The Republican hopeful in the November's presidential election, Mitt Romney, introduced Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate at a campaign event here Saturday morning.

Romney, who praised Ryan's "strength of character" and said "his integrity is unquestioned," unveiled his choice two weeks before the Republican convention and three months before the election that will decide whether the incumbent president, the Democrat Barack Obama, continues in the White House.

For the occasion, which marks the beginning of a tour of key battleground states, Romney chose a naval museum and as the background a military destroyer decked with bunting in a state that has an large presence of military bases and defense-industry corporations.

Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, expressed to hundreds of euphoric Republicans his total commitment to the Romney campaign.

For his part, Romney stressed Ryan's leadership in Congress and his ability to work with Democrats across the aisle - "He doesn't demonize his opponents" - which is why, he said, he is known in Washington for his "character and judgment" as well as for his "energy and vision."

Ryan, known for his extreme opposition to the budget proposals of Obama and the Democrats, said that "Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history."

In the congressman's first event as Romney's running mate, Ryan praised his past experience as a businessman, his record as governor of Massachusetts and said that he was proud to be on the ticket with a man who understands the need to create jobs and improve the economy.

Before the excited crowd of supporters, whites in their great majority, the two Republican candidates stirred patriotic emotions with references to the defense of freedom and the founding values of the nation, complemented by their well-staged trot down the gangplank from the USS Wisconsin destroyer, which bears the name of the 42-year-old Ryan's home state.

Ryan presented his wife and three children and told Romney he felt "deeply excited and honored to join you as your running mate," a long-awaited announcement about which the Romney campaign had broken the news several hours before.

"Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem, and Mitt Romney is the solution," said Ryan, who urged a change in the direction the country is going in order to "restore the dreams and greatness of this country" by slashing the soaring deficit and stopping the federal government from meddling in citizens' lives.

Romney and Ryan will be named the official Republican ticket for the presidential election at the party's convention beginning Aug. 27 in Tampa, Florida. EFE