Inside the VP Pick: How Romney Decided on Ryan – and Kept the Secret

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Jason Reed / Reuters

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, left, stands with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after being introduced as Romney's vice-presidential running mate during a campaign event at the battleship U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., on Aug. 11, 2012

Dulles, Va. 

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate was the product of months of meticulous planning marked by locked rooms, deceptive flight patterns and surreptitious forays through the Wisconsin woods. Hours after Romney unveiled his new No. 2 Saturday morning at a decommissioned battleship in Norfolk, Va., close aides lifted the curtain on the secretive selection method as well as the elegant subterfuge that preserved Ryan’s identity until the night before the Janesville, Wis., native emerged from the decks of the U.S.S. Wisconsin to raucous applause.

The process began in April, shortly after Romney effectively wrapped up the Republican nomination. Intent on sidestepping the pitfalls that dogged John McCain, Romney entrusted the task of vetting potential Vice Presidents to Beth Myers, a longtime confidante who served as Romney’s chief of staff on Beacon Hill and later as his 2008 campaign manager. Speaking to reporters in an hanger at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia Saturday evening, Myers said Romney issued her a sole directive: that the candidate be qualified to take office on Day One.

(PHOTOS: Paul Ryan’s Life and Career)

In April and May, Myers solicited advice from Republican bigwigs with experience leading a Veep search, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State James Baker. By about May 1, Romney and Myers had come up with a short list. (Myers declined to say how short the list was or which candidates were on it.) At that point, Romney called each of the potential candidates to ask whether they wanted to be considered. Each one did.

The vetting process was virtually leakproof. Myers recruited a small team of trusted volunteer attorneys, who combed through research and biographical information inside a secure room at Romney’s campaign headquarters in Boston’s North End. At the end of each day, materials were locked inside a safe. No copies were made, and the originals never left the room. Ryan submitted “several” years of tax returns, Myers says. (She would not specify how many.)

Throughout May and June, Romney met with a cadre of top advisers — including strategists Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer, campaign manager Matt Rhoades, consigliere Bob White, pollster Neil Newhouse, senior staffers Eric Fehrnstrom and Peter Flaherty and advisers Ed Gillespie and Ron Kaufman — to solicit advice. Romney and Myers also sought feedback from “a lot” of people outside the core of the campaign, according to Myers. “Everyone was very candid with Mitt,” she says.

(MORE: The Romney-Ryan Ticket Unveiled in Virginia)

In June, Romney and Myers swapped notes. Myers summoned “several” potential candidates to in-person meetings, including sit-downs at a donors’ retreat the campaign held in late June at the Romneys’ chalet in Park City, Utah. By July 2, the dossiers were done, and Romney decamped for his foreign trip and the Olympics in London with the intent of unveiling his pick upon his return.

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, Romney held a meeting with senior staff at his vacation home on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. He met afterward with Myers alone and informed her that he had settled on Ryan.

In a way, selecting a nominee from among what Myers dubbed a “deep bench” of candidates was the easy part. The hard part was devising a cloak-and-dagger plan to keep the secret, which first required arranging a meeting between the presumptive nominee and his would-be No. 2 to make the ask. On Aug. 1, Romney called the Wisconsin Congressman to request a private summit.

It came four days later, on Sunday, Aug. 5. Spiriting Ryan in wasn’t easy. “We gave a lot of thought on how to make this work undetected,” Myers says. Clad in a baseball cap, sunglasses and jeans, Ryan flew from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Hartford, Conn. He was met there by Myers’ 19-year-old son Curt, who drove Ryan to the Myers’ home in Brookline, Mass., outside Boston, in a rented SUV.

(MORE: A History of Vice-Presidential Picks, from the Pages of TIME)

As Romney drove in from Wolfeboro, N.H., Ryan had lunch with the Myers family. Then the two men met privately for an hour in the dining room. According to Romney, the men discussed their families, the campaign and their governing visions. During that meeting, Romney asked the 42-year-old Congressman to be his Vice President. Ryan accepted. “By the time we met in person, I kind of knew it was gonna happen, and I was very humbled,” he told reporters Saturday night aboard a charter flight to Charlotte, N.C. “It was the biggest honor I’ve ever been given in my life.”

The following day, Romney called Tim Pawlenty to inform the former Minnesota governor he had not been chosen. Romney called the remaining finalists Friday, Myers said.

As striking as the stagecraft in Norfolk was, it was not in the original script. The plan was to debut the ticket on Friday, Aug. 10, in New Hampshire, where Romney kicked off his campaign in the summer of 2011. Tragedy threw a wrench in those plans. A shooting that Sunday at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., which is in Ryan’s district, required Ryan to be at the memorial service on Aug. 10. So the campaign decided to unveil the pick the following morning in Norfolk, in the shadow of the U.S.S. Wisconsin — a clue that eluded the press corps. “That was the next available date. We were in a battleground state,” says Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. It seemed like a logical time to make the move.

