Romney chooses Paul Ryan for running mate [VIDEO]

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Rep. Paul Ryan is the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

GOP candidate Mitt Romney made the announcement Saturday just after 9 a.m. at the Nauticus Museum near the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va.

“With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party,” Romney said, officially announcing the pick before Ryan took the stage.

“He combines a profound sense of responsibility for what we owe the next generation with an unbounded optimism of America’s future,” he added.

“Today’s a good day for America, and there are better things head,” Romney said, before introducing Ryan as the next “president of the United States of America.”

After Ryan took the stage, Romney came back to the microphone to clarify: “Every now and then I’m known to make a mistake. I did not make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this: he’s going be the next vice president of the United States.”

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

“Gov. Romney is the man for this moment; and he and I share one commitment: we will restore the dreams and greatness of this country,” he said.

Quoting his father, who died when he was young, Ryan recalled: “He’d say, ‘son, you’re either part of the problem, or you’re part of the solution.’ Well, regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem and Mitt Romney is the solution.”

“It is our duty to save the American Dream for our children and there’s. I believe there is no person in America who is better prepared because of his experienced, because of the principles he holds, and because of his achievement and excellence in so many different arenas to lead America,” Ryan said.

“We look at one another’s success with pride, not resentment, because we know that as more Americans work hard, take risks, succeed, more people will prosper, our communities will benefit and individual lives will be uplifted and improved,” Ryan said.

“The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this: We won’t duck the tough issues, we will lead. We won’t blame others, we will take responsibility. And we won’t replace our founding principles, we will reapply them,” Ryan said.

“We can turn this thing around. Real solutions can be delivered. But, it will take leadership, and the courage to tell you the truth,” Ryan concluded. “Mitt Romney is this kind of leader. I’m excited for what lies ahead and I’m thrilled to be a part of America’s Comeback Team. And together, we will unite America and get this done.”

The event in Virginia, a swing state that President Barack Obama carried in 2008, will kick off a four-state bus tour.

Romney has three events with his running mate, including the Norfolk event, on his Saturday schedule. He plans to stop by a small business in Ashland, Va., before leading a 1 p.m. rally there. Then it’s on to Manassas, Va., for a 4 p.m. rally. Romney is scheduled to hold three events Sunday in North Carolina.

The news that Ryan would be Romney’s running mate broke in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

The congressman from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a bold choice for Romney.

Ryan made a name for himself when he authored the House Republican budget plan that, among other things, made significant cuts to entitlement programs including Medicare and Social Security, as a way to deal with the soaring national debt. (RELATED:10 interesting facts about Paul Ryan)

The Ryan plan became a rallying cry for Republicans, and Romney himself endorsed it last March. But Democrats and liberal groups have tried to turn the telegenic Ryan into a kind of right-wing bogeyman. One left wing group, The Agenda Project, even produced an ad featuring a Ryan look-alike literally throwing an old woman off a cliff.

Indeed, the Ryan plan is already part of the Obama campaign’s attack line.

“The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid,” Obama for America’s Jim Messina said in a statement. “His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors.”

Critics have expressed concerns that picking Ryan would allow the Obama campaign to shift the focus of the race away from the stumbling economy and onto Medicare and entitlements. Additionally, Ryan voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008, and for the Medicare Part D prescription drug bill — both of which remain unpopular with Republicans. (He explained his votes in an interview with The Daily Caller.)

But Ryan adds excitement to the campaign. At just 42 years old, he has become a star among conservatives — someone who thinks the big ideas and came make this a “big election over big issues,” in the words of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, who touted him as the best choice on Aug. 9. While Romney doesn’t particularly excite the conservative base of the party, Ryan sends shivers down its spine.

It doesn’t hurt that Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin is a battleground state considered crucial to win the presidency, and one that both Romney and Obama will fight hard to win. Having Ryan on the ticket, a Public Policy Polling poll found, would boost Romney’s chances in the Badger State.

Read excerpts of the Ryan speech:

For the last 14 years, I have proudly represented Wisconsin in Congress. There, I have focused on solving the problems that confront our country, and turning ideas into action; and action into solutions.

I am committed, in mind and heart, to putting that experience to work in a Romney Administration. This is a crucial moment in the life of our nation; and it is absolutely vital that we select the right man to lead America back to prosperity and greatness.

That man is standing next to me. His name is Mitt Romney. And he will be the next president of the United States.

Let me say a word about the man Mitt Romney will replace. No one disputes President Obama inherited a difficult situation. And, in his first 2 years, with his party in complete control of Washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda. But that didn’t make things better.

In fact, we find ourselves in a nation facing debt, doubt and despair.

This is the worst economic recovery in 70 years.

Unemployment has been above 8 percent for more than three years, the longest run since the Great Depression. Families are hurting.

We have the largest deficits and the biggest federal government since WW II.

Nearly 1 out of 6 Americans are in poverty–the worst rate in a generation. Moms and dads are struggling to make ends meet.

Household incomes have dropped by more than $4,000 over the past four years.

Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure.

I represent a part of America that includes inner cities, rural areas, suburbs and factory towns. Over the years I have seen and heard from a lot from families, from those running small businesses, and from people who are in need. But what I have heard lately troubles me the most. There is something different in their voice and in their words. What I hear from them are diminished dreams, lowered expectations, uncertain futures.

I hear some people say that this is just “the new normal.” High unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt is not a new normal. It’s the result of misguided policies. And next January, our economy will begin a comeback with the Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will lead to more jobs and more take home pay for working Americans.

I believe my record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Governor Romney’s executive and private sector success outside Washington. I have worked closely with Republicans as well as Democrats to advance an agenda of economic growth, fiscal discipline, and job creation.

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.

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. Mitt Romney created jobs and showed he knows how a free economy works.

At the Olympics, he took a failing enterprise and made it the pride of our entire nation.

As governor of Massachusetts, he worked with Democrats and Republicans to balance budgets with no tax increases, lower unemployment, increase income and improve people’s lives.

In all of these things, Mitt Romney has shown himself to be a man of achievement, excellence and integrity.

We Americans look at one another’s success with pride, not resentment, because we know, as more Americans work hard, take risks, and succeed, more people will prosper, our communities will benefit, and individual lives will be improved and uplifted.

The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this:

We won’t duck the tough issues…we will lead!

We won’t blame others…we will take responsibility!

We won’t replace our founding principles…we will reapply them!

We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice:

What kind of country do we want to have?

What kind of people do we want to be?

We can turn this thing around. Real solutions can be delivered. But, it will take leadership. And the courage to tell you the truth.

Mitt Romney is this kind of leader. I’m excited for what lies ahead and I’m thrilled to be a part of America’s Comeback Team. And together, we will unite America and get this done. Thank you.

Alex Pappas and Paul Conner contributed to this report.

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