“Remember the chaos? Remember the waste and the bloated spending and the corruption that was plaguing the Olympics at that time?” Ryan asked sweaty throngs of supporters packed into a steamy furniture factory in High Point, N.C., on Sunday. “Who did they turn to? Who did they ask to drop everything in his life and save the Olympics? That was this man right here.”
Romney, standing to Ryan’s side, smiled and nodded.
Onstage, the relaxed Ryan exudes the kind of vigor and easy confidence that the more stiff and seemingly scripted Romney long has struggled to project. “This is awesome,” the 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin exhorted as he looked out at another roaring crowd. When Romney pledged to get rid of “Obamacare,” Ryan threw his arms in the air in approval, as if his beloved Green Bay Packers had just scored a touchdown.
“I am so happy,” Romney told an overflow crowd in North Carolina. “I am so happy to have my teammate now — the two of us.”
On Sunday night, the two flew here to Waukesha for a huge “homecoming” rally honoring Ryan, a fifth-generation Wisconsinite. He didn’t hide his emotions, wiping tears from his eyes. His voice choking up, Ryan looked out at the crowd of about 10,000 and said, “Hi, Mom!”
“My veins run with cheese, bratwurst and a little Spotted Cow, Leinenkugels and some Miller” beer, Ryan said. “I was raised on the Packers, Badgers, Bucks and Brewers. I like to hunt here. I like to fish here. I like to snowmobile here. I even think ice fishing is interesting.”
Romney later said that returning home with Ryan brought tears to his eyes, too. But an hour after the rally, the two parted ways and are not expected to appear together again for 21
2 weeks, when they will reunite at the Republican National Convention, in Tampa.
So with the couple’s short honeymoon over, will Romney go back to being the candidate he was, or will he carry this newfound momentum through the rest of his bus trip and the fall campaign? And as Ryan begins his solo campaign swing, will his star power among conservative activists outshine Romney’s, drawing parallels to Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008?
Although Ryan’s validation of Romney has gone over well, it’s a tall order to seed a new narrative to prop up the candidate, whose likability ratings fell this summer under the onslaught of the Obama campaign’s attacks on his personal finances and business ethics. And for all the attention Ryan has received since Romney tapped him as his No. 2 on Saturday, it’s Romney who will be debating President Obama and whose name will appear at the top of ballots in November.