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Romney Campaign: Ryan is VP Choice

Aired August 11, 2012 - 07:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Breaking news this hour: Mitt Romney is about two hours away from revealing vice presidential choice, a move that could redefine the Republican presidential campaign. Three Republican sources telling CNN, Romney's choice as Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House budget committee chairman.

In recent days, there's been a good deal of pressure from the right to choose Paul Ryan. He's seen by many as a bold choice who helps bolster Romney's conservative credentials and shows he's serious about economic change. Romney will make his announcement in the battleground state of Virginia, in the military city of Norfolk, aboard the USS Wisconsin. Paul Ryan, of course, come from Wisconsin.

Event kickoff his campaign bus tour with his new running mate, a little more than three weeks before the Republican national convention.

We have complete coverage leading up to this dramatic announcement. Candy Crowley is here, Gloria Borger is here, John King is here, Jim Acosta is in Norfolk. Brianna Keilar is over at the White House.

John, let me start with you, a lot of us taken by surprise about this bold decision. A lot of us thought it would be somebody less controversial, whether a Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota, a Rob Portman, the Ohio senator. But he decided to go bold.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He decided to go bold. That tells you a couple of things about Governor. Number one, you have to give him credit not endorsing his pick, but he's willing to pick somebody who at times will overshadow him. A Paul Ryan who's been at the center of the national debate for several years about the budget, that he's a very dynamic, very energetic guy. He's a bit risky. He's 42 years old. He's a House member. Some say is he ready to be commander in chief.

But, you know, the Romney campaign, we've watched a slight drift toward the president in the polls in recent days, and part of this strategic and a tactical decision, we're loosing the debate over Bain and Solyndra, what has been a rather petty campaign. So, let go big and let's make it an ideas debate. That's risky.

Paul Ryan says cut a lot of money out of Medicare. Paul Ryan says cut a lot of domestic spending that's quite popular with people. You have a much bigger choice, if you will. It's so much not about the president anymore.

Governor Romney has tried to make a referendum on the incumbent president. President Obama has been successful about Bain Capital, about his record as a businessman, why won't he release his taxes.

So, now you have a choice. And from a governing perspective, it seems like, beginning today, we're going to start debating bigger issues, voters have bigger choices.

BLITZER: Hold on a second. I want to set the scene right now at Norfolk. Jim Acosta is on the phone for us.

Jim, the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk. It's the largest naval facility in the world. Tell us what you can expect in two hours.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think what you're going to expect, Wolf, is Romney campaign pulling out the big guns and I'm not just talking about the USS Wisconsin. We're talking about, obviously, Paul Ryan, we haven't seen signs yet, Wolf. I should mention. I've been on the event site. We've not seen Paul Ryan signs at the event site at this point.

And I can tell you right now, Wolf, I'm standing in line to go through security to get into this event site. I don't know if you want to call it a glitch, but 7:00 a.m., when most major television networks want to be on the air reporting this news, all of the networks are phoning in, that's why I'm calling in right now myself. We're all phoning in this report as opposed to being live on the air, showing that battleship behind us, showing that impressive back drop behind us, we're all sort of standing in line getting ready to go inside this site.

So, I think it goes to show you sort of the last-minute nature what the Romney campaign has done by alerting everybody late last night, putting out this press release very late last night. This is a herculean effort pulling this off, not just with the news media, but the campaign, Secret Service, everybody involved.

BLITZER: I want to be precise, Jim. You haven't seen signage yet, Romney-Ryan, all of us are familiar with Obama-Biden, but no signs in nor folk where you are, is that right?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. At 6:00 this morning, I was able -- the Romney campaign and Secret Service were kind enough to escort us into the site. We were able to go live at that point, scan the entire scene. Romney people were there. There were no Paul-Romney signs on the site at that point.

And so, whether they are at Kinkos right now printing up those signs. We can't tell you if they're in the back of the bus that's parked on the site, perhaps that's the case. And let be clear here. The Romney campaign has not officially put out a press release saying Paul Ryan is our vice presidential pick. Remember the Mitt VP app that's everybody downloaded on smartphones. That app has not been activated. We've not gotten any notification overnight from the Mitt VP app that Paul Ryan is the pick.

