Mitt Romney And Paul Ryan's First Day Out

It's been a big day for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Romney officially announced his running mate this morning in Virginia. NPR's Ron Elving tells guest host Linda Wertheimer how the pair are starting out.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. It's been a big day for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Romney officially announced his running mate this morning in Virginia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

MITT ROMNEY: It's an honor to announce my running mate and the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan.

WERTHEIMER: Romney introduced president - Romney introduced Representative Paul Ryan to the crowd, describing him as an experienced leader in Congress and a man of high moral values.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: Paul's upbringing is obvious in how he's conducted himself throughout his life, including his leadership in Washington. In a city that's far too often characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception. He doesn't demonize his opponents. He understands that honorable people can have honest differences, and he appeals to the better angels of our nature. There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan. I don't know of anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment.

WERTHEIMER: After he was introduced to the crowd, Paul Ryan highlighted Romney's commitment to his conservative vision.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at this crucial time in its history. Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country - which have inspired the world - are growing dim. They need someone to revive them. Governor Romney is the man for this moment.

WERTHEIMER: For more, we have NPR's Washington editor, Ron Elving, who's been following the events of the morning with us.

Now, Ron, the new team is out there. It's on the stump. What is going on right now?

RON ELVING, BYLINE: One way to look at this is that they are introducing themselves to each other as teammates, even as they are introducing themselves to the Republican Party as its champions, even as they are introducing themselves beyond that to the entire electorate as the two men who would like to replace President Obama and Vice President Biden.

WERTHEIMER: So, what's your impression of this team? How do they look together?

ELVING: One way to look at this might be that this is the field of other presidential candidates from the primaries in the Republican Party who lost to Mitt Romney being distilled, in some sense, into one person and added to the ticket to balance Mitt Romney. In the sense that the party chose Mitt Romney - surely, he won in the primaries. He wasn't really that pressed in the end. But there was a period of time, there - January, February, March - where it looked like it could go one way or the other.

Rick Santorum, for example, came within a couple of points of Mitt Romney in Michigan, in Ohio - might have knocked him off there, might have gotten the nomination. So there were a lot of people in party who were not crazy about the idea of Romney as the standard-bearer. All of those people on the right side of the party, to some degree, are going to find their man now in Paul Ryan. He's - he fulfills - he satisfies a lot of what they felt was lacking in Mitt Romney.

WERTHEIMER: I see what you mean. I think that's a nice way to put it. What do you think? Will this bring the Republican base out in the fall? I assume so.

ELVING: Yes. And, of course, we've been told all year that it didn't matter - to some degree - whom the Republicans might nominate. Barack Obama would bring the Republican base out in the fall, that they would all come out to vote against the president. And it didn't really matter who the Republican was, they'd be there. There was truth in that.

But there is probably even a more powerful incentive now for them to turn out - not only to vote against the president, but to vote for Paul Ryan - and, of course, also Mitt Romney. I'm not trying to make him sound unacceptable to the Republican base. But he was not as thrilling. So there's kind of a half-a-Palin here for Mitt Romney. He's not as much in contrast with the excitement factor as Sarah Palin was in contrast with John McCain's excitement factor for these activists and advocates that I'm talking about. But he's kind of a half-Palin in terms of the booster-rocket he gives to the ticket.

WERTHEIMER: So are you expecting an exciting convention, very quickly?

ELVING: I expect it will be an exciting convention, because these things are all made for TV, and the excitement is, to some degree, already manufactured before you get there. They're always fun.

WERTHEIMER: Ron, thank you very much. NPR's Washington editor, Ron Elving.

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