The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign lastweek ramrodded their way into the groups Youngstown soup kitchen so thatGOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washingdishes in the dining hall.
Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De PaulSociety, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of theSaturday morning visit by Ryan, whostopped bythe soup kitchen after atown hall at Youngstown State University.
Were a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majorityof our funding is from private donations, Antalsaid in a phone interviewMonday afternoon. Its strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed upthere, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers toopen up the doors.
He added: The photo-op they didwasnteven accurate. He did nothing. Hejust came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.
Ryan had stopped by the soup kitchen for about 15 minutes on his way to theairport after his Saturday morning town hall in Youngstown. By the time hearrived, the food had already been served, the patrons had left, and thehall had been cleaned.
Upon entering the soup kitchen, Ryan, his wife and three young childrengreeted and thanked several volunteers, then donned white aprons and offered to clean somedishes. Photographers snapped photos and TV cameras shot footage of Ryanand his family washing pots and pans that did notappear to be dirty.
According to a Romney aide not authorized to speak publicly about theevent, the campaign followed its usual protocol for impromptu, on-the-roadstops by candidates: A staffer was dispatched to the St. Vincent De PaulSociety ahead of Ryans visit Saturday morning and spoke with a woman incharge on site, who said that it would be fine for the congressman to stopby. The campaign did not contact Antalahead of the visit.
The woman on site told the Romney staffer that some of the volunteers hadalready left, but that most were happy to remain until Ryan arrived,according to the aide. After Ryan left the soup kitchen, the womanapproached a campaign staffer and expressed gratitude for Ryans visit, theaide said.
Chris Maloney, Ohio communications director for the Romney campaign, saidthat the visit by Ryan had been intended to highlight the work of the soupkitchen volunteers.
Our campaign and Congressman Ryan were pleased to bring attention to themeaningful charitable contributions the St. Vincent De Paul Society makesto people in need, Maloney said.
Antal, a self-described independent voter, said that he cant fault myvolunteers for letting the campaign in but said that the campaign didntgo through the proper channels.
He noted that the soup kitchen relies on funding from private individuals who might reconsider theirsupport if it appears that the charity is favoring one political candidateover another.
I cant afford to lose funding from these private individuals, he said.Ifthis was the Democrats, Id have the same exact problem.
He added that the incident had caused him all kinds of grief and that regardless of whether Ryan had intended to serve food to patrons or wash dishes, he would not have allowed the visit to take place.
Had they asked for permission, itwouldnthave been granted. But Icertainlywouldnthave let him wash clean pans, and then take a picture, Antalsaid.
edit: fvck you gamespot formatting