Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has tapped House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate.
“Join me in welcoming the next President of the United States, Paul Ryan,” Romney told a crowd in Norfolk, Va., before sheepishly correcting himself. “Every now and then I’m known to make a mistake,” he said, as Ryan reached the podium. “I did not make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this. He’s going to be the next vice president of the United States.”
The choice of Ryan, the architect of Republican budget plans that would radically transform both Social Security and Medicare, was seen as an attempt by Romney to reach out to the conservative wing of the Republican party. Conservative stalwarts have cheered Ryan’s economic proposals, which would dramatically cut government across the board.
“Like Mitt Romney, Ryan’s severely conservative positions are out of touch with most Americans’ values,” the Obama campaign said. “He would take us backward on women’s health and equal rights.”
Ryan has been a lightning rod for Democratic criticism since he took control of the budget committee in 2011. Democrats have literally run commercials showing Ryan throwing old people off cliffs. Ryan’s budget would transform Medicare from universal coverage to a voucher system that could be used to purchase private medical coverage.
Ryan’s father died when he was 15, and he worked his way through college, at one point as the driver of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. Ryan worked as an aide in Congress before winning his seat in 1998.
Ryan is a rarity on a national ticket; few members of the House of Representatives are picked for the number two slot. The last member of the House to stand on a national ticket was Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., in 1984. No Republican member of the House has been on the ticket since Rep. William Miller, R-N.Y., in 1964. The last member of the House to win election as vice president was John Nance Garner in 1932.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer