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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Romney Picks Ryan as VP; Romney, Ryan Speak in Norfolk
Aired August 11, 2012 - 08:55 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And let's bring in some of our CNN contributors, John Avlon, senior political columnist with TheDailyBeast.com; former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer; Democratic strategist James Carville; and CNN senior political analyst, former presidential adviser David Gergen.
You know, he really, Paul Ryan, when you think about it, David, he has no real foreign policy, national security experience, no private sector experience. He's basically been in government virtually every since he graduated from Miami University of Ohio. What does that say to you?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It says to me that this announcement this morning is important because he's going to be introduced for the first time to a lot of Americans who never thought about him as potential vice president.
And I think for the Romney campaign overall which has been mostly playing defense this is an opportunity to go on offense as they go big and bold. After all, the whole idea for choosing Paul Ryan was to make this about big, bold ideas. They have to show us that they can do that, that they can go to that level and also be persuasive.
It's going to be a big challenge for them Wolf. But this is a very important -- we'll be watching this closely to see if they are up to the challenge they have just given themselves.
BLITZER: John Avlon, you know, for the first time maybe ever -- I think we should double-check this, there's not going to be a Protestant on a major presidential ticket. We have a Mormon, Paul Ryan is a Catholic. What, if anything, does that mean?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is fascinating and it's a sign I think of how the country has evolved to the extent that that's not even the top line part of conversation. One other new factor, Wolf, is that Paul Ryan becomes the first pure member of Generation X to serve on a national ticket as well. So to some extent this ticket represents the torch passing, you know.
I think it will reinvigorate the base not just in terms of style but substance and really bring this whole presidential campaign debate to a much more serious level. So I'm looking forward to that.
BLITZER: What's the most important thing, Ari Fleischer, that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan need to convey within the next few minutes once they are up on that stage right near the USS Wisconsin? ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, they need to plant the ideological flag. They need to send a signal to the country that somebody, and it's them, is serious about dealing with the nation's the biggest threats and those threats, of course, are high unemployment, ridiculous amounts of debt and high deficits. That's what it is.
I think also interestingly they have a chance to recapture some of what Barack Obama had in 2008 and that's the message of hope. I think under President Obama we've seen the status quo was continued high unemployment. If they can make the case that they can restore America, as they put it, the comeback team, that's an uplifting message of hope that the Republicans are going to try to capture away from the Democrat this time.
BLITZER: Should the Democrats, James Carville, be all that enthusiastic, gleeful right now about this selection?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would not only be gleeful. I want to make one big point that Democrats are going to contest vehemently, and I suspect very effectively, that Ryan is anything like a deficit reducer. You know, he was on the Simpson-Bowles commission and voted against that plan. And most analysts think that Ryan's plan would actually increase the deficit. And most analysts think that his plan will actually increase health care costs.
So, this is -- they are not going to concede anything on the deficit argument. They are going to go, the Democrats and a lot of people are going to go right at that Ryan's plan, will actually increase the budget deficit. They are not going to cede any ground on fiscal responsibility here at all, not an inch. And that's one thing I do predict, and I think that's very important to keep in mind as this unfolds. And I'm sure that, you know, Ryan is a bright guy and they will go back and forth on this. But we'll see. But I think the Democrats think their position is very strong here.
BLITZER: All right, let me bring back Jim Acosta, he is in Norfolk for us. Jim, you are getting more information on how this decision was made. Is that right?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right, Wolf. A top Romney adviser just e-mailed me this information just a few moments ago. I want to read it verbatim so I get this right. A little sleep deprivation and a lot of running around this morning.
So, let's get this right: Quote, "Governor made his decision on August 1st and placed a call to Ryan from Beth's office at headquarters. That, of course, is Beth Myers, the head of his vice presidential selection process. This was after he returned from his foreign trip. He asked to meet with Ryan in person. And they subsequently met and the offer was made. That according to a top Romney adviser.
No word, Wolf, as to when they sealed this deal, waiting to get some guidance on that. But we are starting to put some of the pieces together, that a call was made, it looks like, on August 1st, to Paul Ryan. So, not only did Mitt Romney make this decision and know about this decision on August 1st and keep all of this secret from the rest of us for several days, nearly two weeks, so did Paul Ryan, Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff. But John King, should we be surprised that this decision is being announced even before the formal end of the Olympic Games? We all thought he didn't want to do that, because that would take away some of the excitement.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you think Paul Ryan is a surprise, you might think the timing is a surprise as well. But look, one person and one person alone decides who and then decides how.
And I'm sure, you know, Governor Romney's staff just yesterday - you and I were having a conversations where a lot of the people who said it would happen early next week after the Olympic closing ceremony of this weekend. We said, well, maybe now he'll wait till after the bus tour to try to gin up excitement. Well, you know what, some of them -- this is close to Governor Romney, didn't know that this was going to happen. Some of them were told later last night it is going to happen.
Others, you know, the outer circle of advisers woke up this morning and said, whoa, and they started being reporters just like us.
So, you know, the governor has to make this decision. And we look at this from a traditional standpoint, that why would you do this with big Olympics event, why would you do it this far off from the convention, because now we'll all pick Paul Ryan apart. In the new media age 24/7, they made a decision.
Look, you can argue this, you can argue that. Barack Obama announced his candidacy on the Saturday, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy on a Saturday. I think they announced Biden -- it leaked Friday night, but they announced it on a Saturday. So, there are no golden rules anymore in the new world of communications. And he is going on this bus trip. He does need to change the dynamics of the campaign. I think they decided, you know what, let's go.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think once they chose him, which is August 1, and let him know, as we now all know, I think it was a -- I think it was a matter of when they thought the right opportunity was. Well, you have this bus tour going on, you want to gin up a lot for attention for your bus tour, what better way to do it than announce your running mate?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And on weekends you give it a crowd, because people aren't at work --
CROWLEY: So, that's number one. And number two, even if you look at it from old media, he will dominate the Sunday morning talk shows, I can assure you, as well as the Sunday morning papers, when people stay home and actually read their newspapers and watch a little Sunday morning. So, you know, and John is perfectly right. You get --
KING: There's no self-interest in that. Watch a little --
CROWLEY: No, no, just saying, 9:00 a.m. That's all I'm saying.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE), State of the Union, is that what you're saying?
BORGER: So, what's interesting to me, is then you may use this byte on your "Sunday Morning" talk show. But, of course, we have Newt Gingrich talking about the right wing social engineering that was the Ryan budget, when he was a challenger. He's since apologized for that. We have President Obama calling the Ryan plan social Darwinism. And so these are all -- these are all bytes that we'll be using to talk about just what is in the Paul Ryan plan.
What we know is that he wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67, which Mitt Romney has already embraced and has already spoken about. But I think these things are going to be very controversial. Not to mention that he voted for the TARP bailout, and Paul Ryan also voted for the auto bailout. So here is the conservative who voted for two bailouts.
BLITZER: Because Wisconsin is like many of those Midwestern states very much influenced by the auto industry.
BORGER: That's right. He was voting his district.
KING: It is interesting in this, you know, 2010 was the Tea Party election. And we have a nominee, Mitt Romney, who is not a darling of the Tea Party. Candy made a great point earlier about his business career, where he's taken a lot of risk. As a candidate for the nomination, he was pretty cautious. Why? Well, in part, because he was out of step with the energy of the moment in the party. But again, not -- this is not to take sides, but give him credit, he won the nomination. Some will say weak field, some will say he had more money. He's the nominee. He won. And winning matters, and so this is a -- this is a bolder choice.
We are 86 days -- 86 days in what is a very close election trending a bit toward the president right now in the polling numbers. If you look at the other fundamentals, Wolf, though, no president has ever won re- election with an economy like this. No president has ever won re- election with consumer confidence lagging where it is. This is a fascinating race with huge consequential issues before the country. And to John Avlon's point earlier, and I think we've all talked about this at some point. If we can talk about Medicare, Social Security, tax reform, America's place in the world, the fiscal cliff, the Euro crisis, instead of Bain and Solyndra, amen.
CROWLEY: Well, and that's -- and that's -- and honestly, when we talk about timing, what would we have been talking about? Harry Reid and, you know, I think he didn't pay any taxes at all, et cetera, et cetera. And this takes that off the table for now. And I think what happens is if you come back with that and Harry Reid or somebody who says, yeah, but we really need to see the tax returns. They say, that's great. We'd like to actually talk about some policy here. And so they can, you know, just sort of high road attempt, which gives them off some of the things that they obviously haven't been comfortable with.
BORGER: And he picked the man who is really at the intellectual center of that part of the party. I mean, you know, for better or worse, you can agree with Paul Ryan or disagree with him, but he's the intellectual behind the budget plan.
KING: It's dangerous for Washington (INAUDIBLE) ten days.
