Paul Ryan… A Tale of Intrigue: How Romney Kept His V.P. Choice Secret

As speculation increased on Mitt Romney’s V.P. choice, the press corps and additional reporters closely monitored potential candidates’ every movement and camped out at their homes. This photo of Paul Ryan’s house shows the surrounding wooded area where, on Friday August 10th, he would quietly slip out the back and through the trees… (Photo Alana Semuels/Los Angeles Times/Aug 11, 2012)

Inquiring minds want to know when Mitt Romney decided his running mate was Paul Ryan and how he kept it under wraps…

Wonder no more; here’s the tale (and what a tale it is!):

MANASSAS, Va. – The story could have been ripped straight from the pages of a Cold War-era spy novel: There were sunglasses and baseball caps, decoys and back routes through the woods.

As presidential candidate Mitt Romney settled on his running mate, Paul Ryan, his campaign over the course of 10 days went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the information and meetings between himself and Ryan from the eyes of an eager press corps.

The search began not long after Romney wrapped up the nomination. On Apr. 16, he announced that Beth Myers, his senior advisor and a longtime aide, would lead his VP search committee. “I had one directive,” Myers said in a briefing with reporters on Saturday evening. “That the candidates must be qualified to take office on day one.”

Working in a secure room at campaign headquarters in Boston, for the next six weeks Myers sought advice from others who had been given the same task in other campaigns: Dick Cheney (his daughter Liz Cheney was also included), and former Secty of State James Baker. By the beginning of May, a small circle of advisors had crafted a short list of ‘possibilities’. Myers won’t say how many were considered, only that “there was never an issue of too few candidates.” After a series of phone calls, Romney had spoken to everyone on the list. Not one refused to be considered for V.P.

Myers and her trusted advisors issued questionnaires to the candidates and tracked research, policy information, public records, etc. All documentation was secretly ensconced in individual safes at Boston campaign headquarters so nothing could be leaked. No photocopies were made. (Note: Just this past Friday, reporters leaving Romney’s campaign headquarters saw a worker wearing a ‘Shred-It’ shirt carry five bags out of the building.)

By mid-June preliminary reports were presented to Governor Romney. Since some issues needed further clarification, he met with several candidates to resolve questions. Myers said Romney talked to a lot of people, consulting with his senior advisors and others. “A lot of people,” Myers said. “He talked with a lot of people.”

On July 2, she gave Romney the completed folders and he began to consider the options before he left on his overseas trip.

By June, Myers was ready to interview the top candidates, and a retreat for top donors in Park City, Utah, provided cover. The short-listers were brought in ostensibly to talk policy with Republican financiers, but also were able to slip away for meetings with Myers.

While Romney was vacationing in Wolfeboro, N.H. during the week of July 4, Myers made the trip north with a few advisors with plans to review the final dossiers. Romney postponed a final decision until after his trip abroad at the end of July, and assembled his top advisors for a final “gut check.” Romney then informed Myers of his choice on Aug. 1.

“This is Mitt’s decision. He gave me direction every step of the way,” said Myers, who said she opted not to share her thoughts with Romney on the advice of an old mentor.

The same day, they placed a call from her office to Ryan to arrange a meeting for Sunday, Aug. 5. Romney had not yet extended an offer.

Operation V.P. now suddenly increased in intrigue and intricacy. The media was closely watching Romney, his advisors, potential candidates’ homes, and tracking any and all comings and goings.

“We gave a lot of thought on how to make this work undetected,” Myers said.

The plot thickens…

Four days later, Ryan traveled to Chicago from his hometown of Janesville, Wis., where he flew from to Hartford, Conn. — both locations chosen to avoid media attention. Having been instructed by the Romney campaign to “dress casually,” he wore jeans, a casual shirt, a baseball hat and sunglasses.

In Hartford, Myers’ 19-year-old son picked Ryan up at the airport in a rented SUV and brought him to her home in Brookline, Mass., about 100 miles away. [The SUV was driven directly into Myers' garage so neighbors would be none the wiser.] A short time later, Romney himself arrived at the house, along with four of his top aides: Ed Gillespie, Matt Rhodes, Bob White, and Spencer Zwick.

While the group entertained itself in Myers’ home, Romney and Ryan met for an hour privately in the dining room. When they came out, Myers said, “It was all set.”

“We talked about the campaign and how it would be run and talked about how we’d work together if we get the White House. What the relationship would be, how we’d interact and be involved in important decisions, but we talked about our families, what this meant for them,” Romney told reporters traveling with him on the plane Saturday night.

After receiving the call to meet with Mitt, Ryan later said he had a hunch he was going to be asked to be the Governor’s running mate. He said accepting the offer was an easy decision because “we’ve got to save the country.” However, as news spread of the shootings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, located in Ryan’s district, the new V.P. nominee didn’t have much time to think about how his life had just changed. The same day the campaign had decided to roll out the vice presidential pick in New Hampshire was the same day as the funeral service for the victims of the tragic shootings.

As Beth Myers recounted the story, she said this is where the operation got a little complicated:

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Mitt Romney Selects Paul Ryan as his Choice for Vice President

Governor Mitt Romney and his Vice Presidential running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan

If your home is anything like ours, discussions of late have centered on the Olympic Games and whom Governor Romney would choose as his VP running mate and the timing of the announcement. Well, speculation is over; almost. This piece is published prior to the official event of the announcement.

Congressman Paul Ryan is an outstanding choice for many different reasons. Those of us that have researched and written to promote Governor Romney for years know him to be a strong, proven conservative leader. Is there any doubt now about his conservative vision for this ticket? No! We know Governor Romney as a man of great courage; Congressman Paul Ryan too is known for bold, assertive leadership. (See YouTube below for a glimpse of how Rep. Ryan is likely to handle any debate with Mr. Biden)

For the next two weeks leading into the Republican National Convention, we will be bombarded with details of Paul Ryan’s politics, leadership, background, families, etc. What do we know of this great American?

