutes.

"My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida," he said, insisting his reform plan is to strengthen the program.

Betty Ryan Douglas, who turned 78 last week, lives at least part time in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small beachside town in Broward County. A Republican, she has been registered to vote in Florida since 1997. She does not appear to have voted in Wisconsin in some time, according to officials there.

"She is a very nice woman, nice family woman. Very bright, very alert," said Rosina Ventre, a neighbor. Ryan Douglas doesn't introduce herself as the congressman's mother, but Ventre said she saw Ryan visit her there.

Mrs. Douglas' first husband died of a heart attack when Paul Ryan was a teen, and he discovered the body in their Wisconsin home.

"That was probably the biggest single event that shaped my life," Paul Ryan told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2008. "You do a lot of growing up really fast when you have that situation. I decided not to wallow in self-pity, so I ran for junior class president at Janesville Craig High School. I focused on my grades and succeeding in sports to make him proud. Before he died, I was a carefree kid who was worried if the musky I caught was legal or not, or whether the girl I liked liked me."

His mother went back to school to study interior design. She got a professional license in Florida in 1996, records show.

A 2009 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article described Mrs. Douglas as "an outdoors enthusiast who led her husband and four kids on regular trips to hike and ski in the Colorado Rockies."

Her second husband, a Navy veteran and insurance executive, died in 2002.

It was Paul Ryan's mother who helped push him off the ski slopes and into politics. From Wisconsin Interest magazine:

"Upon graduation, he headed to Oxford, Ohio, to attend Miami University. (Twenty-three years later, he would return to give the commencement speech.) His junior year, Ryan took an internship with Wisconsin Sen. Bob Kasten's foreign affairs adviser. Ryan says he spent more time opening mail than working on the study of Soviet containment, but it got his foot in the door when a real internship with Kasten's small-business committee opened up over the summer.

"Ryan returned to classes in the fall for his senior year. Two weeks in, he got a call from Cesar Conda, Kasten's staff director. Conda confided that the committee's staff economist was leaving the following May. Would Ryan take the job after he graduated for one-third of the salary?

"Ryan wasn't sure . . . until Betty Ryan gave him a tongue-lashing. She feared her son was destined to become a ski bum. The Kasten post led Ryan to a job with two of the GOP smartest thinkers, Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett, at Empower America, then as Sen. Sam Brownback's legislative director."

Conda may be familiar to Florida politicos. He's now chief of staff for Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio, who was considered for the vice presidential spot, campaigned with Romney on Monday and is headed to Texas for a fundraiser in San Antonio on Wednesday. He also sent out an email solicitation calling Ryan a "courageous reformer."

"I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot," Rubio wrote.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds and Miami Herald reporter Amy Sherman contributed to this report. Alex Leary can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.It’s also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ‘Walk the District’Stephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administration’s aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18