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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Mitt Romney Picks Paul Ryan as His Vice Presidential Running Mate

Aired August 11, 2012 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news continues. Mitt Romney is praising his new running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, as a man of character and judgment who will help him lead the nation to economic growth. You saw the formal announcement in Norfolk, Virginia, live here on CNN just moments ago. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, telling the country that President Obama has a record of failure and that Mitt Romney has what it takes to unite and uplift America.

It was a patriotic setting, to be sure, for what many consider to be a bold announcement in front of the old battleship, the USS Wisconsin, named after Ryan's home state. But it began with a glitch of sorts, Mitt Romney mistakenly introducing Ryan as the next president of the United States. He later corrected himself and he even joked about it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: 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.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Very nice recovery from obviously a gaffe there. That small error though. Is it necessarily a deal breaker? It wasn't for the president of the United States, President Barack Obama. Listen to his announcement of Joe Biden as his running mate four years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me introduce to you the next president, the next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Sometimes you say things you don't necessarily -- could happen to anybody, I must say. It happened obviously to President Obama when he was running for the White House and it's now happened to Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, you have done something else that no one else has managed to do. You had a chance to sit down, last Tuesday, with Beth Myers who is really in charge of this selection committee for Mitt Romney who would be the vice presidential running mate.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. I sat down with Beth Myers, and she would only let me get in a couple of questions about the vice presidential selection because, of course, at that point, she knew, presumably, who the choice would be, but we did not. So I asked her general questions about what this tells us about the way Mitt Romney makes decisions.

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORGER: You've been very involved --

MYERS: Yes.

BORGER: -- in the vetting and the process of choosing a vice presidential running mate, which is very, very important. It's the first chance people get to look at how a president makes decisions. So what is it about the process of choosing a vice president, what does that tell us about how Mitt Romney makes decisions?

MYERS: Well, that's something I've learned working with him as chief of staff in the -- at the governor's office for four years. There is a way -- he's very methodical in making his decisions and what he wants is a couple things.

First of all, he wants all the information. And we went -- we went about a very thorough process in making we have a lot of information about a broad group. He also doesn't like to rule anything out until he has to. So, you know, the first swath was broad. We got a good cut of information about a lot of people.

He then narrowed it down and we got even more information. We got personal information from each of the potential candidates. And at that point, again, we had some attorneys look through and go through everybody's record to make sure that there was -- you know, I didn't want to miss anything about them.

And then Mitt took these candidate dossiers and he thought about them. He read all of them, word for word. I had talked with each of the candidates personally. He had obviously been campaigning with a lot of the folks that he was considering. And -- and he read the dossiers. We narrowed it down once again. And did an even a more deep dive on them and then gave them the final product, and he's thinking about it now.

BORGER: Does he solicit your advice --

MYERS: He solicits the advice of a small group of his advisers, but then he asks, I think, everybody he meets, you know, what's your thought on this?

BORGER: And he listens?

MYERS: He listens.

I mean, he asks -- sort of the people you wouldn't think that he'd ask about it. He talks to, you know -- he calls friends from all walks of his life. All across the country. Wanting to know what they think. He listens to that.

And then he is -- but I haven't told him -- I have not shared with my opinion because I think it's important that I'm the objective --

BORGER: So it's his comfort level with someone --

MYERS: Yes.

BORGER: -- and his feeling that person is qualified to be --

MYERS: Yes.

BORGER: -- president?

MYERS: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

I mean, obviously, his first qualification is that the person is qualified to be the president. And perceived to be qualified to be president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Good interview, Gloria.

And we now know the actual decision was made 11 days ago, August 1st, immediately after Mitt Romney returned from his visit to Poland, Israel and Britain.

BORGER: Yes, so Beth Myers wasn't giving it away to me at that point. But I think the decision making process does tell us something about Mitt Romney, maybe things we already knew about Mitt Romney, which is that he's methodical. He looks at the data. He wants to see the spreadsheets on every person, read all of the information, and then solicited advice from the people closest to him and, as she put it, not only in his inner circle, but perhaps friends and family, surely Ann Romney I think was one of those people.