So at this point, from the official standpoint from the Romney campaign, Paul Ryan has not been announced yet, at least not just yet.

BLITZER: If you go online to the Romney-Ryan website. There you see it right now. They haven't announced it yet on the Romney website. Clearly type in Romney-Ryan and you'll go right to the Romney campaign Web site.

Gloria, you've sent spent a lot of time with Paul Ryan in recent years. You did a great series on this 42-year-old Republican House budget committee chairman. He's very, very popular with Republicans, very intelligent, knows these issues, a student of the late Jack Kemp.

So, we know a lot about him even though he's relatively young, 42 years old.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Paul Ryan became popular with Republicans by pushing unpopular things. They didn't always like him at first. He was the guy who wanted to take away their earmarks. He's the guy that wanted to touch what's known as third rail of American politics, Social Security and Medicare.

He had a very hard time convincing them that they ought to follow him, and then you had this new class -- the app?

KING: I'm sorry to interrupt you. The app told us officially, Mitt's choice for VP is Paul Ryan. Spread the word about America's comeback team.

BLITZER: It's official. Put it up on the screen. Put it in front of you. We'll show our viewers if you go to the Mitt Romney campaign app, you see it's official. Read it to our viewers precisely what it says.

KING: Mitt's VP, that's the title of the app. Mitt's choice for VP is Paul Ryan. Spread the word about the comeback team, Romney-Ryan 2012.

BLITZER: We don't need to cite sources anymore. It's the official announcement from the Romney campaign.

KING: Unless somebody hacked into the app.

BLITZER: I don't think that's the case.

BORGER: think it's a bold choice but a really risky choice. One that Democrats are looking to fighting, because suddenly they have new terrain, which is not only did Mitt Romney endorse Paul Ryan's budget but it now becomes his budget. When you have the state of Florida, for example, very important to this race, a lot of senior citizens there, no matter how much Paul Ryan says, this doesn't affect you if you're currently 55 or older. This will still become an issue.

Do you want to essentially voucherize Medicare? Do you want to change the way we determine the retirement age of Social Security. These are questions that need to be addressed. But will it take Mitt Romney off his it's the economy, it's the economy, it's the economy, or can they weave it into an argument that the American people will listen to?

BLITZER: It's official. The Romney campaign announced Paul Ryan will be the vice presidential running mate.

Candy, a lot of Democrats are excited. They think this is great news for them. They've been falsely excited in the past on other campaigns. Are they legitimately -- do they really have a legitimate source of glee right now that Paul Ryan is the running mate?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They think they do. Ask me November 7th. I'll let you know whether they're right or not.

Listen, it's not just about the top of the ticket here. I'm hearing from Democrats particularly on the House side going, "Yippee. Big, big help down ticket. We don't have to explain the Ryan plan. We just say see that guy, our opposition voted with him."

So, you see this sort of emerging -- they have to bring up the Ryan plan. Now it has so much more potency, because he's on the top of the ticket.

So, Democrats think this is great for them. You know, always be careful what you ask for. Do the person people want to have this debate?

I also think what it tells you about the Romney campaign. Where do we start out? Mitt Romney started out saying this election is about the Obama economy.

President Obama started out saying, this election is about a choice. Now, I actually think. You see Romney saying, yes, it is. Game on. I think this is a very game on kind of choice. Let's -- I mean, kind of pick for Romney.

BLITZER: I just want to play a little clip. Candy, you had a chance on April 1st to speak, interview Paul Ryan. We've got a little clip of that. I want our viewers to hear it. Let's listen.


CROWLEY: Usually, the number two on the ticket helps balance out the number one. It sort of fills in the gaps. What kind of number two do you think Mitt Romney needs? What does he need balancing out for, or of?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Whatever he -- whatever he thinks helps him win the fall and helps him govern --

CROWLEY: What do you think helps him win the fall?

RYAN: Honestly, I don't know if it's the geography thing. There's a lot of conventional wisdom. What I think matters is, is he putting together the right kind of team to take the right kind of referendum in the drawn to offer the country a choice of two future, is he getting somebody ready for the job who can help him govern and deliver on the reforms which he campaign on in the fall.

