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THE SITUATION ROOM

Remembering Julia Child; Paul Ryan Enthusiasm Factor; Pennsylvania Judge Rejects Voter I.D. Challenge

Aired August 15, 2012 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We will also go live to the president and first lady together on the trail for the first time in months.

Plus, a gift to fans of Julia Child on what would have been the TV chef's 100th birthday.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are standing by for some possible long-distance sparring between President Obama and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. They both have major campaign events this hour. We're going to dip into both of them live. Stand by for that.

Over the past 24 hours, the leading players in the race for the White House have unleashed some very, very tough attacks with Mitt Romney going after the president with new ferocity.

Our senior national correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now in Ohio, where Paul Ryan is about to speak.

Set the stage for us, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I can tell you right now this enthusiasm factor that Paul Ryan is lending to this Romney campaign is real.

Let me show just you behind me, there are hundreds of people still waiting in line, and just can't get into the event because of a big security slowdown here, Wolf. There are already thousands inside. You can tell that Paul Ryan is generating a lot of energy for this campaign.

But, Wolf, a few days ago, it was thought that Romney's selection of Paul Ryan would elevate this campaign to a debate on the issues, but that is not happening. Earlier this morning, in a morning interview on CBS, Romney accused the president of waging a campaign of what he called hatred.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The race for the White House has become a race to the bottom. ROMNEY: His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then try to cobble together 51 percent of the pieces.

ACOSTA: The dog-eat-dog campaign turned vicious as Mitt Romney lashed out at President Obama after Vice President Joe Biden went for the jugular.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're going to put you all back in chains.

ACOSTA: The Obama campaign offered no apologies, describing Romney's comments as unhinged and strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads. Romney tried to laugh that one off.

ROMNEY: I think I'm hinged when I have to characterize what we have seen from the president's campaign.

ACOSTA: If the word unhinged sounds familiar, it's because that's how the Romney campaign described Newt Gingrich during the primaries, as a pro-Romney super PAC savaged the former speaker with negative ads.

NARRATOR: You know what makes Barack Obama happy? Newt Gingrich's baggage.

ACOSTA: A top Democratic source says the Obama campaign is giving Romney a taste of his own medicine.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are just throwing everything at the wall to see if it sticks.

ACOSTA: That explains why the president is out to turn Romney into something of a joke, mocking the GOP contender three times in the same day for once strapping the family dog to the roof of his car.

OBAMA: I mean, maybe he's tried it. He's put other things on the roof.

(LAUGHTER)

NARRATOR: Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare.

ACOSTA: But the Romney campaign is showing its fangs by accusing the president of cutting Medicare to pay for the new health care law. The Obama campaign notes Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, has proposed similar savings in the program.

OBAMA: My plan has already extended Medicare by nearly a decade. Their plan ends Medicare as we know it.

ACOSTA: The Medicare debate is the only shred of substance in the campaign.

JOE SOPTIC, WIFE DIED OF CANCER: I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone. And furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney's concerned.

ACOSTA: The Romney campaign is still furious with this pro-Obama super PAC ad that suggests the GOP contender was responsible for the death of a steelworker's wife. The ad aired for the first time in Ohio Tuesday. But the PAC Priorities USA says it was a station error.

TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: We have a president who won't even disclaim an ad by his super PAC that accuses Mitt Romney of killing a gentleman's wife which turned out to be not even close to factually true.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: We are getting some guidance to what Paul Ryan will be telling the crowd in just a few moments from now from his campaign staff, Wolf.

Those aides say he will be touching on the Medicare issue and there are some signs he is warming up some new lines of attack against the president and the vice president. Earlier today on the Sean Hannity radio program, Paul Ryan said the Obama campaign is running on smear and fear, so the zingers are flying out here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Tough words from both sides. Ohio University, where you are, Oxford, Ohio, that is where he went to college. He does have a connection there, Paul Ryan.

ACOSTA: That's right. That's right. Paul Ryan did go to school here. He is getting a bit of a homecoming. We haven't seen a whole lot of Paul Ryan signs, but the Romney campaign is still putting out those signs.

My understanding, Wolf, is that one of our CNN affiliates has obtained an interview with one of Paul Ryan's old classmates. It is interesting to hear what that classmate has to say. He says Paul Ryan was not a party animal back in his days in college, that he basically had his nose in economics books. So that explains pretty much where he stands now on a lot of these issues.

