REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE Mitt Romney has announced his running mate for November’s US presidential election today – a relatively young congressman of Irish descent.
Romney made his formal announcement – naming Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential nominee – in Norfolk, Virginia today, during a tour of a decommissioned battleship, the USS Wisconsin, which shares its name with Ryan’s home state.
Ryan, a Catholic 42-year-old, has long been hyped as a potential nominee for the Republicans, particularly given his role in last year’s crisis talks on raising the US’s debt ceiling, and his pro-active publication of two alternative Budgets to those put forward by President Barack Obama.
Ryan is also a co-founder of the Republicans’ ‘Young Guns Programme’, which aims to identify potential Republican candidates and recruit them to run for office, and is the chairman of the House of Representatives’ influential budget committee.
The conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial earlier this week that Ryan ”best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election,” and that choosing him would show voters that Romney was not shying away from engaging in monumental debates.
“Mr. Romney’s best chance for victory is to make this a big election over big issues,” the WSJ wrote.
Political observers had speculated that Romney would make a ‘safe’ choice, with attention focusing on Senator Rob Portman of the crucial state of Ohio, who has considerable Washington experience that Romney lacks.
Another option had been former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who is perceived as a Washington outsider with working class roots.
But Romney will be seen as making a bold move in picking Ryan as his running mate, with the Wisconsin man seen as being able to energise the conservative base who, although committed to seeing Barack Obama removed from office, occasionally see Romney as being too moderate.
The timing of the proposed announcement has taken some by surprise, but will now mean that Romney will be able to delegate some campaigning duties as his nationwide tour takes in the key swing states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina.
All four of those states voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but are now considered to be ‘in play’.
Additional reporting by AFP