VEEP VETTING & TICK TOCK
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Ari just mentioned a couple of the details the Romney campaign provided about their vice presidential selection process. There are many more twists to this real-life cloak and dagger story that have been kept under wraps for months. Ari joins us now to describe exactly how the Romney campaign maintained the secrecy of the vice presidential pick.
Ari, let's start with the day that Mitt Romney offered Paul Ryan the job. The campaign says this was August 5th. What happened?
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Well, it was a in-person meeting at Beth Myers' house in the Boston area and it was really important that Paul Ryan not be detected getting to Boston. So, as Beth tells the story, the congressman boarded a commercial flight in Chicago wearing jeans, a baseball cap and sunglasses - not how he usually dresses. When he landed in Connecticut, Beth's 19-year-old son Curt picked him up in a rented SUV where they drove to Beth's house, had lunch with her family and a few Romney advisors.
Then Mitt Romney showed up. They met in private in Beth's dining room for more than an hour. And as Beth tells the story, when they exited an hour later, it was all set. Yesterday on the plane, Romney told reporters that they spent that hour discussing the campaign and how they would govern together if they win.
WERTHEIMER: So if that was August 5th, the shooting at the Sikh temple, wouldn't that have been the same day?
SHAPIRO: Exactly. And that temple was in congressman Ryan's home district. He actually got news of the shooting while he was at Beth's house in Massachusetts and worked with his congressional staff to respond to it without letting anyone know he was in Massachusetts.
WERTHEIMER: Huh. So that's bouncing around in the computer, huh?
SHAPIRO: Totally. And those shootings also affected this process in another way, which is that the Romney campaign wanted to announce their choice of Ryan this past Friday in New Hampshire, but then they learned of the memorial service for the victims of the shooting was scheduled for Friday in Wisconsin, so they bumped it to yesterday instead aboard the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk.
WERTHEIMER: So if Paul Ryan was at the memorial service on Friday, how did he get to Norfolk for the vice presidential rollout the following morning?
SHAPIRO: Well, you got to remember there were TV networks that literally had people parked outside of Paul Ryan's house so the campaign did more cloak and dagger stuff. After the memorial service, one of Paul Ryan's congressional staffers drove the congressman home. He dropped Congressman Ryan off at the house where Ryan's sister-in-law was in the house to keep the lights on while the congressman snuck out the back door into the woods behind his house.
And yesterday on the airplane, he described what happened next.
PAUL RYAN: The house I grew up in backs up to the house I live in now so I know those woods like the back of my hand so it wasn't too hard to walk through them. So I just went out my back door and went through the gully and the woods I grew up playing in and I walked over to the tree that had my old tree fort that I built back there. Went out, next to the driveway that I grew up in.
SHAPIRO: And that's where the same congressional staffer who had just dropped him off, came around to pick him up. They drove to the airport, caught a flight to Elizabeth City, North Carolina where they met some Romney staffers at a Fairfield Inn. Then the campaign announced that there would be a VP pick the next morning. And as Beth tells the story, she turned off her phone, went to sleep, woke up early yesterday morning and drove with one Secret Service agent, the Romney crew and Paul Ryan to Norfolk where the announcement happened.
WERTHEIMER: That's NPR's Ari Shapiro. He's traveling with the Romney campaign. Thank you very much for all that.
SHAPIRO: Good to talk to you, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.