Mitt Romney Taps Rep. Paul Ryan as Vice Presidential Running Mate

paul ryan p 2012

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee was joined by the congressman from Wisconsin during a speech in Norfolk, Virginia.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as vice presidential running mate on Saturday.

"Paul Ryan works in Washington, but his beliefs remain firmly rooted in Janesville, Wisconsin. He's a person of great steadiness, whose integrity is unquestioned, and whose word is good," Romney said. "In a city that's far too often that's characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception."

In what will be a spoken-about gaffe, Romney called Ryan "the next President of the United States."

"I’m proud to stand with a man who understands what it takes to foster job creation in our economy, someone who knows from experience, that if you have a small business—you did build that," Ryan said in his speech.

"At Bain Capital, he launched new businesses and he turned around failing ones – companies like Staples, Bright Horizons and Sports Authority, just to name a few," he continued. "Mitt Romney created jobs and showed he knows how a free economy works."

In a statement, the Obama campaign said in part, "In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy."

Ryan was the preferred choice of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, as he has become one of its top leaders in the House of Representatives. The Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan put together a divisive budget, called "The Path to Prosperity," that would have re-made Medicare into a voucher-based private insurance system for those born after 1956, and repealed the majority of President Obama's health reform, The Affordable Care Act.

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While Romney was thought to be perhaps leaning toward former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty or Florida senator Marco Rubio, he received pressure from conservatives to choose Ryan. A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal urged Ryan's selection, and as the New York Times noted on Friday, so did the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, which praised Ryan's budget proposal.

The selection comes at a time in which Romney is seeking to re-take headlines, after weeks of questions about the investment firm he founded, Bain Capital, and a continuing scuffle over his refusal to release past tax returns. Nevada senator and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that he was told that Romney had not paid taxes for ten years, though he refuses to reveal his source.

He also recently returned from a difficult trip to overseas, during which he question London's preparedness for the Olympic Games and drew criticism for comments he made in Israel.

The news first broke late Friday night, as reports NBC News, The Huffington Post, CNN and the Associated Press all eventually confirmed Ryan was the choice. NBC broke into Olympic coverage to report the news; CNN began airing special programming on the vice presidential choice at 7 am EST, a full two hours before Romney will made the announcement on Saturday.

The Republican convention is set to begin August 27, in Tampa, Florida.