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Sources Say Paul Ryan Will Be GOP VP Nominee

Aired August 11, 2012 - 01:00   ET


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Colleen McEdwards at CNN Center. Welcome to our viewers around the world and in the United States in our breaking news coverage.

Sources, multiple sources are telling CNN that the ticket is fixed on the Republican side. Just hours from now, sources say the Republican candidate Mitt Romney is going to announce that Congressman Paul Ryan will be on the ticket as vice president -- a major development in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Gloria, tell us what your sources are saying. Gloria Borger is with us, CNN's chief political analyst.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (via telephone): Both John King and I have been talking to sources as well as Peter Hamby. And none of our sources are steering us away from Paul Ryan. Some of us are steering us towards Paul Ryan. In fact a few of them are.

I think what this shows us, a Paul Ryan pick is a calculation that Mitt Romney is going to a different generation, and that he intends to make the fiscal future of the country and the budget issue a real centerpiece of the campaign. I think what is interesting to me, you were talking to John a few minutes ago about Joe Biden and how Joe Biden would have a debate with Paul Ryan.

It's interesting because both of these men, Biden and Ryan, came to Congress at very young ages. I mean Ryan ran for Congress first when he was the age of 27 in 1988. And he -- 1998, and he asked his mentors Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett whether it would pass the laugh test. And they said yes, it kind of would.

But he remained the kid from Janesville who goes home there every weekend. He's got a young family there. In much the same way that Joe Biden was when he first ran for Congress. He was a very young man. And then some of his family was killed in a tragic crash.

But they were both the sort of stars of their parties at that -- when they came to Congress. Ryan decided -- Joe Biden went off in the foreign policy direction -- Ryan decided to go off in the domestic policy path and wrote what is called "the path to prosperity" which has essentially become the blueprint for Republicans and how they're going to solve the deficit issue.

So I think that's going to become front and center in the campaign, if it hasn't been already, because it speaks directly to what happens to President Obama's health care law.

MCEDWARDS: Yes. And I want to bring in John King right now.

John, I'd like to talk a little bit more about the economy, because it is a huge issue in this U.S. campaign. It's a huge issue around the world. As Europe struggles with more recession, maybe, maybe not, the U.S. is sort of one step up, one step back in terms of recovery. Can you put in a nutshell for us how -- how a Romney/Ryan ticket or even administration would handle the elements of the economy differently than President Obama has?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, one of the things they have said, and one of the things that will be a deciding issue right now is they will say not only will they temporarily leave the Bush tax cuts in place for now, I say temporarily because they do not want the take them away. The president has said you need to take them away for anybody who makes more than $250,000 a year.

But the Republicans have said they want to go to a more sweeping tax reform that cuts rates for everybody and would allow Democrats is that means they want to cut taxes more for the rich. They believe cutting taxes on the wealthy more of a triple-down approach if you want to good back to the Reagan day language. That will be one of the defining issues. How do you reform the tax code?

The current state of the economy, look we have an incumbent president. And the Democrats everyone has noted are going to try to make this about Romney and Ryan. They're going to say they want to favor the rich and they want to cut Medicare. We do have an incumbent president of the United States. And the history tells you ask the voters anywhere around the world. When you have an incumbent and times are tough, issue number one is the incumbent and the current state of the economy.

So that's the biggest issue, but we will I think now by picking Ryan, it's a risky pick. We'll have bolder choices. The Ryan budget that Mitt Romney has now embraced by picking Congressman Ryan has some very controversial twists. It's very tough choices for the American people to make. They will now be debated.

You know what, Colleen? We've had these negative, nasty ads. If we can actually have a policy debate, maybe whoever wins will actually have a mandate to govern.

MCEDWARDS: Yes, heaven forbid, an actual policy debate.

KING: They might know what the voters want, because we might now get a better, clearer debate about specific policy ideas. You know what? That might be good for a town that hasn't figured out how to get anything done in recent years.

MCEDWARDS: Yes. Let's bring Wolf Blitzer right now in that town we're talking about.

