Power Players

From congressman to veep: How to make a vice president

Power Players

Top Line

Mitt Romney tapped Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to be his running mate. Sure -- he's a rising star in the Republican party, but Ryan is also someone who has never run on the national political stage. Top Line caught up with veteran political strategist Tad Devine to take a look at what it will take to transform a relatively unknown congressman into a national candidate.

"One of the biggest things a candidate has to get used to: the pace," says Devine of his experience working with Lloyd Bentsen, Joe Lieberman and John Edwards all as VP candidates. "Everything happens so quickly in a presidential campaign."

Devine says the first thing to figure out about a VP candidate is whether they are completely comfortable with the message and the strategy of the campaign. "If they are not willing to go out and deliver that message with numbing repetition, every single day, you are in big trouble," explains Devine.

But the fast pace, long hours and repetitive stump speeches are only the first of many changes to the candidate's lifestyle. One day they have no secret service protection and their family is living in practical anonymity, the next they are running for vice president. "It's a huge change," says Devine, "particularly [for] the family, that's the hardest transition of all."

In the past, the VP selection has taken place immediately before the convention, which makes the transitions harder, Devine says. "At least this time," continues Devine, "the nominee for vice president has a couple of weeks or so to transition before they have to take the convention as well."

The convention is a huge night in the career of a VP hopeful. What goes into preparing a candidate for the biggest speech of their career?

"It's a very simple concept," explains Devine, "it's called practice."

ABC News' Sarah Burke and Richard Coolidge contributed to this report.

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