BLITZER: He still has his nose in those economic books. He's chairman of the Budget Committee, as we all know.

Jim, stand by, because I want to go to Paul Ryan once he starts speaking over there in Oxford, Ohio. That's on the right part of the screen.

On the left part of the screen, you see Davenport, Iowa. The president of the United States speaking there together with the first lady. She's going to be introducing him. We're going to go there live as well.

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: Meanwhile, other news: A judge's ruling today in the battleground state of Pennsylvania could affect the outcome of the presidential race. He rejected a challenge to a controversial voter I.D. law.

Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, is joining us now.

Joe, a lot of partisan debate about this law. Tell our viewers what is going on.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Wolf.

It is making headlines in Pennsylvania today, but it's also something to keep your eye on across the country as we get closer to Election Day. Legislatures in key swing states like Pennsylvania have been tweaking the voting laws. And now we're seeing more pushback in the courts as voters start asking why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): The Pennsylvania court ruling is another skirmish in the country's emotional battle over voting rights this election year. More than a dozen states have passed new voting rights laws, including the one in the swing state of Pennsylvania, which is requiring people to show photo I.D. in order to vote.

Opponents went to court to try to block the law, saying it could disenfranchise up to 100,000 people, especially minorities and older or sick voters, who are more likely not to have acceptable photo identification, people like 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case.

VIVIETTE APPLEWHITE, PLAINTIFF: And I just think it's terrible, because there's so many people that don't have I.D. and they're not going to be able to vote.

JOHNS: Republican Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson ruled that the opponents trying to keep the law from being enforced did not establish that disenfranchisement of voters was immediate or inevitable. In Harrisburg, the legislator who wrote the law said disenfranchisement was never intended.

DARYL METCALFE (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The only people it disenfranchises are those individual who are trying to perpetrate election fraud.

JOHNS: But the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acknowledges that it would not be able to prove a lot of voter fraud in court even if it tried. Pennsylvania is also the state where a top GOP legislator recently seemed to suggest the voter law would help Republicans win back the White House this fall.

MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATEHOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter I.D., which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

JOHNS: Opponents say it just shows something other than fraud motivated the legislation. NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: That in the past decade that they have found only about 10 instances of in-person voter fraud. And those were mostly instances where people were simply confused and didn't know what the rules were in their area.

JOHNS (on camera): So this is about voter suppression, in your view?

AUSTIN-HILLERY: In my view and in the view of the Brennan Center, this is about keeping certain voters from the polls.

JOHNS (voice-over): The Justice Department now is studying the Pennsylvania law , which Representative Metcalfe, the author of the law, claims is a waste of time.

METCALFE: I think it's a fishing expedition where they're really overreaching. They have demanded documents from us through our Department of Transportation, demanded information that many Pennsylvanians would object to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Lawyers for the opponents of the Pennsylvania law will ask for an expedited appeal. They say the lower court should have applied a stricter standard of review to the government action in this case, but the court didn't do that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Joe Johns, for that important, important report.

Remember, we're standing by for two live events. We will have them both for you this hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

On the left, you see where the president of the United States and the first lady will be speaking in Davenport, Iowa. On the right, Oxford, Ohio, where the -- Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate on the Republican side, will be speaking. I earlier misspoke. He went to Miami University of Ohio. He didn't go to Ohio University or Ohio State, Miami University of Ohio.

Already getting a lot of angry tweets from folks who went to Miami University of Ohio, saying, Wolf, you are wrong.

They are correct. I was wrong. And now I have corrected that mistake. Stand by for both live events.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Once again, we're awaiting Paul Ryan to show up in Oxford, Ohio, for this event. We're going to go there live once he starts speaking.

You heard Jim Acosta say at the top of the hour he has got some very, very tough words to say about the Democratic ticket, President Obama, Vice President Biden. That's on the part of the screen. On the left part of your screen, you see a nice crowd getting ready in Davenport, Iowa, to hear from the first lady of the United States.

Michelle Obama, she will introduce her husband, the president of the United States.

We're going to cover both of these events live this hour. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But let's talk about what's going on in this race for the White House right now.

Joining us now is Ryan Lizza. He's the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" magazine, a CNN contributor. Kate obviously is here as well.

It has gotten nasty, Ryan, over the past 24 hours. Let me play a couple of clips. We don't have those clips.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think I have seen them.