BLITZER: By the way, the woman that we see over there, you see here over there, right near that post in the pink sweater, that's Ann Romney, Mitt Romney's wife. She's meeting with some of the folks over there. It looks like she's got a cap, maybe says USS Wisconsin. She's getting excited I'm sure as well for this announcement. Ari Fleischer, let me bring you back into this conversation. You're a good solid Republican, you worked in the Bush White House. The fact that Paul Ryan really is a product for the last 20 years of his life of inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway, either as a staffer, or think tanker, or a member of Congress, that he really has no practical, private sector experience. No real national security experience. How much of a liability is that going to be for this ticket?
FLEISCHER: You know, Wolf, it's a great question. And I know Paul very well. He doesn't talk like he's from Washington. He really has retained kind of the core being from the heartland, the ability to just connect with people, to speak plain English. You won't hear him do as Bob Dole, a creature of Washington did, talk in Senate speak or Congress speak. He has that way of speaking in a very humble, very down to earth, easy to understand manner. So, you wouldn't know he's from Washington in that sense.
So, I think he's a good combination of a real policy expert who also brings intellectualism to a conservative ideology, with something that people, like many conservatives, have been searching for. We really want somebody who can wrap the reason we need to confront the deficit, confront the debt in an upbeat manner because this is how you save the republic. That's what he conveys when he speaks. And I think that's exciting for Republicans. What you don't want is an accountant put on the ticket, somebody who speaks like an accountant. You want someone who's uplifting nature to them.
The private sector side, Wolf, I think Republicans give him a pass because, first of all, you have Mitt Romney who comes from the private sector, makes a nice balance for the ticket. And I don't think for independents, or the Democrats who are persuadable, that's going to matter.
BLITZER: And the fact that he's never really managed anything in his career other than a relatively small congressional staff, what does that say? FLEISCHER: Well, certainly it worked for President Obama. And State Senator Obama really didn't have much experience, (INAUDIBLE) foreign policy knowledge.
BLITZER: Does that neutralize some of the criticism of President Obama and Joe Biden, for that matter?
FLEISCHER: That criticism is not what this election is about. This is not an election by virtue of -- this is an election that Mitt Romney needs to turn into ideology, turn into the big policy matters that are going to change this country for better or for worse. That's where this election stands. Now from President Obama's point of view, he wants to make the focus on senior citizens, on Medicare, and, of course, on Mitt Romney's record.
BLITZER: There's Bob McDonnell. He's the governor of Virginia. He was supposedly on one of the short list as well. Obviously he didn't get the vice presidential pick, but he's going to be introducing Mitt Romney, who in turn will introduce Paul Ryan. So, we're not very far away. Stand by for that.
I want to quickly bring in Donna Brazile, our Democratic strategist who was the campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 campaign.
Donna, give me a quick thought. What do you think about this decision? The most important decision that a presidential candidate can make, who the running mate will be. What do you think of Mitt Romney's decision?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it says a lot about Governor Romney that he selected someone who is the architect of a radical Republican budget on Capitol Hill, that would basically double down on tax cuts for the wealthy, cut back, you know, government programs for the poor and the middle class.
This is going to be a classic conversation as to the role of government in our lives. We know that Paul Ryan opposed Simpson-Bowles deficit solution because it contained revenues. So, I think this is a conversation that the country should have. It may allow us to have a substantive conversation in terms of the challenges we face long-term in terms of the fiscal -- get our fiscal house in order.
But was it a bold choice? Absolutely. Was it a risky choice, you bet. And Democrats understand that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney now will, you know, put seniors at risk by jeopardizing Medicare, turn it into a private voucher system. This is going to be a conversation that we look forward to.
But for today I think the best thing I can say as a Democrat, as an American, is congratulations to Paul Ryan and his family. This is going to be an interesting race. And I'm sure that over the next couple of weeks we'll get to know Paul Ryan's budget, his ideas, his plan. But for now I think it fills a big doughnut hole that Mitt Romney had in his own campaign, and detailing what he stood for on many fiscal issues. Paul Ryan will, his budget and his proposals will now fill that gap. BLITZER: You know, this is going to be a good serious substantive debate. Let me bring David Gergen back into this conversation, as we await Mitt Romney. He's getting ready to speak, he is being introduced by Bob McDonnell, right now the governor of Virginia. He's speaking about a whole bunch of Virginia-related issues, some races out there as well.
David Gergen, the Republicans will argue, and you know this, that what Paul Ryan is proposing as far as Medicare, for example, is concerned, he wants to save Medicare because if it keeps on going away it is right now -- it will be destroyed for everyone. That's why he's come up with his bold ideas for people under 55 years old. Is that argument going to sway a lot of folks out there?
