NORFOLK, Va. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will announce his running mate this morning in Norfolk, Va., his campaign said Friday night.
The short list of candidates — if there is one — is believed to include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. In a statement issued Friday night, the Romney campaign said the running mate would be revealed at 9 a.m. EDT at the Nauticus Museum. Romney is kicking off a four-day bus tour through the swing states of Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.
The announcement comes two weeks before he accepts his party's nomination at the Republican convention in Tampa and is intended to inject new energy into a campaign that, despite a stubborn economic downturn and relentless attacks on President Barack Obama, has found it difficult to build momentum, according to new polls.
Speculation has focused in recent days on Ryan, the seven-term congressman. Conservative pundits have urged Romney to choose Ryan in large part because of his authorship of a House-backed budget plan that seeks to curb overall entitlement spending and changes Medicaid into a voucher-like system to save costs.
Pawlenty was maintaining his schedule today of campaigning for Romney in New Hampshire, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed official close to Pawlenty's political team said. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak ahead of the formal announcement.
The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial on Thursday, praised Ryan as a strong choice for Romney: "The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House budget chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline."
Romney's choice comes as he tries to repair an image damaged by negative Democratic advertising and shift the trajectory of a campaign that has seen him lose ground to Obama.
The selection will dominate headlines, and Romney's team has been relentlessly teasing the announcement for weeks.
Romney's bus tour was expected to include appearances with Portman, as well as two others talked about as possible contenders for running mate: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio are battleground states that Obama won in 2008. While Obama could afford to lose in one or more of them and still reach the 270 electoral votes needed for another term, Romney almost certainly needs all four to beat him.