- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2012

Newly minted vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan hit the stump this weekend with a level of energy that seemed to boost Mitt Romney’s entire campaign, giving the presumptive nominee a much-needed change in the narrative while adding another high-profile fundraiser and campaigner to deploy across the country.

It got off to an inauspicious start, though.

When Mr. Ryan was first introduced Saturday in Norfolk, Va., walking down the gangplank of the USS Wisconsin with the theme of the movie “Air Force One” playing in the background, Mr. Romney got a little ahead of himself, introducing Mr. Ryan as “the next president of the United States.”

Mr. Romney quickly corrected the slip-up, saying he had been known to make mistakes, “but I didn’t make one with this guy.”

Mr. Ryan showed a clear ability to connect with voters and infuse Mr. Romney’s campaign with, quite literally, a dash of youthful energy. At 42, Mr. Ryan is the same age as Mr. Romney’s eldest son, Tagg.

The two men campaigned together through Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin, with Mr. Ryan introducing himself to the nation, showing an easy comfort when greeting supporters and firing up crowds by attacking President Obama’s policies and talking up his man at the top of the GOP ticket.

He accused Mr. Obama’s campaign of going from a 2008 run based on “hope and change” to one of “attack and blame.”

“We’re not going to fall for it,” Mr. Ryan told a cheering crowd in High Point, N.C.

And while Mr. Romney was pilloried earlier in the campaign for casually mentioning that he had a few friends who were NASCAR team owners, Mr. Ryan appeared thrilled just to meet one of the NASCAR drivers on Sunday.

“This is awesome,” he told a crowd of 10,000-plus at the Absolute Style furniture company in High Point after exchanging high-fives with some people on the way to the event. “I just had a great experience, and that is — I got to meet Darrell Waltrip. That was pretty cool.”

The mood also got to Mr. Romney, whose public persona can come across as a bit staid or “square,” but who was clearly energized by his running mate and the responses from overflow crowds at the weekend rallies.

“I am so happy! I am so happy to have my teammate now,” he told cheering supporters in Mooresville, N.C., on Sunday.

When the crowd interrupted Mr. Romney’s prepared remarks with chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A,” the former Massachusetts governor went off his script to join in and pump his fist in the air as Mr. Ryan did the same.

With Mr. Ryan’s selection — which came earlier in the season than either of the selections in 2008 — the Republican ticket now has a second weapon to raise funds and to deploy as a major surrogate, the way the Obama campaign has used Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“We’re going to split up, more often than not, and double our efforts,” Mr. Ryan said in a joint interview with Mr. Romney on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” “It was one against two for a while — now it’s two against two. We’re going to redouble our efforts, and we’re going to bring a message to the country: ‘Here’s how you get the country back on track.’ ”

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