"Face the Nation" transcripts, August 12, 2012: Cutter, Fehrnstrom, Gingrich
(CBS News) Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on August 12, 2012, hosted by CBS News Nancy Cordes. Guests include: Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter and former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Plus, a roundtable with Ruth Marcus, Bob Shrum, David Frum, Michael Gerson and Roger Simon.
CORDES: Good morning, again, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Bob Schieffer is on his way to High Point, North Carolina, where he'll be sitting down with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan later today in their first joint interview which will air on tonight's "60 Minutes." So you'll want to tune in to that.
But for now, with the latest on this new Republican ticket, I'm joined by CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford, who is in Mooresville, North Carolina, this morning.
And, Jan, we're learning that there was quite of bit of subterfuge involved this keeping this running mate pick under wraps. Tell us about it.
JAN CRAWFORD, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nancy, it was almost something out of a spy novel, the lengths that they went to keep this a secret. It involved Paul Ryan when he was going to meet with Romney in Boston to be offered the pick, actually almost being in disguise. He had sunglasses, a baseball cap, casual clothes so he could move through the airport.
And then when he was going to Virginia to be announced as the nominee, he sneaked out of the back of the house and went through the woods to get his ride. And last night on the campaign plane, Romney and Ryan came back and talked to the reporters and they seemed almost tickled to death that they kept all this a secret.
Now there is clearly a strong, good rapport between these two guys as they were talking to us last night. And, Nancy, I have never seen Romney as energized and enthused as he was in his campaign speeches yesterday in Virginia. And we'll see some of that tonight in Bob's interview.
CORDES: Big crowds behind you as well. All right. Jan Crawford in North Carolina with the Romney campaign. Thanks so much.
Joining us now to talk about Mitt Romney's pick are deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, Stephanie Cutter, who is in Chicago this morning; and Eric Fehrnstrom, senior adviser to Mitt Romney, who joins us from Charlotte, North Carolina.
And, Eric, let's start with you. Describe for us how and when Mitt Romney offered the V.P. slot to Paul Ryan and what he said when he accepted.
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ADVISER, MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, he called him on August 1st, but on that day, the governor had just returned from his overseas trip. He had made his decision that he wanted Paul Ryan to join him on the ticket. He reached out to him, set up a meeting, and the meeting took place on August 5th. That was last Sunday.
They met at the private home of Beth Myers, who is a top aide, and handled the vice-presidential selection process. And it was in a private meeting in Beth's dining room where Governor Romney offered Paul Ryan a spot on the ticket and he accepted.
CORDES: Eric, there were, obviously, a number of politicians under consideration, Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty. What was about Paul Ryan that made him the choice for Mitt Romney in the end? And was this a difficult decision?
FEHRNSTROM: It wasn't difficult at all for the governor. This was a big, bold, courageous choice by Governor Romney. It indicates that he's not only interested in taking on the jobs crisis in this country, but he also wants to address the fiscal crisis as well.
This is no time for complacency. We have 23 million Americans out of work. We have more people falling into poverty than at any time in our recent past. And we have massive debt and deficits that imperil our future.
And I think in the selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate, Mitt Romney has claimed for the Republican ticket the mantle of change. I think it also indicates that Mitt Romney is going to be running an issue-oriented campaign, waged on big ideas and not engaged in the kind of nasty, negative politics that we've seen from the Barack Obama campaign.
CORDES: Well, Stephanie, what do you think about that? Was this the running mate that the Obama administration was expecting? And is he a big, bold choice?
STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Well, I definitely think he's a big, bold choice because it really does say something about Mitt Romney. It says something about Mitt Romney that he's picking someone who has a budget plan under which Mitt Romney would pay less than 1 percent in taxes, but the middle class would pay more than $2,000 more in taxes.
It says something about Mitt Romney that he picked someone with a budget plan that cuts 10 million kids -- cuts their college scholarships for 10 million kids. Throws 200,000 kids off Head Start. You know, cuts veterans' benefits, clean energy benefits, all of the investments we need to grow our economy.
And it says something about Mitt Romney that he chose someone who has a budget that really, it would be the end of Medicare as we know it. It would increase costs on seniors and throw them into the private market.