So, I have no clue what that will be. What kind of person, where they are coming from. Really, I don't see the point of speculating on that. We have jobs to do where we are. I have a job to do as budget chairman, as a Wisconsin representative, I'm focused on that.

And so, let's see -- let's get this primary taken care of. And then everybody can worry and speculate about the rest of it.

CROWLEY: Would you, for instance -- let me just try one more time on this -- would you, for instance, go for someone who is seen as a little more working class? We know when President Obama was a candidate, and he was selecting a number two, they felt that there was a certain kind of, he seemed a bit remove from people and they wanted someone who really spoke to blue collar workers.

Does Mitt Romney need that as well in a number two?

RYAN: You know, I'm really not the political pundit type, Candy. I'm very much a policy person. I'm focused on doing my job. So, it's not my forte to get into that speculation because I'm busy doing my job.

And right now my job is being the congressman for the first congressional district in Wisconsin. And as Budget chairman, trying to prevent a debt crisis from sinking our economy and destroying our children's future. So, honestly, that's what I'm focused on.


BLITZER: Candy, do you want to weigh in?

CROWLEY: It also brings up, I think listening to that, another risk is an optics risk. The fact is, this guy hasn't been tested statewide much less nationwide as a campaigner. And he's a wonk.

BLITZER: You see the USS Wisconsin right now. That's a live picture from Norfolk, Virginia, the largest naval port in the world. We're going to be going there in less than two hours when Mitt Romney makes this formal announcement.

But the Romney campaign already announced that officially, Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan will be the vice presidential running mate. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to start getting Democratic reaction, Pro-Obama reaction to this dramatic announcement, Romney-Ryan. What's going on?

Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right. It's official. The Romney campaign put it out on their app, the Romney campaign announcing that Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman for Wisconsin, 42 years old, the chairman of the House Budget Committee will be the vice presidential running mate to Mitt Romney. It will be Romney-Ryan. That's the Republican ticket.

The official announcement coming only seconds ago on the app. You saw John King put it up on the screen as soon as it came out. No more sources necessary. This is an official announcement from the Romney campaign. That's a done deal right now.

There you see it. See it on the iPad as well.

Let's bring in Jim Acosta. He's in Norfolk, Virginia. He's watching everything that's going on. He's aboard the USS Wisconsin, the old battleship.

Set the scene for us right now, Jim.

ACOSTA: Wolf, I'm not exactly onboard the USS Wisconsin just standing maybe 30 yards from it. And, yes, you can see the USS Wisconsin" behind me right now. You can say they're bringing out the big guns this morning. That battleship here positioned in Norfolk almost perfectly as if the Romney campaign parked it there themselves.

And you see the podium behind, the teleprompter are up. The Romney flag is up. Romney bus is in the background there.

And, Wolf, what I can tell you from a messaging standpoint on that Romney bus, this is sort of a new wrap on that bus that we haven't seen in recent weeks. It says more jobs, more take-home pay. So, getting back to that message on the economy. That message aimed at the middle class is what the Romney campaign will be delivering over the next several days for the bus tour.

As we were talking a few moments ago, Wolf, just to go to the hurry up and wait nature of this announcement this morning, No Paul Ryan signs on the site. We've been scouring the scene here, looking for any sign of a Paul Ryan sign of some sorts, even saw Romney advance people.

They had their lead advance people here just like they had top ads advisers coming in last night, Wolf. So, one of the advance people with a sign to his chest earlier this morning, I said, hey, Saul one of the people with a sign up to the chest. I said hey, Charlie, flip the sign around. Give us a sense what you have there, are you holding this close to your chest, It was just a Mitt Romney sign.

So, perhaps they're bringing those in as we speak. But as you said just a few moments ago, Wolf, it is official. The Mitt VP app did activate, finally even though much of the political world knew this last night, at least through sources that app did go off activating and letting everybody know that Mitt Romney has officially announced that Paul Ryan will be his running mate.

Now, all of this is going to be started in a couple of hours from now. But, Wolf, they will be getting on the bus and getting across the state of Virginia. I think even though this event was not being planned and set up in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan's home state, Virginia is a very important battleground state. So, to have this event here in Virginia I think lays down a pretty big marker for the Romney campaign that they've come to really go after the Obama campaign on a state where President Obama won last time around.

