By Philip Rucker and Rosalind S. Helderman, Saturday, August 11, 7:37 AM
NORFOLK — Mitt Romney has selected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential running mate and will make the long-awaited announcement here Saturday morning.
Romney’s campaign formally alerted supporters at 7 a.m. via an iPhone app that the seven-term congressman would be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. Minutes later, the campaign sent out a release calling Romney and Ryan “America’s comeback team.”
By selecting Ryan, Romney has made a potentially bold but risky move to reset the dynamics of the presidential election. He has chosen the intellectual heart of the movement within the Republican Party to slash deficits and signaled a desire to place the nation’s looming fiscal challenges at the center of the campaign’s final months.
Romney will formally introduce Ryan as his new partner at a rally in the key swing state of Virginia — appearing with the congressman on the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, a not-so-subtle nod to the pick.
Already, the campaign has unveiled a new Web site, www.RomneyRyan.com
, redirecting readers to the Romney campaign’s home page.
With his selection, Romney offers voters the starkest possible choice on how to address issues of spending and taxing, embracing Ryan’s single-minded focus on reducing the nation’s debt without raising taxes.
It is a fight Democrats have savored, believing the details of Ryan’s budget will turn off voters and persuade them that Democrats offer a fairer path to reduced deficits through a combination of spending cuts and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare is particularly controversial and will now play a key role in critical swing states with large retiree populations, most notably Florida, where Romney and Ryan are scheduled to campaign on Monday.
While Romney’s pick does not replicate the surprise jolt of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin four years ago, Ryan is nonetheless a splashier pick than several other contenders considered safer options.
Two who were high on Romney’s short list of VP contenders — former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman — were informed in recent days that they would not be on the ticket, according to two Republican sources. Both were scheduled for other events on Saturday.
Ryan is likely to energize a GOP base that sought a campaign with a clear vision for the country and not just one focused on criticizing President Obama.
Ryan got a strong boost over the past few days from conservatives, with editorials pushing his candidacy in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and the National Review.
But the pick could offer Democrats a boost as well, allowing them to fully link Romney to a Ryan spending plan they are convinced is deeply unpopular. It could also focus attention on government spending at the expense of discussion about how to jump-start the economy.
As chairman of the House Budget Committee, it fell to Ryan to convert the new Republican majority’s government-cutting promises into a detailed legislative blueprint following the 2010 midterm election.