Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will announce his choice for a vice presidential running mate later today in Norfolk, Virginia, with signs pointing toward U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
NBC News and the Associated Press are reporting that Romney has picked Ryan. Romney told NBC News Aug. 9 that that he wants a running mate with “a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country.”
Romney’s headquarters said in a release that the announcement would be made at about 9 a.m. East Coast time on the USS Wisconsin, a battleship on display in Norfolk.
The ship’s name and location created immediate speculation about who the vice presidential pick might be. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who authored a Republican deficit reduction plan, is a favorite of the party’s anti-tax Tea Party wing, and some Republicans have been pushing Romney in recent days to make a bold pick that creates a clear vision for the economic recovery that contrasts with President Barack Obama.
Multiple Romney aides and Republican officials contacted today wouldn’t confirm news reports that the former Massachusetts governor has chosen Ryan, and two people who declined to be named said they couldn’t discuss Romney’s choice, saying Romney planned to announce it via his social media application.
Last night, Romney, 65, called Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who was another frontrunner for the running mate position, to inform him he was not being selected, according to a Republican official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The first-term senator was planning to participate today in a bike ride in his home state to raise money for cancer research.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, also a frontrunner, told NBC News that he will be keeping his schedule of campaigning for Romney in New Hampshire today.
“I didn’t enter this thinking I was going to be the VP candidate, so I’m not disappointed,” Pawlenty said.
Ryan, 42, endorsed Romney in March as he was still working to secure his party’s nomination, and Romney has said the House budget committee’s deficit-reduction blueprint will serve as a model for his administration. Ryan accompanied Romney on the campaign trail for five consecutive days before the April 3 Wisconsin presidential primary, and the two men have enjoyed a friendly relationship.
Democrats plan to frame the choice as a capitulation to the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement and as evidence that Romney lacks strong backing within the grassroots of his party, according to a person close to the Obama campaign who wouldn’t comment publicly on the selection until it is announced. The campaign plans to use Ryan’s budget blueprint to cast him as an ideologue uninterested in working across the aisle, the person said.
Romney’s announcement comes as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepares to embark on a four-day, four-state bus tour aimed at taking the campaign directly into areas Obama won in 2008.
The campaign’s bus tour will start in Virginia and include stops in North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, all battleground states. That fact that Romney is making the announcement in Virginia underscores the state’s importance in this year’s presidential election. Obama won the state in 2008, becoming the first Democrat in 44 years to win the state.