GERGEN: Well, it is certainly -- I think it was certainly brave, Wolf, when he put this forward. So many political leaders have ducked the question of entitlement reform. And the Ryan plan frankly has bipartisan roots. You know, it's closely tailored to a plan that Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici -- Alice Rivlin, a former budget director for Bill Clinton came up with on how to save Medicare. So I do think that that is a, you know, I give him credit for putting an idea on the table in the courageous way he did it. The question is whether in the middle of a political campaign like this, with 87 days left to go, you can persuade Americans that this is not something risky.
BLITZER: David, hold on a moment. I want to hear what the governor has to say. He is getting ready to introduce Mitt Romney.
This is Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS) GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R ), VIRGINIA: And he said something I still can't believe, I'm still looking at that transcript to see if it was right. He said if you are successful in a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think that shows why we need a new president. Because that statement tells you everything you need to know. This is a president that does not understand the American free enterprise system and the great American dream, and we need a change.
Now, let's suppose that you are interviewing for a job, or you are interviewing to get rehired, your contract extended, that's what the president is asking us to do. And you go in, and you got your resume and you are trying to tell the boss, the American people or the 8.2 million people of Virginia that you want to get rehired.
Well, let's look at this resume of the president. Well, he says -- how about jobs? You know, we've had an eight percent unemployment rate now for 42 months, and we've got the lowest number of entrepreneurs starting new businesses in over 30 years. Not so good, Mr. President. When it comes to -- when it comes to energy, his record is making it harder for our great coal industry to have new permits, making it harder for our people in the great new natural gas industry to engage in fracking, making it harder to dispose of nuclear material so we can't build new nuclear power plants. Refusing to allow Virginians to use their God-given natural resources off the coast of Virginia to drill for oil and natural gas.
When it comes to the debt, let's look at that record. The largest increase in the American national debt in the history of our country, $5.2 trillion. All you young people here, you're paying that bill. That's the record. And no plan to get out of it. Only a budget that gets out to $25 trillion in debt by the year 2021. So I'd say if you walk into an employer and you've got that kind of resume, there's only two words that come to mind, you're fired.
But thank God we've got a great choice this election. And this election is about really one thing, and that is which candidate has got the vision and the ideas to get the greatest country on Earth out of debt and back to work. You know, on the one hand we've got this Obama vision of more entitlements and more guarantees and more taxes and more of government as the way to prosperity. And Mr. President, with all due respect, that's failed America now for the last three and a half years. But then we've got the GOP, the great opportunity party and its vision and its candidate.
We've got that incredible Reagan-Romney enthusiastic vision that recognizes the American dream, that if you work hard and you dream big and you pursue opportunity and use your God-given talents, you can still be anything you want to be in this great land of freedom, America.
A hundred years ago, poor farm boy from Mayo County, Ireland, left on a ship and landed in Boston, Massachusetts. That was my grandfather. He worked as a laborer in a glue factory and as a tanner. He never thought that 100 years later, that his grandson would end up with the same job of Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, being governor of Virginia.
But that's the United States of America, the land of dreams and opportunity. So being an average middle class kid from Fairfax County, I'm incredibly thrilled to be governor of Virginia. And that's the heart and soul of this campaign for Mitt Romney, is doing things and putting policies in place that support and expand and offer hope and opportunity for our middle class families in America. Governor Romney has put forth a visionary five-point plan to be able to get people back to work promoting entrepreneurship and small business, because you did build it. And if you do, you provide jobs and opportunity for other people.
To get our great country out of debt by balancing a budget within the next -- within the next eight years, and he's going to have somebody to help him do that, to be able to get people trained in the skills and the workforce and math and science and the other disciplines that are necessary to create the workforce of the future. To be able to have a sustainable energy future, this president has got no plan. Governor Romney has got an all of the above comprehensive plan to use all of our red, white and blue, God-given natural resources to promote American energy independence. That's going to help the middle class to create jobs and opportunity for a long time.
So, ladies and gentlemen, you know the issues and you know the ideas of Mitt Romney. But I want to say above all those policy issues, what really matters is heart and character and vision and passion. The Scriptures -- the Scriptures say "For lack of vision the people perish." But just the opposite is true. With vision, the people prosper.
