By Peter Heinlein
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has chosen Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. The choice will push the issue of government spending to the top of the campaign agenda.
Romney made the announcement Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia, as he began a four-day bus trip through four states considered critical to winning the November election.
“Today we take another step forward in helping restore the promise of America, as we move forward in this campaign and on to help lead the nation to better days,” he said. “It’s an honor to introduce my running mate and the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan.”
Ryan is a 42-year-old Congressman from the midwest state of Wisconsin and is known as a fiscal conservative.
He is chairman of the House Budget Committee and gained prominence as the primary author of a plan to make steep cuts in the federal budget. The Ryan proposal includes changes in government health programs for the poor and elderly, which are certain to be central issues in the campaign.
Speaking in front of a retired battleship named after his home state, Ryan gave a preview of how Republicans hope to shape the campaign debate.
“Families are hurting,” he said. “We have the largest deficits and the biggest federal government since World War Two. Nearly one out of six Americans are in poverty, the worst rate in a generation. Moms and dads are struggling to make ends meet. Household incomes have dropped by more than $4,000 over the past four years. Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure.”
Democrats immediately pounced on the choice, pointing out that Ryan’s budget plan calls for deep reductions in popular social programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, the health insurance programs for the elderly and the poor.
Ryan is in his seventh term in Congress. He is married with three children.