Paul Ryan: Yep, He’s the Real Deal

Colorado is a battleground state, so we’ll see a lot of all the presidential candidates in the coming months. Wendy and I got word that Paul Ryan – Vice President on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney – was flying into Colorado Springs yesterday morning. Just as we did with Sarah Palin in 2008, we got tickets and rose early to get good seats.

Pictured with the next Vice President of the United States

But this was different. I spent a lot of my childhood with Paul Ryan. We attended the 3rd-8th grade together at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Janesville, Wisconsin. My family moved from Janesville in the 9th grade, and I hadn’t kept up with Paul (whom I knew as P.D.). But let me tell you something: when a childhood friend becomes a favorite choice to run the free world, it’s a pretty great feeling!

I pulled out this old picture of our 8th grade basketball team – we nearly won State that year. Isn’t is a great picture? So glad I kept it all these years. I blew up an 8×10 and brought it to the rally to try to have it signed.

Paul Ryan is #22, I’m #24 holding the basketball.

The rally sure was fun. Wendy and I were surrounded by neat people who thought my photo was the coolest thing next to Paul Ryan himself. Lots of talk about the old days as I held my picture and sharpie. Paul came to the stage and lit up the crowd. Clapping, cheering, poster waving…the works. The speech Paul gave was very similar to his RNC speech (you can watch it here). And then the handshaking and photo-signing began.

Now, I’m a fairly outgoing guy, but I had a subtle hesitation. Would he remember me? I mean, it had been over 25 years. I may know him, but I’m just a little book publisher serving a niche market of homeschoolers. I remember Paul as the smartest kid in the class, but perhaps I would just get a blank stare and a “I have no idea who you are” kind of look. I had the picture as backup to jog his memory.

This is how it played out. Paul was slowly working his way down the crowd. These political rallies are a sight to see. Shaking hands, posing for pictures, signing posters. Security guards surrounded him as he made his way down the wall of people, me toward the end. Paul had his picture taken with a nice hispanic lady I had just met. He put out his hand to shake the next – mine – and I waited to make eye contact. He looked me in the eye.

“Jeub!” he yelled. He used my last name, what everyone at St. Mary’s called me. Hardly anyone called me Chris back then. I nodded, “Yeah, it’s me! It’s great to see you PD!” Hardly anyone called him Paul back in elementary school.

We embraced and laughed like old friends. “Thank you so much for coming out here,” he said. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world!” I returned. For a moment, it was like the 3000 people around us disappeared. We knew our time was short, but we started talking as if we ran into each other at the hardware store or something. He asked, “You sell educational materials, don’t you?” You bet I do, I publish books for academic debaters nationwide.

We enjoyed the blast from the past. Pictures sure kick up memories.

This revealed something: he had kept up with me and my life. From a distance. He has been way more in the public eye, me being more in the marketplace. I suppose he had come across web clips of me, just like I had with him over the years. We chatted for a short time more – can’t really remember what else we chatted about – but it was good. I can’t speak for Paul, but at the moment I wished he weren’t running for Vice President of the United States. Then we’d be able to catch a bite to eat and really catch up.

Paul said, “It’s really great to see you, Jeub.”

“It’s great to see you, too, P.D. I’m rootin’ for you, my friend!”

And off Paul went. My new friends around me were just as giddy as I was. Several took pictures of the event, so we exchanged emails and they sent them to me. I posted them on my Facebook page.

On the way out, one guy came up to me and asked, “So, you really knew Paul Ryan as a kid?”

“Sure did.”

He followed with a good question. “So he’s the real deal, right?”

“You bet he is,” I said. “Paul Ryan is the real deal.”

Are you a debater? Join me in Colorado in July for the Training Minds Camp!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • RickStevens

    Only one word to describe it…awesome!

  • judy

    How fun!

  • Hey Chris, this is so cool! But I think YOU are the real deal too! Congrats on a fun day!

    • Very nice of you, Ellie…you’re one my heros, too! (Ellie, you’re the frugal queen…big influence on Wendy and me over the years.)

  • Sarah M. in MI

    How awesome is that? I love that he knew what you do. That speaks to a mind that can hold a LOT of info in it at all times. I’d probably not recognize my mother in the circumstances he is under. LOL
    What a fun day for you guys!

    • My sentiments exactly. News of what I was up to probably came across his desk, and seeing me at the rally jogged the memory. Shows a lot, particularly that he’s not wrapped up in the power and prestige. Revealing.

  • chris, that’s wonderful! sounds like the 2 of you had a great time catching up! and i love that you are able to tell me that he is the real deal – cause that’s what i’m looking for.

    and you mentioned it in your post – the first thing that caught my eye in that first picture was the 4-man security detail behind you – gotta love it! blessings, friend!

    • I agree, those secret service guys were funny looking. I bet that big bald Mr. Shine sleeps with his teddy bear or something.

  • No wonder he recognized you, Chris. Put a goatee on that eighth grade Jeub and we’d say you haven’t changed a bit! 😉

    • Too funny, Dave! I showed the pic to his personal assistant, and he couldn’t figure out anyone. It was like, “Who are these people?” I’m actually surprised Paul recognized me.

      • Wendy Jeub

        Where is the like button. 😉

  • Carl

    I thought it was funny when he lied about his marathon times.

    • Er, no he didn’t. And stop trolling around, Carl. Add to the conversation or I’ll dump you.

  • Robin

    SO COOL Chris!! Thank you for sharing your story!! Praying he is the next Vice President! We need him!!

    • It is cool, isn’t it? Good to hear from you Robin.

  • That is awesome!! So very cool Chris. Love that he had kept up with you offline! That says a lot! Thanks for posting.

    • Yep, that does say a lot. SHOWS he’s “the real deal.” Awesome.

  • Cathy Wickham

    “your son Micah looks a lot like you” said Ryan and Emilie. Maybe PD will be a community judge for NITOC.

    • Funny you mention this, Cathy. Focus on the Family and I had Paul Ryan on our short list of who to call as big name speakers at last summer’s NITOC.

  • Chris.. It must have been so exciting! Love the expression on both your faces! Congrats and Great Article!

    • It sure was awesome. Funny, the NITOC Directors had contemplated (quite seriously, actually) pursuing him as a NITOC keynote. We’re kicking ourselves for not trying harder.