(CROSSTALK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Probably don't need to be reminded.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It is really getting bad, the hate and the racial overtones of what's going on between -- I mean, I sort of am grossed out by all of it. I am sure a lot of people are.

LIZZA: My jaw dropped when Biden said what he said. I thought that was surprising, over the line.

And then when Romney came back and said it is a campaign of hate, I was even more surprised. I think you can describe Romney's policies in lots of ways, and there are lots of criticisms, but to say he is going to put a group of people in chains is a little out of bounds, in my view.

On the other hand, to describe the Obama campaign in general over the last few months as a campaign of hate seems kind of nuts as well.

BLITZER: Hate, and anger, and jealousy, those were the words.

BOLDUAN: It makes me wonder, though, if we have too short of memories, if this is how it gets every election cycle.

I mean, the shame on you, Barack Obama, that's not nearly as where we are right now, but you do have these moments when there are personal attacks in every election cycle.

LIZZA: I totally agree.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it is worse than normal? Or is it just...

LIZZA: The chains and hate seemed like they were a little bit beyond.

You're absolutely right. I always remind people that Obama -- this is one of my hobby courses -- Obama didn't run a strictly positive campaign. If you talk to some of the Hillary Clinton people with long memories, they will remind you that the gist of his campaign against her in the primaries was about character, not policy. They will argue that he essentially called her a liar in that campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Let's not forget how the Romney campaign and the pro- Romney super PACs destroyed, for example, Newt Gingrich in Iowa, in South Carolina, in Florida. They demolished him with some of those ads. They made him look like such a jerk, if you will.

LIZZA: Especially in Florida.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The Biden comments yesterday have caused a big uproar.

Artur Davis, and a lot of people probably don't know who he is. I interviewed him I nation last hour. He's a former Democratic congressman from Alabama. He was among those who seconded President Obama, then Senator Obama's nomination at the Democratic Convention in Denver.

BOLDUAN: A big honor and a big statement.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: I believe he had the title of co-chair...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Co-chair of the campaign in 2008. He is now supporting Mitt Romney, but he is going further.

When I spoke with him a little while ago, he said this about Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARTUR DAVIS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It brought back memories of these Democratic politicians in the South who think they can go before black crowds, and say one thing, that nobody else will hear it, and that they can somehow get a cheer in the room, and that they can blithely go on about their business.

I represented a predominantly African-American district. I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday. And every black person in that room who the you all was, they knew what the chains were about, they knew what the metaphor was.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: And then I got reaction from an Obama supporter, the former Governor or Virginia Doug Wilder, the first African-American governor of Virginia.

I thought he would come in and defend and he would defend Joe Biden, but he didn't. I think we have a clip. Let me play it.

BOLDUAN: We don't actually.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: I saw it when I was in the green room.

BLITZER: He is still going to vote for Biden, but he was very tough.

LIZZA: Yes. In fact, he said he wanted -- he felt that Biden should be replaced on the ticket.

And even when you asked him at the very end, you pushed him will you support the Obama/Biden ticket, he said, well, I have never said anything different. He didn't actually make an affirmative endorsement.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: But I have to say Wilder is known for being, you know, a complicated Democrat. He is not one that is afraid to criticize his fellow Democrats.

He has got a long history of being outspoken, sort of a truth teller in the party. Artur Davis, interesting journey, used to be a very solid Democrat, slowly ran statewide, got crushed, and he sort of gradually migrated into the Republican Party. And he is sort of the Zell Miller of the cycle, a Southern Democrat who endorses the Republican ticket.

And it seems like every cycle, we have one person like that.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Yes. But I was, A., by surprised how far Artur Davis went in criticizing. And then I was totally surprised how far Doug Wilder went in criticizing Joe Biden as well.

And John McCain earlier in the day said that the president should dump Biden and put Hillary Clinton on the ticket. Doug Wilder agreed that is obviously not going to happen.

BOLDUAN: That is John McCain being the maverick that he is.

LIZZA: That's not going to happen.

But John McCain knows that just mentioning that is like catnip to reporters. And he will get a whole -- he will get a news cycle out of it. BLITZER: All right, guys, hold on for a minute, because we expect to be hearing from both Paul Ryan -- he's standing by in Ohio -- you're looking at live pictures of Ohio on the right part of the screen, Davenport, Iowa, on the left part of your screen. The first lady and the president will be speaking there.

We will have live coverage coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Here's a quick look at some of the top stories trending on CNN.com right now.