BLITZER: Her job, Beth Myers, her job was to vet all of the candidates, including Paul Ryan, their own personal and private history, and ask them the most embarrassing questions because the last thing they want is somebody who is going to emerge as the vice presidential running mate and all of a sudden something emerges that could embarrass Mitt Romney.

BORGER: I'm sure they had a team of lawyers, but Beth Myers is also an attorney herself. And I'm sure that the vetting process was very tough. Everybody knows what happened during the McCain campaign where the vetting process was not -- was sort of last minute in a bunch of cases, particularly Sarah Palin. So I think that this campaign was intent on having a long and serious vetting process. And that's kind of who Mitt Romney is from everyone you talk to. They say he wants to look at the data. He wants to see everything.

BLITZER: John King is here, Candy Crowley is here. But when Mitt Romney said in introducing Paul Ryan that even his rivals, his political rivals have nothing bad to say about his personal life, about him as an individual, I think he's right.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's absolutely right. That goes all the way up to the president of the United States. At a Blair House summit, at a house Republican retreat later, it was in 2010, almost two years ago now, in Baltimore, President Obama and Paul Ryan at it went a little bit. But they have said so publicly about each other, there's a respect for him as somebody who wants to talk policy, who wants to talk about ideas.

There are fundamental disagreements in the party with his ideas, but if you talk to anybody on Capitol Hill who has to deal with him, people on the budget committee, Democrats in the leadership, look, they will rail against his proposals and get ready you're going to hear -- you think I'm kidding, just wait. But they'll say at least he's a guy, a, who wants to deal with substance, he can put controversial issues on the table and he talks to the Democrats. On some issues he says, well, let's try to figure this out.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The fact is they're going to use that, because what does the Romney campaign want to do other than get some traction in the polls? They want to stop talking about all of these things that the Obama campaign keeps bringing up. Want to stop talking about tax returns and about Bain. So when Mitt Romney introducing Ryan today, what does he say today?

There's no pettiness to this man. He doesn't demonize people. He's honest. He understands we can have disagreements. He talks about issues. He -- you know, he is the sort of rye -- Ryan is the living, breathing response to oh, well, you don't want to talk about issues. You want to demonize.

BORGER: But guess what, it's not going to stop it.

CROWLEY: No, no, it won't stop it. What question -- expect the Obama campaign to argue is the tax returns are relevant because they have been arguing this all along. This is what they'll try to use to push on, and say to the American people we're about substance and your future and they want to do stupid little ads and talk about my tax returns.

BLITZER: We are beginning to get alto of reaction coming in, especially from the Obama campaign. Our special coverage continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The news of the day, Mitt Romney selects Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin as the vice presidential running mate. The reaction coming in from Democrats including from the Obama campaign, let's bring in our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar. What was the reaction, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was quick, Wolf, already framing Paul Ryan as a protector of the wealthy. Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, saying in naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new tax cuts for the wealthy while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors will somehow deliver a stronger the economy.

And Wolf, in a preview of the Obama campaign's playbook now that Paul Ryan is on this ticket we saw him call the House budget that Ryan authored and Romney endorsed, quote "radical." He slams Ryan for his proposal as part of that budget to turn Medicare into a voucher system. And he tries to tie Ryan to the Bush administration by saying as a member of Congress he rubber stamped what he calls the reckless Bush economic policies that led to the current deficit.

Wolf, talking to those close to the Obama campaign they know that Paul Ryan is charismatic. But the plan for the campaign is going to target key constituencies, not just for President Obama, but for Mitt Romney as well, for instance with women, pointing out the vote Paul Ryan's vote to end funding for Planned Parenthood. Women go very much for President Obama, and also chipping away at Mitt Romney, some of his supporters. That's where Medicare comes in as one democrat close to the campaign told me. It's all about one word and that is "Medicare." They will chip away, at least try to chip away at the support of the seniors for this ticket.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, we'll get back to you.