Wolf, give us some analysis on -- from the Obama camp's perspective. How will the Obama camp attack this?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (via telephone): I think they'll immediately start talking about what Paul Ryan's budget as the chairman of the House Budget Committee would have called for if it was obviously approved by the House of Representatives whether Republicans have a decisive majority. It didn't get approved by the U.S. Senate. The Democrats don't have a majority.

But what they'll say is that Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it. They'll say he wants to really effectively end Social Security, too -- very popular entitlement programs for seniors in the United States., Medicare, the health plan for seniors in the United States, Social Security, the real relief if you will for so many millions, tens of millions of elderly Americans that are retired and elsewhere.

So, they're going to go after Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney on this issue, and they're going to try to score some points. I've just been going through some of the reactions I've been getting from Democrats out there from Obama supporter, Obama surrogates. And they're saying out loud already, this is great news for the president and his team because they think they'll have an issue on which to run, to hammer away at Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the Romney/Ryan ticket right now. And let's see if that pays off.

Sometimes they shouldn't be so enthusiastic about projecting this is going to be a disaster for Republicans. I remember back in 1980 when Democrats were high-fiving themselves when Ronald Reagan became the Republican presidential nominee against the incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter. They thought, well, how is this actor, a former actor, going to beat an incumbent? Well, Ronald Reagan went out to beat Jimmy Carter, of course, and won two terms of the president of the United States.

So, just be careful what you wish for. Right now, they're seeing lot of the Democratic supporters of President Obama seem to be being a little bit cocky and suggesting that Ryan selection opens up the door for them to good ahead to hammer away at Mitt Romney on some of these popular social spending issues.

At the same time, I will say this. That the benefit of Paul Ryan is he is very intelligent, he is a good debater. And he will energize that Republican base out there, especially those who have some doubts about Mitt Romney, how really -- was he really an effective conservative. And this is really going to bring out the vote.

So, I think it's going to be a positive on that sense from the Republican perspective.

MCEDWARDS: So we got the whole policy side here, as Wolf has just laid out.

But I'd like to bring Gloria Borger back in now. Because there is also the uglier stuff, right? Who is he, what's he done, what is in his closet? That kind of thing. The vetting process for the vice presidential post is huge, right?

Gloria, what would he have been through before this candidacy would even be considered?

BORGER: Well, you know, Paul Ryan has been in Congress for I guess it's about 13 years. And when I sat down with him last summer in Janesville, he said he gave up fear for lent this past year. And I asked him why. And he said because he had become, you know, the poster child for the Democrats who were trying to scare seniors into not voting for him.

I have to tell you, though, on a personal level, even people who disagree with him, and there are plenty, including liberal Democrats, find him to be a really nice guy. He comes from working class roots. He is fifth generation from Janesville, Wisconsin, and that's a very union-heavy small town.

And he sort of worked his way up to kind of get a conservative pedigree, first as a Republican congressional staffer. And then with the long shot bid for a House seat 13 years ago. His mentor was Jack Kemp, the first compassionate conservative I would argue in the Republican Party. Another mentor was Bill Bennett, a conservative luminary.

So -- and Ryan worked for those guys when he was in his 20s. And when he thought about running for the Senate, he went to them and said does this pass the laugh test? And they said you know, yeah, it really does.

And by the way, I should also tell you that Bill Bennett told me and Ryan confirmed that one of his hobbies is hunting elk with a bow and arrow. So there you go.

MCEDWARDS: There you go. I think we've even seen a shot of him at that in our coverage thus far.

Gloria Borger, Wolf Blitzer, John King all standing by with our extensive coverage. We're going to take a short break here on CNN. But we will be back in just a moment.


MCEDWARDS: Sources tell CNN that U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan will be on the ticket with the Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential race.

We've got John King standing by.

And, John, you recently spent a good bit of time with Paul Ryan in your coverage of this campaign. We've been talking a lot about the substance, the policy. And, you know, it just strikes me as we talk and as we watch the pictures here on the style side where Mitt Romney can appear quite stiff, Paul Ryan looks to me as I watch here to be a very relaxed, very fluid, very different.

