Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan will make a campaign stop Wednesday at his college Alma mater Miami University, just five days after being named Mitt Romney’s running mate.
Professor Rich Hart, who taught economics and talked politics with the young, studious Ryan, said he plans to take part in introducing the congressman during the rally.
“They’re doing a background check on me,” Hart said, he added with a laugh, “I’m a little worried about it.”
Ryan, hails from Wisconsin, but spent four years in Butler County where Hart, a professor at Miami for 38 years, was his teacher, mentor and later his friend.
Since Saturday morning’s announcement that Ryan was the party’s pick for VP, the Miami media office has been flooded with calls about the 1992 graduate.
Claire Wagner, Miami spokeswoman, said her first call came at 7:38 a.m. Saturday, just eight minutes after Ryan was named. It was a television station confirming Ryan was a grad.
Since then, media requests have kept the office hopping, she said. While some students are on campus, the majority will not move in for another week, which means it is usually the quiet before the storm.
“Yes, we have been very busy,” Wagner said. Media calls continued to pour in this week but took a sharp uptick when the Ryan’s visit to Oxford was announced Monday night.
Perhaps none more sought after than Hart who has given about 30 interviews in three days to news outlets around the globe.
The 65-year-old Fairfield resident is outspoken about the state of education at Miami, the bleak economic state of the country an his most famous former student.
“He’s a brilliant, brilliant guy,” Hart said.
The teacher and student shared long talks in Hart’s office, sharing economic and political theories and how they tie.
Hart, a native of Virginia who still speaks with a twang and considers himself a Libertarian, said they both believe in small, limited government and free markets.
“That I remember most about Paul is he was he was intellectually curious, which is a rarity,” Hart said. He added Ryan is engaging and exciting, something that he thought was lacking in the Romney campaign.
“That campaign has about put me to sleep,” Hart said with a laugh.
Ryan excelled at Hart’s “hardcore” economic class as a junior and continued to hone his conservative ideas through talks with his professor.
“He is an ideas guy, ” Ryan said. “I didn’t know that he was going to go into politics, I thought maybe he would join a think tank or go home and work for his family, but I knew what ever he did he would do well.”
Although this is move-in week for Miami students, Ryan’s visit is creating some excitement on campus.
“We’re extremely excited about it,” said Baylor Myers, chairman of Miami’s Young Republicans club. “We’re hosting the congressman on campus.”
He said the organization is helping the campaign committee with various things, such as making phone calls. He said members of his organization will lead in the Pledge of Allegiance at today’s event.
“We’ll do anything to help Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get elected,” he said.
Myers, who will be a senior this year, said his organization was contacted Sunday evening by the campaign who indicated Ryan “wanted to come back to campus.”
“After the announcement, our organization wanted to get him back to Miami and we’re very pleased with this outcome,” he said.
Myers said the organization will be presenting Ryan with a Miami fleece as a welcome back to campus gift.
“This is an enormous opportunity for Miami,” he said. “This is a huge accomplishment for Miami and it will increase the value of our degree. Our students could not be more proud to call Paul Ryan a Miami graduate.”
Tim Sardinia, president of Delta Tau Delta’s chapter at Miami, said it’s been exciting for his fraternity.
“This has created a real buzz on campus,” he said. “People are talking about the chapter and the Miami community is real proud of this.”
Sardinia said the chapter has followed Ryan’s career pretty closely and they have talked about the possibility of him visiting their fraternity house at 220 N. Talawanda Road in Oxford.
“We’d love to host him at the house, even it was for five minutes,” Sardinia said. “We’re proud of him.”
He said Ryan’s visit just as freshmen students are moving in this week on campus could raise interest of men interested in joining the fraternity this fall. Today is also moving in day for the chapter members returning to the fraternity house.
“He’s the biggest celebrity in the country… it’s a great thing for the chapter and for Greek Life at Miami,” he said.
Sen. Rob Portman, who was also touted as a possible GOP vice presidential candidate, as well as Gov. John Kasich are also slated to appear at the event, according to Chris Maloney, Ohio communications director for the Romney campaign.
Rob Nichols, spokesman for Kasich, said Ryan’s Ohio connection goes back a number of years when the governor was serving in Congress.
Nichols said Ryan was an associate who assisted then Rep. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to the House Budget Committee when Kasich was chairman. However, when Ryan was elected to Congress from his home state of Wisconsin, he also served as a member of the Budget Committee.
While a student at Miami, Ryan also did some campaign work to help re-elect Rep. John Boehner, according to a staff member in Boehner’s office.