(MORE: Eight Things You Should Know About Paul Ryan)

Getting Ryan to Norfolk under the watchful eyes of a national audience required another feat of misdirection. Knowing that reporters would be tracking the flight patterns of charter planes — and mindful of an NBC reporter specifically assigned to monitor Ryan’s movements — the campaign decided to dispatch Ryan on a charter from Waukegan, Ill., to Elizabeth City, N.C., about an hour south of Norfolk.

After the service in Wisconsin on Friday, Ryan’s chief of staff Andy Speth drove the Congressman back to his home in Janesville. Pausing to say hello to his sister-in-law, Ryan ducked out his back door, cut through his backyard and slipped into the woods behind his house. He emerged about 300 yards away on the other side, in the driveway of his childhood home, where Speth was waiting. “It wasn’t that far of a walk,” Ryan chuckled. They drove to Waukegan and boarded a flight at about 5 p.m., around the same time Romney’s charter left an airfield north of Boston en route to Norfolk. (The movement on Friday night in Ryan’s home, where reporters milled outside after word of the choice began to circulate, was Ryan’s sister-in-law, who stayed to serve as a diversion.)

Upon landing in Elizabeth City, Ryan headed to a Fairfield Inn, where Romney’s small entourage was waiting. They got takeout food from Applebee’s and prepped for Ryan’s speech the following morning. Early Saturday, with a Secret Service escort in tow, they drove up to Norfolk, where Ryan walked into history. “It’s gone from the surreal to the real,” Ryan told reporters Saturday night. “I know we can fix the problems we have in this country, and I’m excited about getting out to do it.”

(MORE: With Paul Ryan, Romney Goes ‘Bold’ and Clarifies the 2012 Choice)

100 comments
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FBrocketman1
FBrocketman1

As a long time Democrat turned Independent it amazes me the ignorance posted by some bloggers. I have closely watched the presidential election information so far and initially

bzonline123
bzonline123

I have thought carefully should I add the following comment, because it takes courage to do so. And I decided better to say it to help more innocent people to live a good life instead of keep my mouth shut. It's up to readers to decide the truth. In the United State, when we put up a candidate from Catholic or other religious community that also worship Goddess, we get a trouble. The trouble comes from the religious belief that the US should put someone who worship God or the male side of God to be the top politicians. When someone's religious culture has a Goddess in it, in which way he can demonstrate to all others that he is indeed believing in God but NOT believing in the Goddess? I'm sure there are many good ways to achieve such goal. But there is a very sinister way to quickly prove it, by killing some innocent people who are believed worship Goddess or considered coming from Goddess. Basically a powerful politician who worshiped Goddess kills other people believing in Goddess in order to prove himself is indeed with God. Such game doesn't just be limited inside the US, other country's people can also be sacrificed for the same purpose. Be careful my fellow American, the politics culture in this country has something really evil these days. I wish God bless you all.

Jacob Cronin
Jacob Cronin

Does anyone else notice that while during the time Obama was President he has nearly DOUBLED our national debt? Im not the biggest fan of Mitt Romney, but this endless spending in Washington had got to stop, and I think that Paul Ryan will do a good job of that.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Were you paying attention before President Obama took office, or is your concern only a recent development?  

Paul Ryan will destroy government as we know it.  Given your selective attention span, it may make no difference to you.

Newone
Newone

Who ever is in the White House a Democrat or Republican, there are still going to have the same both parties do nothing Congress and Senate, it will be status quo nothing will get done. Only thing will happen arguing, fighting, blocking each other, the United States needs a third-party to divide the two fighting parties. Term limits two of them no more.

johnlofborough
johnlofborough

 No a third party would go nowhere, as all third parties have for the past 200 years.  What the country needs is the defeat of 15 Democrat senators, which would allow the House, President Romney and the Senate to work together to restore our free Republic and slash the bloated spending that is pushing the nation to the edge of bankruptcy. 

Freedom Jackson
Freedom Jackson

Do you think people are more excited than when McCain selected Palin?

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Excited in what sense?  Palin is a raw hot right wing bimbo chick.  Ryan's appeal is more esoteric.  Both are losers.  I am excited by both for that reason.  

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

1. Romney’s Business Management Experience Does Not Guarantee He Will Govern As A Conservative.

 However, business experience does not guarantee  a person

will govern as a conservative.  There have been many liberal presidents

with business experience; one that comes readily to mind is Jimmy

Carter, who managed a peanut farm business.  Indeed, the RINO population

is full of businessmen and some of America’s leading businessmen

supported the candidacy of Barack Obama.

