Mitt Romney, left, has chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate (AP)
After US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney decided on a running mate, Paul Ryan's carefully planned transition from congressman to vice presidential candidate began - in deep secret.
Almost a week ago, Mr Ryan sneaked through Chicago's O'Hare Airport in a baseball cap and sunglasses and flew to New England. A Romney adviser's 19-year-old son picked up Mr Ryan and drove him to a private meeting in his parents' dining room where the deal was sealed.
By Friday afternoon, Mr Ryan was cutting through the Wisconsin woods behind his home to evade a reporter on the street in front and heading to North Carolina. By night, he was eating Applebee's takeaway at a nondescript chain hotel in that state and preparing for his big debut speech, according to a top Romney campaign aide who described the furtive manoeuvring to reporters.
All this so that no one would see it coming: a Saturday morning unveiling of the Republican ticket in Norfolk, Virginia, outside the USS Wisconsin, the battleship named for Mr Ryan's home state, as the sweeping theme from the movie Air Force One played.
This was the culmination of a methodical, highly secretive process that involved 10 top Romney staffers, a volunteer team of lawyers, a secret secure room in Mr Romney's Boston headquarters, and reams of paper on a long and then a shortlist of potential candidates.
In the end, the decision about who to pick rested only with Mr Romney: a candidate who is known for marshalling opinions from across the spectrum, gathering and analysing all the available data, and then evaluating the risks - before making the final call alone. The people around Mr Romney told him it was risky.
As the Republican presidential candidate prepared to pick his running mate, he kept in constant touch with his senior advisers. They met in small groups and alone with the candidate. He talked to a number of other friends and confidantes, soliciting advice and opinions.
Aides knew the decision was fraught, and they told Mr Romney so. It was a choice, they knew, that would fundamentally reshape the race for the presidency. It would acknowledge Mr Romney needed to offer voters more than just being the man who was not Democratic president Barack Obama. And it would tie Mr Romney to the architect of a highly controversial budget proposal that Democrats are eager to use to badger the Republican.
Mr Romney, himself, decided the chance was worth taking. "This was Mitt's decision," said Beth Myers, the senior adviser who led the vice presidential search. "He kept his own counsel."
In picking Mr Ryan, Mr Romney bypassed Republicans including Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and New Jersey governor Chris Christie.