UPDATE: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate on Saturday, turning to the architect of a deeply conservative and intensely controversial long-term budget plan to remake Medicare and cut trillions in federal spending.
In the campaign to come, Republicans will present economic solutions "that are bold, specific and achievable," Romney said as he presented his political partner. "We offer our commitment to create 12 million new jobs and bring better take home pay to middle class families."
The two men basked in the cheers of supporters in their made-for-television debut on a ticket hoping to make President Barack Obama's first term his last. "I did not make a mistake with this guy," Romney exulted.
"I am deeply excited and honored to join you as your running mate," Ryan said in his first words at the podium." He said that together, Republicans would eliminate the country's "debt, doubt and despair."
He said that "Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem, and Mitt Romney is the solution" to an economy that has yet to make a strong recovery from the worst recession in decades.
The ticket made its debut at a naval museum in Norfolk, Va., the initial stop of a bus tour through four battleground states in as many days. The USS Wisconsin, berthed at the museum, was their bunting-draped backdrop, a symbol of the nation's military strength as well as an obvious reference to Ryan's home state.
First Romney, then Ryan, a generation younger than his patron, jogged down the ship's gangplank to the cheers of hundreds and the stirring soundtrack from the movie "Air Force One."
As his family came on stage, Ryan knelt to embrace his daughter and two sons before kissing his wife.
While word of Ryan's selection leaked late Friday night and was posted by the campaign to its phone app before the speeches, Obama's campaign withheld its reaction until the Republicans had spoken.
"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," Jim Messina, the president's campaign manager, said in a written statement.
"His plan would also end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors," he said.
Ryan's selection - as well as Romney's own nomination - will be ratified by delegates to the Republican National Convention that begins on Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden will be nominated for a second term at the Democratic convention the following week.
One campaign official said Romney settled on Ryan on Aug. 1, more than a week ago, and informed Beth Myers, the longtime aide who had shepherded the secretive process that led to the selection. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details.
It was not known when Romney informed Ryan he wanted him on the ticket.
In making his pick, Romney bypassed other potential running mates, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Officials said he had called all four to notify them of his decision.
There was one unscripted moment, when Romney mistakenly introduced Ryan as the next president. He returned to the podium to say, "Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake. I didn't make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this, he is going to be the next vice president of the United States."
At 42, Ryan is a more than two decades younger than the 65-year-old Romney.
His conservative credentials are highly regarded by fellow Republican House members, while numerous polls during the primaries of winter and spring found that Romney's credentials were suspect among the party's core supporters.
A seven-term congressman, Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee, and primary author of conservative tax and spending blueprints that the tea party-infused Republican majority approved over vociferous Democratic opposition in 2011 and again in 2012.
They envision transforming Medicare into a program in which future seniors would receive government checks that they could use to purchase health insurance. Under the current program, the government directly pays doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.
Ryan and other supporters say the change is needed to prevent the program from financial calamity. Critics argue it would impose ever-increasing costs on seniors.
Other elements of the budget plan would cut projected spending for Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor, as well as food stamps, student loans and other social programs that Obama and Democrats have pledged to defend.
In all, it projected spending cuts of $5.3 trillion over a decade, and cut future projected deficits substantially.
It also envisions a far reaching overhaul of the tax code of the sort Romney has promised.
Romney and Ryan appeared unusually comfortable with each other when they campaigned together earlier in the year. The former governor eagerly shared the microphone with the younger man and they shared hamburgers at a fast food restaurant.
In making an endorsement before his state's primary last spring, Ryan said, "I picked who I think is going to be the next president of the United States - I picked Mitt Romney. ... The moment is here. The country can be saved. It is not too late to get America back on the right track. ... It is not too late to save the American idea."
Romney was the subject of an April Fools prank in which Ryan played a role. Romney showed up at a supposed campaign event where he heard Ryan calling him "the next president of the United States" - only to find the room nearly empty.
In recent days, 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 spending on benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps.
Republican National Committee finance chairman Ron Weiser of Michigan, said Friday night that Ryan's selection would help Romney win Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes in the fall. The state typically supports Democrats in presidential contests, and Obama won it handily four years ago.