Number four on our trending list, an unnamed player is kicked out of the national Scrabble tournament for trying to sneak off a couple of blank tiles which can be used to make any letter. Not a good idea, in case you were wondering. It's the first time in the tournament's 30-year history someone has been caught cheating.

Number three trending tonight, a new study by Nielsen shows most teenagers discover new music on YouTube these days. Old-fashioned adults still do it by listening to that good old radio.

Number two on our trending list, Priceline is bringing William Shatner back to life, even though they appeared to have killed him off, killed off the longtime pitchman in a commercial earlier this year.

And number one trending this evening, the tonight's Powerball lottery drawing is worth $320 million, the fourth largest jackpot in the game's history.

Wolf, have you bought your ticket yet?

BLITZER: I gave Javier de Diego, my producer, $1.

BOLDUAN: Our wonderful producer.

BLITZER: Because it is a $2 ticket. So, if he wins, he agreed to split the $320 million with me.

BOLDUAN: I don't know if Javier should trust you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Yes. We had witnesses in the room. There were no documents that were signed, but we did have eyewitnesses. He said he would split the $320 with me.

You don't think I should believe him?

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: I would believe him. Why don't you split it with the whole panel? BLITZER: He is very nice.

BOLDUAN: Javier is very nice. I don't know about you, is what I'm wondering.

BLITZER: He says he doesn't need $320 million. He will take half of that. That's why.

BOLDUAN: Check back in tomorrow. If Wolf has black eyes, you know what happened.

BLITZER: If none of us are here, that will be an explanation.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: We are awaiting the Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan. We're awaiting the president of the United States, the first lady of the United States. They're in Ohio and Iowa.

We're going there live. Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now the president and Mrs. Obama there doing something they haven't done often since they kicked off the re- election campaign. They're appearing together on the campaign trail.

You see live pictures of Iowa -- Davenport, Iowa on the left part of the screen. That's where the president and the first lady will be speaking. We'll have live coverage.

On the right part of your screen, we're going to Oxford, Ohio, right there. You see the Governor John Kasich. He's warming up the crowd. The vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, he's going to be speaking. We'll have live coverage of that as well.

Senator Rob Portman in the background, you saw him there as well.

While we're awaiting the president, while we're awaiting the vice presidential candidate, let's bring in our guest, once again, Ryan Lizza is a CNN contributor, Washington correspondent with the "New Yorker" magazine. Jeff Zeleny is national political correspondent for "The New York Times."

What do you make of the latest developments, Jeff? And you're just back from Iowa, where you were watching what was going on in Wisconsin. It's been a dramatic few days. But Mitt Romney has now made it abundantly clear it is his policies that rule the day, not any of the other budget policies, Medicare policies, Medicaid policies that Paul Ryan advanced as chairman of the Budget Committee.

JEFF ZELENY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, he's trying to make that clear, but that's a difficult argument to make. I mean he picked Congressman Ryan for a reason. He picked him because of his bold ideas. It's a little bit hard to sort of distance himself from this. But he is making clear that it's his budget, it's his plan. So he's going to have to probably come out with something a little bit more concrete.

But I'm not sure there's much of a distinction in the minds of voters. Because after all, some of the conservative Republicans are thrilled that he picked Mr. Ryan because of his stance on things. So it's a very fine line for Governor Romney to walk. The voters I talked to in Wisconsin and in Iowa, even some older voters, are fine with this. They think that -- the Republicans think that it's tough medicine, it's time for that. But it's those small sliver of independent voters who are scared about this.

BLITZER: And, you know, that $716 million that's in dispute, the Obama proposal for Medicare would reduce the growth in spending over 10 years by $716 billion. Use it elsewhere, not necessarily taking it away from recipients of Medicare but the providers if you will.

In his budget, Paul Ryan had a proposal to cut that $716 billion in growth as well, but Romney has now made it clear he doesn't support that. He would reinstate that $716 billion and not touch Medicare.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Yes, this is why it's become more of an issue. Look, every president, vice president match have some mismatch between their policies, right? Obama and Biden disagreed on -- on several things. And historically that happens. And the first thing you do is you sort of clean that up when you pick your running mate, and you explain, no, no, it's one ticket now.

I think where they got in trouble was the mismatch was so great because Ryan has this very fairly specific budget, that's been criticized in certain areas but it's not that specific, but it's much more specific than anything Romney put out. So it sort of fills this policy vacuum that the Romney campaign had.

