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Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, shakes hands with his vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) during a campaign event in Ashland, Va., on Saturday. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

NH pols react to Romney pick for GOP ticket

NORFOLK, Va. - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan, the conservative Republican congressman from Wisconsin, as his running mate was met with a reaction divided on party lines among New Hampshire's political establishment.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, announced Ryan's selection on the deck of the USS Wisconsin, a retired battleship named after Ryan's home state.

'I think it's a fantastic choice by Governor Romney,' said U.S. Sen. Kelly A. Ayotte, R-N.H. 'Paul Ryan is a very serious, intelligent person who is a reformer.'

As recently as last week, Ayotte continued to be cited as a potential running mate for Romney after he named her in a December television interview as one of several good choices. Ayotte, who consistently downplayed the talk, said Saturday that the constant questions about being considered were not a distraction.

'It certainly was an honor to be mentioned,' said Ayotte, who is in New Hampshire this week to hold town hall meetings and will be joining Romney at a campaign event in Iowa in two weeks. 'But my focus throughout this was on representing New Hampshire.'

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, is perhaps best known as the architect of a budget plan adopted by the House that calls for cuts in taxes and federal debt but that also seeks cuts in federal spending, primarily in entitlement programs such as Medicare.

U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., who called Ryan 'a personal friend,' applauded the selection.

'I think it's a great choice,' Guinta said. 'He's a no-nonsense, solutions-based kind of guy.'

Guinta said he believes that, while the choice of Ryan will appeal to conservative voters, the choice was about selecting someone who could be commander-in-chief of the armed forces and has a thorough knowledge of policy and economic issues, all of which he said Ryan embodies.

'I think it's really about making a good choice for America and presenting a clear difference from Obama-Biden,' Guinta said.

Guinta's opponent in November's election, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, criticized the selection and drew parallels between Ryan and Guinta.

'While voting for all of the (former President George W.) Bush era big spending, Congressman Paul Ryan tried to privatize Social Security,' she said in a statement. 'This Congress, he proposed to privatize Medicare, give huge tax cuts to the wealthiest and to cut programs such as Meals on Wheels and student aid. 'Congressman Frank Guinta voted along with him on all the drastic budget cuts that targeted the middle class, and New Hampshire voters will reject their agenda in November.'

In a statement issued by his reelection campaign, U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., said: 'The selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as Governor Romney's vice presidential running mate brings even more energy, courage and understanding of what it will take to turn this economy around and get our country moving forward again. Paul Ryan brings a proven track record of offering real ideas on how to solve the challenges facing our nation, as opposed to just political talking points and scare tactics, of which the American people have grown disgusted. We know our nation is at a crossroads, and it will take real leadership, real ideas and the ability to work together to get us back on track - ideals that are embodied by the Romney-Ryan ticket.'

Ann McLane Kuster, who is running against Bass, turned the selection into an indictment against her opponent.

'When Mitt Romney announced Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate this morning, he not only endorsed Congressman Bass' agenda of drastically cutting Medicare while giving massive tax breaks to millionaires - he also cemented the fact that this will be the focus of our debate through November,' she said in a statement.

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Tim Buckland may be reached at

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