Questions linger even after Paul Ryan holds town hall meeting

RACINE, Wis. -- With Congress in recess, many members are back home -- including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Ryan has been criticized for not being accessible to his constituents in Wisconsin's 1st congressional district. Some voters have even held mock town halls without him. In February, they their posed questions to an empty chair.

But Ryan's schedule Thursday included what was billed as employee town halls. And at WPC Technologies in Oak Creek, that meant most questions were selected in advance by a company official.

This was the first one from the audience: "If you had to make a decision between attending an October regular season Packers game or a Brewers World Series game, which one?"

For the record, Ryan said probably the Brewers.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan at WPC Technologies in Oak Creek, Wis., on Thu., July 6, 2017.

CBS News

But there were no questions about Russia, and no questions about President Trump or his tweets, which Ryan has criticized. There were also no questions about the investigations of the Trump administration -- none of those questions here or at a second stop in Racine.

There was one about the office of the presidency, though.

"I just wanted to ask if you had any plans for running for the presidency in the future?" one woman asked.

"No, not at all," Ryan said. "That was an easy one to answer."

Also easy to answer was the one question about the effects of the House health care reform on the workers here. Since all of them are covered by their employers, there's no effect.

"Fifty million people get their insurance from their job like everybody here does so it doesn't affect that market," Ryan said.

And thus, no real need for Ryan to defend what polls say is an unpopular piece of legislation.

CBS News wanted to ask the Speaker if he thought tightly-controlled events like these were really a true test of his accessibility.

But we didn't get very far, as Ryan ducked behind a curtain saying, "Gotta go!"

Speaker Ryan may be more forthcoming Friday, because that's when he's scheduled to hold a press conference in Madison, the state's capital.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.