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GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's day two of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan bus tour. They've been campaigning today in North Carolina and in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. Tomorrow, they split off - Romney goes to Florida, Ryan heads to Iowa, which happens to be where President Obama will start a three-day bus tour of his own. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on the Republican running mate's first weekend as a ticket.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Since Paul Ryan came on the scene yesterday, Romney rallies have felt different. The crowds are bigger. The audience is more raucous. Lines that used to be a routine part of Romney's stump speech have become rousing battle cries.

MITT ROMNEY: We're going to do everything in our power to keep America strong with strong families and strong values, a strong economy, the strongest military in the world. We will restore American strength.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: At the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina, 1,600 people crowded into the room and thousands more swarmed outside. Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory described the scene this way.

PAT MCCRORY: I feel like I'm in Woodstock. There's a parking jam.

SHAPIRO: That's not a typical description of a Romney campaign rally, but it seemed apt as this bus tour worked its way through Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Intensity built from one stop to the next, and everywhere the audience shouted...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: USA. USA. USA. USA.

SHAPIRO: The reason, of course, is the running mate.

PAUL RYAN: Thank you, North Carolina.

SHAPIRO: Here's just one example of how Paul Ryan has changed the vibe here. At a typical Obama rally, someone will shout I love you, and the President replies I love you back. People don't shout that at Mitt Romney, but for both of the last two days...

RYAN: I love you too.

SHAPIRO: ...Paul Ryan got the love. Gail Rudisil has always liked Romney, but Paul Ryan sends a different kind of shiver down her spine.

GAIL RUDISIL: Because Mitt Romney is maybe a little bit detached from folks like us, right? Just regular, working folks, you know, struggling to get by, that sort of thing.

SHAPIRO: This energy can be a big plus for Romney and also a minus. Campaign advisers welcome the enthusiasm, but for a lot of reasons, they don't want the newcomer to overshadow the boss.

KEVIN MADDEN: The thing you have to remember about these campaigns is that Governor Romney's at the top of the ticket.

SHAPIRO: Romney adviser Kevin Madden underlined the hierarchy at a briefing with reporters this morning.

MADDEN: Governor Romney's vision for the country is something that Congressman Ryan supports. So I think that as we begin to talk about the issues as far as the economy, the budget, the vision for the future on how we create jobs and how we build a more sustainable economy, that's something that Governor Romney's going to be talking about and that Congressman Ryan's going to continue to support.

SHAPIRO: Got that? Romney's in charge. Ryan's the support. This has at least as much to do with policy as personality. Paul Ryan's budget proposals are a bull's-eye for Democrats.

DAVID AXELROD: You know, genial person, but his views are quite harsh.

SHAPIRO: This morning on CNN, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod called Ryan a right-wing ideologue.

AXELROD: You know, the budget that he constructed for the House Republicans that would include trillions of dollars of new tax cuts skewed to the wealthy so that we're giving a millionaire a $250,000 tax cuts while we're cutting college aid for kids and research and development and a whole range of things that we need to grow.

SHAPIRO: To Republicans, these kinds of attacks are a badge of honor. Patty Edgar attended a rally last night in Manassas, Virginia.

PATTY EDGAR: We needed somebody more right than middle. And that's going to draw in a lot of people that have the same values that he has.

SHAPIRO: The question is whether it will push away people who don't share those values. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign.

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