They want this state badly, Wolf. You can tell by what they're putting out here today.

BLITZER: Do we know when they decided to do this event in Norfolk, near the USS Wisconsin, obviously Paul Ryan being from the state of Wisconsin, USS Wisconsin, is there -- a very cute gesture, obviously. To me it suggests that if it's been in the works for days now, that Romney made his decision to select Paul Ryan days ago. That's why they picked the USS Wisconsin as a venue.

ACOSTA: I think that's a very safe bet, Wolf. I think this has been in the works for several days. I think when they realized that the USS Wisconsin here, they had the perfect backdrop for this event. But I will tell you, the fact that this e-mail went out last night from the Romney campaign, at 11:00, I believe there was a tweet from the communications director from the campaign roughly around that same time.

This was a very last-minute sort of notification to the national news media. And, hey, you know, we can drop everything and show up. That's not a big deal.

But I will tell you, though, that this -- you know, not giving everybody sort of a lead notice in all of this did create chaos coming in. We were not able to go live here, right at the top because of that. And, you know, this is sort of a -- I don't want to say a thrown-together sort of event here, wolf, but it is certainly one that is catching a lot of people by surprise.

You know, the Romney campaign did not tip its hand, needless to say. The USS Wisconsin, we got that notification, that this is where the event was. A lot of people are saying, oh, it's USS Wisconsin, that's a big hint.

BLITZER: All right.

ACOSTA: But I think the fact that they're doing this Saturday morning when the Olympics still going on. Huge surprise.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment, Jim.

John King is getting an official announcement from the Romney campaign.

KING: It's a press release. If you can close enough, you can see the Romney letterhead on top. This is their press release that we get all the time in our email. And there's not a quote from Governor Romney in this. We're going to wait to hear from the governor himself. Not even from Paul Ryan.

But it does say, under the Boston dateline, where the headquarters is, Mitt Romney today announced Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Below is Congressman Ryan's biography. So, a straightforward, and simply as you can get, it's interesting what they decided to put on the first bio. They note, of course, as we all know, chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he has worked tirelessly, leading the effort to reign federal spending and increase accountability to taxpayers, you'll hear a lot about that. Also talking about simplifying the tax code. You'll hear a lot of about that.

And then it goes on to his fifth generation Wisconsin native. It says his dad was an attorney, his mom Betty, a stay-at-home mom. He talks about how he proposed to his wife in April. She's from Oklahoma.

And it reminds us, in case anyone out there wants to know, does he like to be outdoors, that he's an avid hunter, he's a member of the local archery association, Wolf. I know you wanted to know that. The Janesville Bowman.

BORGER: He actually shoots elk with a bow and arrow. Just so you know. That a little known facts about him.

BLITZER: The press release, Candy is showing to me on her iPad right now. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, America's comeback team. I guess that suggest something.

All right. Stand by. Everyone stand by for a moment. James Carville, our Democratic strategist will join us on the other side. We're going to start getting some Democratic reaction to this dramatic announcement.

It's Romney-Ryan. That's the Republican ticket. What does James have to say about it? You're about to find out.


BLITZER: It's official. The Romney campaign has made it official, the announcement that Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, will be the presidential running mate. It won't be Tim Pawlenty, it won't be Rob Portman, it won't be Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, it will be this man, Paul Ryan.

There's the ticket right now, Romney-Ryan.

Let's get some Democratic reaction, at least unofficial Democratic. James Carville is our Democratic strategist. He's joining us right now. What do you think of this ticket, James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's going to be very interesting. I think from the Democratic perspective, certainly going talk how they are both sons of privilege. Ryan is from a wealthy family as is Romney. Neither have foreign policy experience to speak of, which is very unusual for Republicans who have made this part and parcel of their strategies. So, that's going to come into play.

Democrats are going to certainly ask how much of Ryan's tax returns that Romney get to see? Will we get to see Ryan's tax returns? We don't get to se Romney's tax returns. There's already a Web site that has, I think like a 2,000 page briefing book on Paul Ryan up already.

So, this is going to be an interesting choice. And to hold Ryan budget, his tax plan is simply to Governor Romney's, neither one tell us how they will pay for it, tax expenditures that they will close.

