Ryan Energizes Romney's Weekend Campaign Stops

Rep. Paul Ryan will be campaigning in Iowa Monday. It will be his first day campaigning solo since GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney named him as his running mate on Saturday. Over the weekend, thousands of people lined up for hours to see the newly minted GOP ticket.

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Today is Paul Ryan's first day campaigning solo as Mitt Romney's running mate. Ryan will be in Iowa, the same state where President Obama is launching a three-day bus tour. For the Republican team, it's going to be hard to top the enthusiasm of the weekend. Thousands of people lined up for hours to see the newly-minted ticket at events in Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

NPR's Ari Shapiro brings us this roundup from the weekend.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: In High Point, North Carolina, people have been crammed into this furniture warehouse for hours. It's a low brick building with a corrugated tin roof that seems to trap heat. People have ripped up the tops of cardboard boxes to fan themselves.

Sweat is dripping down Roy Edwards's face. And there's no place he'd rather be.

ROY EDWARDS: This is the actual beginning of a new era for America.

SHAPIRO: Not the start of Romney's campaign. Not the day Romney won the primary. But this - the arrival of Paul Ryan on the ticket as vice presidential nominee.

Truck driver Daryl Wrenn wears a shirt that says OMG: Obama Must Go.

DARYL WRENN: Excellent pick. Great pick. Plus, he's more of a conservative than some of the others candidates that he may, could have chosen. So as far as that goes, he made the right choice.

SHAPIRO: All weekend long, audiences roared when Ryan took the stage with Romney. The crowds were among the biggest of Romney's political career. It peaked last night in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: A camera on a swinging crane swept over the audience of more than 13,000 people. Romney and Ryan worked through the exuberant crowd, giving handshakes and high-fives, perfect images for future political ads. Ryan blew kisses to the audience and wiped away tears.

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Hi, mom.

SHAPIRO: The campaign called it a homecoming rally.

RYAN: I see my family over here. That's this half of the stadium.

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: I got a lot of family. Oh.

SHAPIRO: He composed himself. And soon his emotions shifted, to anger at the president.

RYAN: Imagine what he would do if he never has to face the voters ever again.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

SHAPIRO: You know what? We're not going to find out.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: Over the course of the weekend, Ryan often overshadowed his running mate. He told the Romney biography story better than the presidential candidate has been able to do. And his digs at President Obama landed with more zing.

But Romney improved his own performance too. In Wisconsin, his stump speech had a new edge.

MITT ROMNEY: Mr. President, take your campaign out of the gutter and let's talk about the real issues that America faces.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: It's clear that Romney enjoys Ryan's company. Campaign advisor Stuart Stevens told reporters, I think he's happy to have someone else around. He's tired of us. When a few reporters were allowed to drop by the bus to see the running mates, the two men were finishing each other's sentences.

ROMNEY: Do we ever get a chance to campaign together? Or is that like we've now experienced...

RYAN: Does that ever happen again?

ROMNEY: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Do we see ever him until inauguration?

SHAPIRO: For their first joint interview on "60 Minutes," they even dressed similarly. Romney said in the White House he would use Ryan as a key liaison to Congress.

ROMNEY: You can't imagine having someone like Paul Ryan, who's been able to work with Democrat senators, Democrat members of the House, as well as Republicans, being able to make things happen there. I can't imagine not using him and to have his skill in finding those people that can come together and find common ground, despite differing views on issues.

SHAPIRO: Democrats say of course Republicans are excited about Paul Ryan; they got excited about Sarah Palin too.

DAVID AXELROD: I think it's going to be troubling to the mainstream of the American electorate.

SHAPIRO: Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod was on "Meet the Press" yesterday morning. He attacked Paul Ryan's budget, though Romney says he'll come up with his own budget proposal.

AXELROD: It clarifies the choice for the American people. And I think it clarifies the choice in a way that is going to be helpful.

SHAPIRO: At the end of the day, the Romney bus pulled onto the tarmac at Milwaukee Airport. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney walked down the steps, shook hands and boarded separate airplanes - Romney to Florida, Ryan to Iowa.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign.

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