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Romney chooses Ryan

Paul Ryan brings a measure of youthful exuberance and energy to the Republican Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan face Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the November election.

NORFOLK - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Saturday he has chosen Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, a move that will bring the debate over how to reduce government spending and debt to the forefront of the race for the White House.

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, announced that he has tapped the House of Representatives Budget Committee chairman at an event at the retired battleship USS Wisconsin - coincidentally named for Ryan's home state.

"His leadership begins with character and values. ... Paul Ryan works in Washington but his roots remain in Janesville, Wisconsin," Romney said.

Romney said Ryan, 42, "has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party," and stressed that their campaign will focus on ways to create jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security, and repeal the health care law enacted under Democratic President Barack Obama.

The announcement marked the end a months-long search by Romney for a running mate to join him in facing Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the 6 November election.

His choice of running mate is a bold one and comes after polls this week showed him falling slightly behind Obama in what is still a close race, in a campaign that is focused largely on the weak US economy.

The selection of Ryan brings a measure of youthful exuberance and energy to the Republican ticket as party activists prepare to gather in Tampa, Florida, late this month for a convention to formally choose Romney as their presidential nominee.

Ryan's selection also immediately draws attention to a budget plan he proposed as House budget chairman that would include controversial cuts in government health programs for the elderly and poor.