2. The goal of conservatives is to scale back government, not manage big

government more efficiently.  Ronald Reagan had little business

experience, but he also knew the business of government was carried out

by people he appointed so he set about appointing conservatives. The

lesson Reagan left us is that, when it comes to governing, a candidate’s

worldview is far more important than business experience, primarily

because one’s worldview will determine who you appoint to carry out the

duties of government.

3 Romney Raised Taxes And Destroyed Job Creation In Massachusetts

 How did his business experience help him govern Massachusetts? And did he govern as a conservative?  It did NOT!!!

Governor Romney passed a host of new tax and fee increases, hitting

the corporate world hard and devastating job creation.    As Peter Nicholas, chairman of Boston Science Corporation, stated, “tax rates on many corporations almost doubled because of legislation supported by Romney.”

The Cato Institute reported that in his first year as Governor, Romney “proposed 140 [million] dollars in business tax hikes through the closing of ‘loopholes’ in the tax code.” As Nicholas explains, “Romney’s tax policies were not helpful for many small businesses…when Romney took many IRS subchapter S businesses in Massachusetts and almost doubled their tax rates, it was an important disincentive to investment, growth and job creation.”.  

As Joseph Crosby of the Council on State Taxation stated, “Romney went further than any other governor in trying to wring money out of corporations.”

4.  Romney also raised taxes on business again in 2004 and 2005, for a grand total of 309 million dollars levied upon the corporate sector. He then increased taxes on business property ), tried to raise taxes on hotels (but was stopped by the Democrat legislature!) , joined a coalition lobbying congress to tax internet activity , and supported a tax on out of state commuters.

5. Nor did Romney fight the passage of higher rates on death taxes; indeed, his official position on a state bill was “no position.”    Moreover, Governor Romney supported gas tax hikes both for Massachusetts and for the federal government. 

6. He also proposed a new excise tax on SUVs and a new sales tax on all used cars.

Indeed, Romney failed to reduce ANY of the myriad taxes Massachusetts

imposes on its citizens, even though the previous two Republican

governors, William Weld and Paul Cellucci, were both able to reduce tax

rates. 

7. As Governor Cellucci confirmed, Romney “did not have any broad-based tax cuts in his four years as Governor.”  Indeed, while Romney raised over a hundred different fees and taxes, the two previous Republican governors signed more than 40 tax reduction bills, even though Democrats controlled the legislature.

For a detailed list of the fees and taxes raised by Romney, go here:  http://romneyfacts.com/assets/...

8. We should not also forget that Romney refused to support the Bush tax

cuts while governor, and when campaigning for Governor, refused to sign the “no new taxes” pledge, calling it “government by gimmickry.” He only signed the pledge when he began to campaign for the presidency.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I can only conclude that you will vote for President Obama.  Good choice.  

johnlofborough
johnlofborough

The executive's options when governing the most liberal state in the nation, with a legislature comprised of 85% Democrats, are very different that those of a President with a House on his side and a Senate that will almost certainly be more conservative than the present one. 

In any event, Jim DeMint is not on the Presidential ballot.  The choice is between Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan, who are firmly committed to not raise federal taxes, and Barack Obama / Joe Biden, who would love nothing more than to raise taxes so as to further their principal goal of taking money from the people who earned it and "redistributing" it to those who did not. 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Let's clarify.  Romney/Ryan will raise taxes on the middle class who make less than $250,000, and lower taxes on those who make more.  President Obama wants to do the opposite.  Clear to me.  You have trouble following?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

@3X3:disqus   Your talking points are noted. But some of us lived  UNDER a governor Romney and it WAS HELL. Now he promises  the same governance at a National level?? Your Messiah???

1. Romney’s Business Management Experience Does Not Guarantee He Will Govern As A Conservative

However, business experience does not guarantee  a person

will govern as a conservative.  There have been many liberal presidents

with business experience; one that comes readily to mind is Jimmy

Carter, who managed a peanut farm business.  Indeed, the RINO population

is full of businessmen and some of America’s leading businessmen

supported the candidacy of Barack Obama.

The goal of conservatives is to scale back government, not manage big

government more efficiently.  Ronald Reagan had little business

experience, but he also knew the business of government was carried out

by people he appointed so he set about appointing conservatives. The

lesson Reagan left us is that, when it comes to governing, a candidate’s

worldview is far more important than business experience, primarily

because one’s worldview will determine who you appoint to carry out the

duties of government.

2. Romney Raised Taxes And Destroyed Job Creation In Massachusetts

  For the last five years Romney and his supporters have

cultivated an image of Romney as a fiscal superstar and who ran a very

tight ship as Governor of Massachusetts. Indeed, Romney claims that he “turned a $3 billion deficit into a nearly $1 billion surplus, without raising taxes.” But that statement is simply not true. The reality is that Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts governor was an economic disaster for the state.

