Randy Bryce, the ironworker known as “Iron Stache” who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st District, is trying to get in on Ryan’s town hall meeting next week.
Bryce said Monday he submitted questions for the CNN-hosted town hall that Ryan will hold on August 21 in Racine, Wisconsin. He took the opportunity to criticize the event, as well, saying that because CNN would be deciding who would attend and whose questions would be asked, it was “Definitely by definition NOT a public town hall.”
“Wonder if I’ll be among the privileged chosen,” Bryce said in another tweet.
CNN has not released information on how it will choose attendees and questions for the broadcast. In a statement, the network said only that Ryan will take questions from constituents in his district.
Bryce first entered the public eye with a viral campaign ad in June announcing his candidacy, which highlighted him as a ironworker, veteran, and union activist. He cast himself as a progressive populist, similar to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who he served as a surrogate for at times during the 2016 campaign.
The ad also showed Ryan and President Donald Trump as closely aligned, especially on repealing the 2010 health care law, contrasted with the story of Bryce's mother's health care difficulties.
“Let’s trade places, Paul Ryan,” Bryce says in the ad. “You can come work the iron and I’ll go to D.C.”
Bryce’s campaign began as a longshot, but he raised $430,000 in his first 12 days in the race. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the seat Safe Republican, and Paul Ryan has held it since 1998. But some are seeing Ryan hosting the CNN event, his first town hall in two years, as a sign that he's worried about Bryce's challenge.
Ryan has said that his previous refusal to hold town halls was because he didn’t want to hold a “shouting fest.”
Bryce held an online question-and-answer session Monday on Reddit, in which he clarified many of his positions. He endorsed the “People’s Platform,” a slate of bills including Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage, abortion access, and automatic voter registration, among other progressive priorities. On foreign policy, he described himself as against “nation building,” “war-mongering,” and “for-profit military company contracts.”
And Bryce had a message for other Democrats: “If we did not learn our lesson in 2016, then we are just kidding ourselves.”