In this March 2012 file photo, Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan attend a rally in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Photo: AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced on Saturday that he has chosen seven-term Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. The news first broke via the campaign's smartphone app: "Mitt's choice for VP is Paul Ryan. Spread the word about America's Comeback Team #RomneyRyan2012."
Romney praised his running mate by describing him as a "man of tremendous character" and an "intellectual leader" of the Republican Party.
"He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt – and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don’t change course. Paul Ryan combines a profound sense of responsibility for what we owe the next generation with an unbounded optimism in America’s future and an understanding of all the wonderful things the American people can do," said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
After introducing Ryan as "the next president of the United States," Romney good-naturedly acknowledged that he sometimes makes mistakes, "but I didn't make a mistake picking this guy."
Ryan returned the high praise in his remarks.
"Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history. Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country, which have inspired the world, are growing dim; and they need someone to revive them. Gov. Romney is the man for this moment; and he and I share one commitment: we will restore the dreams and greatness of this country," Ryan said at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia, to kick off "The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" bus tour.
Naming Ryan earlier than expected helps Romney shift the current political debate from his personal finances onto the nation's financial future. The constant hammering by President Obama's re-election team about the Republican's refusal to release additional tax records and his tenure as head of Bain Capital has taken a toll on Romney's polling numbers in key swing states.
Ryan, 42, is a bold but risky choice, and one that the former Massachusetts governor hinted at on Thursday in an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC Nightly News. Instead of reiterating his previous goal to find a number two who would be ready on day one to take over should that become necessary, he said his nominee would need to have "a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country."
The Wisconsin congressman chairs the House Budget Committee and truly is the "severely conservative" person that Romney, to great skepticism, has claimed to be. He also is the author of the controversial Republican budget plan that would cut trillions from the federal budget in a way that would fundamentally change social safety net programs during a time when some say they're needed most.
“The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a statement.
Pundits and other political observers had begun to complain that Romney, who has so far offered few detailed policy prescriptions, has been running a campaign about nothing. With Ryan on his team, it will be much ado about how big a role government should play in Americans' lives and the best path toward full economic recovery.
Whether the choice helps or hurts Romney's prospects for winning the White House, only time will tell.
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