Romney: Ryan Is 'an Intellectual Leader of the Republican Party'

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney picked "an intellectual leader of the Republican Party" to join him on the Republican presidential ticket this morning, telling a crowd of supporters on the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has the "energy and vision" needed to move forward into the White House.

"Paul and I are beginning on a journey that will take us to all corners of America," Romney said. "…His leadership begins with character and values Paul is a man of tremendous character."

"He is a person of great steadiness whose integrity is unquestioned and his word is good," Romney added, noting that Ryan "doesn't demonize his opponents."

"There are a lot of people in the other party who disagree with Paul Ryan," the presumptive GOP nominee continued. "…He's never been content to simply curse the darkness; he'd rather light candles."

Then came Romney's slip that made Twitter explode.

"Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan," Romney said.

After the House Budget Committee chairman came out to wild cheers, Romney backtracked on his boo-boo. "Every now and then I've been known to make a mistake," he said. "I did not make a mistake with this guy."

The Romney camp tried to defuse the gaffe by pointing out that gaffemaster Joe Biden once announced Obama as "Barack America."

"For the last 14 years, I have proudly represented Wisconsin in Congress.  There, I have focused on solving the problems that confront our country, and turning ideas into action; and action into solutions," Ryan said. "I am committed, in mind and heart, to putting that experience to work in a Romney Administration. This is a crucial moment in the life of our nation; and it is absolutely vital that we select the right man to lead America back to prosperity and greatness."

Ryan, whose "Path to Prosperity" budget plan has already been a campaign battle target of Democrats, stressed his small-government beliefs and longtime mantra that the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path.

"Our rights come from nature and God, not government," he said. "...We won't blame others, we will take responsibility. And we won't replace our founding principles, we will reapply them."

"We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes," Ryan said.