One of the loneliest places anywhere you can find is the inside of that Oval Office. When the cabinet members leave and the advisers are gone, the president of the United States has got to have faith and know what they believe and make the right decisions for the people of the United States. That's what -- that's what you get with Mitt Romney. He's a man of faith, a man of principle, a man who has been successful as governor, successful on the private sector, successful running the Olympics. He's a great family man. Five kids, 18 grandkids. He's been incredibly generous to people all over the country and all over the world. He's got an amazing passion and vision for the country. He's got a deep and abiding love for America, what it stands for and the great American dream.
So ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the next president of the United States, Governor Mitt Romney.
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. What a welcome. Thank you so much, Virginia. (Inaudible). Thank you so much. What a great governor you have. What a terrific man and a terrific leader. Way to go.
Thank you so very much. It's great to be back in Virginia and here in Norfolk. Your city's beauty is matched only by its proud heritage as a defender of freedom. Thank you, Virginia. Thank you, Norfolk.
(APPLAUSE) Today we take another step forward in helping restore the promise of America as we move forward in this campaign and on to help lead the nation to better days.
It's an honor to announce my running mate and next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan.
His leadership -- his leadership begins with character and values. Paul is a man of tremendous character, shaped in large part by his early life. Paul's father died when he was in high school. That forced him to grow up earlier than any young man should, but Paul did, with the help of his devoted mother, his brothers and sister and a supportive community.
And as he did, he internalized the virtues and hardworking ethic of the Midwest. Paul Ryan works in Washington, but his beliefs remain firmly rooted in Janesville, Wisconsin.
He's a person of great steadiness whose integrity is unquestioned and his word is good. Paul's upbringing is obvious in how he's conducted himself throughout his life, including his leadership in Washington.
In a city that's far too often characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception. He doesn't demonize his opponents. He understands that honorable people can have honest differences. He appeals to the better angels of our nature.
There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan; I don't know of anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment.
Paul is in public life for all the right reasons, not to advance his personal ambition but to advance the ideals of freedom and justice and to increase opportunity and prosperity to people of every class and faith, every age and ethnic background.
A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life.
With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party. He understands the fiscal challenges facing America, our exploding deficits and crushing debt and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don't change course.
He combines a profound sense of responsibility for what we owe the next generation with an unbounded optimism in America's future and understanding of all the wonderful things the American people can do. Paul also combines firm principles with a practical concern for getting things done. He's never been content to simply curse the darkness. He'd rather light candles. And throughout his legislative career he's shown the ability to work with members of both parties to find common ground on some of the hardest issues confronting the American people.
So Paul and I are beginning on a journey that will take us to every corner of America. We're offering a positive governing agenda that will lead to economic growth, to widespread and shared prosperity and will improve the lives of our fellow citizens.
Our plan to strengthen the middle class will get America back to work and get our country back on track.
We offer solutions that are bold, specific and achievable. We offer our commitment to help create 12 million new jobs and to bring home better take-home pay to middle class families.
To strengthen the middle class, we'll provide our workers and our children with the skills to succeed. We'll cut the deficit, have trade that works for America and champion small business. And finally, we'll unleash our energy resources to achieve North American energy independence.
We will help care for those who can't care for themselves and we will return work to welfare.
As poverty has risen to historic and tragic levels with nearly one out of six Americans now having fallen into poverty, we will act to bring these families into the middle class. Unlike the current president, who has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion, we will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security and keep them there for future generations.
And under the current president, health care has only become more expensive. We're going to reform health care so that more Americans have access to affordable health care and we'll get that started by repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
At a time when the president's campaign is taking American politics to new lows, we're going to do something very differently. We're going to talk about aspirations and American ideals, about bringing people together to serve, to solve the urgent problems facing our nation. And when that message wins in America, it will be a victory for every American. Today is a good day for America, and there are better days ahead. Join me --
-- join me -- in welcoming the next President (sic) of the United States, Paul Ryan.
REP. PAUL D. RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wow! Hey. And right in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin, huh? Man!
Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake.
But I did not make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this, he's going to be the next vice president of the United States.
Governor Romney, Ann, thank you.
I am deeply honored and excited to join you as your running mate.
I want to tell you about Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at this crucial time in its history.
Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country, which have inspired the world, are growing dim. They need someone to revive them. Governor Romney is the man for this moment.
And he and I share one commitment. We will restore the greatness of this country. I want you to meet my family. This is my wife, Janna. Our daughter Liza and our sons Charlie and Sam. I'm surrounded by the people I love.
I love you, too.
And I've been asked by governor Romney to serve the country that I love.