So, it's going to be very interesting, it does change the tenor of the race and to that extent, it's good, in the short term for Governor Romney. Long term, I don't know. Still a big debate here.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, James. Yesterday, we spoke, I asked you who you thought Romney should pick, you picked your fellow son of Louisiana, the governor, Bobby Jindal. You felt he would be a good running mate. That didn't happen.

Look ahead a little bit. Paul Ryan debating Joe Biden in October in that one vice presidential debate. It's going to be tough. It's going to be fierce. Both guys, very, very smart. It will be lively.

CARVILLE: It will be lively, historically, the Republican Party, the Ryan budget voted on by the whole House, now that Paul Ryan has been picked. This will be -- I'm sure it will be in a platform. This is sort of now part of the Republican Party as we go forward.

You know, Ryan, to give, you know, to say something nice about the guy on the day he's been picked. He's very good at promoting it, and I think Romney felt like he's got to get out of this and change the topic. I think he's succeeded in doing that.

But I'm not sure, we've done a lot of research on the Ryan budget. I'm not -- I don't think people in the end like it very much. But it will get debated. It will get aired out. And we'll see.

Democrats, a lot of budget analysts said that Ryan budget actually increases, it's not about deficit reduction, it's a change in philosophy what government does. I think that's an important distinction to be made.

BLITZER: Hold on, James. We're going to get Republican reaction. Our own contributor, Ari Fleischer, the former Bush press secretary. He's joining us.

But, Gloria, you've been following this so closely over the past several months. Several months, but several yes. And And Paul Ryan is no stranger to you.

BORGER: No, he's no stranger to me. I've been communicating to people in the campaign to find out their reaction.

To James' point about the Ryan budget. Someone close to the campaign trail said to me, we were going to own Ryan's policies anyway. And now, we have the best defender of them, which is Paul Ryan himself, because, of course, the budget was voted on virtually unanimously by house Republicans. Mitt Romney has endorsed it. Now they have Paul Ryan out there defending it. So, what you're going to have is a discussion, hopefully, about question of entitlement reform in this country, just as the baby boomers heading into that big area of retirement. And, you know, by the way, this could turn out to be a very risky choice that could actually Hurt Mitt Romney, now the focus will turn right back to Mitt Romney and to Paul Ryan, rather than on Barack Obama's economy. But, again, bold -- maybe too risky, but bold.

KING: You cannot make a direct comparison to 2010, Wolf, which is a big Republican year. The president's health care plan is at issue. There are other issues at play.

The Democratic counter argument in the House and Senate races was if you let Republicans take control the Congress, that guy Paul Ryan will run it. They will pass his budget, and they will slash Medicare and they will do these horrible things. That was a Democratic argument.

In the 2010 elections, you have to count that in. Senior citizens, 65 and older, 65 percent voted Republican, the House of Representatives.

The next group, the group that would actually be affected, Paul Ryan would not touch Medicare who's actually in it or very close to it. It's the next group that would be affected, 45 to 64, Republicans won 53 percent to 45 personally in House races in our exit poll.

So, the Democrats tried this. Again it's not apples and apples. But they did raise this argument and said if you elect these guys you'll get that budget plan and they lost the argument. Other issues were in play. The Democrats lost he argument in 2010. Other issues were in play.

BORGER: Wasn't this an anti-health care vote too?

KING: That's what I mean. There were other factors in year. It was pro-Republican year, anti-Obama year. But the Democrats are seeing that anti-Obama, anti-health, anti-Washington come at them. That was their counter argument. If you give Republicans power, you're going to get --

BLITZER: I want to take a quick break, Candy, go ahead.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The idea we were going to own it anyway, they weren't going own it so closely. It didn't have to be a fight about motion security, or Medicaid and now, it is. So, it is different. They have, as I say, this is really kind of bring it on choice for Mitt Romney.

BORGER: But you know what? I guarantee you that in the fall, and we haven't heard it from President Obama. But this one of the things they're going to raise, of course, they were going to raise. Of course, they were going to bring up Medicare, Social Security to Ryan budget.

Their feeling right or wrong is, now we got the guy --

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Romney-Ryan, we'll take another quick break. We'll show you pictures you've never seen before. Vice presidential running mate, you're look at live pictures of.

