Heard on the Hill

Ryan to Interns: ‘Don’t Take It So Personally’

Speaker Paul D. Ryan was questioned about standing up to the president

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at the Summer Intern Lecture Series in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional interns couldn’t wait to grill Speaker Paul D. Ryan after he spoke to them about his own early days on the Hill.

An intern for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado asked the speaker how he feels when people are mean to him on Twitter.

“Don’t take the bait and don’t worry about it,” Ryan said.

The Wisconsin Republican added, “I see this with your generation. Don’t take it so personally and don’t be personal with other people. The whole point I’m trying to make is, none of us have it all figured out, especially if you’re 18 to 22 years old … you can learn from other people.”

[Ryan Reads Mean Tweets]

The speaker spoke to a standing-room-only crowd inside the 450-seat Congressional Auditorium on Wednesday morning. The House Administration Committee hosts a series of speakers for summer interns throughout their time on the Hill.

Ryan ended his chat with the interns with a sentiment that both sides of the aisle are spreading this election season.

“You can make a huge difference in this country at a young age,” he said. “I hope you leave inspired, I hope you leave knowing that wherever you come from, whatever you believe, in this country, with our system, you can have a huge impact and make a big difference.”

One intern, who said he worked for Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York, asked Ryan why the legislative branch is not standing up to President Donald Trump.

“We have a pretty vibrant Article One power restoration plan, we passed many of those bills, not to mention the fact that the way we write our bills now are more prescribed so, look, if you don’t agree with the administration, that’s one thing,” he said. “I would say we’ve done a great deal to advance our Article One powers.”

Ryan began his speech by talking about his time as an intern, when he would drink Pacifico with the busboys when he worked at Tortilla Coast. He said he would ask members to meet with him to ask for advice.

The best advice he got came from former liberal Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

“He told me that what he loved about the House is how it is a genuine meritocracy. You get ahead based on the power of your ideas, and your ability to make a persuasive case,” the speaker said.

He said the best advice he can give the interns was “make a better argument” instead of deconstructing of impugning another person’s beliefs.

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