Character / Reputation

Ryan is a fighter who will never back away from a good scrap involving truth and he will fiercely defend against any of the many Obama elitist soothsayers and hacks like Burton. He is a passionate conservative – brilliant, articulate, energetic, and hard working. Many conservatives believe Ryan typifies the future of the Republican Party.

Families / Interests

One television news report from last night stated Ryan has 67 cousins living in and around Janesville, WI (his birthplace and current hometown). He is 42 years old, born January 29, 1970 to Paul, Sr. (lawyer) and Elizabeth Ryan. He is the youngest of four children; siblings include his sister Janet and brothers Tobin and Stan. Ryan’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all died of heart attacks between the ages of 55 and 59 (his father died when Paul, Jr. was 16). He is of Irish and German ancestry.

The Paul & Janna Ryan Family

Paul Ryan married Janna Little, a tax attorney, almost 12 years ago. They have three children, Liza, Charlie, and Sam. They are Roman Catholic.

Ryan is a fan of the Green Bay Packers, a fitness enthusiast, and a hunter who enjoys hunting with bow and arrows. If he is like my Cheesehead friend, Steve Miller, Ryan considers Wisconsin “God’s Country.”

Education / Political Career

Paul Ryan attended Joseph A. Craig High School and earned a BA at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio in economics and political science (he originally wanted to be an economist). He was first elected as a United States Congressman in 1998 at age 28 and is currently serving in the House in his seventh term. He is chairman of the Committee on the Budget and a member of the Committee on Ways & Means and the Subcommittee on Health.

Representative Ryan is an active and committed mentor to up and coming Republican leaders; he has been instrumental in guiding several individuals in their successful campaigns to elected office at the federal level. He is one of three founders of the Young Guns Program. Prior to his election to the House, he served as a speechwriter to several elected and appointed federal officials.

Social Media

Paul Ryan’s Twitter handle is @RepPaulRyan and he follows only one Twitter handle: @NationalDebt (at the time this post was published, his last tweet was August 5th). Check out the Paul Ryan YouTube Channel.

On April 29, 2012, The New York Times reported,

WASHINGTON — Representative Paul D. Ryan strolls the halls of Capitol Hill with the anarchist band Rage Against the Machine pounding through his earbuds.

At 6:30 every morning, he leads an adoring cast of young, conservative members of Congress through exercise sessions in front of a televised trainer barking out orders. For fun, Mr. Ryan noodles catfish, catching them barehanded with a fist down their throats.

He may be, as a friend described him, “a hunting-obsessed gym rat,” but Mr. Ryan, 42, of Wisconsin, has become perhaps the most influential policy maker in the Republican Party, its de facto head of economic policy, intent on a fundamental transformation of the federal government.

[…]

That is not bad for a man who was once just another minion on Capitol Hill, working for a research group, then for a member of Congress, and moonlighting as a waiter at the Hill hangout Tortilla Coast and as a personal trainer at a gym. Co-workers at the conservative policy group Empower America admonished him for hanging his workout clothes out to dry at work rather than laundering them.

“It’s amazing to all of us because Paul was just an ordinary guy,” said A. Mark Neuman, an old friend.

Rep. Ryan and Governor Romney

Late yesterday, Stephen Hayes and Bill Kristol wrote in The Weekly Standard,

Romney and Ryan bonded as they barnstormed Wisconsin in the days leading up to the state’s decisive April 3 primary. Over the course of their travels together, Ryan went from a small role as the guy who introduced Romney at their first event,to someone who shared the stage with him, taking some of the questions and bantering easily with Romney. The expanded role, Ryan told TWS in May, was Romney’s idea. “He knows how I talk and what I say. And I’m pretty clear about that stuff. I think he’s comfortable with that.”

Thursday, August 9th, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal published its main opinion column titled, “Why Not Paul Ryan?” – A strong endorsement of Representative Ryan:

Beneath it all you can hear the murmurs of the ultimate Washington insult—that Mr. Ryan is too dangerous because he thinks politics is about things that matter. That dude really believes in something, and we certainly can’t have that.

[…]

The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline.

[…]

Personalities aside, the larger strategic point is that Mr. Romney’s best chance for victory is to make this a big election over big issues. Mr. Obama and the Democrats want to make this a small election over small things—Mitt’s taxes, his wealth, Bain Capital. As the last two months have shown, Mr. Romney will lose that kind of election.

To win, Mr. Romney and the Republicans have to rise above those smaller issues and cast the choice as one about the overall direction and future of the country. Americans tell pollsters they are anxious and unhappy precisely because they instinctively know the country is troubled in ways it hasn’t been since the 1970s. They know the economy is growing too slowly to raise middle-class incomes, while the government is growing too fast to be affordable.

Above all, Americans are hungry for leadership. They want leaders willing to take on the hard issues, preferably without the rancor and polarization that have defined Mr. Obama’s Presidency. But they will reward leaders who succeed despite the rancor, as Wisconsin voters showed by their huge turnout in support of Governor Scott Walker this year.

Whatever doubts Americans may have about Mr. Romney’s empathy or background, more of them will turn out for him if they see a leader with a vision and plan worthy of the current difficult moment. This is the kind of candidate and message that voters need to see in the Republican convention this month and into the fall, and it is the message that Mr. Romney’s choice of a running mate should reinforce.

Watch how Rep. Paul Ryan completely dismantles ObamaCare in front of national leaders including President Obama and Vice President Biden; he leaves them virtually speechless:


THANKS to Jayde Wyatt for contributions to this post.


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