Mitt Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday, a decision that could spark enthusiasm for the Republican ticket among conservatives and all but ensures the election will turn to deep philosophical divisions between the two parties over spending, taxes and entitlements.
In Mr. Ryan, 42 years old, the Romney campaign gets a conservative who has spent recent years at the center of national debates about the size and scope of the federal government. With his proposals to revamp entitlement programs for future retirees and the poor, he has become a hero to conservatives and a target for liberals.
Mr. Romney told Beth Myers—his long-time adviser who was the head of the vice-presidential search—on Aug. 1 that he wanted Mr. Ryan as his running mate. He then called Mr. Ryan and asked to get together, according to an aide.
The pick was officially announced on Mr. Romney’s phone app just after 7 a.m., two hours before Mr. Romney was to speak on the USS Wisconsin, which carries the name of Rep. Ryan’s home state.
At the Romney event, Dee and Brenda Packard, visiting Norfolk from Rigby, Idaho, praised the Ryan selection. “It’s all about the budget and the economy. They are fiscal conservatives who would provide financial leadership,” Mr. Packard said.
The history of vice-presidential picks suggests the choice can hurt a campaign, but rarely makes a difference on the upside. Typically, running mates are chosen to help buttress a campaign’s appeal to certain parts of the country or states, or to complement a candidate’s personality.