Ryan's path to Romney's No. 2 was steeped in secrecy

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:58am EDT

1 of 13. Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) introduces U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice-presidential running mate during a campaign event at the retired battleship USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia, August 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Paul Ryan's path to becoming Mitt Romney's Republican vice presidential running mate was steeped in secrecy, from an incognito trip to meet Romney to a furtive walk through the woods near his boyhood Wisconsin home.

As Romney and Ryan planned a second day of joint appearances on Sunday in North Carolina, some of the layers of secrecy surrounding the most monumental decision the Republican candidate has made to date are being peeled back.

The head of Romney's VP search process, longtime confidante Beth Myers, broke her silence on many details in a briefing with reporters inside a hangar at Dulles International Airport near Washington. Romney and Ryan themselves spoke to reporters briefly on their flight to North Carolina.

The search was so confidential that background information on a short list of candidates, including several years of tax returns and other documents, were kept in a safe in a locked room at Romney's campaign headquarters and the few people allowed in were not permitted to make copies or take anything out.

What began in April as a long list of candidates was winnowed down to a short list by May 1. By early July, the serious candidates had emerged.

Romney knew Ryan was his man before Ryan knew.

After extensive deliberations over his short list, Romney settled on the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman who has built a conservative record as a budget hawk in Washington. Romney made up his mind on August 1, the day after he returned from a week-long trip to London, Jerusalem and Poland.

A face-to-face meeting was required, and therein lies a tale. The meeting was arranged for Aug 5 at Myers' home in Brookline, Massachusetts. The challenge was to get both Ryan and Romney together in the same room without the news media or anyone else outside the inner circle knowing about it.

Myers' home was chosen for the assignation. Romney had little problem eluding the news media camped out near his vacation home on Lake Winnepesaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

It was getting Ryan there that was the challenge.

To avoid flying out of a Wisconsin airport where he could be easily recognized, he was driven to Chicago's O'Hare airport for a flight to Hartford's Bradley airport in Connecticut.


"We gave a lot of thought on how to make this work undetected," Myers said. "And we sent my 19-year-old son, Curt, to pick him up. Paul was wearing jeans, a casual shirt, baseball hat and sunglasses and passed unnoticed through both airports."

Romney and Ryan met privately more than an hour in Myers' dining room after lunch.

"We talked about the campaign, how it would be run," Romney said. "We talked about how we'd work together if we get to the White house, what the relationship would be, how we would interact and be involved in important decisions."

Ryan said being chosen was like going "from the surreal to the real, I guess."

"By the time we met in person I kinda knew it was going to happen. And I was very humbled. It was the biggest honor I've ever been given in my life," he said.

Then came the problem of getting Ryan to Norfolk for the rollout announcement without the news media sleuthing it out. Such movements have been detected before.

They wanted to do the announcement on Friday in New Hampshire but Ryan needed to attend a memorial service in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, for victims of a mass shooting at a Sikh temple.

After that ceremony, Ryan was driven to his home in Janesville, Wisconsin, by aide Andy Speth. He walked in the front door, through the house and out the back door, into a patch of woods familiar from his youth.

On the other side was the house where he grew up.

"I know those woods like the back of my hand, so it wasn't too hard to walk through them," Ryan said. "So I just went out my back door and went through the gully in the woods I grew up playing in. I walked by the tree that has the old tree fort that I built."

When he came out into the open, Speth was there to pick him up. Ryan flew from Waukegan to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, which is not far from Norfolk. He and his family and Myers and a Romney group stayed at a Fairfield Inn, ordered in food from Applebee's and went over Ryan's introductory speech.

"It's now two on two instead of two on one," said Romney. "This is good."

(Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by Todd Eastham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (89)
Robert76 wrote:
Guess Ryan was a lot better pick than people like Palin or Bachmann, but if these guys win everyone will need to be prepared to support Grandma and Grandpa, because Ryans People want to eliminate Medicare as we know it and replace with a $5,000 voucher that won’t come close to buying health coverage for a young persond, let alone someone 65 years old or older.

And despite the recent finding that people retiring from now on will get less out of Social Security than they pay in, they consider the program to be an entitlement that they want to reduce or eliminate.

Those that want to vote for the Republicans better get used to continuing to support big tax breaks for the millionaires, despite a reported 21 trillion dollars being hidden off shore so that taxes are not paid.

Aug 11, 2012 10:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
uc8tcme wrote:
Ryan is a phony; he is part of Washington and The fact of the matter he does not negotiate with the Dems; it’s his plan or no plan. Why could he negotiate with his plan and Obama’s plan? Don’t drink the Ryan Cool Aid; he is not all that.

Aug 11, 2012 11:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JusticeNow4U wrote:
1. Paul Ryan authored budget proposals that would end Medicare as we know it.

2. Paul Ryan’s budget plan would have cut SNAP grants by 18%. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) grants, also known as food stamps, has kept 3.9 million Americans (equivalent to the entire population of Oregon), including 1.7 million children, out of poverty, and allowed them to keep their families from going hungry. This plan also would have drastically cut jobs, leaving 174,000 people out of work.

3. Paul Ryan is bad for women. He voted for a bill that would have effectively banned abortion coverage by insurers who received federal or taxpayer funding.

4. Paul Ryan is extremely anti-choice. “The misnamed Protect Life Act is about allowing women to die if they need an emergency abortion,” said Meghan Rhoad, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is a vicious attack on women’s rights and on the most basic right to life.’”

5. Paul Ryan wants to defund Planned Parenthood. This ideological attack would only result in more women losing access to necessary and basic health care. One in five American women have used Planned Parenthood health services.

Paul Ryan has a long history of voting against affordable health care and women’s health.

His legislative priorities leave millions of people at risk of losing their health care and in medical and financial danger.

Combined with Mitt Romney’s bad policies, it’s clear: the Romney/Ryan ticket is bad for women and families.

Aug 11, 2012 12:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.