Paul Ryan Speaks at the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance's Annual "Save Our Heritage" Banquet

On Saturday, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan addressed a crowd of hunters, anglers and trappers at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Annual “Save Our Heritage” Banquet in Columbus, Ohio.

Ryan, an avid hunter, spoke about his affinity for the outdoors and the need to preserve the traditional values of sportsmen.

“Hunters and anglers are the best conservationists. It is very critical that we pass it on to the next generation,” said Congressman Ryan, who shared a personal anecdote about his plans to hunt with his 10-year-old daughter, Liza, this year.  “Youth learn such great life lessons when you take them hunting.”

As the former chair of the sportsmen caucus in the House of Representatives, Ryan was at ease in front of the sold-out audience.  And he certainly made an impression on leaders within the hunting community.

“Congressman Ryan’s speech at this prestigious national sportsmen’s event clearly shows how important the votes of sportsmen and women are this year,” said USSA President and CEO Bud Pidgeon in a press release.

“The Republican Vice-President nominee proved he truly understands our issues and is a strong champion of our hunting heritage. Regardless of your political affiliation, you understand he’s definitely one of us,” Pidgeon added.

Indeed, Ryan is definitely one of us.

But Ryan wasn’t just there to hobnob with gun owners, hunters and outdoorsmen; he was there to play identity politics, to remind voters of the seemingly clear choice they have to make come November (I use the word “seemingly” because some of you believe that Obama and Romney have more similarities than differences, particularly on the issue of gun control, and overall, I think it’s a claim that has some merit).

paul ryan speaking to us sportsmen alliance

“You see the federal government already infringing upon the First Amendment right to religious liberty,” Ryan said, alluding to the federal mandate that requires all employers to provide birth control.

“I see the president put these kind of regulations out there in a tough election year that could cost him votes, I wonder, I shudder as a gun owner, seeing his record when he was in the Illinois State Senate, what would he do if he never has to face the voters ever again?” Ryan said. “These are the kinds of questions we think about.”

Ryan went on to note how the decisions a president makes with respect to Supreme Court justices can have a tremendous effect on one’s right to keep and bear arms.

“The next president will appoint a lot of different judges and these are lifetime appointments,” he said. “If you want to make sure that judges respect our Second Amendment rights, you need a president who respects those rights as well.”

Obviously, gun owners are to believe that Romney is that guy.  That he is the one who wholeheartedly respects the 2nd Amendment and would never do anything to compromise it, like sign an assault weapons ban or voice support for tough gun laws.

Perhaps, what Paul Ryan should have said, was “You know, I respect the 2nd Amendment.  I’ll ensure that a Romney administration doesn’t do anything stupid.  You have my word.”  But, that is, perhaps, asking for too much candor.

Putting that bit of political pabulum aside, Ryan’s best line(s) of the night, was when he told attendees to “remember one thing: we are all taxpayers.”

“That means we as taxpayers own our public land,” Ryan continued. “Hunters are the original conservationists. Bureaucrats more and more these days think that public lands have to be protected from hunters. I myself see it another way; I think hunters need to be protected by the bureaucrats.”

Amen to that.

(Photo Credit: ABC News & USSA)

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