ASHLAND, Virginia — Republicans gathered at the Randolph-Macon College gym here for a noisy, elated celebration of Governor Mitt Romney's choice of a true-believing conservative star as his running mate. They packed the bleachers and pounded their feet at ever applause line — virtually every line — in a thus-far rare, electric moment for the Republican campaign.
Romney was joined by Paul Ryan for their first joint rally since their announcement early Saturday, speaking to a crowd of 1,500, with more than 500 outside in overflow space — a rarity on the Romney trail.
"I'm happy today," Romney effused. "I hope you're happy. I'm happy today."
Ryan introduced Romney, setting the tone for the high-energy event, but flubbed the date that Obama's term would be up if he lost.
"President Obama is the president of the United States and the good news is on Nov. 6 he won't be any longer."
As Romney spoke, Ryan stood to his side, nodding his head as Romney recounted his biography and their plan to get "more jobs for people in the middle class and more take home pay."
Romney also preemptively defended his running mate from Democratic attacks, saying they're "not going to find anything."
"We're going to talk about issues and a vision for America, and not drag down in the dirt like you're seeing from the Obama campaign," Romney added.