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Baseball Caps And Rented Cars: How Romney's Team Kept VP Pick A Secret

Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan speak with media aboard a charter airplane from Sterling, Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday.
Saul Loeb
AFP/Getty Images
Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan speak with media aboard a charter airplane from Sterling, Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday.

That Rep. Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney's choice for a running mate wasn't a complete surprise. Still, it was a closely guarded secret and it took quite a bit of planning to keep it under wraps until the name was unveiled yesterday.

Last night, NPR's Ari Shapiro and other reporters received a briefing from team Romney detailing the lengths they went through to keep their vetting — and Romney's ultimate choice — secret.

Ari spoke to Weekend Edition Sunday's Linda Wertheimer about it, this morning. From his notes with an interview with Romney senior campaign advisor Beth Myers, here are a few highlights:

-- Myers said the Romney team worked from a "deep bench." She would not detail the exact number of VP candidates they vetted, but she said they vetted "many."

-- Myers and a few lawyers worked out of Romney headquarters in Boston to vet candidates.

"They worked in a locked room, a secure room in Boston, and we locked the materials in an individual safe each day in this room. No copies of the materials were ever made, and all work was done in that room," Myers said.

-- Romney settled on Ryan on Aug. 1.

-- Ryan flew in for a talk with Romney and other aides on Aug. 5. Here's where the real art of deception came into play: Ryan — dressed in jeans, a ball cap, and sunglasses, flew from Chicago to Hartford. Myers' 19-year-old son picked him up from the airport in a rented SUV and then drove to Myers' house in Massachusetts.

Romney then drove to her house and he met with Ryan in the Myers dining room. They emerged about an hour later. Ryan had accepted.

-- As all of this was going on, Rep. Ryan got word of the shootings at the Sikh temple in Ryan's district. Originally, the Romney campaign was planning on making the announcement on Friday. But that had to be pushed back because the memorial for the victims was scheduled for that day.

-- On Friday after the memorial, Rep. Ryan headed to his house. He said hello to his sister-in-law and walked out to the woods behind his house.

NBC had a tracker, who had eyes on Ryan at all times, so it was important to leave undetected.

"Paul walked by his childhood tree fort. So he walks through, Andy picks him up, they drive to Waukegan about an hour away. They were wheels up at 5:00 p.m. which is about the time we were wheels up in Boston," Myers said.

-- Once in Elizabeth City, N.C., the campaign announced that they would unveil their VP pick on Saturday.

-- At about 8 a.m. Saturday, they were at the Fairfield Inn in Norfolk, close to where they presented Ryan to the American people.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.