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Ryan youth, political smarts add to ticket

  |   Aug. 11, 2012 at 10:22 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the youthful House member picked by Mitt Romney as his running mate, brings a lot to the Republican ticket, say supporters of the choice.

The front man on the GOP's House budget plan, his youth and roots in a politically important swing state are important factors, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said.

A native of Janesville, Wis., Ryan was elected to Congress at age 28. Now 42, he's chairman of the House Budget Committee. He's also a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Ryan came to the job with extensive political experience gained from some of the party's most senior members. He was an aide to then-U.S. Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin in the early 1990s, and later in the decade served as legislative director for then-U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, now the governor of Kansas. In 1996, he was a speechwriter for Jack Kemp's vice presidential campaign.

Once in Congress, Ryan helped organize "Young Guns," a program that recruited candidates to run in districts where Republicans had lost, CNN said.

The conservative Ryan is seen as one of the Republican Party's lightning rods. His youth could appeal to a demographic considered to lean toward President Obama, and Wisconsin is considered a battleground state.

Ryan does have political baggage. Critics note he's never run a statewide race. He has no foreign policy experience. The heaviest suitcase, however, may be that the budget plan he formulated would, as Democrats claim, "end Medicare as we know it."

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