GOP ticket: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney names Paul Ryan his No. 2
Mary Altaffer, ASSOCIATED PRESS
NORFOLK, Va. — Republican Mitt Romney anointed Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, an ardent conservative and devoted budget cutter, as his vice presidential running mate on Saturday, and the two men immediately embarked on a tour of campaign battleground states vowing to defeat President Barack Obama and repair the long-ailing U.S. economy.
America is "a nation facing debt, doubt and despair," and a transformative change in leadership is vital, Ryan declared to a flag-waving crowd in the first moments after Romney introduced him as his partner for the fall campaign.
"Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem... and Mitt Romney is the solution," said the seven-term lawmaker, who at 42 is a generation younger than Romney, 65. Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee, the chief architect of deeply controversial budget plans and widely viewed by Republican lawmakers as an intellectual leader within the party.
The two Republican ticket mates basked in the cheers of supporters in a made-for-television debut on a ticket hoping to make Obama's first term his last. "I did not make a mistake with this guy," Romney exulted.
Romney declared that in the campaign to come, Republicans will present economic solutions "that are bold, specific and achievable. ... We offer our commitment to help create 12 million new jobs and to bring better take-home pay to middle class families."
The party establishment, rank-and-file conservatives and tea party groups all cheered the pick made by Romney, whose own record as a moderate during his term as Massachusetts governor less than a decade ago made his march to the presidential nomination an uneven one.
Obama's campaign didn't wait long to respond. It criticized the budget blueprints Ryan has authored, particularly his recommendations to fundamentally remake Medicare and cut $5.3 trillion in government spending over the coming decade.
Ryan joins a race that has been defined from the beginning by a weak economy and high unemployment, measured most recently at 8.3 percent in July. Even so, recent national polls as well as surveys in several battleground states indicate a narrow advantage for Obama.
While Romney's pick unified Republicans, the impact in swing states such as Florida, Iowa and Pennsylvania was an open question. All are home to large numbers of seniors whose reaction to Ryan's prescription for Medicare is certain to be tested by Democrats.
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 Joe Biden will be nominated for a second term at the Democratic convention the following week. The vice president called Ryan to congratulate him on his selection, the president's campaign said.
The GOP ticket made its debut at a naval museum in Norfolk, Va., opening stop of a long-planned bus tour through four states in as many days. A trip to Ryan's home state was added to previously scheduled appearances in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.
The USS Wisconsin, berthed at the museum, provided a 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, 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, Liza, 10, and sons Charles, 8, and Sam 7, before kissing his wife, Janna.
Later, the two held a rally in Ashland, Va., where Ryan said he had good news and bad news.
The bad news is that "President Obama is the president of the United States, and the good news is that on November the 6th he won't be any longer," he said.
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