US vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan got a taste of the rough side of a presidential campaign on Monday when protesters heckled him and US President Barack Obama accused him of blocking emergency aid to drought-hit farmers.
The Republican from Wisconsin — who brings midwestern credibility to Republican US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s campaign — mingled with locals at the Iowa State Fair, a popular spot for politicians keen to show their common touch in a state where Obama and Romney will be in tight competition.
Dressed in a checked shirt, Ryan bantered with fairgoers, but his first solo campaign speech was interrupted by a small group of demonstrators.
In chaotic scenes, hecklers standing at the front of a large pro-Ryan crowd shouted: “Stop the war against the common good,” prompting Republicans to shout back and swear at them.
One of the protesters rushed onto the small stage where Ryan was speaking. She was grabbed by three state troopers. Police said one of the protesters punched a volunteer fair worker.
The Republican effort to win back the White House received no immediate poll boost from Saturday’s announcement of Ryan as the vice presidential running mate, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online survey.
Also visiting Iowa on Monday, Obama named Ryan as “one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way” of a farm bill that includes disaster aid to farmers hit by a drought.
“So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities,” Obama said at a political rally in Council Bluffs.