Janesville, Wisconsin, is where I was born and raised, and I never really left it. It's our home now. For the last 14 years, I have proudly represented Wisconsin in Congress. There, I have focused on solving the problems that confront our country, turning ideas into action and action into solutions.
I am committed, in heart and mind, to putting that experience to work in a Romney administration.
This is a crucial moment in the life of our nation, and it is absolutely vital that we select the right man to lead America back to prosperity and greatness.
That man -- that man is standing right next to me. His name is Mitt Romney, and he will be the next President of the United States of America.
My dad died when I was young. He was a good and decent man. There are a few things he would say that have just always stuck with me. He would say, son, you're either part of the problem or part of the solution. Well, regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem and Mitt Romney is the solution.
The other thing my dad would always say is that every generation of Americans leaves their children better off. That's the American legacy. Sadly, for the first time in our history, we are on a path which will undo that legacy. That is why we need new leadership to become part of the solution, new leadership to restore prosperity, economic growth and jobs.
It is our duty to save the American dream for our children and theirs. I believe -- I believe there is no person in America who is better prepared because of his experience, because of the principles he holds, and because of his achievements in excellence in so many different arenas to lead America at this point in our history.
Let me say a word about the man Mitt Romney is about to replace. No one disputes that President Obama inherited a difficult situation. And in his first two years, with his party in complete control of Washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda, but that didn't make things better. In fact, we find ourselves in a nation facing debt, doubt and despair.
This is the worst economic recovery in 70 years. Unemployment has been above 8 percent for more than three years, the longest run since the Great Depression. Families are hurting. We had the largest deficits and biggest federal government since World War II.
Nearly one out of six Americans are in poverty, the worst rate in a generation. Moms and dads are struggling to make ends meet. Household incomes have dropped more than $4,000 over the past four years.
Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure.
President Obama and too many like him in Washington have refused to make difficult decisions because they are more worried about their next election than they are about the next generation.
We might have been able to get away with that before, but not now. We're in a different and dangerous moment. We're running out of time. And we can't afford four more years of this. Politicians from both parties have made empty promises, which will soon become broken promises with painful consequences if we fail to act now.
I represent a part of America that includes inner cities, rural areas, suburbs and factory towns. Over the years I have seen and heard from a lot of families, from a lot of those who are running small businesses and from people who are in need.
But what I've heard lately, that's what troubles me the most. There's something different in their voice, in their words. What I hear from them are diminished dreams, lowered expectations, uncertain futures. I hear some people say that this is just the new normal.
Higher unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt is not a new normal.
It is the result of misguided policies. And next January, our economy will begin a comeback with the Romney plan for a stronger middle class that will lead to more jobs and more take-home pay for working Americans.
America is on the wrong track, but Mitt Romney and I will take the right steps, in the right time, to get us back on the right track. I believe that my record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful compliment to Governor Romney's executive and private sector success outside of Washington.
I've worked closely with Republicans as well as Democrats to advance an agenda of economic growth, fiscal discipline and job creation. I'm proud to stand with a man who understands what it takes to foster job creation in our economy, someone who knows from experience that if you have a small business, you did build that.
At Bain Capital, he launched new businesses and he turned around failing ones, companies like Staples, Bright Horizons, Sports Authority, just to name a few. Mitt Romney created jobs and he showed he knows how a free economy works.
At the Olympics, he took a failing enterprise and made it the pride of our entire nation.
As governor of Massachusetts, he worked with Democrats and Republicans to balance the budget without increasing taxes, lowering unemployment, increased income and improved people's lives.
In all these things, Mitt Romney has shown himself to be a man of achievement, excellence and integrity.
Janna and I tell Liza, Charlie and Sam that America is a place where, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead.
We look with success at one another's success with pride, not resentment, because we know --
-- we know that as more Americans work hard, take risks, succeed, more people will prosper. Our communities will benefit. And individual lives will be uplifted and improved.
(UNKNOWN): (Inaudible) Obama for three years (ph).
RYAN: America is more than just a place, though. America is an idea. It's the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not from government.
That's right. That's who we are. That's how we built this country. That's who we are. (APPLAUSE)
That's what made us great. That's our founding. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.
And this idea was founded on the principles of liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by consent of the governed.
This idea is under assault. So we have a critical decision to make as a nation. We are on an unsustainable path that is robbing America of our freedom and security. It doesn't have to be this way.
The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this: we won't duck the tough issues, we will lead.
We won't blame others, we will take responsibility.
And we won't replace our founding principles, we will reapply them. That's what we will do.