John King, can you hear us OK?

KING: I sure can, Colleen. I'm sorry about that. I hear you just fine now.

He is different from Governor Romney. You see they look a bit alike. They look like older and younger. But he is more of a back slapper, he's more of an open sports fan, more comfortable tipping a can of beer than you might see Governor Romney in that kind of setting.

But they are ideas guys. They have respect for each other talking about big ideas in the government. As our sources are telling us tonight, after a long search that Paul Ryan, a risky and bold choice will be announced. He is the congressman from Wisconsin. They announced him tomorrow morning on the deck of a new retired battleship, the USS Wisconsin.

MCEDWARDS: And how --


KING (voice-over): For Paul Ryan, debating Joe Biden might feel like a demotion.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: So my question is, why not freeze spending now and would you support a line item veto and help get a vote on it in the House?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me respond to the two specific questions, but I want to just push back a little bit on the underlying premises, about us increasing spending by 84 percent.

RYAN: The discretionary spending and the bill Congress signs into law, that has increased 84 percent.

OBAMA: We'll have a longer debate on the budget numbers then, all right?

KING: Ryan is the GOP numbers guy. The chairman who is not afraid to say in his view the only way back to fiscal sanity is to dramatically shrink government and fundamentally change Medicare.

RYAN: If you don't address the issues now, they're going to steam roll us as a country. And the issue is, the more you delay fixing these problems, the much uglier the solutions are going to have to be.

KING: In short, he's a lightning rod. And if Mitt Romney tops Ryan to share the ticket, he will dramatically reshape the 2012 race.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It would be a bold, it would be a risky choice. It's hard for me to see Mitt Romney who has played it safe all the way through this campaign making that kind of gamble.

KING: There are upsides. It would energize the GOP base sometimes suspicious of Romney. Ryan is an energetic debater and campaigner, and at just 42, he would add youthful vigor to the ticket.

Close friends like former House colleague Mark Green say Ryan would help Romney in Wisconsin and across the Midwest.

MARK GREEN (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: He gets that sort of blue collar conservatism that is the heart of the Republican Party.

KING: But tapping Ryan is a gamble because of the House GOP budget that bears his name. Up until now, Romney has done everything to make this campaign a referendum on the incumbent.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president's policy are not creating jobs.

KING: Add Ryan to the ticket, and there is no escaping this.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it must be taken off the table.

Other potential downsides, Ryan has never run statewide. He has no foreign policy experience. And some will question whether a 42- year-old House member is ready to be commander in chief.

GERGEN: One of the stars of the Republican over the next 10 to 20 years, whether he is ready at this moment only a campaign trail can tell. He's going to get a real beating.

KING: Ryan says family history makes him a fitness fanatic, leading House colleagues in grueling cross training workouts.

RYAN: My dad died of a heart attack at 55, my grandfather at 57. So, I've always had this incentive to stay healthy.

KING: And an avid hunter, as Green learned one day when he sent an e-mail from his post as ambassador to Tanzania.

GREEEN: I got this response saying, "I'm sitting in a deer state. It's hunting season. Leave me alone."

KING: He is a self-described nerd, but don't under estimate Ryan's ambition or his competitive streak. It's clear, if he had his druthers, he'd rather debate the president.

RYAN: I love the idea of Barack Obama, I love the fact that we have elected an African-American man as a president. I think that's just really say cool thing. I just don't like the ideas is coming from Barack Obama.

KING: But it is Romney who will share the biggest fall debate stage.

RYAN: Governor Mitt Romney, hopefully the next president of the United States of America.

KING: And Romney who decides whether to place a risky bet on Paul Ryan.

John --


KING: And, colleen, we're now told by several sources Governor Romney has decided to place that bet, all behind the 42-year-old house budget committee chairman, the congressman from Wisconsin, a former Hill staffer before that. He will be the vice presidential pick of the Republican Party. And it's a fascinating dynamic tonight.

