WASHINGTON -- At a time when Rep. Paul Ryan's star is rising -- he is reportedly being vetted as a possible vice presidential candidate for Mitt Romney -- one old associate is getting the cold shoulder. Ryan will not be speaking at a Washington event this week celebrating his hero, philosopher Ayn Rand.
Ryan turned down a request to speak at the annual gathering of the Atlas Society, a group that advocates Rand's me-first brand of capitalism. Two months earlier, the Wisconsin Republican abruptly declared that he "reject[s] her philosophy," despite his known obsession with Rand's views.
Ryan has credited her with leading him into public service, he has videos on his Facebook page applying Rand's philosophies to his role in Congress, and he has said he directs his interns to read her book "Atlas Shrugged." Ryan has also previously spoken at events hosted by the Atlas Society, gushing about the influence Rand has had on him. But not this time.
"Congressman Ryan has no plans to attend the event," said Ryan spokesperson Smythe Anderson.
The House lawmaker may have a legitimate reason for not attending; Anderson wouldn't comment on why he won't be there. But it is worth noting Ryan's decision not to attend, for as his political profile has gone national, he appears to be publicly distancing himself from Rand.
Edward Hudgins, director of advocacy at the Atlas Society, said he reached out to Ryan about this week's summit, but Ryan's scheduler said he was all booked. Hudgins, who earlier endorsed the idea of Ryan running for president, said he isn't taking it personally.
"I don't read a lot into it," Hudgins said. "It's not as if we're saying Ryan is snubbing us ... We had a nice conversation a few weeks ago. He was very pleasant."
But even Hudgins has noted that Ryan appears to be changing his tune on Rand. When Ryan said in April that he rejected Rand's philosophy, Hudgins told The Huffington Post, "Whether he's suddenly saying, 'I reject all of her philosophy,' well, I would simply say, 'Well, that's not what you were saying a few years ago.'"
Despite Ryan's absence, another lawmaker still plans to appear at the Atlas Society summit. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is speaking on Friday.