|Romney (left) introduces Ryan in Wisconsin. (AP)
Washington, Aug. 11: Mitt Romney introduced Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate today at a boisterous rally in Norfolk, Virginia, a choice that elevates one of the party’s young conservative leaders to the Republican ticket and intensifies the debate over the size and role of the government.
The selection of Ryan, the chief architect of the Republican Party’s tax-and-spending-cut plan and an advocate of reshaping the traditional Medicare programme of health insurance for retirees, was an effort to reset the race with President Barack Obama after months in which Romney has come under intense assault from Democrats.
The decision instantly made the campaign seem bigger and more consequential, with the scale of the federal government squarely at the centre of the debate, even as it shifted attention to some degree away from what had been Romney’s intense focus, the lack of steady and substantial job growth since Obama took office.
“There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan,” Romney said in announcing his vice-presidential candidate. “I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t respect his character and judgement.”
When Ryan joined Romney on stage, standing against the backdrop of the battleship U.S.S. Wisconsin, the pair presented a Republican ticket that also represents a generational change, highlighting Romney’s business experience and Ryan’s deep knowledge of the nation’s budget.
At 42, Ryan is the same age as Romney’s oldest son.
The announcement, which had been kept secret by Romney until the final hours, opened a weekend tour of key battleground states, with the two travelling together to kick off the debut of their partnership.
They called themselves “America’s Comeback Team.”
For Romney, the decision is one of the boldest of his presidential candidacy, which has been guided by a do-no-harm strategy over the last year. It promised to energise conservatives, who had been lobbying for Ryan and see his budget as the key to unlocking the economy’s growth potential.
The President’s re-election campaign and the Democratic Party quickly seized on the choice and began to define the Republican ticket in stark terms, as two men who would strip health coverage for retirees and favour the wealthy.
As Ryan addressed a crowd of more than 2,000 supporters, he said the nation was on an “unsustainable path” and said Republicans would not be deterred by Democratic scare tactics.
“The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this,” Ryan said, “We won’t duck the tough issues, we will lead. We won’t blame others, we will take responsibility. And we won’t replace our founding principles, we will reapply them.”
In introducing Ryan, Romney mistakenly called him “the next President of the United States,” left the stage, then returned to correct himself as Ryan prepared to speak. Ryan called Romney “the right man to lead America back to prosperity and greatness”.
The selection of Ryan means that this year will be the first time in 80 years that no candidate of either of the two major political parties will have served in uniform.
The President’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, today argued the Republican ticket “would end Medicare as we know it,” a preview of messages that will play out in the most expensive presidential campaign in the nation’s history.
Romney called the other finalists for the position yesterday evening, aides said, and thanked them for their cooperation in the vetting process and their help with his campaign. He did not tell them whom he selected.
“He had two decisions to make: Governing or political and bold or comfortable,” Karl Rove, the Republican strategist, said today. “And he decided to go governing and bold.”
Romney, who is not known for routinely exhibiting physical warmth, patted Ryan on the back 10 times after his running mate bounded onto the stage. When Ryan finished his remarks, Romney whispered a word into his ear. “Perfect,” he said.