Romney’s Running Mate Steps Up: It’s Ryan’s Night

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  August 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM EDT

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks to supporters on Saturday in Columbus Grove, Ohio. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images.

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TAMPA, Fla. | Wednesday’s Republican National Convention will be all about Rep. Paul Ryan.

The Morning LineThe Janesville, Wis., native will accept the party’s vice presidential nomination and have an opportunity to define himself for the American people, many of whom are still largely unfamiliar with the seven-term congressman.

At this point he is best known as the architect of the House GOP budget blueprint that overhauls Social Security and Medicare, a plan Democrats have used to attack Republicans for wanting to tear apart the safety net for average Americans.

But among the party’s fiscal conservatives, Ryan has earned a reputation for taking on the tough fiscal challenges facing the country even in the face of strong criticism.

Wednesday, however, it will not be about Ryan’s proposals for the country, but those of his running mate, Mitt Romney. It is, after all, the Romney-Ryan ticket, and the mission for the vice presidential hopeful is to make the case for how the policies of the former Massachusetts governor would help those voters watching at home.

Ryan previewed his remarks in an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News on Tuesday:

“The contrasts between the President Obama plan, which has put us in a nation of debt, doubt and decline, versus Mitt Romney’s vision and solutions for a better future to get us back to prosperity couldn’t be clearer and what we want to do is highlight those contrasts,” he said.

Drawing distinctions between Romney and President Obama is certainly part of the equation, but when the GOP presidential hopeful picked Ryan he turned the election into a choice between two visions for the country. Wednesday night it falls on Ryan to tell the American people exactly what their future holds.

We’re betting Ryan mentions that debt clock running in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Clock measures increases in U.S. debt during the four days of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Photo by Harry E. Walker/MCT via Getty Images.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT…

The nominee’s wife promised the nation her husband wouldn’t let them down. She also offered a personal touch, outlining their teenage love and family life. The line of the night? She dismissed the idea of a “storybook marriage.” “No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage,” she said, to loud cheers. Watch the whole thing here.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s speech (see it in full here was the yin to Mrs. Romney’s yang. And he brought down the house.

Meanwhile, NewsHour reporter-producer Cassie Chew christened our hat cam Tuesday. Watch her journey here.

Another reporter-producer Mike Fritz is on the party circuit for the NewsHour, and captured the feel of the fundraisers going on after hours in Tampa.

Watch his report here or below.

CONVENTION CRUSH

Watch for these features in our livestream Wednesday.

  • Hari Sreenivasan’s conversation with Twitter’s Adam Sharp.
  • The Political Checklist with Gwen, Judy and Christina in the late morning.
  • A must-watch draw-off between two political cartoonists around lunchtime.
  • The Doubleheader with Hari and political columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks around 5 p.m. ET, done Wednesday in the Google + studio at the convention workstation.
  • Dispatches from our team on the floor as delegates officially get to business.
  • The evening wrap with Christina and Hari around 11:30 p.m.

Check out this slide show of the most colorfully dressed characters on the floor from Team NewsHour, including photographer Mallory Benedict.

And keep an eye on our Flickr feed.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Where do you fit? Take the Pew Research Center/NewsHour Political Party ID quiz here and share your results with your friends.

  • We’re showcasing the Vote 2012 Map Center each night, telling the story of the campaign through data. Hari interviewed WNYC’s Anna Sale about unemployment, Iowa and Ohio. Watch that here.

  • Judy spoke with House Speaker John Boehner about the shortening the national political conventions, putting the Republican Party platform on one sheet of paper, what to expect with Romney’s speech Thursday night and the chances the GOP maintains control of the House in November.

  • Gwen talked with Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom in the skybox. Watch.

  • Hari talked with Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works about the role of super PACs and how the group once opposed Romney’s candidacy. Watch.

  • Here’s the Doubleheader, with Hari, Mark and David, done in the Google + studio.

  • Jeffrey Brown caught up with Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, for a conversation about the different groups that make up the Republican Party coalition and the electoral importance of Florida in November. “Without Florida, Mitt can’t win,” Cardenas said.

  • Are you an undecided voter in Virginia? Here’s your chance to weigh in on the convention and help us with our reporting. If you’re willing to talk to the NewsHour after each nomination speech, fill out this form.

TOP TWEETS

BEST OF THE WEB

  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter announced Tuesday he is battling cancer again.

  • Arizona Republicans chose Rep. Jeff Flake as the Senate nominee, and picked Rep. David Schweikert over his fellow freshman Rep. Ben Quayle. They were put into the same district after redistricting.

  • This is pretty cool. Digital First Media’s politics team has been tracking every mention of President Obama at the RNC, and will do the same next week when the Democrats convene.

  • The GOP approved their party platform Tuesday and it may be even more conservative than you think. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who also happens to be the platform committee chair, described the platform as “a conservative vision of governance” But if you miss it, don’t worry; House Speaker John Boehner told Judy Woodruff the platform is a “long document that nobody reads.”

  • Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish yesterday evening. The Category 1 storm is going to be hitting New Orleans today, exactly seven years after Katrina, the Category 3 hurricane that devastated the city.

  • Washington Post’s The Fix (aka Chris Cillizza) has this list of day one winners and losers from the Republican National Convention. Surprise, surprise, Mrs. Romney is at the top (…because it was a good speech and she hit all the marks set for her).

TONIGHT’S HEADLINE SPEAKERS

7 p.m. ET hour: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

8 p.m. hour: Arizona Sen. John McCain, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman

9 p.m. hour: Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

10 p.m. hour: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.