Romney introduces Paul Ryan as running mate

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NORFOLK, Virginia -- Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate on Saturday. The campaign made the announcement just after 5 a.m. MDT on a smartphone application.

Ryan, who appeared with Romney Saturday morning at the beginning of a four-day, four-state bus tour in Norfolk, Virginia, moved quickly to position himself and Romney as champions of voters dissatisfied with the economy.

"I represent a part of America that includes inner cities, rural areas, suburbs and factory towns," he said in remarks prepared for delivery Saturday morning. "Over the years I have seen and heard from a lot from families, from those running small businesses, and from people who are in need. But what I have heard lately troubles me the most. There is something different in their voice and in their words. What I hear from them are diminished dreams, lowered expectations, uncertain futures.

"I hear some people say that this is just 'the new normal.' High unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt is not a new normal. It's the result of misguided policies. And next January, our economy will begin a comeback with the Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will lead to more jobs and more take home pay for working Americans."

Aboard, not coincidentally, the U.S.S. Wisconsin, Romney called Ryan a man of tremendous character” who understands how to get things done in Washington.

“With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party,” Romney said.

Romney, like Obama did with Joe Biden four years ago, flubbed the intro of his vice presidential nominee, introducing Ryan as "the next President of the United States, Paul Ryan."

After Ryan stepped to the podium, Romney came back, put his hand on Ryan's shoulder and laughed off the gaffe, saying, "Sometimes I make mistakes. I did not make a mistake with this guy."

Reading from a TelePrompTer, Ryan told an enthusiastic, flag-waving crowd that he and Romney will "save the American Dream.

"We are on an unsustainable path that is robbing America of our freedom and security. It doesn't have to be this way," Ryan said.  

"We won't duck the tough issues. We will lead. We won't blame others. We will take responsibility. We won't replace our founding principles. We will reapply them."

Ryan did not once mention the thing that most defines him, his 2010 budget proposal that includes large entitlement cuts and a major reforming of Medicare.

But the Obama campaign did.

Obama campaign responds

The president's campaign wasted little time trying defend Ryan, releasing a statement midway through Ryan's remarks.

"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy," said Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager. 

"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.”

Making the choice

The Ryan choice was confirmed late Friday night, about an hour after the Romney campaign issued a press release announcing that it would make the V.P. announcement Saturday morning in Norfolk.

GOP sources also confirmed that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio had all been told that they were not getting the nod.

Romney's son, Tagg, called several of the candidates on his father's vice presidential shortlist on Friday evening to tell them he had selected a running mate and to thank them for assisting with his campaign. Romney did not indicate on the calls whom he had selected, the source said.

In a statement, Portman called Ryan "a great choice." He added, "I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan Administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs."

Three Republicans close to the campaign confirmed that key staffers were told to prepare for the roll-out on Saturday morning, when Romney tours the U.S.S. Wisconsin, a museum battleship at the National Maritime Center in Norfolk.

Communications staffers for the Romney campaign were ordered to report to their Boston headquarters at 8 a.m. Saturday, an unusual directive for a weekend.

There were other signals that Romney was ramping up for a splashy weekend: much of the Romney high command flew Friday afternoon with the candidate from Boston to Norfolk, including Beth Myers, the adviser tasked with running the vice presidential search process, and Will Ritter, the campaign's director of advance who rarely leaves his spacious corner office in Boston's North End.

Ann Romney, the candidate's wife, landed in Norfolk after her trip to the Olympic Games in London.

The bus tour will take Romney through major media markets in four battleground states -- Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once a potential running mate, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Richmond native, joined Romney at stops in the commonwealth on Saturday.

Prior to Saturday's announcement, many Republicans privately wondered why Romney would announce the pick on a weekend when millions of potential voters are likely to be distracted by the Olympics, PGA golf, late-season baseball and the box office release of the latest Bourne thriller.

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