We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice.
What kind of country do we want to have? What kind of people do we want to be?
RYAN: We can turn this thing around. We can. We can turn this thing around. Real solutions can be delivered, but it will take leadership and the courage to tell you the truth.
Mitt Romney is this kind of leader. I'm excited for what lies ahead. I'm thrilled to be a part of America's comeback team. And together we will unite America and get this done. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Thanks. Thank you.
(MUSIC PLAYING) BLITZER: All right. So there he is, listening to a little bit of Kid Rock in the background there, "Born Free," and the families coming up, the Romney family and the Ryan family. It's going to be a beautiful picture up there, two beautiful families.
This the first time we're seeing both families together. This is the ticket. There you see his wife, Janna. There you see the three Ryan kids, Liza, Charlie, and Sam. And obviously we've seen Ann Romney on many, many occasions with her husband, Mitt Romney, their five sons and many, many grandchildren as well.
So that's the Republican ticket for the race for the White House, 87 days to go or so. It's on November 6th. We're going to get to know a lot more about Paul Ryan, the Republican Congressman from Wisconsin. We're going to get to know a lot more about his wife, Janna, originally from Oklahoma, now from Wisconsin.
We've gotten to know a lot, obviously, about Mitt Romney and Ann Romney over these past several years. Pretty important speeches from both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, even though Mitt Romney self- acknowledged a little bit of a blunder there when he introduced -- when he introduced Paul Ryan as the next President of the United States, unfortunately for him, that was a mistake.
He later came back and said, you know, I've made mistakes before. I'm really talking about the next vice president of the United States. Stuff like that happens all of the time. We'll play that clip for you later.
Let me bring John King, Gloria Borger, Candy Crowley into this conversation. We've got our analysts all standing by as well.
And they obviously staged this, John, very, very carefully for millions of Americans. It's really the first introduction of Paul Ryan.
KING: And that's part of the two big challenges: number one, introduce a guy most of the country doesn't know. Maybe they have heard his name, they've heard a Democratic congressman say the Ryan budget or things, but this is the first time most people are getting a good look at it.
But part of it is the personal introduction. And then the other part of it is what do you want to say, what do you want this to be about.
And you heard Paul Ryan, especially at the end there, essentially saying we know what we want to do is tough, meaning also controversial, but we're going to have an honest conversation with the American people. We're going to put the tough choices before them and making the case that President Obama has failed to do that in his three-plus years in the White House.
It's the beginning of a Romney narrative, switches the dynamic of the election quite fundamentally. Mitt Romney, up to this point, had been trying to make this about President Obama, period, and almost not about him, just about President Obama. This makes it pretty clear they've decided that approach wasn't working. And they're now going to have a choice. We're going to have a choice. And if that means a great policy debate about the big choices facing the guy who's going to have to govern in January, I think that's good.
BLITZER: I think it's good, too.
BORGER: You know, I put that question about doesn't this change the election to a senior Romney aide, I said, isn't this now more about Mitt Romney and not about President Obama. And this aide said to me, no, this is still about Barack Obama.
But I think what they are trying to do is say, you know what, he hasn't made the tough choices that we need to make in a serious way to save the economic future of this country.
So I think the debate is going to shift onto a very substantive ground. But I'm looking in my inbox. Of course, you know, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel sent out a note that said that this match of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney will be a nightmare for seniors who've earned their Medicare benefits. So you see the debate, predictable as it is, already starting.
BLITZER: And, Candy, we heard Paul Ryan say this is going to be a good partnership. He'll bring things to the table that maybe Mitt Romney doesn't bring, but certainly Mitt Romney brings things, especially private business experience that Paul Ryan doesn't bring to the table.
CROWLEY: Paul Ryan has some inside Washington experience. I think the other thing that's interesting, just stylistically to me, there's always something about Mitt Romney that's a little bit hesitant with his words. You always are kind of on the edge in some ways, thinking where is he going with this?
There's a force of words that Paul Ryan has, that's -- was very clear, I think, in this speech. It doesn't mean he will overshadow him. And I think we saw in the speech he doesn't intend to. Fully, what, three-quarters of it was about Mitt Romney and the other quarter was about, OK, folks, this is what this election is about.
So I think he does bring a real certainty and power to the words that sometimes Mitt Romney sort of seems to be searching for the next way not to get in trouble that doesn't seem to be that with Ryan and he'll be a power on the campaign trail.
