Romney-Ticket Debuts Aboard The USS Wisconsin

NPR's Ari Shapiro is on the road with the Romney campaign. He talks with guest host Linda Wertheimer about the scene on the USS Wisconsin when Mitt Romney made his vice president selection announcement.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

The Romney campaign is now the Romney-Ryan campaign. The newly minted Republican ticket was presented at an event in Norfolk, Virginia. Mitt Romney named Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate beside the aptly named USS Wisconsin. In his introduction of Ryan, he extolled the Midwestern virtues of the congressman.

MITT ROMNEY: Paul's father died when he was in high school. That forced him to grow up earlier than any young man should. But Paul did, with the help of his devoted mother, his brothers and sister and a supportive community. And as he did, he internalized the virtues and hardworking ethic of the Midwest. Paul Ryan works in Washington, but his beliefs remain firmly routed in Janesville, Wisconsin.

WERTHEIMER: For more now, we're joined by NPR's correspondent Ari Shapiro, who's been covering the Romney campaign, and is on the scene. Ari, good to hear from you. I thought you were being held prisoner in the pool coverage. I wasn't sure we'd ever hear from you again.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: We are in the motorcade right now rolling from the USS Wisconsin to the next stop, launching this bus tour, day one of which will take us across Virginia for hundreds of miles to a few different stops over the course of the day with Romney and Ryan.

WERTHEIMER: So, what do you think about what Mr. Romney had to say today?

SHAPIRO: You know, there are two qualities that any vice presidential candidate has to have. They have to be a cheerleader and also an attack dog. And those were both on full display in Paul Ryan's speech. He talked about how terrific Mitt Romney is, what a great plan he has for restoring America. And he talked about how awful Barack Obama is.

One of the things that struck me is that, you know, Mitt Romney strikes both of those notes, too; his plans for the future and why Barack Obama has led America astray in his view. And the audience is generally enthusiastic at Romney rallies. But there was a fervor for Paul Ryan that we have not seen a whole lot on this campaign trail. And, really, I think that was part of the reasoning for choosing Ryan this ticket, was that people are passionate about him in a way that they're just not quite not as passionate about Mitt Romney. They may be passionate about getting rid of Barack Obama, but the passion for Ryan is something different.

WERTHEIMER: You know, I was sort of impressed with the fact that Mr. Romney made a fairly substantial campaign speech of his own, standing by himself at the podium before he brought out Mr. Ryan. It did seem to me very much that he was saying, OK, that was then and this is now. Here's the all-new Romney campaign, the Romney-Ryan campaign.

SHAPIRO: The Romney campaign need a reset, which is exactly what this is. I don't think anyone would disagree that the Obama campaign kind of won the summer with a series of perhaps small victories, playing small ball at times, but inching up in the polls. Bad headlines for Romney, and the debate about, you know, who made the latest gaffe and whose attack ads were the most misleading. This resets the agenda and resets the Romney campaign to be about what Paul Ryan described as specific proactive policies to fix America, which I think, you know, whether you agree or disagree with Ryan policies, is really what both sides have said they want to have; is a conversation not about whether you like to fire people, not about whether small business owners really did build that, but about how you're going to fix this country's fiscal problems. And those fiscal issues are squarely in Paul Ryan's wheelhouse, as the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

WERTHEIMER: They both talked about how this represents a clear choice, and that also seemed to mean something that they will raise as a theme during the rest of this. Perhaps during the rest of his...

SHAPIRO: And that is something...

WERTHEIMER: ...swing through the states that they're visiting, the swing states.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, the idea of this being a clear choice between two very different visions of America is something that President Obama agrees with the Romney-Ryan campaign about. You know, Paul Ryan has put his ideas in a very clear, comprehensive thick budget proposal. Democrats will point out that there are some things missing from that proposal. For example, which loopholes and tax deductions will he eliminate to balance the budget.

But the fact is, the Romney proposals are a little less fleshed out than the Ryan proposals. And now that Ryan is on the ticket and Romney has endorsed the Ryan plans, you can have the kind of detailed substantive conversation that both sides say they want.

WERTHEIMER: That was NPR's Ari Shapiro on the road with the Romney-Ryan campaign.

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