Election 2012: A Look at Ryan’s Walk-Off Interview

Over the course of a long, intense political campaign, candidates will get testy and flustered at times. It's inevitable.

However, when those emotions are captured on television and subsequently shared and seen by millions, core messages are bound to get buried, as the messenger himself or herself becomes the story.

Leading into the vice presidential debate on Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky., that’s the situation facing Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan as he prepares to face Joe Biden in their first and only meeting.

According to reports, on Monday, Oct. 8, Ryan was interviewed by ABC 12 in Flint, Mich. The reporter interviewing Ryan asked: “Does this country have a gun problem?”

In response, Ryan said that “this country has a crime problem” and that “good, strong gun laws” are in place “but we have to make sure we enforce our laws.”

After Ryan clarified his position, which included helping people get out of the poverty line in inner cities and helping to teach discipline and good character, the reporter responded with: “And you can do all that by cutting taxes?”

After telling the reporter that “those are your words, not mine," Ryan abruptly ended the interview at the instructions of an off-screen aide.

In a statement to BuzzFeed, Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck said: "The reporter knew he was already well over the allotted time for the interview when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts. Ryan responded as anyone would in such a strange situation. When you do nearly 200 interviews in a couple months, eventually you’re going to see a local reporter embarrass himself."

Predictably, the Democratic opposition jumped at the chance to capitalize on the incident. DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeted, “@woodhouseb: You can walk out of an interview if you don’t like a press question? This is a game changer—way to be a leader Congressman Paul Ryan. ”

How much of a distraction and game changer is it really? A distraction, yes, a game changer, probably not. But from the perspective a media trainer, there's always a better response than walking out on an interview. 

“It was bad form. There’s probably a more graceful way [Ryan] could have gone about it,” says Andrew Gilman, president and CEO of CommCore Consulting Group. “If Ryan is anything like his running mate was in the first debate, he’ll be prepared for [tough questions] from Biden.”

Ryan has to be focused on supporting Romney’s message, says Gilman. “He needs to show that a 42-year-old can be a heartbeat away (from the presidency)."

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson

Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

Media Relations ConferenceJoin PR News at the National Press Club on Dec. 11 for the Media Relations Conference, where you'll learn how to tie your media relations initiatives to business goals, use the right metrics to prove the success of your efforts, incorporate social media in a brand crisis and more.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.