NORFOLK, Virginia — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, according to a Republican with knowledge of the development.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to disclose the decision.
Romney’s completion of the Republican ticket comes as he tries to repair an image damaged by negative Democratic advertising and shift the trajectory of a campaign that’s seen him lose ground to President Barack Obama. The vice presidential selection will dominate headlines, and Romney’s team has been relentlessly teasing the announcement for weeks.
Ryan, 42, is viewed by some in the Republican Party as a bridge between the buttoned-up party establishment and riled-up conservative activists that have never warmed to Romney.
As the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan could help Romney make the argument that only the Republican ticket knows how to turn around a nation in the midst of a sluggish economic recovery. As talk about Ryan swirled this week, Democrats have been castigating Romney for embracing the Ryan-sponsored budget proposal that critics say is painful to the poor and elderly. It was a sign of the line of attack to come.
The move also now links Romney directly with House Republicans, including no-compromise conservative activists who have pressed for deep spending cuts. Obama has been casting House Republicans as an impediment to progress in the often-gridlocked Washington.
At the same time, Ryan on the ticket could help Romney become more competitive in Wisconsin, a state Obama won handily four years ago but that could be much tighter this November.
In a statement issued Friday night, Romney’s campaign would say only that the running mate would be revealed at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
The newly minted Republican ticket will appear together Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia, at the start of a four-state bus tour to introduce the Republican ticket to the nation.
In recent days, conservative pundits have been urging Romney to choose Ryan in large part because of his authorship of a House-backed budget plan that seeks to curb overall entitlement spending and changes government health insurance for the elderly and poor into a voucher-like system to save costs.
On Thursday, Romney fueled the buzz around Ryan, telling NBC that he wants a vice president with “a vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country.”
Several Republicans took that as an indication that Ryan had shot to the top of a shortlist said to include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Neither of those Republicans had plans to be in Virginia on Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial on Thursday, praised Ryan as a strong choice for Romney: “The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House budget chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline.”