In tapping the conservative star, Romney inextricably tied himself to Ryan’s controversial vision for erasing the country’s red ink — a revamp of Medicare, deep spending cuts and a restructured tax code that would lower all rates, even for the wealthy.
Romney announced his selection in dramatic fashion Saturday morning, with each man stepping down the deck of the USS Wisconsin — a World War II-era battleship named for Ryan’s home state — to the soundtrack of the movie “Air Force One.” And at a trio of packed rallies across Virginia, Romney praised his new partner as a servant of America’s working classes and a citizen of integrity, character and vision.
“He’s never been content to simply curse the darkness,” Romney said of Ryan. “He’d rather light candles.”
Before a cheering crowd of more than 1,500 here, Ryan introduced himself by saying the ticket offers a brand of candid leadership missing under President Obama.
“The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this: We won’t duck the tough issues; we will lead,” Ryan said. “We won’t blame others; we will take responsibility. And we won’t replace our founding principles; we will reapply them.”
The two then loaded onto Romney’s campaign bus with their wives and families to travel north through this important swing state, showing in their first hours together an easy rapport that reflected the chemistry that had impressed Romney’s aides from the time the two first campaigned together in April.
Ryan was a pick for a candidate in need of a jolt; recent polls had shown Obama with a small but steady lead over Romney in key swing states.
The selection achieved the rare feat of pleasing leaders in both parties. Top conservatives said Ryan would energize the party’s base and offer an articulate and robust defense of smaller government. Democrats said they were equally convinced voters will reject Ryan’s prescription for deficit reduction as too harsh. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina quickly called the Ryan budget proposals “radical” and said they would ensure “budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors.”
Democrats immediately blasted supporters with fundraising notices about the pick. “Yeah — that Paul Ryan. The architect of the Republican plan to kill Medicare,” began one from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Romney promised that Ryan would be a candidate who “appeals to the better angels of the American people” and could help lift the national dialogue.