Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told college grads in his home state Sunday that he feels “like the dog that finally caught the car that I wasn’t chasing in the first place” in his role as speaker of the House.
Ryan told the class of 2016 at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., that his congressional goal was to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, something he accomplished seven months before Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced he would resign.
“I never wanted to be speaker, and I had said so in no uncertain terms many times before. I was a policy guy. I didn’t like the idea of spending my time on other things,” said Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate. “I live with my family in Janesville. Every weekend I am here with my family. Yesterday was turkey hunting and track meet and then dinner at my mom’s. Today, here in Kenosha with you. I couldn’t give those weekends up.”
“But John told me, if you don’t like the job, then change it. Keep your weekends at home. Focus on policy. Make it work. Turn it around. So, I took his advice, and soon I realized: I can do this. I actually liked the job.”
Ryan added that “this job isn’t anything I ever expected — or even wanted.”
“And yet I’m still doing what I love: public policy. I learned eventually in my journey that public policy was my vocation, public service was where I found fulfillment,” he told the students. “Through all the twists and turns, that has been the consistent theme of my life. Now you have to figure out what is yours. It may change as you get older, but the only way you will find out is if you take your work seriously. It is your contribution to our country.”
Ryan said the original plan for his life was to become an economist: “Go to grad school. Get my Ph.D. Join a think tank. And then I’d give policymakers advice.”
He said he consulted mentor Jack Kemp when first pondering whether to run for Congress. “Absolutely,” he said Kemp told him. “You can make such a difference. You’re a Wisconsinite, but you’re a public policy guy. Go do it. ”