And then to compound to that, right out of the gate, they made their biggest issue this Medicare cuts that Ryan actually in his budget supported. So I think that's why -- that's why they got into a lot more trouble --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: One thing, Kate, when I went to pick this -- pick this up, but earlier I suggested that Ryan didn't know when his own budget would balance in that interview he did with Brit Hume on FOX. He did suggest that his own budget would balance by the year -- in the 2030s if you will. He didn't know, though, when the Romney budget would balance.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right.

BLITZER: Which is an important distinction.

BOLDUAN: And a senior Obama -- senior Romney adviser to you just in THE SITUATION ROOM earlier said the same thing, that they don't know. BLITZER: That he didn't know it.

BOLDUAN: He didn't know.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Ed Gillespie, a senior --

BOLDUAN: Ed Gillespie didn't know.

BLITZER: Off the top of his head.

BOLDUAN: So --

BLITZER: Do you guys know when the Romney budget balances?

ZELENY: I don't actually.

LIZZA: Nobody knows. You can't --

ZELENY: And this is -- right.

LIZZA: You can't know.

ZELENY: And this is the point. This campaign up until now has been surprisingly devoid of policy specifics, very few big policies speeches, very few specifics like this. We're going to have to see that coming from the Romney campaign from Boston, probably after their convention if not before.

BOLDUAN: Well, and that -- this kind of begs this question, because once the Ryan pick came forward, was announced, we heard we're going to talk about big issues, we're going to move away from these personal attacks. But we saw a quick turn back on -- and I don't think either side is innocent in this to the personal attacks going back and forth. So do you think at this point from what you can see that this election is going to turn on the big issues, as you're saying, need to be talked about, or is this going to turn on the small, negative, personal attacks that we've been seeing to this point?

ZELENY: Voters don't care about these small, negative personal attacks. They sort of frame how they view these candidates. But voters want to hear about the economy and specifics. So I think it's just a lot of -- it fills time in between these candidates, they're going back and forth, it's more of a gamesmanship. But voters want to hear about these issues. So I think this election will still turn on the economy. It will not turn entirely on the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

He is -- he is the running mate. So I think that -- I think we'll see the Obama campaign, you know, try and marry them and link them, but it is Governor Romney's proposals at the end of the day that voters are going to be judging.

BOLDUAN: So what do you then think is the impact of Paul Ryan if the voters are not going to vote on a vice presidential candidate per se, like necessarily only on a vice presidential pick? What do you think the impact is if they're now having to spend time showing that Ryan is on our ticket, we're not running on the Ryan budget?

LIZZA: I mean I still think that he injects into the Romney campaign a sense of -- a little bit more of an ideological debate. It has become more of a Barack Obama wants to take the country this direction, the Romney/Ryan tickets wants to take it this way.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And just avoid from talking about releasing tax returns.

LIZZA: Exactly. Bain and the tax returns. But on the other hand, they're now mired in this debate about Medicare. And look, go back historically. Tell me an example of Republicans and Democrats campaign where Medicare was at the center of that campaign and where the Republicans want it. So I don't understand why -- maybe I don't know if the Romney campaign knew this was going to happen, but it can't be to their advantage to be having this massive debate about Medicare.

BOLDUAN: They're trying --

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Whether they're right on the facts or not.

BOLDUAN: They're trying to go on the offensive. I mean I was just -- you know, Speaker Boehner, House Speaker John Boehner just held a conference call with members yesterday saying it's time to go on the offensive on Medicare. So, you know, own it and go.

LIZZA: They're going on the offensive because that's their only option. That's a classic making lemonade out of this. And they want to get this out of the air or out of the way now. It's August. But boy, I kind of think we'll still be talking about this. I mean the Democrats are going to be running ads in September and October on Medicare.

Florida is the central place. This choice is being hailed by most Republicans and conservatives. But if it would happen to cost this campaign in Florida, you know, which is too early to say that, but if it would that would be very interesting.

BLITZER: One of the arguments that some Democrats made, the 2010 midterm elections when the Tea Party candidates, especially in the House, did really well that some of those districts they did run on Medicare. They said the Obama people want to cut Medicare, we want to not cut Medicare.

LIZZA: They ran on the same attack.

BLITZER: Yes. That was --

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: $500 billion back then.

BLITZER: It seemed to work at least in some of those Republican wins in the midterm elections.