Let's get some Republican reaction. The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is joining us on the phone.

Mr. Leader, thanks very much for joining us.

You know Paul Ryan well. You're one of three young guns, as you guys like to call yourselves, together with Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor. What do you think of that Democratic -- the criticism already coming in from the Obama campaign?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, you know, Wolf, it's nothing but smear tactics once again, because President Obama doesn't want to talk about his economic record. I mean, his policies have failed. And what I know in Paul Ryan is he is an individual that came to Washington for a cause. And it was really a cause to try and get this country back on track. From the days he and I used to sit on the Ways and Means Committee together, we would sit there for hours and talk about his plans for the future and how it is that he thought that we ought to head, in terms of tax reform, in terms of trying to get the debt under control in this country.

And he's put ideas up. He's a real leader and a real leader for the future. And I couldn't be more excited with Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan for vice president.

BLITZER: Some of the criticism -- other criticism coming in from Democrats and others is he may not be ready to be President of the United States. He really doesn't have a whole lot of foreign policy, national security experience, for example.

What do you say about that?

CANTOR: Well, I find that kind of ironic, given the president's resume prior to his nomination for his party. He had much less experience than Paul Ryan has.

And I know Paul. He has been a thorough, diligent worker. No one knows the budget better than Paul and the functions under that budget, which means the funding of our military, the way that we can affect missions through funding.

And Paul also has a firm commitment and belief in a stronger America. I have traveled with Paul to the Middle East. And I know that he realizes that Iran is the biggest threat to our security and that of our ally, Israel. And there's no question he is an unabashed promoter of a strong national security policy.

BLITZER: So you're not concerned that in that vice presidential debate in October when he faces Vice President Joe Biden, whose expertise is on national security, on foreign policy is well known, that he'll be able to stand up and go toe to toe with Joe Biden?

CANTOR: I think Paul will do just fine. No one I know, more articulate and understands the issues, an on foreign policy issues, has a real appreciation for the threat that our country and our allies are facing, especially in the Middle East.

BLITZER: What about the argument that he -- you're going to hear it, you're already hearing it from Democrats -- that he wants to end Medicare as we know it?

CANTOR: You know, this is their tired old tactics of attack in terms of Medicare.

We have a plan in place, and Paul was the architect of the plan to try and save Medicare so that it can be there for future generations and to make sure we do have a safety net in place for those who need it. And if you take a look at the plan, Wolf, you know good and well that no one, and Paul in particular, is calling for ending Medicare. What we're trying to do is say we need to save it, we need to shore it up; not do what the president has done, which is failed to offer any solution for a plan that even its trustees have predicted will collapse in a matter of a decade.

BLITZER: The House majority leader, Eric Cantor -- not only the majority leader, but a very good friend of the Republican vice presidential candidate right now, Paul Ryan.

Eric Cantor, thanks very much for joining us.

We'll take another quick break. When we come back, we'll go inside the Romney campaign and find out exactly why Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Some reaction, lots of insight as well, into the decision by the Mitt Romney to select Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Our own political reporter Peter Hamby is getting inside information. What are you picking up from sources inside the Romney campaign, Peter?

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Wolf, of course the Romney campaign has sort of been preparing for this rollout. They start to circulate talking points to allies in the Republican Party. Their campaign surrogates, people like Eric Cantor who was just on the air, about how to respond to the Ryan pick, some of the questions that might come from reporters, and certainly is some of the attacks that might come from the Obama campaign.

CNN has obtained these internal talking points. For instance, one of these questions from the Romney campaign, how to respond to the question does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan, that controversial entitlement plan? This is the answer that Romney officials are telling Republicans to give to this answer, quote, "Governor Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he'll put together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on the path to balance."

So you see there them putting some subtle space in between Governor Romney and the Ryan plan. Of course, Romney had called the Ryan plan marvelous. He has praised it. And certainly the Romney campaign is going to say we've always had our own plan. You know, presidential and vice presidential candidates are going to disagree on issues, but this encapsulates the balancing act that the Romney campaign has to do in the wake of this pick.

