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Romney picks Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate

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Several Republicans took that as an indication that Ryan had shot to the top of a shortlist said to include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Neither of those Republicans had plans to be in Virginia on Saturday.

Romney's completion of the GOP ticket comes as he tries to repair an image damaged by negative Democratic advertising and shift the trajectory of a campaign that's seen him lose ground to President Barack Obama. The vice presidential selection will dominate headlines, and Romney's team has been relentlessly teasing the announcement for weeks.

Ryan, 42, is viewed by some in the Republican Party as a bridge between the buttoned-up GOP establishment and a riled-up tea party movement that has never warmed to Romney.

As the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan could help Romney make the argument that only the GOP ticket knows how to turn around a nation in the midst of a sluggish economic recovery. As talk about Ryan swirled this week, Democrats have been castigating Romney for embracing the Ryan-sponsored budget proposal that critics say is painful to the poor and elderly. It was a sign of the line of attack to come.

The move also now links Romney directly with House Republicans, including no-compromise tea partyers who have pressed for deep spending cuts. Obama has been casting House Republicans as an impediment to progress in the often-gridlocked Washington.

At the same time, Ryan on the ticket could help Romney become more competitive in Wisconsin, a state Obama won handily four years ago but that could be much tighter this November.

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