DES MOINES, Iowa—Paul Ryan emerged from the Secret Service SUV Monday at the Iowa State Fair in a red checkered shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. After a bro hug with Iowa Rep. Steve King and a hearty handshake to Sen. Chuck Grassley, the newly minted vice presidential candidate began a long march to the famous soap box stage where he would speak to supporters—this time alone for the first time since Mitt Romney named him his running mate.
Ryan briskly made his way toward the stage about 200 yards from his car, past food stands selling deep-fried macaroni and cheese and giant corn dogs. Along the way, he stopped to talk to fair-goers as gawkers looked on at the spectacle of Ryan surrounded by dozens of reporters with boom microphones and cameras.
"That could be the next vice president," a woman said to her son as they passed by. "Did you see his widow's peak?" another woman mumbled.
Ryan kept his comments brief as he walked, choosing to talk along the way with his hosts, King and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
"We'll have plenty of time to play Stump the VP later on, you guys," he told reporters who were trying to edge their way in with questions.
At the end of the road, Ryan took the stage—the same place where Romney was heckled just last year and ended up uttering the words "Corporations are people, my friend," which would later come back to haunt him. The congressman launched into an early iteration of a stump speech he will deliver countless times from now until Nov. 6.
As soon as he began talking, a small group of protesters started to shout at him. First, a woman, who looked to be in her 60s, and then a man with a white beard began yelling at him. Unfazed, Ryan made a brief comment about how they couldn't be from around here and kept on with his speech.
Moments later, an Iowa trooper standing behind the stage pointed toward the front and shouted, "A woman just punched that volunteer! Go, go go!" Two females began to scramble toward Ryan on the platform. (It was not clear if a volunteer actually had been punched.) One of the protesters was carrying a banner but the local police and Secret Service agents took her down before she could reach the candidate.
"She must not be from Iowa," Ryan said, coolly, just after the woman charged the platform. "Hey, all right."
The girls were escorted away, but the older couple kept shouting and didn't stop until Ryan wrapped up his speech about 13 minutes later. In total, there were no more than five people yelling, surrounded by hundreds of Ryan supporters.
Ryan's first solo speech hit on several topics, including the Republican proposals for job creation, energy independence and reducing federal spending. He promoted Romney's business record and he criticized President Barack Obama on the economy and deficits.
"We don't have to stand for that," he said. "We're not going to stand for that. And on November the 6th, we're going to change that."
Ryan then made his way back toward the car as scores of people welcomed and greeted him along the way.
Just before he reached the SUV, a man who appeared to be in his 20s with a buzzed haircut and blue T-shirt spotted the entourage and shouted an expletive at the crowd surrounding Ryan.
The congressman pressed on.
Next stop: Denver, Colo. Most likely, the fundraisers there will be a little less chaotic.