Ryan draws crowd for book signing

Rep. Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, takes a photos with fans at the Books-a-Million off Newberry Road in Gainesville Aug. 23, 2014. Rep. Ryan was at Books-a-Million autographing copies of his new book.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 5:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 5:11 p.m.

The line of fans waiting for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to sign their copy of his new book weaved through the aisles of Books-A-Million Saturday while a planned protest of the Wisconsin Republican fizzled.

Ryan, a 2012 candidate for vice president on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney, is touring Florida this weekend to promote “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea." The book outlines his belief that conservatism is crucial for the country's future.

People who got their book autographed, some of whom arrived at the store at 10 a.m. for the 1 p.m. signing, were thrilled.

“I voted for him in 2012 and I want to see him run again and win,” said University of Florida law student Margaret Beck. “I agree with all of his positions and I think he has an appeal to younger people because he seems fresher, someone younger people can connect with. He did a Gator chomp with me for a picture.”

The liberal group Americans United for Change put out word that members and other local residents would be protesting at the signing, which was at the Newberry Road store. The protest was supposed to focus on Ryan's proposals regarding Medicare, which opponents said would be harmed if his legislation is enacted.

Just three protesters showed up.

“This is the last day to do political stuff before Tuesday's election and I know a lot of people are doing that,” said Sheila Payne of the primary election. “I was out working for (a candidate) before coming here.”

Books-A-Million Manager Derrick Gebhardt said Ryan's book was selling briskly, adding that people who bought the book elsewhere were welcome to the signing as long as they had a receipt to prove the purchase.

Gebhardt said he could not give an estimate of sales, but said the crowd was one of the biggest the store had ever had for an author's signing event.

“People started coming in a couple of hours before. I expect that he would accommodate everybody,” Gebhardt said. “Today we've sold quite a few of his books.”

Ryan came to Gainesville from a signing in Tallahassee and went to The Villages and Orlando afterward.

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