Mooresville, North Carolina (CNN) – On Sunday Mitt Romney painted his new running mate, a seven-term congressman elected at age 28, as a reluctant Washingtonian who put aside his personal ambitions to serve his country.
Ryan's biography, however, paints a different picture of the vice presidential candidate's career.
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"His career ambition was not to go to Washington. That is not what he wanted to do," Romney said of Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee. "But he became concerned about what was happening in the country and wanted to get America back on track, and so he put aside the plans he had for his career and said 'I'm going to go and serve.'"
Ryan's career trajectory points to a slightly different version of the candidate's life than Romney offered. After graduating from Miami University of Ohio in 1992, Ryan went to work in Washington as an aide to Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin, whose office he interned in during college.
Ryan also served as a speechwriter for Rep. Jack Kemp early in his career, and worked as a staff member for Empower America, a conservative political group that merged with FreedomWorks in 2004. Ryan was Sen. Sam Brownback's legislative director from 1995-1997. He was elected to Congress in 1998.
During his early years in Washington, Ryan moonlighted as a fitness trainer and a waiter at Washington restaurants.
On Sunday, Romney lauded Ryan for his ability to "work across the aisle" in Washington and would help change the divisive tone in the nation's capital.
The newly-minted Republican ticket of Romney and Ryan were speaking to a rowdy and supportive audience of 1,700 people at a NASCAR auto training facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, the day after Ryan's name was announced. The campaign said thousands more people were not allowed into the event by a fire marshal, and those supporters gathered outside.
Last week a top campaign adviser told reporters many Americans were just tuning into the presidential race, and signaled the campaign would increase its efforts to introduce Romney – and now presumably his chosen number two – to voters in the run-up to their party's convention in last August.
Ryan also sought to present a softer side of Romney in his remarks, saying the presumptive presidential nominee had led "a life of raising a wonderful family."
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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