Ryan has worked in Washington for much of his adult life, a contrast to Romney, who frequently emphasizes his experience in business.
The congressman worked as an aide in Congress, and also was a speechwriter for Jack Kemp, who years earlier had been one of the driving forces behind across-the-board tax cuts that were at the heart of Ronald Reagan's winning presidential campaign in 1980.
Ryan is also well-known for his fiendish physical fitness workouts.
His congressional district in southeast Wisconsin has something of a bipartisan voting record. Obama took 54 percent of the vote there in 2008, while the congressman received 64 percent in winning re-election.
Outside Ryan's home in Janesville, Wis., on Friday night, there was nothing to suggest that the residence belonged to a vice presidential candidate. An Associated Press reporter who knocked just before midnight got no answer. There was a light on in a first-floor room of the two-story brick home atop a hill.
Earlier this week, a Ryan adviser said the congressman, his wife and their three children were preparing for a weeklong Colorado vacation.
Most of Romney's staff learned of the planned announcement during a 10 p.m. EDT conference call Friday about an hour before the campaign issued a statement. The identity of Romney's pick was not disclosed during the call. The campaign had promised that first news of the selection would be delivered via a phone app.
Earlier in the day, Romney's campaign briefed reporters on the bus tour without mention of the impending vice presidential announcement.
The tour will take Romney through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio. All are battlegrounds where Obama won in 2008. They hold a combined 75 electoral votes, of the 270 needed to win election.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, according to a Republican with knowledge of the development. They will appear together Saturday in Norfolk, Va., at the start of a four-state bus tour to introduce the newly minted GOP ticket to the nation.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to disclose the decision.
In a statement issued Friday night, Romney’s campaign would say only that the running mate would be revealed at 9 a.m. EDT at the Nauticus Museum. Berthed at the museum is the USS Wisconsin — which offered a hint about Romney’s choice.
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.
In recent days, 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 shortlist 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.
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. It was a sign of the line of attack to come.
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 House Republicans as an impediment to progress in the often-gridlocked Washington.
At the same time, Ryan on the ticket could help Romney become more competitive in Wisconsin, a state Obama won handily four years ago but that could be much tighter this November.
Adding fuel to the speculation, Romney’s son Tagg also joined Ryan at a funeral for victims of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting with Ryan on Friday, though the younger Romney said he is planning to campaign in New Hampshire over the weekend and is not attending the bus tour. And a plane was tracked Friday on a flight from Boston to Janesville, Wis., where Ryan lives.
The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial on Thursday, praised Ryan as a strong choice for Romney: “The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House budget chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline.”
Party officials say Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been convinced for days that Romney had settled on Ryan, according to multiple people who spoke with the chairman. Priebus, who, like Ryan, is from Wisconsin, was expected to attend Saturday morning’s announcement.
Outside Ryan’s home in Janesville, there were no cars in the vicinity with government plates. An Associated Press reporter knocked on the door to his home three times and go no answer just before midnight local time. There was a light on in a first-floor room of the two-story brick home atop a hill.
Earlier this week, a Ryan adviser said the family, including the congressman, was preparing for a weeklong vacation to Colorado that was to begin Saturday.
Pawlenty was maintaining his Saturday schedule campaigning for Romney in New Hampshire, an official close to Pawlenty’s political team said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak ahead of the formal announcement.
Most of Romney’s staff learned of the looming announcement during a 10 p.m. EDT conference call Friday about an hour before the campaign issued a statement. The identity of Romney’s pick was not disclosed during the call.
There were signs of a potential announcement as most of Romney’s senior staff joined him on the flight from Boston, and the campaign added a last-minute rally to their Virginia itinerary on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Romney’s campaign briefed reporters on the bus tour, making no mention of the impending vice presidential announcement.
“The governor keeps very close counsel on that, and I have no guidance,” adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said of any potential event.
Romney’s bus tour was expected to include appearances with Portman, as well as two others who had been talked about as possible contenders for running mate: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
The tour will take Romney through four must-win states in as many days: North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Ohio. All are battlegrounds where Obama won in 2008. While Obama could afford to lose in one or more of them and still reach the 270 electoral votes needed for another term, Romney almost certainly needs all four to beat him.