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Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduces his vice presidential running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, on Saturday in Norfolk, Va., on the deck of the battleship USS Wisconsin.

GOP’s ticket: Romney-Ryan

House fiscal pro brings youth, Midwest appeal

– Mitt Romney has selected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate, introducing the seven-term congressman and architect of Republicans’ budget-cutting plans at a spirited rally on the deck of a battleship Saturday.

In shirt sleeves and tie, Romney promised he and Ryan would restore the American economy by cutting deficits and growing jobs. He called Ryan a man of integrity and character rooted in his middle-class Midwestern upbringing and said he had chosen a candidate with a vision for addressing the nation’s fiscal problems.

“He’s never been content to simply curse the darkness,” Romney said of Ryan. “He’d rather light candles.”

Romney said he and Ryan will travel the country offering a campaign focused on “American aspirations and American ideals.”

Bounding to the deck of the USS Wisconsin – a not-so-subtle nod to Ryan’s home state – Ryan used his introduction on the national stage to praise Romney as a “man for this moment,” a leader capable of resetting the economy.

“Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history.

“Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country, which have inspired the world, are growing dim, and they need someone to revive them,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s proposal to overhaul Medicare has already become a favorite target for Democrats, who charge that it would essentially end the popular retiree program and shred the social safety net.

Reacting to the pick, Jim Messina, campaign manager for President Obama’s re-election effort, called the Ryan’s budget proposals “radical” and said they would ensure “budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors.”

Elevated to chairman of the Budget Committee with the Republican take-over of the House in the 2010 midterm elections, Ryan authored a budget proposal that called for reducing deficits to their lowest levels in decades by dramatically shrinking spending.

Notably, the plan called for reshaping Medicare into a government payment that would allow seniors to purchase private insurance, an attempt to curb the rising costs of the entitlement program.

That idea 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 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 choice than several other contenders who had been considered safer options.

Two who were high on Romney’s short list of VP contenders – former Minnesota Gov. 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.

Romney made the decision to choose Ryan on Aug. 1, the day he returned to the United States from his foreign tour, according to a campaign aide.