In the meantime, USS Wisconsin. It's a Northup, Virginia, this is a world war ii battleship. It's docked there. This is the venue where Mitt Romney makes it really official, even though the campaign announced it. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, will be his running made.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: All right. Take a look at this. These are live pictures from Norfolk, Virginia. This is the USA Wisconsin battleship in the background. It's the back drop for Mitt Romney making his dramatic announcement that Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, the chairman of the House Budget Committee will in fact be his vice presidential running mate.

Our own CNN contributor Ryan Lizza of "The New Yorker" magazine is here, he wrote a fascinating piece about Paul Ryan not that long ago, just the other day.

What made I decide to write that article? Did you think that Mitt Romney was going pick Paul Ryan as his running mate?

RYAN LIZZA, NEW YORKER: No. I mean, I knew he was on the short list. He was obvious up and coming Republican, you did a piece about him a year ago. He's I have important Republican in Washington. The whole theory was, this is a guy who arguably had logical influence than anyone else.

BLITZER: You've got some pictures that I haven't seen before. But we're going to put them and tell us a little bit because you spend some quality time in Janesville, Wisconsin, his hometown.

LIZZA: You know, these are kind of funny pictures, but there's an interesting story behind them. So, this is him. He was the prom king. So, he was elected class president in his school in Janesville, Wisconsin. The class president is also the prom king. This is him with his prom queen. I think her last name is Crandle (ph), don't know where she is --

BLITZER: He did not end up marrying her?

LIZZA: He did not.

I tweeted this out last night. One of his classmates contacted me and said, oh, all these yearbook pictures you're tweeting are bringing great memories. I remember Paul, he's a great guy.

And this next one we're going to show, she told some of the back story. This is Paul Ryan's senior class survey, this is where all of the seniors vote on the various awards, and Paul Ryan was awarded biggest brown noser.

BLITZER: Really?

LIZZA: You know, one of his classmates tweeted, well, you have to understand the context. It was because he was very popular and almost a kidding thing, almost an affectionate thing.

So, this all happen -- Paul Ryan's life changed in high school. His father died when he was 16 years old and he was the person that discovered the body.

BLITZER: Gloria spent some quality time talking to Paul Ryan.

BORGER: I didn't spend a lot of quality time with Paul Ryan.

BLITZER: But you spoke to Paul Ryan about this personal history that he had with his dad. Let's play this little clip for our viewers.


BORGER: You mentioned that your father died at a very young age, 55, of a heart attack. And you were 16 years old.

RYAN: Yes.

BORGER: And that affected you.

RYAN: Oh, gosh, yes. Absolutely.

BORGER: Can you talk about that a little?

RYAN: I grew up really fast. I questioned a lot of things in life at the time. I basically came to the conclusion when something like that happens, it was sudden, we didn't expect it to happen. You either sink or you swim. I decided to swim.

BLLITZER: How has that affected you in your life? You're young, people say your father died -- are you in a hurry, is that in the back of your head?

RYAN: It does, definitely losing your dad at a young age, gives you, I guess a sense of mortality, I suppose. What it does, it means every day is really important, your family is so important. I want to be a good dad to my kids, a good husband to my wife, and time is of the essence to fix these problems.

I'm not one of these people who just cares about getting reelected and care reelected. I want to fix these problems. If you're a budget person like I am, an economics person like I am, you can see that we have a dangerous road ahead of us.

And we, as a country are going to be so much better off if we fix our problems now on our own terms and our own time line than if we let these circumstances slip away from us. And so, that life is precious, America is amazing. Let's keep it that way.


BLITZER: Tat's a fascinating interview. You really got him to open up a little bit.

BORGER: Well, Wolf, he actually was just this young kid at 15. And his mother was away. And he went into the bedroom to wake his father, so he was actually the person who discovered his father dead.

His mother had to go back to school to learn a skill. Their grandmother who had Alzheimer's, moved in with them at a time. So, it was a very difficult time for a teenager, you know. As he says, it made him in a hurry.

It's also made him a fitness buff I should say. He does something called, and maybe you guys all know about it, because I'm sure you do it, P90X, which is a huge workout thing he does. He leads members of the House in the gym on this incredible workout every day. They're all kind of hooked on it.