But he's not Joe Biden. And that's what's going to be interesting, is that Joe Biden -- we have seen him now for however many years, but even most recently in this election, Joe Biden is out there. He is smashing the opposition. I don't think this is that attack dog number two. BLITZER: Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, the former Republican presidential candidate, is joining us on the phone right now.
Mr. Speaker, thanks very much. Give us your immediate reaction to the Romney-Ryan ticket.
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R), GEORGIA (via telephone): Well, we're very, very happy. Callista has known Paul since he was an intern for Bob Cashton (ph). He has grown into one of the great intellectual leaders in this country. His work on the budget is extraordinary. It is a real decision by Governor Romney that this is going to be a very substantive fall campaign, it's going to be an enormous choice for the American people.
And I think Ryan is going to be very effective. He represents a Midwestern industrial district. He's gotten re-elected by big margins, explaining his policies. He knows how to campaign in places like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana. I think he's going to be a very, very big asset.
BLITZER: You know, I know it got a lot of buzz when you were running for the Republican presidential nomination, when you were on "Meet the Press," and you said this at the time. I know you subsequently explained what you meant.
Let me play the clip. Let's go through it, because you know there's going to be a lot of people talking about what you said then vis-a-vis presumably Paul Ryan. Listen to this, Mr. Speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the Right or the Left is a good way for a free society to operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now was that a criticism of Paul Ryan and his budget plan?
BLITZER: Well, the fact is that Paul Ryan, I think, listened carefully and he worked with Ron Wyden and they have introduced a bipartisan Medicare plan that allows you the choice, you can stay in the current system if you want, or you can go to a new system. But it's your choice.
And I felt in our conversations over a period of months that Paul was listening very carefully and was contemplating exactly how to do the right thing the right way.
Remember, we're now operating in a world where Barack Obama has ended Medicare as we know it by taking $700 billion out of the program. I mean, for Democrats to run, pretending they're going to defend a program that they have gutted, is the ultimate hypocrisy. BLITZER: Because a lot of people probably don't remember that after Ryan -- Paul Ryan came out with his original plan, he then worked together with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon to come up with an alternative of that plan, which is what you're talking about, Medicare.
But even a lot of Republicans -- you remember Donald Trump, he was very critical of Republicans for even talking about Medicare, because he thought politically that would be -- that would be destructive.
GINGRICH: Well, I think -- but I think you have to, first of all, put it in context. Barack Obama has taken hundreds of billions of dollars away from Medicare. And ObamaCare represents, in effect, the end of Medicare.
So for the Democrats to campaign, once again, dishonestly, pretending something is not true, this fall campaign is going to be a very interesting contest between the ability of simple, straightforward truth. And I think you just saw with Paul Ryan, a guy who is going to be very factual and very knowledgeable, but he's going to calmly and directly tell the truth.
And you're going to have the Democrats who cannot defend their record running the most demagogic campaign of modern times. And you saw that if you saw "The Wall Street Journal" lead editorial that said they can't find any truth coming out of the Obama campaign. I mean, it is pathetic how bad they have become.
BLITZER: Look ahead to the debate that will take place in October between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, two men you know well. You have seen them both in action over the years. I'm pretty excited about it. What about you?
GINGRICH: Oh, I think it will be terrific. I think that Ryan's command of the facts, his understanding of reality, his ability to talk in the language of Janesville, Wisconsin, it is going to be very interesting to watch that debate.
But I also think you're going to see between now and then, Paul Ryan is going to have an impact on the campaign trail. You have a 42-year- old, really committed, competent person, who's enthusiastic, energetic, has a beautiful family and is a very faithful Catholic. He's going to have a big impact in that community which currently feels it is under siege (inaudible), at war with the Catholic church.
I think Ryan has many different positive impacts. I think it was a tremendous decision by Governor Romney.
Well, Joe Biden is a Catholic as well, so you'll have two Catholics running for vice president of the United States.
As you look ahead to what's going to happen over these next, what, 86, 87 days, it looks to me like this race now is going to be much more substantive, dealing with serious economic related issues as opposed to some of the frivolous stuff. GINGRICH: Well, I think that was a deliberate choice by Governor Romney. Governor Romney wants to have a debate over public policy and I think he knows that he may or may not win a campaign on personal attacks but he's going to win a campaign based on public policy.
BLITZER: Newt Gingrich, we'll stay in close touch with you, the former Speaker, the former Republican presidential candidate.
We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we have an exclusive, something you will see and hear, only hear on CNN.
Beth Myers, the woman who helped Mitt Romney put this ticket together, she speaks to our own Gloria Borger.