Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Saturday announced the selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia.
“He’s a perfect example of great steadiness, whose integrity is unquestioned and whose word is good,” Romney said of Ryan. “He understands the fiscal challenges facing our country.”
The choice of Ryan ends weeks of speculation about who Romney would choose as his vice presidential nominee. In addition to Ryan, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were considered top possibilities for the VP pick.
“For the last 14 years, I have proudly served Wisconsin in Congress,” Ryan said, standing in front of the USS Wisconsin battleship. “I am committed in heart and mind to putting that experience to work in a Romney administration.”
The 42-year-old Ryan is a Wisconsin native in his 7th term representing that state’s 1st congressional district. Among Ryan’s political experience is a stint as Jack Kemp’s speechwriter when Kemp was Republican Bob Dole’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election.
Ryan has been seen as a rising star among the GOP, gaining national attention — and criticism — for his Medicare reform plan.
A recent Rasmussen poll found that 39 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Ryan, compared to 25 percent that view him unfavorably. Thirty-five percent of voters have no opinion of Ryan, a significant segment that will be targeted by both parties in a race to define the newly formed GOP ticket.
The choice of Ryan could help Romney fire up a Republican base that has at times seemed ambivalent about the former Massachusetts governor as the party’s presidential nominee. But Democrats are sure to attack Ryan for his plan to reform Medicare, an issue especially sensitive for the key state of Florida and its high proportion of senior voters.
Romney’s announcement of Ryan as his running mate comes about two weeks before the Republican National Convention kicks off in Tampa, Florida, on Aug. 27.
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that Romney and Ryan are slated to make joint appearances on Sunday in North Carolina, with stops in Mooresville, High Point and Morrisville.