Republican voters and political analysts alike have accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of being stiff, out-of-touch and willing to compromise his political beliefs when pressured. The same cannot be said of Romney's vice presidential pick, Congressman Paul Ryan.
Romney thinks the young, but experienced lawmaker is part of his key to success this year in his race against Barack Obama.
"With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party," Romney said. "He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don't change course."
Congressman Ryan holds a degree in economics and political science from Miami University of Ohio. He was elected to Congress at the age of 28 and is now in his seventh term representing Janesville, Wisconsin - the town where he was raised and still lives.
Ryan chairs the House of Representatives' Budget Committee. The 42-year-old is best known for presenting federal budgets that propose trillions of dollars in spending cuts as well as controversial changes to Medicare, the government's health care program for elderly Americans.
When Ryan delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in 2011, he laid out his philosophy to governing.
"We need to reclaim our American system of limited government," he said. "Low taxes, reasonable regulations and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity and has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed."
Ryan, who is married with three children, is a Roman Catholic who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.
President Obama has begun to question Ryan's ideology vociferously.
"Congressman Ryan is a decent man," said Obama on a recent campaign stop. "He is a family man. He is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision, but it's a vision that I fundamentally disagree with."
Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government at American University in Washington D.C., says Ryan helps balance the Romney ticket.
"I think that he adds a degree of enthusiasm and charisma that a lot of Republicans felt Mitt Romney lacked," Lawless explained. "So he not only shores up the Republican base's enthusiasm with his conservative credentials, but he also delivers a kind of excitement that was missing from the ticket."
It was Ryan's endorsement of Romney at a critical stage in the GOP presidential primaries that helped propel the former governor past all of his competitors in the race to compete against President Obama in November.