A group of New Jersey eighth-grade students schooled House Speaker Paul Ryan over his unwillingness to critique President Trump.
About half of the more than 200 students from South Orange Middle School refused to pose for a photo with Ryan during a school trip to Washington, D.C., last Thursday.
Matthew Malespina, 13, who waited across the street with other classmates declining to be in the picture with the Wisconsin Republican, said the school informed them the night before of the photo op on the Capitol steps.
“I was like, ‘Oh God, I’m not taking a picture with this man.’ I first texted my mom because my mom hates Paul Ryan as well,” Matthew told the Post on Sunday. “And I was saying to her, Oh God, I can’t do this. I can’t take a picture with him.’ She said that was completely fine, just be respectful.”
Being in the photo wasn’t mandatory, Matthew said, so he was surprised by the number of students who agreed to turn out because of the lack of support among the students for Trump.
“Our school is pretty liberal. I only know three Trump supporters in our grade and there’s a lot people in our grade. So it’s fairly liberal. [Teachers] knew that a lot of people didn’t like Paul Ryan,” he said. “But they gave us the option. I was shocked by the number of people who wanted to join me and my friends to not take a picture of him. It was like half the grade.”
His mom, Elissa Malespina, said she’s proud of her son for standing up for his principles.
“I proud of him that he chose to not do that and I proud he did so in a respectful manner,” she told the Post. “Yes, he [Ryan] is the third most powerful person in the nation, technically, but I don’t agree with his stance on a lot of things and neither does my child.”