More Americans learned who the heck Paul Ryan is on Wednesday night: the lawmaker who Beltway insiders know as the architect of the last two House-passed budgets as well as a rising GOP star.
But, there's got to be more to him -- beyond his reputation as a policy wonk and exercise fanatic with the requisite attractive kids and wife. After all, Ryan is serving his seventh term in Congress.
To help readers, National Journal went back through the Ryan archives. We found a handful of the most illuminating articles about him. TA-DA: 8 things to know about the Republican vice presidential candidate:
1) EARTH MOVERS: Ryan's family in Wisconsin made its riches through a business that moves dirt. Yes, you read that correctly. As Time writer David Von Drehle wrote in a profile last year: "Today, Ryan Inc. Central is one of the largest earthmoving firms in the country, building everything from home sites to golf courses to landfills to wetlands. Young Paul worked briefly for the family firm in the marketing department, but it was clear from an early age that his real interest was political economics."
2) WORK-OUT ROUTINE: Ryan is an obsessive exercise fanatic: a habit that he developed after his father dropped dead of a heart attack during Ryan's teenage years. Now, Ryan stays in shape by doing the grueling P90X workout (and leading other members of the House through the routine). The founder of the exercise video says Paul's new national prominence has given P90X a boost in sales.
3) MEDICARE & HIS MOM: Ryan may want to overhaul Medicare, but he's quick to say he wouldn't change anything for current seniors, like his mom Betty. She's on Medicare Advantage, a version of the federal government plan that allows seniors to buy private insurance. She recently campaigned with her son in Florida.
4) RYAN WHO? Hours before his big vice presidential speech, roughly a quarter of Americans had no idea who Paul Ryan was.
5) HIS INNER CIRCLE: Many of the people advising Ryan know him from Wisconsin, worked for him on the House Budget Committee, or previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner. National Review's Robert Costa writes up a good who's who.
6) HIS AGENDA OR BUST: Ryan may be psyched about his new gig as the Republican vice presidential candidate, but back in February, he told National Journal that dealing with the impending fiscal crisis was WAY more important to him than Republicans winning the White House.
7) CHEESEHEADS RULE THE WORLD: Wisconsin politics just vaulted onto the national stage, with the ascent of Ryan. Turns out he's not the lone cheesehead accumulating political power, as the Atlantic's Molly Ball chronicles.
8) DEEP DIVE ON RYAN: And, for the best long reads on Ryan, be sure to check out Jonathan Chait's piece from New York Magazine from April 2012, or Ryan Lizza's New Yorker profile on Ryan as the new face of the GOP.
Photo by Ralf-Finn Hestoft.