He's somebody who's really into fitness.


BORGER: I figured you were doing that --

PINSKY: I'm doing p90y. Maybe he's doing the p90 x.

All right. Let's take a quick. Our John King is over the magic wall. He's going to tell how this might shape the Electoral College map.

We've got more coverage coming up. We're standing by to hear the official word from Mitt Romney. He's in Norfolk, Virginia, right now. That's the USS Wisconsin, the battleship is from Wisconsin, wow, what a coincidence.


BLITZER: And these are the live pictures we're showing from Norfolk, Virginia. Paul Ryan will be the vice presidential running mate to Mitt Romney, the announcement coming up in a little more than an hour or so for now. You'll hear directly from Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, although his campaign about 45 minutes or so ago made it official. They sent out an announcement, a press release, that it is in fact Paul Ryan.

So, how will all of this affect the critical electoral college map? John King is at the magic wall with a closer look.

Wisconsin, clearly, John, one of the battleground states out there.

KING: It this. And the whole Midwest, Wolf, -- this is the 2008 map. I want to start here. As you look, I want to show you, no secret. Look right here.

Look at this area in the middle of the country, industrial Midwest. All blue, all Barack. Across the region. Let's go back in time to 2004 when President Bush carried it. Look at difference. President Bush Iowa. He want Indiana. And he want Iowa.

KING: So you can see the Republicans know they have to chief states, specially Iowa, but they have to do better in the Midwest than they did in 2008, that's a no-brainer.

Now, Paul Ryan?

Let's go to 2010 and look at the governor's races. Look this, look at the gains the Republicans had in this area of the country, including Wisconsin in 2010 in the governors' races.

So, you have the big Obama win in 2008 in the region. A little history, a better history for George W. Bush and Republicans, according to Romney campaign, Look at this. The most recent elections, statewide elections in 2010 they did quite well.

So, let's come back to the 2008 map just for the sake of going forward here in the race for president.

Look at Wisconsin, let me pull it out for you. If you look at the Wisconsin, it was a blowout, not even close.

Some of these states were a bit closer, why Paul Ryan? He's from down there, Janesville, southern part of the state. But he's well known across the state from his budget plan. This is the key test. Candy noted early, he's never run or run statewide.

Well, here's the latest poll, Wolf, in this state. Within six points, 51 percent to 45 percent. If you go across the Midwest. Most of the states in this ballpark, a little closer in Ohio, Romney, campaign is making a bet. They saw the Republican energy there, they are making a bet they can take this state away from President Obama and complicate his math by picking Paul Ryan.

Let's come back after the bigger Midwest. That's why we had Pawlenty from Minnesota, Portman from Ohio, Ryan from Wisconsin. The short list was in the Midwest because when the Romney campaign looks at the electoral map, Wolf, this map here, and they look through it o9ut. We'd move some of these states.

This is not our official prediction, when they look at it, they know this part of the country will be critical when it comes to the election now just 86 days away if my math is correct.

BLITZER: It's interesting that the three finalists not all from this vice presidential not all from the Midwest. Tim pawlenty, the two-term governor, and Rob Portman, senator from Ohio. One thing Paul Ryan does bring, he went to college in Ohio, at Miami University of Ohio. So he does have an Ohio connection as well. Ohio will be critical. We know no Republican has not won the White House without carrying Ohio.

But there's another critical state that's going to be featured today, John. We're talking about Virginia. This event is taking place in Norfolk, Virginia. I don't know if you got the 2008 Virginia numbers up there. But President Obama carried Virginia. He wants to carry it desperately this time as well. He's going to need to do well not only in northern Virginia, which is very Democratic, but in southern Virginia, around Norfolk, he's going to do well as there if he's got a chance.

KING: There's no question. If you look down in that area, you can see right in there -- Barack Obama carried it well. African-American population he won that quite well. Norfolk City, if go out to the Virginia Beach area. this is the heavy military area, John McCain won it, but just barely and a split.

Wolf, if you back and look at this map, Virginia is absolutely critical. I want to come out. I want to make this circle go away to see it.

