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For Rep. Paul Ryan, it wasn’t just about fitting the profile and getting along with the candidate. He also had to be willing to dress inconspicuously and trek through the woods behind his house, all in the name of keeping Mitt Romney’s decision on a running mate under wraps. At the end of Romney’s first day campaigning with his running mate, Beth Myers, the head of the candidate’s VP search committee, briefed reporters on the process inside a hangar at the Dulles International Airport, reports Reuters.
The process began in April, as soon as it became clear Romney would be the nominee. According to Myers, Romney only issued one directive, make sure all the candidates are ready to take office from the first day, writes Time. By May 1, a long list of candidates had been cut down, and by early June it was already clear who would be the serious contenders. Although Myers didn’t reveal who was in that short list, Politico hears that from a list that first included 20 names, there were three finalists: Ryan, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
Myers, who prepared for the job by talking to veterans of other vice-presidential searches, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, was so paranoid about news of the selection leaking out that all the background information used to vet candidates (inclding several years of tax returns) was kept in a secure room, where nothing could be taken out or copied. When no one was there, the material was kept inside a safe, reports Bloomberg.
Romney had made up his mind by August 1, but didn’t tell Ryan. Instead, he scheduled a sit-down for Aug. 5 in Boston. But since Ryan was under close scrutiny by the press, Myers told him to dress casually for a flight between Chicago and Hartford, Conn. When he arrived wearing jeans and a baseball hat, Myers’ 19-year-old son picked him up at the airport and drove him to Myers’ house in Brookline, Mass, according to the Washington Post.
“By the time we met in person I kind of knew it was going to happen,” Ryan recalled. “I was very humbled.”
The Ryan announcement was supposed to take place a day earlier in New Hampshire, but it had to be postponed because the memorial for the Sikh temple shootings took place that day. After that ceremony, Ryan went home through the front door, but left through the back and walked into the woods that surround his property. On a nearby street, an aide was waiting to take him to the airport, notes the New York Times.