Paul Ryan returned Friday to the state where last week he was launched into the political stratosphere as Mitt Romney's running mate, telling Virginia: "It's not too late to get this right."
The anointment of Ryan, the wonkish House Budget Committee chairman, as Romney's number two lit a spark under the Republican campaign for the White House after attacks on Romney's business record began to show bruises.
The 42-year-old seven-term congressman from Wisconsin has been scampering across the country since Saturday, spreading the Romney-Ryan message to voters in battleground states from North Carolina to Iowa and Colorado.
On Saturday he goes to the biggest battleground of all, Florida, where he will be under pressure to explain his plan to cut costs by overhauling entitlements like Medicare, the government health care program for seniors.
"We've got to get this debt under control. We've got to cut spending," Ryan told about 2,500 people who filled a gymnasium at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, a Richmond suburb.
"We have a big choice to make," he said about the November 6 election in which Romney is aiming to oust President Barack Obama from the White House, "and it's not too late to get this right."
Romney and Ryan campaigned together for two days after the roll-out, but by Monday they had parted ways to cover more ground.
Ryan has since visited several states without Romney at his side as they prepare to head to the party's national convention in late August.
"I was surprised that they separated so quickly," said Professor Joel Goldstein of St. Louis University School of Law and one of the country's leading experts on the vice presidency.
"Often the choice is right before the convention so the ticket goes from the roll out stops to the convention."
Romney, an ex-governor of Massachusetts and multimillionaire former private equity investor, has called for dramatic cuts to federal spending in order to drive down the deficit.
But he also seeks the lowering of individual and corporate tax rates in order to spur consumer spending and create jobs, and will ease industry regulations that he says have been weighing down on business.
Ryan hammered the Obama administration as a bloated, wasteful bureaucracy and pointed to the US unemployment rate remaining above eight percent for the past 42 months, as he called on voters to "reject 'Obamanomics'."
"President Obama and too many politicians in Washington are more worried about their next election than they've been worried about the next generation," he added.
Ryan, a number-crunching congressional insider who has spent nearly half his life in Washington, has positioned himself as a fiscal problem solver who can also turn on his Midwestern charm to connect with everyday voters.
He spoke of his time in Virginia enjoying "lots of hunting and fishing -- that's what I like to do."
With 81 days before the election, Ryan will be racing around the 10 or so battleground states where the election will be decided, eager to introduce himself to voters who may not know much about his budget plan.
"He's a new face on the national scene," Goldstein said. "The question will be whether he is viewed as an able and attractive national figure or an ideologue associated with attacks on popular programs."