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October 16, 2012

Head of Ohio Soup Kitchen Blasts Paul Ryan Photo Opportunity

The leader of a Youngstown, Ohio, charity visited Saturday by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said campaign officials "ramrodded their way" into the group's soup kitchen for a staged photo opportunity of the candidate and his family washing dishes, writes The Washington Post.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said the group had not given permission for the unannounced visit, which came as Mr. Ryan was en route to the airport after a town-hall meeting at Youngstown State University.

According to Mr. Antal, the campaign was allowed in at the door by a volunteer. Although soup kitchen staff had already served meals and cleared up, Mr. Ryan and his wife and children put on aprons and were photographed washing already clean pots and pans.

"We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations," said Mr. Antal, who described himself as an independent voter.

An aide to the Republican ticket said the campaign followed its usual protocol for impromptu stops, sending a staffer to St. Vincent De Paul ahead of the visit and that the person in charge there said it would be fine for the Ryans to come by. The campaign's Ohio spokesman said the visit was intended to bring attention to the work done by soup kitchen volunteers.