Another question here, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas like Medicare spending, entitlement reform, the auto bailout, waivers. Do you think the differences will hurt or help again?

Again, the Romney campaign is telling the officials to say, of course they aren't going to have the same view on every issue. But they share this election is about a choice for two different paths for this country. Wolf, you can see them mounting their defense for Paul Ryan here in these talking points. They're moving around the Republican universe this morning.

BLITZER: Let's not forget that Mitt Romney is at the top of the ticket, Paul Ryan is number two. So whatever Mitt Romney wants, that's the ticket. Paul Ryan will have to change his views presumably in order to agree to be the vice presidential running mate. Some of the areas where Mitt Romney might not necessarily completely agree with Paul Ryan's plan, Peter, Paul Ryan has to change, not necessarily Mitt Romney.

HAMBY: You're exactly right. This happened in 2008 when John McCain picked Sarah Palin. They disagreed on domestic drilling in Alaska, for example. And you have seen some disagreements between Romney and Paul Ryan. Let Detroit go bankrupt springs to mind, that's the op-ed that Romney wrote about the auto -- about opposing the auto bailout in 2009. Paul Ryan voted for that.

So these are just sort of hurdles that the Romney campaign has to get over. But I can tell you that the Obama campaign and Democrats right now, as you guys have been talking about are ticking through these one by one. They'll try to drive a wedge between Romney and Paul Ryan in the coming days.

BLITZER: The Republican ticket there, there they are. Paul Ryan, and there is Mitt Romney. You know, a generational gap between the two of them, Paul Ryan 42 years old and I think Mitt Romney is 65 or 66 years old. I think Mitt Romney has a son about 42 years old as well. That's the Republican presidential ticket.

We have Ari Fleischer standing by, David Gergen. We have our entire team. There's James Carville as well. We'll take a quick break. Much more analysis, reaction when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It's an honor to announce my running mate and the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: There 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 his judgment.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan.

(MUSIC)

ROMNEY: Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: 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.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 were a few things he would say that have just always stuck with me. He'd 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.

(APPLAUSE)

RYAN: What kind of country do we want to have? What kind of people do we want to be?

CROWD: Free!

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.

(APPLAUSE)

RYAN: Mitt Romney is this kind of leader. I'm excited for what lies ahead. I'm thrilled to be 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, there they are together up there on the stage in front of USS Wisconsin, the world renowned battleship. And they brought up their families. We have a lot to assess on what this means for the race for the White House, all of our contributors are standing by. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, so the historic team has been put forward, Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan. Let's discuss what's going on with our CNN contributors, John Avlon, the senior political columnist with TheDailyBeast.com, former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, Republican contributor Erick Erickson, editor in chief of RedState.com., Democratic strategist James Carville, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, there's Donna, and former presidential adviser David Gergen.

David, I'll start with you. We have now got the team in place, it's going to be obviously Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan versus President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden. I think this is going to be a lively 86, 87 days. DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It sure is. This was Mitt Romney's best day on the campaign trail, Wolf, since he won the nomination. I think the choice of Paul Ryan clearly has injected new spirit into his base. He had a campaign that was drifting, that was on the defensive. He tried to put it back on offense today.

But in choosing Paul Ryan he's also taking a risk. We have been talking about it all morning, because there may be talking points saying that Mitt Romney can shift away from the Ryan plan, but he can't do that politically. He's embraced the plan, now he's put the architect of the plan on the ticket. He can't move away from the basics in the next few weeks. He has to get out there and be on offense about what it is and do it. And what this means is that the Obama people see a new opening here. From their point of view, they don't want 87 days talking about jobs. Now they have a chance to talk about Medicare and saving Medicare as well as jobs and from their point of view they welcome that.