Conservatives are gleeful. They think Governor Romney has made a pick that will make the election about big choices and big policy conversation.

And as conservatives celebrate, so are liberals. They think Paul Ryan will be a great target in the elections, specifically, his big plan to change Medicare, the medical care, health care program for elderly Americans. So we'll get his big announcement tomorrow and it will leads into the Republican convention, Colleen, a critical phase on our presidential --

MCEDWARDS: Yes, and I hate to remind you, John, but it's the announcement today because it's about 1:16 Saturday morning here on the East Coast of the U.S. we are just hours away on Saturday from this announcement being made. We've been saying tomorrow for a while. But it is -- it is nigh on us today, Saturday.

The conservative base going to love this, as you mentioned, John. But there is that question. Is he ready? And is he ready for the scrutiny as well?

KING: He likes debating these big issues, including debating with President Obama. He says he is ready. We're about to find out.

National campaigns test people. Even people who have proven themselves in lower office sometimes have a hard time in national campaigns.

You were talking with Wolf earlier about Democrats are gleeful here. You're going to see ads saying they would destroy the social safety net for elderly Americans, they would slash domestic programs, hurts the (INAUDIBLE).

The Ryan budget does put some tough choices on the table. But Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan will say, Mr. President, yes, we have to make tough choices. Where is your plan?

So, this will give them a chance to say the president has been to timid, that he hasn't confronted the tough choices. The Democrats are ecstatic tonight thinking this helps them to victory in November, I would just give this as a sober footnote to Democrats not taking sides. But they ran Paul Ryan in 2010. They say if the Republicans win the Congress, this is what will happen. Guess what? The Republicans won big.

MCEDWARDS: John King, thank you very much. There he is with Mitt Romney. Congressman Paul Ryan. Sources telling CNN he is on the ticket. He is the congressman from Wisconsin. We even know what the outside of his house looks like right now as the speculation heats up, the hype heats up, the scrutiny heats up as this campaign marches onward.

We're going to take a short break here on CNN, but we'll be back with more.


MCEDWARDS: I'm Colleen McEdwards at CNN Center. Welcome to our breaking news coverage.

Sources telling CNN the ticket is fixed. It is going to be Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney and sources say his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan -- a blue collar guy, a guy the conservative base will love, a budget man, a numbers man in a campaign that is very much all about the economy.

CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger recently spent some time with Paul Ryan.

Gloria, what's he like?

BORGER: He's a very captivating fellow whose very devoted to fixing the economy. And I spent some time with him last summer, actually, around this time in Janesville, Wisconsin. And we talked about his meteoric rise in Congress.

He came at the age of 28. He is now what? Forty-one or 42?

MCEDWARDS: Forty-two, yes.

BORGER: I sort of asked him about what is a nice boy like you doing from janesville doing in Washington. So take a listen.


BORGER: You have had an absolutely meteoric rise in Congress. You came here at the age of 28. So tell me, what's a nice boy from Janesville doing here?

RYAN: Yes, that's a good question. That wasn't y plan. I'm a policy person, you know. I believe --

BORGER: Some would say a nerd.

RYAN: A nerd I guess you could say that. I believe -- my goal in life earlier was to be an economist. Then I got involved in public policy and economics, public finance. And I just learned at a young age, you can really make a difference in this country. And that's what motivated me to public service.

BORGER: Well, how did you learn it?

RYAN: How did I learn?

BORGER: Yes, that you could make that difference.

RYAN: You know, through mentors and working for people like Bill Bennett, Jack Kemp, Sam Brownback. I learned early on at age, working for these policymakers that if you apply yourself, if you persevere, you can actually make a big difference and pass legislation which affects people's lives in a positive way. I mean that's the whole idea of it all.

And I also was very home sick. I'm a big hunter, I'm a big fisherman. I'm a Wisconsin guy. So, I moved back home when I was 27 after working out here for about five years in think tanks and on the Hill, and looked at running for an open seat for my home, you know, hometown district.

I basically wanted to be an entrepreneur in public policy. But I also really missed my home. I'm a big Irish Catholic family guy. I have 67 cousins in Janesville alone.

