In a hearing on U.S. trade policy Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan held up a block of cheese as a prop. Yes, it was actual cheese, not a foam replica. A hunk of Gouda, from his home state of Wisconsin, to be precise. Ryan, perhaps best known as the losing vice-presidential nominee in 2012, had just lost again: a football bet with Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, and brandishing the cheese was his penalty. The Green Bay Packers, you might recall (or you might not), also from Ryan's home state, lost in the NFC Championship game to the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL team from McDermott's home state of Washington. Wisconsin is one of the top dairy-producing states, with cheese a principal export, so you can see how the bet's penalty came about.
Apparently Ryan, who is the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, used his cheesy prop to good effect, The Wall Street Journal reported, waving it around as he talked about tariffs on American food, international trade, and American dairy products.
It got us thinking: While we know all politicians' favorite cheese is cheddar (yep, we went there), what other cheeses could we pair with prominent Republicans and Democrats? Here's a tasty (and sometimes stinky) list of which cheese each politician probably totally loves.
Sarah Palin: Limburger
Come on, this is too easy. Limburger is known the world over for its strong (stinky) aroma that lingers, some might say, overstaying its welcome. Sounds like a former vice-presidential candidate, former governor of Alaska, former TV host we know.
Hillary Clinton: Cream cheese
It's smooth, it shows up everywhere, and it's popular in New York, where Clinton was senator before her failed presidential run in 2008.
John McCain: Monterey Jack
It's all-American, hard, and usually fairly aged. The senator from Arizona doesn't come across as a softie, and probably doesn't like his cheese that way, either. And he's not the youngest member of the Senate, but he's known for being one of the toughest.
Mitt Romney: Camembert
Camembert is one of the most expensive cheeses (remember, Mitt's loaded, and doesn't worry too much about the bottom 47 percent of voters), and it's white. Very white.
Elizabeth Warren: Cottage cheese
Because it's sort an acquired taste, but those who love it really love it. And as cheeses go, it's pretty good for you. The senator from Massachusetts became one of the more popular Democrats among her own party, but is not well-loved by the banking industry, which Warren has in her crosshairs.
Ted Cruz: Fermiere
Did you know this odd variety of cheese was Canadian? It is! Just like Cruz. Even though he tries not to admit it and renounced his Canadian citizenship, Cruz was born in Canada.
Joe Biden: Mozzarella
Everyone loves it, and it goes with everything. And it's best enjoyed when fresh, which he is. Did we mention everyone loves it?
Renee Ellmers: Feta
It's bland, without a lot of original flavor, and crumbles easily. Ellmers had her 15 minutes of fame when she tried to stop the vote on the Republicans' abortion bill, but then under pressure, changed her position and voted for different anti-abortion legislation anyway.
Jeb Bush: Ricotta
It's dull, but not always the first cheese you think of when you're choosing your favorite. It's sort of a second-choice kind of cheese, like this younger brother of former President George W. Bush.