BLITZER: And the Republicans say they're anxious to discuss Medicare, although John Avlon, if you look at the Paul Ryan plan on Medicare, he says no one over 55 is going to be impacted by his proposals for change. People under 55 will be impacted and there will be some dramatic change, if he were to get his way. Now the key word, if, because while it does get support in the House of Representatives you would need the Senate to go along. You would need a president to sign it into law. It's by no means a done deal.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It absolutely is and it will be. Whenever talk when entitlement reform done, the Medi-scare card is played. This is the clear risk of Mitt Romney tapping Paul Ryan to be his VP nominee. But it's probably because of that -- it's a bold decision, a strong, confident decision.

What it ultimately does is it moves us into the more substantive stage of the campaign. But the Obama campaign gets something they've wanted for a long time. This is a choice election, rather than a referendum on the president. And Paul Ryan has had the courage to put forward will become a major part of this debate. If the Obama campaign has already moved towards demonizing Paul Ryan that's a mistake. He's so relatable but debating his ideas is whether the next three months will be.

BLITZER: Nothing wrong with debating ideas. What it does do, Ari Fleischer, it sets the stage for the serious differences between the Republican and the democratic ticket. There's no real difference between Democrats and the Republicans, but there are major differences. I think we'll see them.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Wolf, that's exactly what elections should be about and particularly when the country has trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, Medicare according to the truss trees is going to be broke and belly up and no one will have it in 12 years. Some estimates say it's four years. That's the stakes that the country faces. And America's rating, credit rating was downgraded. This is not an election cycle between Bush and gore. It wasn't such on big ideological issues. We had previous elections in which the ideological issues were front and center. This should be. The American people have big choices to make and that's why I welcome this move. It plants that ideological flag in the ground.

It also gives Mitt Romney a dose of economic adrenaline. That's something he needs, the issues I think in the end favor him on that score. It does as John talked about bring up the Medicare issue. That's important. Republicans will have to keep an eye on it because the biggest voting bloc Republicans have right now are senior citizens. They don't like Barack Obama. This is an opportunity for Barack Obama to try to turn them against Mitt Romney. There's the large part of the shape of this election to come.

BLITZER: And seniors vote in much bigger percentages than younger people, especially in the state like Florida, James Carville. This is going to be a huge issue in Florida. Romney is taking his bus trip to Florida over the next few days. What does this do, the Romney/Ryan ticket in a state like Florida?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I don't know. The numbers are, you know, pretty solid in terms of partisanship here. It will be interesting in the next few days. I think David makes the best point of the morning. There's no way that Romney can distance himself from the Ryan plan. Ryan is the Ryan plan, almost inseparable. That is going to be an interesting thing.

And the only other point I would make in general terms I was a little shocked at the optics that Ryan didn't wear a coat and tie. I don't know if anyone else thinks it matters, but I was surprised at this.

BLITZER: Why were you surprised, James?

CARVILLE: You know, maybe that's just me and being from the south, but, you know, you're announced for vice president of the United States, you're a young guy, and it just look sort of casual to me. I thought it was an inspired choice to be in Virginia. I thought it was an inspired choice to be at Hampton roads, to be on the Wisconsin, I thought that was inspired. But I didn't think that the optics of the thing were that good. I think a lot of other people shared my view. But I had a lot of phone calls about it.

I thought it was all inspiring, and I thought his speech was fine. It was standard stuff, it was well done. I just thought it was an interesting choice to not have him in a tie, to have Romney dressed like that.

BLITZER: Romney -- Romney wore a tie and no jacket and Ryan wore no tie with a jacket. I don't know what that means. But Erick Erickson, what did you think of the options of this?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I thought it was actually not too bad. I thought the optics weren't terrible -- it frees me up to be able to do that this morning and I can go with Paul Ryan now and be more casual. I'm struck by two things.

First of all, I think the Romney campaign has been largely listless this summer. They weren't put on a good message. There were a lot of Barack Obama mistakes in June that they weren't able to capitalize on and now you have Paul Ryan. They send him a talking point we're not going to embrace Paul Ryan's plan. Well, yes, you are. And that you're trying to pedal this with a straight face, I think that encapsulates what's wrong this summer. I think Ryan is a terrific pic. I think this is fight we need, and to his credit he did a better job selling Mitt Romney than Mitt Romney did selling himself in the last three months.

