POLITICS
05/28/2017 07:41 pm ET Updated May 30, 2017

100 Middle Schoolers Refuse Photo-Op With Paul Ryan During D.C. Trip

“It’s not just a picture,” one boy said. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan is seen posing with New Jersey middle school students in Washington on Thursday.
ABC 7
House Speaker Paul Ryan is seen posing with New Jersey middle school students in Washington on Thursday.

Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may be the House Speaker and second in line for the presidency, but that reportedly didn’t sway roughly 100 middle school students to take a photo with him earlier this week.

The students were visiting Washington, D.C., from New Jersey’s South Orange Middle School on Thursday when they were offered the chance to pose with Ryan, according to reports.

Accompanying parents told New Jersey’s Village Green that about half of the students opted not to stand beside him.

“It’s not just a picture,” student Matthew Malespina told ABC 7 News of his decision not to join Ryan. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”

Fellow student Wendy Weeks said she also opted to not take a photo, telling the Village Green that to have stood next to Ryan would have given the wrong impression of how she feels about him.

“I think that taking the picture represents that you agree with the same political views and I don’t agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it,” said the eight-grader.

The House Speaker has earned criticism for his tireless efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Win McNamee via Getty Images
The House Speaker has earned criticism for his tireless efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Not everyone felt this way or at least chose to pose with Ryan, who has helped repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act with the Republican-backed American Health Care Act. Ryan reportedly wasn’t even aware of the mass dissent, some students said.

Student Miles Handelman, who was one of those who went to stand with Ryan, said his appreciation rested with it being such a rare opportunity.

“I thought it would be very cool just seeing the man who is the third most powerful man in our country. It would be cool, even if you disagree with him,” he told ABC News.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated that Paul Ryan is third in line for the presidency. He is second in line, behind Vice President Mike Pence.

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