WASHINGTON -- House Republicans got a treat on Thursday when Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), now the Republican vice presidential nominee, showed up at their weekly conference meeting. But they were even more excited by another superhuman visitor: Hercules.
Actor Kevin Sorbo, best known for playing Hercules in the former TV series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," also came to the meeting and got lawmakers all riled up, according to several Republican sources.
Sorbo talked to lawmakers about his upbringing in a Democratic household in Minnesota and described the "shock from his father" when he said he was voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980, according to a GOP official. Sorbo said he decided to vote for Reagan because he thought Jimmy Carter would go down "as one of the worst presidents in history," the official said.
The actor also talked about being outnumbered by Democrats in Hollywood, but said there are more Republicans in California than people might think. He described one incident where he was making conservative comments in public and fellow Republican actor Gary Sinese found him later and asked him, "Are you a conservative? There's a group of us that meet," according to a senior GOP aide who paraphrased the actor's comments.
Sorbo also offered advice on how to defend Mitt Romney around Democrats. He said he regularly asks his friends who are Democrats if they like John F. Kennedy, and when they say yes, he tells them that Romney's message "is more in line" with Kennedy's "Ask Not" speech than President Barack Obama's message, according to the GOP aide.
Sorbo was "funny and inspiring and got everyone fired up," the aide said.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) invited Sorbo to talk to the lawmakers. The two had previously met at a charity golf tournament for leukemia, but beyond that, nobody seemed to know why Rogers brought him in.
A House Republican leadership aide joked that Ryan is in good company when he's stumping with demi-gods. Hercules is, after all, the son of Zeus.
"Remember, Hercules had to follow Paul Ryan, so what does that make Paul Ryan?" the aide asked.
Another House Republican source only half-joked that Hercules stole Ryan's thunder at a time when the Romney-Ryan campaign keeps taking hits and could use some good news.
"I kinda feel bad for Paul Ryan ... upstaged by Hercules!" the source said. "The Romney campaign just can't catch a break."