Romney’s VP pick is Paul Ryan

With the retired military battleship Wisconsin as a backdrop, Mitt Romney will announce Saturday that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan will be his running mate, multiple news sources reported Friday night.

Speculation had swirled around Ryan, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty for many weeks, but aides kept the decision under wraps, insisting that the former Massachusetts governor’s supporters would be the first to know through a special smartphone app.

Instead it was NBC News that broke the choice late Friday night on the eve of a bus tour that will cross some of the most important battleground states: Virginia, Florida and Ohio.

Ryan, of Wisconsin, is a bold choice for the ever-cautious Romney campaign. The wonkish House budget chairman, 42, won the admiration of conservatives after championing major tax budget cuts while advocating deep changes to Medicare, the popular healthcare program for seniors — long viewed as a third rail of politics.

The choice promises a fierce debate over the size and role of government in America over the next few months, and Democrats are relishing the chance to take on that fight.

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