Portman, Ayotte and Ryan will join Romney on upcoming bus tour
UPDATED 1:09 p.m. ET
(CBS News) Three potential running mates for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will be putting their surrogate skills on display as they campaign with him during a bus tour of several swing states taking place over the next several days.
Sens. Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte will join Romney in Ohio and New Hampshire, respectively, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan will campaign with the candidate in his hometown of Janesville, staff members for the three legislators confirmed.
Romney's visit to the Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, which Ryan represents, will come less than two weeks after Gov. Scott Walker retained his position in a failed recall election -- a result that galvanized Republicans in the state.
Though Wisconsin had long been considered out of reach for Romney in November, both sides now believe it is in play.
The campaign appearance with the House Budget Committee chairman, a popular and influential figure among economic conservatives, will no doubt spark increased chatter about the possibility of the seven-term lawmaker joining the Republican ticket.
Asked the vice-presidential question during a "Today" show interview in April, Ryan did not express disinterest in the possibility.
"I haven't given it enough thought to answer that question," he said. "It's never come up. The way I look at this is, it's somebody else's decision."
Romney's appearance with Ryan will be among the most closely watched components of a six-state, five-day campaign swing that will begin in New Hampshire on Friday and take the candidate to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan.
President Obama won all six states in 2008, and Romney will almost certainly need to take back at least one of them to win the White House in November. (Obama currently has a 3.4 percent lead in Wisconsin in the RCP polling average.)
Romney has spent the majority of his time in recent weeks fundraising, and the battleground-state tour will be his first extended, traditional-style campaign swing since becoming the de facto Republican nominee.
The trip is designed in large part to provide picturesque images of the candidate interacting with voters in the quaint, small-town settings that have long served as backdrops in the quadrennial ritual of general election campaigning.
"Normally, this is an after-the-convention deal," a senior Romney adviser said. "You're going to see a good mix of getting-into-message speeches, local color, and some smaller events, too."
Additional reporting by Rebecca Kaplan.
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