GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin
Republican who shot to national prominence with a plan to sharply reduce
government spending, as his running mate on Saturday.
“With energy and
vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party,”
Romney said in announcing his choice at a Virginian campaign stop held at the
battleship USS Wisconsin.
"He understands the fiscal challenges facing
America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt – and the fiscal catastrophe
that awaits us if we don’t change course.”
Romney added, “He has never
been content to simply curse the darkness; he would rather light candles.”
Romney described Ryan’s difficult loss of his father at a young age and the
strength his family found to persevere.
The former Massachusetts governor
noted that as “a faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of
every human life.”
Ryan in his remarks also touched on his optimism and
“America is more than just a place – it’s an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea,” he said. “Our rights come from nature and God, not
We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”
continued, “We can turn this thing around. Real solutions can be delivered. But,
it will take leadership.
And the courage to tell you the
Ryan came to Israel in 2005 as part of a large Republican
Congressional delegation hosted by the American Israel Education Foundation, a
charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs
He met with a wide array of Israeli political leaders,
including then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, and visited strategic sites in
Jerusalem and on the borders with Syria and Lebanon.
An official who took
part in the visit said Ryan gave an impression that he is a good friend of
Republicans Abroad in Israel cochairman Kory Bardash, who had
breakfast with Ryan at a Republican summit in Park City, Utah, in June, called
him “very enthusiastically pro-Israel and a political “superstar.” Bardash said
Ryan was impressed when he told him that he knew many immigrants to Israel from
Wisconsin who would be voting in the US election.
"He was very excited to
know that I came to the summit from Israel, and he was very supportive of our
organization’s efforts,” Bardash said. “He has co-sponsored pro-Israel
legislation, he is very strong against pressuring Israel to make concessions to
the Palestinians, and he is very critical of Hamas, which he called ‘an Islamic
terrorist organization.’” Bardash called Ryan one of the most knowledgeable
people in Congress on the US federal budget.
“It says a lot about Romney
that instead of playing an easy, defensive campaign by choosing someone else, he
rolled up his sleeves and took a hands-on approach to tackle the key issue in
the race, which is the economy,” Bardash said.
Ryan, who chairs the US
House Budget Committee, is seen as potentially vulnerable on the issue of
entitlement spending, particularly Medicare. His plan calls for broad reform on
the popular program that subsidizes the healthcare of senior citizens – a key
voting bloc. Republicans have sought to present his plan as an act of political
But it was an issue that Democrats immediately jumped on to
criticize the choice.
“His very vocal, very welldefined record on
healthcare and particularly as relates to seniors and to women is antithetical
to almost what the entire Jewish community thinks, and this gets America nowhere
with Jews,” said Democratic media strategist Steve Rabinowitz.
particularly pointed to the elderly Jewish population in Florida and parts of
Ohio and Pennsylvania, all crucial swing states.
Rabinowitz, who called
Ryan a “classic ultra-conservative on Israel,” added that the pick was likely to
energize the base but not affect moderates.
“This is not a game-changing
choice,” he said.
But Jeff Berkowitz, a Republican strategist and White
House Jewish liaison under George W. Bush, argued that Ryan’s fiscal policies
won’t be a handicap.
Instead, he said Jewish voters are concerned that
“you spend within your means, and Paul Ryan understands how to balance the
budget without impacting programs that government provides for those who need a
He stressed that for Jewish voters, “I think it’s going to
make them much more comfortable voting for Romney. Ryan is a serious,
According to Berkowitz, Ryan’s interest in reining
in spending doesn’t mean he wants to cut aid to Israel.
“He would never
let that impact the support we give our friend and ally Israel.”
42, was chosen over other top Republican names including New Jersey Gov. Chris
Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Sen. Rob
Portman and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
Romney’s chief VP
vetter, Beth Myers, told CNN that the presumptive Republican presidential
nominee had conducted a thorough and deliberative process before making his
choice earlier this month.
She said that Romney’s number one
consideration was “that the person is qualified to be president.”
John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, ran into trouble for
not thoroughly vetting former Alaska governor Sarah Palin before choosing her as
his running mate, and the Romney team seemed keen to avoid a similar
Ryan joined Romney at a campaign stop in North Carolina on
Saturday afternoon and should be a fixture on the campaign trail for the two
weeks leading to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.