WASHINGTON – The day after her husband stepped into the national spotlight joining the Republican presidential ticket, Janna Ryan waved, smiled and shook hands. But she did not speak.
Paul Ryans wife is carefully taking her first steps into the harsh spotlight that comes with a White House run.
A former tax attorney and congressional staffer with degrees from Wellesley College and George Washington University, Janna Ryan is accustomed to the rigors of political life. But as crowds of Republicans turn out to see her husband, the stages Janna will stand on are bigger than ever.
Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., a cousin, said she will be Pauls strongest supporter on the campaign trail. In recent interviews, a chorus of neighbors and friends have called her ladylike, rocket smart and sweet and wonderful.
Both she and Paul Ryan are Catholics who were introduced by a mutual friend in Washington in 1999.
Their yearlong courtship included a mutual love of the great outdoors, and Paul Ryan bragged to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, who wrote a story about their engagement, that the then-Janna Little had shared a deer stand with him when he shot a buck as hunting season opened. He proposed to Little at one of his favorite fishing spots, Big St. Germain Lake in Wisconsin.
Ryan was 30 and Little 31 when they announced their engagement, which the Journal Sentinel reported would deprive Congress of one of its more eligible bachelors.
The Ryans settled in his hometown of Janesville, surrounded by his large extended family. There, Janna became a stay-at-home mom raising their three school-age children, Liza, Charlie and Sam.
Paul and Janna Ryan are both from wealthy, well-connected families.
His owns a construction company that has been in the family for more than a century. Hers has deep roots in Oklahoma politics where her uncle, David Boren, is the states former Democratic governor and now president of the University of Oklahoma.
Her great-grandfather also ran for governor and started a law firm in town where her father still works, according to the Daily Oklahoman.
At this point, Janna Ryan is content to stay in the background for as long as possible. After Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan spoke at a rally in North Carolina on Saturday, Romney offered the microphone to his wife, Ann, who rallied the crowd, telling them, Were not gonna take it anymore! Were gonna take back the White House!
Mitt Romney then offered the microphone to Janna, who politely declined.
You sure? he asked.