There's one other point worth mentioning. We are now really at a historic changing point. This is first time in a very long time we have two parties neither of whom has anybody from the south, neither of whom has anybody with military experience.

BLITZER: What's the point, Erick?

ERICKSON: It's a big shift historically. We're beyond the stage of having veterans run for president. There's been a dynamic population shift where everybody is moving south, Illinois losing seats to the south, New York losing seats to the south and there are no southerners on the tickets.

BLITZER: Interesting point. Donna Brazile, do you remember what al gore was wearing when Bill Clinton said he was his running mate back in 1992?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm sure it was a very powerful suit and a great moment.

BLITZER: Do you know that for sure?

BRAZILE: Look, Wolf, I don't recall exactly. James may recall. I know that both vice president gore and our vice president nominee were, you know, appropriately dressed. But I don't want to get into, you know, clothing style. I got up this morning very early with a call from CNN. So I hope I look good, and Erick, I'm not about to take off anything until I get home and get in my garden.

I'm Catholic and vice president Biden is catholic and Representative Paul Ryan is also catholic. But earlier this year the catholic bishops called Mr. Ryan's -- or at least stating that it was a moral failure because his budget did not protect the poor. It did not advance the common good. It did not promote human dignity.

And I think as we get into this conversation about Mr. Ryan, his proposals, whether it's on Medicare or Medicaid which he would decimate and leave millions of disabled Americans basically without coverage and benefits, we're going to have a substantive conversation. And I think that is something we all agree on, that we want to have this conversation, because it is about two visions of our country.

And the social safety net should matter to all of us as Americans, not just tax cuts for the wealthy and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts or the tax cuts and the tax loopholes, but the social safety net. So this is going to be a very good conversation that we should have. And it's not about demonizing anybody, but a common good and what we can do to advance it for the entire country.

BLITZER: You make a good point. The Catholic bishops had a problem with some of Paul Ryan's ideas. But Donna, don't forget they had a problem also with the president and Joe Biden's ideas on contraceptives --

BRAZILE: I know that very well, Wolf. You know, if you're not going to sue on Viagra don't sue on birth control. So I've been going to St. Matthews lately.

BLITZER: All right, let's leave it at that. Guys, don't go too far away. I want to take another quick break. When we come back, There was a moment when President Obama and Paul Ryan, they exchanged some words. We have the videotape. I think you'll want to see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, that's the Republican presidential-vice presidential ticket, as we all know by now. A lot of people are beginning to learn more about Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, 42 years old, obviously a very intelligent guy. Earlier a couple years ago he had an exchange with the president of the United States, so let's look at this clip. Maybe we'll get some debating skills techniques into the discussion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: So my question is, why not start freezing spending now and would you support a line-item veto and helping us get a vote on it in the house?

OBAMA: Let me respond to the two specific questions, but I want to just push back a little bit on the underlying premise about us spending the 84 percent.

RYAN: The discretionary spending, the bills that Congress signs that you sign into law that has increased 84 percent.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Good debate right there. It shows that Paul Ryan not afraid to stand up to the president, and the president of the United States, and the president saying, you know what, we'll do some more research. John King, you remember that exchange.

KING: I was in the back of the room at that event. I went up to Baltimore to see it, because the president took the step to talk -- he couldn't along with these Republicans, could he do anything bipartisan. So the president took a step. You can see it in the president's face he was like, OK, OK, I'm not going to have a debate with you Paul Ryan, right here, right now. Remember, Paul Ryan is the ranking Republican at that, and that was the beginning of the 2010 election year that leads to the big Republican wins in November. At that moment the president was hoping early in the election year to do more business. Well, if you go back in time, not a lot happened in 2010. But it's interesting to see even then -- the Republicans were in the minority then, he was getting in the president's face a bit. He's been doing it ever since and he's the chairman. And he's the vice presidential nominee.