LIZZA: But remember, the 2010 electorate was a much more conservative electorate than 2012.

BLITZER: You're right. Absolutely right.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: An example, special election.

LIZZA: Exactly. The 2010 special election. So this election will settle it.

BLITZER: I think Ohio Senator Rob Portman is speaking right now, warming up the crowd in Ohio. There he is. The first or second runner-up for vice presidential slot. He is getting the crowd going. He didn't get the vice presidential nod, although a lot of people thought he was the frontrunner almost from the beginning.

We will go to Ohio and Iowa when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SEN. RON PORTMAN (R), OHIO: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the team to turn it around.

BLITZER: He's been warming up the crowd in Ohio. That's Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio, getting the crowd ready for Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate on the Republican side.

You know, it's interesting -- we're back with Ryan Lizza of the "New Yorker" and Jeff Zeleny of the "New York Times."

Did you see this new Gallup poll? This is the first major national poll coming out since Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate. Registered voters' choice for president, before the Ryan announcement according to Gallup, Romney was at 46 percent, Obama was at 45 percent. After the Ryan announcement, Romney's at 47 percent, Obama is at 45 percent. Sampling error 3 percent.

Jeff, that doesn't look like a huge bounce, a little bump at least in this first initial national poll.

ZELENY: It doesn't and I think that's for a couple of reasons. One, people really are locked in. Four years ago at this time, "The New York Times"/CBS poll showed that one in four people were still open to changing their minds. Now it's only one in 10. So I think people are more locked in for one. For two, people are voting for the top of the ticket here. And for three, it's August. People are not necessarily paying attention. Wait until after the convention. If there's no bounce after the Republican convention, I'll be a little bit surprised. I would think that that -- presuming that it goes well, which I'm sure it probably will, I would think there'd be some bounce.

BLITZER: Because usually, however, as the convention usually gets a little better.

(CROSSTALK)

ZELENY: Sure.

LIZZA: You get a little bit bounce.

BOLDUAN: Are you surprised by lack of bump?

LIZZA: You know, I think it's declining over time. You don't get as much of a bounce from your VP pick, you don't get as much of a bounce from your convention, and it's because the electorate now is more polarized.

BLITZER: So does it all rely on the debates, the three presidential debates --

LIZZA: Well --

BLITZER: -- for those undecided and the one vice presidential debate in October?

LIZZA: And those are the three -- those are three big events. Your VP pick, the convention, and the debates. And if the debate -- you know, if the first two don't move needle, maybe for some people who pay attention very late in the process, that could have an impact. But we have such a tiny percentage of the electorate that's undecided.

And if you look at who those people are, you can't really describe them in any ideologically coherent way. They're low information voters, they're not necessarily moderates or independents, they're hodge-podge of ideologies.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, we'll take a quick break. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate. We'll go there as soon as we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Paul Ryan is reminiscing about his days in Oxford, Ohio, when he was a student at Miami of Ohio. Let's listen in.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's do it then.

(APPLAUSE)

RYAN: We are here to offer you a clear choice. This is a very, very clear contrast for our country to make. Do we want to go down the path we are on, the path of debt, a path of doubt, a path of decline? Or do we want the ideas that will save the American idea?

President Obama and a lot of other politicians like him in Washington are more worried about their next election than they're worried about the next generation.

Not us. We will lead. We will earn your support. We will deserve victory. Because when we win, then we will have the obligation, the mandates, and the moral authority to get this country back on the right track.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

RYAN: You know, I just heard these great gentlemen talking about this a minute ago. This economy is really bad for young Americans. Half of all college graduates are either working in jobs that they didn't train for or not working at all. Half. And they're swallowing in debt with ever higher rising tuition.

President Obama is out of ideas. And that is why his campaign is based on anger and division. You know, the president I am told is talking about Medicare today. We want this debate.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

RYAN: We need this debate and we will win this debate.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Let's quickly go from Ohio to Iowa. The first lady is introducing her husband.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: And an entire neighborhood saying happy birthday to Malia on the Fourth of July. Yes. It was so sweet. I remember on the big day of the Jefferson Jackson dinner we danced with about a thousand folks across the state with the (INAUDIBLE). It's a marching band. We had them back to the White House since, but that was exciting.

And our girls still talk about our visit to the state fair. That was like I think the first big state fair we ever went to. And it was so much fun. We did everything. We rode the bumper cars and we slid down this big slide. Did I mention how Barack almost dropped Sasha off of the slide? You know she flew up and he barely -- I wasn't very happy about that.

