Paul Ryan's CPAC Speech Swiped Plot From Book

He says Wisconsin official 'improperly sourced' it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2014 9:44 AM CST
Paul Ryan's CPAC Speech Swiped Plot From Book
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., March 6, 2014.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

How do you make cutting funding to school lunches sound heartwarming? Paul Ryan seemed to pull off the feat yesterday in his CPAC speech, by telling the story he said Eloise Anderson—Scott Walker's Secretary of Children and Families—had related to him, about a poor boy who received free lunch at school through a government program:

  • "He told Eloise he didn't want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag, like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand."

There was just one problem. A commenter on Talking Points Memo pointed out that the story appears to be lifted from a book called the Invisible Thread about a homeless child whose rich benefactors offer to buy him lunch:

  • "Miss Laura," he said, "I don't want your money. I want my lunch in a brown paper bag. … Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?"
Wonkette spotted the comment, and the story started to spread. Washington Post factchecker Glenn Kessler discovered that Anderson had indeed told the story to Ryan's committee last July, during which she framed the story as "a little boy told me once..." Ryan was eventually forced to post a correction of sorts on Facebook. "I have just learned that Secretary Anderson misspoke and that the story she told was improperly sourced," he said. (Read more Paul Ryan stories.)

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