3. Governor Romney passed a host of new tax and fee increases, hitting

the corporate world hard and devastating job creation.  As Peter

Nicholas, chairman of Boston Science Corporation, stated, “tax rates on many corporations almost doubled because of legislation supported by Romney.” 

The Cato Institute reported that in his first year as Governor, Romney “proposed $140 [million] in business tax hikes through the closing of ‘loopholes’ in the tax code.” 

4. Romney’s

tax policies were not helpful for many small businesses…when Romney

took many IRS subchapter S businesses in Massachusetts and almost

doubled their tax rates, it was an important disincentive to investment,

growth and job creation.

 5. Joseph Crosby of the Council on State Taxation stated, “Romney went further than any other governor in trying to wring money out of corporations.”

6. Romney also raised taxes on business again in 2004 and 2005, for a

grand total of $309 million levied upon the corporate sector.

7. He

then increased taxes on business property , tried to raise taxes on

hotels (but was stopped by the Democrat legislature!) , joined a

coalition lobbying congress to tax Internet activity, and supported a

tax on out of state commuters.

8. Nor did Romney fight the passage of higher rates on death taxes; indeed, his official position on a state bill was “no position.”

9. Moreover, Governor Romney supported gas tax hikes both for

Massachusetts and for the federal government.  

10. He also proposed a

new excise tax on SUVs and a new sales tax on all used cars.

12. Indeed, Romney FAILED to reduce ANY of the myriad taxes Massachusetts

imposes on its citizens, even though the PREVIOUS TWO REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS, William Weld and Paul Cellucci, were both able to reduce tax

rates.  As Governor Cellucci confirmed, Romney “did not have any broad-based tax cuts in his four years as Governor.”

13. While Romney raised over a hundred different fees and

taxes, the two previous Republican governors signed more than 40 tax

reduction bills, even though Democrats controlled the legislature.

14. There are virtually NO taxpayer groups in Massachusetts in agreement with

the notion that Romney never raised taxes.  As the Massachusetts

Taxpayer Foundation stated, “fees and taxes have increased more than $700 million per year under Governor Mitt Romney….” For a detailed list of the fees and taxes raised by Romney, go here:  http://romneyfacts.com/assets/...

15. We should not also forget that Romney refused to support the Bush tax

cuts while governor, and when campaigning for Governor, refused to

sign the “no new taxes” pledge, calling it “government by gimmickry.” He only signed the pledge when he began to campaign for the presidency.

16. By Romney’s last year in office, Massachusetts was ranked by the Public Policy Institute of New York on its Cost of Doing Business Index, as the 4th

most expensive state in which to do business in. Data compiled by

the Tax Foundation reveals that during Romney’s term, the per capita tax

burden increased from 9.3% to 9.9%, a .6% increase.  In real dollars,

the per capita tax burden increased $1175.71 during Romney’s term.

17. Romney DID NOT “turn a $3 billion dollar deficit into a nearly $1 billion surplus.”

Rather, the deficit was $1.3 billion according to Factcheck.org 

and he balanced the budget with mostly tax and fee increases with very

little spending cuts.

18. According to the Massachusetts Taxpayer

Foundation, Romney “proposed four budgets while in office…each budget increased spending over the previous year.” 

19. As Club for Growth echoed, Romney’s last budget “was a whopping 10.12% larger than the preceding fiscal year.” Out of the 25 freshmen Republican Governors rated by the Cato Institute on fiscal issues, Romney had the 2nd worst score.

___

Indeed, Carla Howell, president of the Massachusetts-based Center for Small Government, is blunt about Romney’s record: “Romney

claims to have cut the Massachusetts budget by ‘2 billion.’ Sometimes

he claims he cut it ‘3 billion’….but these cuts were merely budget

games….not only did Mitt Romney refuse to cut the overall Massachusetts

budget, he expanded it. Dramatically….Romney initiated massive new

spending –without any prodding.” 

______

20. Finally, the alleged budget surplus DeMoss refers to is also mythical. The

Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation and the conservative Massachusetts

think tank, Beacon Hill Institute, both challenged that notion (24). In

fact, Romney left a billion dollar deficit for his successor. (25).

Hamby
Hamby

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, but in doing so, he turned a blind eye to the other forces in town quietly building.

But ignoring those forces is no longer an option as the crescendo is upon Beaco

Venita Peyton
Venita Peyton

Sounds like Mr. Romney wants to hand-off presidential duties from Day One. 

johnlofborough
johnlofborough

 The country is best served by having a fully capable Vice President.  Paul Ryan is that man.  He knows more about the operations and finances of the federal government in his little finger than Joe Biden knows about anything in his entire body -- plus which Ryan has an understanding of the fundamental truth that the federal government cannot continue to spend every year over a million million (=trillion) dollars more than it takes in.  Biden in contrast, seems to think that the federal government has an unlimited credit card.