And that is where, yes, we experienced our very first fried Twinkie on a stick.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It was here. And it was also pretty funny because he was a senator at the time and he had a lot of press and they were everywhere. And the girls were holding baby chicks and the cameras were flashing and, you know, so when it was time for him to leave, he left early. The girls actually turned around to me and said, whew, I'm so glad daddy's gone. (LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Now we can really have some fun. So we essentially shut the state fair down. So we had a -- we had a great time. And I have to say that I'm a little bit jealous that Barack got to go to the state fair this week without me. Oh, so sad.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was good.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: So today I want to start by saying thank you, truly thank you. I want to thank everybody in the state for the kindness and generosity and love that you all have shown our family, regardless of what party you're from, regardless of how you felt about us, you have shown us so much love.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And you don't understand how important that was for me because Iowa was my very first experience with a national campaign. And because of you all, this state, the people in this state, our girls still think campaigning is fun. They really do. More importantly, because of all of you, Barack and I will always remember what this process can be at its very best.

Truly every election, the folks here in Iowa, you all remind us what democracy is all about. And it's really about getting to know the issues and discussing the issues with your neighbors. It's about meeting your candidates and getting to know them and their families really up close and personal in a way that very few states get to do.

And I will never forget my first visit here back in 2007. And I remember it well because we were in the backyard of someone's home. It was just such a simple gathering. And I have to admit that I was a little nervous because I hadn't done much campaigning. And back then, people barely even knew who Barack was, let alone who I was. So I didn't know how it would be.

But the folks in that backyard welcomed me like I was an old friend and within minutes I was so comfortable that I kicked off my high heels and I was standing in the lawn, in the grass with bare feet talking and laughing and listening to people's stories. And that's when, you know, I learned that that's what campaigning is about. You know, hearing about what's going on in people's lives, about the jobs they're juggling and the businesses they're trying to keep afloat, the kids they hope to send to college if they can find a way to afford it.

And the more we talked, the more I felt at home because in their stories, I saw my story. You know? I saw Barack's story. And you all know my story. My father worked at the city water plant his entire life. That was pretty much the only job he had. And neither of my parents had the chance to get a college degree. But as I tell people everywhere I go, what I appreciate about my parents was that they saved and they sacrificed and they poured everything they had into me and my brother so that we could have the kind of educational opportunities they could only dream of.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. So we're going to continue to listen to the first lady of the United States. We're going to listen to the president of the United States. We'll take a quick break. Much more from Iowa right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, she's still introducing her husband, telling the folks in Iowa right now why she loves him so much.

On the right-hand part of your screen, you're seeing Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, he's speaking to his crowd in Ohio right now as well.

Ryan Lizza is here and Jeff Zeleny. Let's wrap up this hour. (INAUDIBLE) obviously this year. Well, she's a powerful weapon for the president on the campaign trail.

LIZZA: What strikes me the split screen here is the guy who can be a little bit more personable and dare I say likable on the Republican ticket? And the woman who probably has higher favorabilities than her husband on the Democratic ticket. So these guys are --

BLITZER: Sixty-five percent favorability.

BOLDUAN: Our most recent pollage, I think, was back -- not so recent but our most recent poll has 65 percent likability. I mean I think this is a -- we joke about it but it's an important part of winning an election is the likability factor.

ZELENY: And one of the reasons her likability is so high is because she has stayed out of politics largely for the last four years or so. So it'll be really interesting to see how the campaign uses her and how they use Mrs. Romney as well to what groups and things. Because it's a fine line to walk --

(CROSSTALK)

ZELENY: But she's very popular in Iowa.

BLITZER: Let's just listen to him for 30 seconds right now. He's going to say something nice about his wife.

B. OBAMA: It is good to be back in the quads. I see a lot of familiar faces, a lot of good friends. First of all, let me just say that I, too, could not be prouder of Amanda Irish, for her service to this country, everything that she's done. She wants to go back to medical school. She is going to be a great doctor and she's going to help a lot of people. Give her a big round of applause.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) B. OBAMA: Your mayor and a great friend of mine for a long, long time, Bill Gloom is here.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. So unfortunately we're not going to be able to hear much more of the president. But if you want to hear the president of the United States, go to CNN.com/live. You can hear what he has to say. That's it for us this hour. Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.