BLITZER: He's a huge rising star in the Republican Party.

BORGER: Right. What's interesting is Paul Ryan hasn't always been popular among Republicans. He's proposed a lot of unpopular things over the years including take away earmarks. Only after the tea party took holds did Republicans and you had a bunch of enough Republicans in, did they say look at this Ryan budget. It actually makes sense to us because it has solutions that we can sign on to and then suddenly you saw the Republicans embrace it almost unanimously in the House of Representatives. And now you saw Democrats running against it.

That's going to continue. The debate is going to continue because Paul Ryan is a polarizing figure. I mean, there is an ad done by Democrats having somebody who looks like Paul Ryan pushing a grandma off the cliff and that's going -- not going to end.

CROWLEY: We already had this debate. All they had to do was open up the files, because this debate has already happened. They bring it back, it goes -- it's what they talk about.

But I think the other thing worth pointing out not every Republican has signed on to this kind -- they will publicly. But there is some trepidation.

BORGER: They're afraid.

CROWLEY: That this might be -- looks a little like a ticket death wish, that, oh, my gosh, do we want to talk about these thing, is this where we want to go in the economy so bad? We could have stayed on that. But I think you're right, that he was -- he was a leader in this before anybody was looking for a leader.

KING: In the clip, when you talked to him on Sunday, you see he wants to have the debates though. In the clip we played earlier with Bill Clinton, that overheard conversation, you heard Paul Ryan say we knew we had to put it out there. Go bold, go big, because in a divided government you have to negotiate, so hoping you get a negotiation with the Democrats and you hope -- he hopes not quite to the middle, he wants to be closer to his side of it. But the problem with our town right now, our dysfunctional town, you don't have those conversations so the Democrats have their plans. The Republicans have their plans. The Democrats have their jobs Bill in the Senate. The Republicans have their jobs bills in the House, and nobody will sit down and figure it out.

BLITZER: What I have found interesting and I spoke with Paul Ryan, he does deal with entitlements, Medicare, Social Security, the major entitlements. As chairman of the budget committee, he doesn't deal with tax reform because he said that's for the ways and means committee.

BORGER: I don't think that's the only reason.

BLITZER: He doesn't deal with taxes. Stand by for a moment. We'll take a quick break. We have some behind the scenes pictures of what has been going on. I think you want to see this. Stay with us.

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BLITZER: Weigh in on Facebook.com/CNNPolitics about what you think about Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan. We have almost 1,000 votes in the last few hours. Hundreds more comments.

Here are the current standings. Look at this -- 43 percent say the pick helps Romney and the GOP, 36 percent say it hurts Romney and the GOP, 16 percent say it won't make a difference against President Obama, five percent don't know yet.

We have a big debate waging on the Facebook page about this pick. Tracy said, for example, the pick helps the GOP because, quote, "Picking Ryan helps to clearly distinguish the difference between Romney and Obama." Rhoda from Deloitte, Wisconsin, look at this, she says "The pick hurts Romney." Writing on Facebook and I'm quoting now, "With Paul Ryan as his VP, he's done. Ryan wants to end Medicare and Social Security." One interesting footnote -- the state which casts the most votes, look at this, the swing state of Florida. You can weigh in all day on facebook.com/CNNpolitics.

Take a look at this also. The Romney campaign is showing us how the candidate and his running mate are starting to bond right now. Look at this. You can say Paul Ryan is starting to get the flavor of his new boss. This tweet sent out from Romney aide Garrett Jackson showing the two men and Congressman Ryan's children with the caption, I'm quoting now, "The Gov already teaching the Ryans the beauty of a peanut butter and honey sandwich." I have seen Governor Romney eat that peanut butter and honey sandwich. I was on his bus last August in Iowa. After the interview he went for that peanut butter and honey. He likes that kind of stuff. I like peanut butter and jelly, for what it's worth.

That's it for me, at least for now. I'll be back with a live "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 6:00 p.m. Lots more to digest tonight. Meantime, our coverage continues right after this.

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