NORFOLK, Va. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate, according to multiple sources close to the Republican’s campaign. They will appear together today in Norfolk, Va., at the start of a four-state bus tour to introduce the newly minted GOP ticket to the nation.
Several national news outlets, including The Associated Press and NBC News, reported late Friday that Romney has chosen the 42-year-old Ryan, the House budget chairman. In a statement, Romney’s campaign would say only that the running mate would be revealed at the Nauticus Museum today. Berthed at the museum is the USS Wisconsin — which offered a hint about Romney’s choice.
Aimed at conservatives
Before Romney’s team issued the statement, all signs seemed to point to Ryan, the seven-term Wisconsin congressman whose nomination could help assuage the conservative base of the party that has been reluctant to fully embrace Romney.
Romney’s preference for a team player cannot be overstated in a campaign led by an inner circle that has worked together for a decade in some cases.
Campaigning together during this spring’s GOP primary, Romney and Ryan were visibly comfortable with each other on a personal and professional level. Romney eagerly shared the microphone with Ryan during campaign events, they shared hamburgers at a fast-food restaurant, and the congressman played a leading role in an April Fool’s joke on the Republican presidential contender.
Conservative pundits have been urging Romney to choose Ryan in large part because of his authorship of a House-backed budget plan that seeks to curb overall entitlement spending and changes Medicaid into a voucher-like system to save costs.
On Thursday, Romney fueled the buzz around Ryan, telling NBC that he wants a vice president with “a vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country."
Several Republicans took that as an indication that Ryan had shot to the top of a short list said to include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Neither of those Republicans had plans to be in Virginia on Saturday.
Romney’s completion of the GOP ticket comes as he tries to repair an image damaged by negative Democratic advertising and shift the trajectory of a campaign that’s seen him lose ground to President Barack Obama. The vice presidential selection will dominate headlines, and Romney’s team has been relentlessly teasing the announcement for weeks.
Who is Paul Ryan?
Ryan, 42, is viewed by some in the Republican Party as a bridge between the buttoned-up GOP establishment and a riled-up tea party movement that has never warmed to Romney.
As the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan could help Romney make the argument that only the GOP ticket knows how to turn around a nation in the midst of a sluggish economic recovery. As talk about Ryan swirled this week, Democrats have been castigating Romney for embracing the Ryan-sponsored budget proposal that critics say is painful to the poor and elderly.
The move also now links Romney directly with House Republicans, including no-compromise tea partyers who have pressed for deep spending cuts. Obama has been casting them as an impediment to progress in often-gridlocked Washington.