Campaigning in Ohio, Congressman Paul Ryan’s campaign made plans to showoff the vice-presidential candidate’s social justice side, bringing him and his family to a soup kitchen to meet some volunteers and lend a helping hand. So far, so good. But then this:
Ryan stood at the sink and took some large metal pans that did not appear to be dirty, soaped them up and rinsed them, remarking as the cameras clicked and the TV cameras rolled that he had spent a summer washing dishes when he was younger.
The reporters were sent to the press bus when a group of men who “appeared to be homeless” approached Ryan. Photographers were sent out to capture the image, but reporters were not allowed to listen to the exchange.
The head of the soup kitchen isn’t happy with the staged photo-ops:
Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
Whatever you pretend to do for the least of these you do for me. Or something.
Update: NBC News' First Read is reporting that Ryan, in fact, did wash some dirty pans.