NORFOLK, Va. - Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney appeared Saturday alongside his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Romney says Ryan is a man of what he calls "great steadiness" and "unquestioned integrity." The former Massachusetts governor says Ryan is a "shining exception" in a political world of pettiness.
The two appeared together for the first time as the Republican presidential ticket on Saturday morning in Virginia. They faced supporters while standing on the USS Wisconsin, a retired World War II battleship.
Just hours after his campaign confirmed Ryan as his selection, Romney says Ryan won't demonize his opponents. Romney says that Democrats may disagree with Ryan's policies, but he doesn't know anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment.
In the campaign to come, Republicans will present economic solutions "that are bold, specific and achievable," Romney said as he presented his political partner to cheering supporters. "We offer our commitment to create 12 million new jobs and bring better take home pay to middle class families."
The two men basked in the cheers of supporters in the ticket's made-for-television debut. "I did not make a mistake with this guy," Romney exulted.
"I am deeply excited and honored to join you as your running mate," Ryan said in his first words at the podium." He said that together, "we will restore the greatness of this country."
"Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem, and Mitt Romney is the solution" to an economy that has yet to make a strong recovery from the worst recession in decades, he said.
The ticket made its debut at a naval museum in Norfolk, Va., the initial stop of a bus tour through four battleground states in as many days. The USS Wisconsin, berthed at the museum, was their bunting-draped backdrop.
While word of Ryan's selection leaked late Friday night, and was posted by the campaign to its phone app before the speeches, Obama's campaign withheld its reaction until the Republicans had spoken.
"The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid," Jim Messina, the president's campaign manager, said in a written statement.
"His plan would also end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors," he said.
Ryan's selection - as well as Romney's own nomination - will be ratified by delegates to the Republican National Convention that begins on Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden will be nominated for a second term at the Democratic convention the following week.
One campaign official said Romney had settled on Ryan as his pick on Aug. 1, more than a week ago, and informed Beth Myers, the longtime aide who had shepherded the secretive process that led to the selection. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details.
It was not known when Romney informed Ryan he wanted him on the ticket.
In making his pick, Romney bypassed other potential running mates, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Officials said he had called all four to notify them of his decision.
At 42, Ryan is a generation younger than the 65-year-old Romney.
His conservative credentials are highly regarded by fellow Republican House members, while numerous polls found that Romney's own were suspect among the party's core supporters during the primaries of winter and spring.
A seven-term congressman, Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee, and primary author of conservative tax and spending blueprints that the tea party-infused Republican majority approved over vociferous Democratic opposition in 2011 and again in 2012.