BORGER: Sixty-seven?

RYAN: Yes, we're Irish Catholic. So -- and I missed just home. So I basically did a lot of praying and soul-searching and decided to be an entrepreneur in public policy and to be able to live at home, running for office, advocating ideas was something I was going to try.

BORGER: But 28. I mean --

RYAN: Yes, right. I didn't know that it was possible or not. I just decided to go for it, and it ended up working out.

BORGER: Well so, did you call your mentors and say hey?

RYAN: Yes, I basically called a bunch of friends, mentors like Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett and said does this pass the laugh test. And Bill and others were very encouraging of me to do that. And I just asked a lot of folks in Wisconsin. And just did a lot of traveling around.

I worked at my cousin's earth-moving business, which I grew up working for. And then on my free time, I went around in the district and just talked to people.

BORGER: Some would say you're still moving the earth.

RYAN: Yes, I know, just in a different way.


BORGER: So I think that what you can see from Paul Ryan here is that he's such a down to earth, likable guy. Whether you disagree with him on policy or not, you can see him really attracting crowds and young crowds in particular, which is what Romney needs. He also needs married women and men. So, you know, Paul Ryan may be somebody who can get that excitement level up, particularly among conservatives for the campaign.

MCEDWARDS: Gloria, you mention head is a hometown guy. You talked about his 67 cousins. We can even see a shot of his house as we get to know this man a little bit better.

There it is, right there. He says he misses home. I think he is going to miss it a lot more now.

Gloria, I sort of wondered as you were talking there, we spoke of him as a policy wonk, a nerd. He talked about his passion for public policy. You know, is the vice presidential post the place for a guy like that to be?

BORGER: Well, you know, he is a public policy entrepreneur as he puts it. And I think that every vice president has a different relationship with the boss. And the boss, if in this case, if Mitt Romney were to become president, could say to him, OK, Paul, I'd like to have you be in charge of congressional relations and how we're going to get this deficit under control so we don't go over this big fiscal cliff we've been talking about.


BORGER: Paul Ryan has a lot of very definitive ways he would like to do it. And we know about what he wants to do on Medicare.

What's up in the air, and what is interesting about his plan, the only thing that seems very up in the air about it is he says he wants to reform the tax code. But there's no details there about how.

MCEDWARDS: Right. OK, Gloria, I want to jump in here. We're cutting to the bottom of the hour and I want to bring in Wolf Blitzer in D.C. to kind of wrap this up for us.

Wolf, how does this race change from this point on?

BLITZER: Well, it's going to be much more lively. I think it's going to be much more substantive. And I think it will clarify the significant differences between the Democratic ticket and the Republican ticket. There are major differences on the key issue that's out there, which is the economy, the creation of jobs, which direction the country wants to move on some of the most sensitive economic issues, not only taxes, who is going to pay more taxes, who is going to pay less taxes, things like that.

But also on these entitlement spendings, whether Social Security and Medicare, how are you going to work with that. So it's going to be a bold change. I think it's going to be great for this debate, because I'm anxious to see real substantive policy debates between what is now going to be the Romney/Ryan ticket versus the Obama/Biden ticket. And I think this will do it.

And a I said before, I think that debate between Joe Biden, the vice president, and Paul Ryan will be a fabulous debate in October. I think the three presidential debates between Romney and Obama will be great debates. And I think the American public, the voters out there, especially those voters who are still undecided will benefit from what is about to happen over the next 87 days.

So in a few hours, it will all be official aboard the USS Wisconsin, the retired battle ship in Norfolk, Virginia, the largest naval facility in the world. The announcement will be made, a son of Wisconsin, aboard the USS Wisconsin, will be named by Mitt Romney as his vice presidential running mate.

MCEDWARDS: All right, Wolf Blitzer for us there in Washington. We have had John King, Gloria Borger as well. Thank you all.

Just a very quick recap. Sources telling CNN there is the ticket, right there on the Republican side, Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan.

You're watching CNN.