Essentially, Republicans look at the map and they think, this is how Mitt Romney has to win. They call it the 3-2-1 strategy. The three is you have to win the three most Republican states carried by President Obama in 2008. They are Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana.

The three most Republican given the history in the last 100 years or so. Three first then two. That is Florida and Ohio. If Mitt Romney can win those five, then he needs one more. Now you're making the bet, Paul Ryan can help them not only in Wisconsin but they looked at Pawlenty, they look at Portman, they looked at Ryan, they're thinking they look at the map, they need to win Ohio, they want to contest Michigan. They think they can take Wisconsin away. They made the calculation Paul Ryan is the guy, they want to send in small communities, guys that work with their hands, to win the vote. If you try to wind over the key voters as you see from the take away the scribbles, President Obama won the region. Mitt Romney making a bet today, Paul Ryan can make a couple of these blue states red.

BLITZER: And that recent Quinnipiac/"New York Times"/CBS News poll in Virginia did have President Obama slightly ahead of Mitt Romney. Let's take another quick break. John, stand by. Everyone, stand by.

These are live pictures from Norfolk, the USS Wisconsin, a world war ii battleship. Battleship, it's docked there.

We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to learn a lot more about Paul Ryan -- not only a politician, a father, a son. But we're going to learn he's also a fisherman. Stand by.


BLITZER: We're a about to learn a lot more about this man, Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman for Wisconsin who will be Mitt Romney's presidential running mate affirm year or so began sat down with our Candy Crowley and they spoke about personal issues, stuff that is directly impacting his life.


CROWLEY: We noted that you're a bow hunter, a skier and a fisherman. We want to focus in on that last part. Have you explained to us what noodling is?

RYAN: I haven't explained to you, but I do find myself explaining to a lot of people. My wife is from southern Oklahoma. And down there in southern Oklahoma, they have a sport where during spawning season for catfish you go along the river banks. We do this in Lake Texoma down there on the Oklahoma Texas border.

And you put your hand in the hole where the catfish is spawning, they bite down on your hand and you pull the catfish out of the hole. So, you're basically catching catfish by hand. It's really exhilarating, really fun.

So, we try to get down there during noodling season, end of May, early June, to cat catfish, and they are delicious.

CROWLEY: So, you catch the catfish with your hand and, what, throw it on the bank?

RYAN: Yes, you had to put -- put it under your arm because they have a side fin that kind of get you with -- they can sting you, so you had to -- there's a certain technique to grab it and then you walk it up into the bank and then put into your boat or your bucket, or whatever you have. It's really fun.


BLITZER: He's clearly an outdoorsman, Candy. You're from Missouri, do you do a lot of noodling yourself.

CROWLEY: I do a lot of noodling myself. In fact, he thought I would know about it because he knows I'm from the Midwest. It's the first I heard about it. The whole idea throws me.

Another sort of getting to know him, huge Led Zeppelin fan.

BLITZER: Really?

CROWLEY: Yes. He's actually young to be a Led Zeppelin fan but that's who he likes. He originally wanted to be a doctor. There's doctors in his family.

Then he got into chemistry and didn't like it. Then he wanted professional skiers and freestyle and his mother got panicked he said. And so, he got a job in economics. I said, skiing or economics. Do you ever regret that? He went, yes, sometimes.

BORGER: He also -- you know, he is this outdoorsman who hunts elk with a bow and arrow. That's unique. I thought noodling was thinking, now I think noodling is something else.

CROWLEY: Getting your hand bit off by a catfish.

BORGER: And he's a real fitness buff as we were talking about before. That P96X exercise group he leads among the House Republicans is something else. I believe, at least when I interviewed him last summer, he actually bunks in his office in the House. LIZZA: He sleeps in his apartment.


BORGER: He sleeps in his office in the House that way he can get up and go to the gym.

BLITZER: Ryan, he goes home every weekend.

RYAN: He goes home every weekend. But he sleeps in his office like a lot of House members do.

BORGER: All right. Guys, stand by. We're going to take a quick break. We've got live pictures coming in. You see from the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia. Paul Ryan will be announced as Mitt Romney's running mate. That will take place in about one hour. We'll set the scene for you.

Much more of the breaking news coverage coming up right after this.