GUY RAZ, HOST:
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
And as we've been reporting, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan has joined Mitt Romney on the GOP presidential ticket. The two men launched a multiday, multistate bus tour this morning. They spent much of the day in Virginia where crowds came out to cheer them on, including in Ashland, where Paul Ryan spoke.
PAUL RYAN: I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news. Why don't we get rid of the bad news first, OK? President Obama is the president of the United States, and the good news is on November the 6th, he won't be any longer.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
RAZ: Well, joining us now from the motorcade following the Romney-Ryan campaign is NPR's Ari Shapiro. Hi, Ari.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Hey, Guy.
RAZ: And we should mention you are actually moving at this point, you are traveling.
SHAPIRO: Yeah. We're rolling down the highway in Virginia right now.
RAZ: These two men have been barnstorming the state of Virginia today. How are the crowds reacting to Paul Ryan?
SHAPIRO: Hugely. I mean, I've been to a lot of Romney rallies. Some, there's more enthusiasm than others. This was the first time I had ever seen people in a gymnasium actually pounding the floor with their feet to make more noise. People I've talked to have said that before, maybe they were supporting Mitt Romney because they hated Barack Obama so much, and now they don't just have someone to hate, have someone to love. They really love Paul Ryan. They're passionate about this guy.
RAZ: What is it about Paul Ryan that gets them motivated?
SHAPIRO: They like the ideas he puts out. They like the budget, his willingness to not just criticize the other side, what the Democrats are doing, but put out proposals that are really controversial, that are, you know, very divisive in some ways, that have drawn a lot of criticism from Democrats. The Republicans I'm talking to see that as a badge of honor, and they think it was a bold decision of Romney to bring Ryan onto the ticket knowing that he's going to take all this incoming fire.
RAZ: What is the Romney campaign saying about the rationale behind picking Paul Ryan?
SHAPIRO: Well, they haven't talked to us just yet about that. We're hoping to get some of that later today. But it's safe to say that the Romney campaign was not doing really well this summer. They were getting a lot of criticism from both parties for sort of playing small ball, not rolling out really specific, clear, big policy initiatives.
They played a very cautious game, and they were content, for the most part, to criticize the Obama record. That was their main objective. That didn't seem to be working. Recent poll numbers showed Romney slipping. There were bad headlines. The talk of the campaign was about who made the latest gaffe and who had the most negative ads. This changes that whole dynamic by making a bold, some would say risky, decision and bringing in a guy who has put a lot of ideas on paper that are going to get a lot of debate in the weeks ahead.
RAZ: Ari, early in the campaign, Romney seemed to have foreshadowed this somewhat. He called Paul Ryan his sixth son.
RAZ: Do you get the sense that these two men are at ease with each other, that they genuinely like each other?
SHAPIRO: Yeah. Totally. We have seen Romney campaign with a lot of surrogates who are also on his vice presidential short list. I have not seen him campaign with anyone who he looked more comfortable and at ease with than Paul Ryan. People have described it as a bromance or like a buddy movie. Even though Ryan, at age 42, is the age of Mitt Romney's oldest son, the two of them just have kind of a, you know, similar aesthetic, a similar style. And they seem comfortable and happy with each other.
RAZ: Any reaction from the White House and the Obama campaign?
SHAPIRO: Yeah. The Obama campaign was quick to tie Mitt Romney to the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, saying this is going favor the wealthy, it's going to gut Medicare. Some of the same criticisms that President Obama has been leveling at Paul Ryan over the years, now he can level them at Mitt Romney too.
RAZ: It should be an interesting couple of months ahead. That's NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro, traveling in the motorcade as we speak with the Romney-Ryan campaign. Ari, thanks.
SHAPIRO: No problem, Guy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.