So, that is big, bold, and courageous. But I don't think that's the prescription the American people are looking for. You know, I heard Eric talk about the type of campaign that we're running, compared to the type of campaign that Mitt Romney is running.
We'd love to have a substantive debate. As of yesterday, Mitt Romney put some substance on the table. We'd love to talk about it. The Romney-Ryan budget is not a budget for growth and prosperity. It's a budget for redistributing wealth to the top. Taking it from the middle up to the top, and it's...
CORDES: Eric, I want to ask you about that, because you knew this was the argument that you were going to hear from Democrats. By picking Paul Ryan, is Mitt Romney tying himself to every element of the Ryan plan, the cuts to college loan programs and food stamps and Medicaid? Can he separate himself from that or is he embracing it?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, let me just answer Stephanie by saying this is the same type of garbage talk from the Obama campaign we've heard almost since day one. They've started off with petty, untrue characterizations of Mitt Romney and his record, and have now grown to massive exaggerations.
Look, Paul Ryan has a budget. Barack Obama has no plan. He's the sitting president, and it's amazing that he has no policy agenda for his second term, no new ideas about how to get this economy moving, no new ideas about how to create jobs, no new ideas about how to control spending.
He promised to cut the deficit in half. Instead it has exploded in size. He has added $5 trillion to our deficit. Our country can't continue down this path. Now we're making a bet, we're making a bet that Americans are more interested in a campaign that's waged on real ideas, including entitlement reform, and that a campaign -- a substantive campaign conducted on the high ground is going to trump the type of petty, negative politics that we're hearing from Barack Obama.
They're really running a campaign without a conscience. If I had to give their campaign...
CORDES: Well, I think...
FEHRNSTROM: ... playbook a title, I'd call it "50 Shades of Mud."
CORDES: I think we've seen some petty negative politicking from both sides this week and we'll get to that in just a moment.
But, Stephanie, what about this argument by Republicans who point to Paul Ryan's plan and say, hey, it may not all be popular but at least he's making the tough choices. We have got a $15 trillion debt. We've got entitlements that are exploding. And at least he's willing it put his plan out to the table, while the president, at least initially did not embrace his plan, the Bowles-Simpson plan.
CUTTER: Well, Nancy, all you have to do is go to the White House Web site to see the president's plan. It has been out there for more than a year. It's a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan that does make those tough choices, but it makes tough choices on both sides.
You know, it's not an ideological document like Paul Ryan's plan. It actually asks the wealthy to pay their they are share, cuts waste from spending programs that we don't need, but still allows us to make the critical investments we need to grow our economy.
Now I want to answer Eric for a second. You know, he thinks that talking about the substance of Paul Ryan's plan, the Romney-Ryan plan, is mudslinging, then what type of election do you think this is? These are the issues that matter.
Everybody knows the fundamental issue at stake here is the middle class. If you're not going to talk about how you're going to strengthen the middle class, then how can you have a substantive debate? Talking about Paul Ryan's...
CORDES: ... talks about his plan on the Web site, but what about on the campaign trail, Stephanie? Mostly on the campaign trail, Stephanie? Mostly on the campaign trail we hear him talking about raising taxes on the top 2 percent. Where are the other bold plans that require sacrifice from the rest of the country?
CUTTER: Whitehouse.gov, Nancy. Go there and you'll see the entire plan. He has given speeches in front of Congress on it. He does talk about it on the campaign trail. It's the only serious deficit reduction plan out there right now.
FEHRNSTROM: Well, tell us, what is the president's plan for...
CUTTER: Everybody knows.
FEHRNSTROM: ... Medicare? What is the president's plan for...
CUTTER: Why don't you ask independent economists what they think about...
FEHRNSTROM: ... entitlement reform?
CUTTER: ... what they think about the Paul Ryan budget? It's not a serious document.
FEHRNSTROM: Instead of dodging...
CUTTER: It would not -- it doesn't do one thing to create one job.
FEHRNSTROM: ... and telling people to go to a Web site, tell them what the plan is right now?
CORDES: OK. I want to switch gears here.
CUTTER: I'd be happy to tell you what the plan is right now.
CORDES: What is it?
CUTTER: Well, you know, ask the wealthy to pay a little bit more, cut waste from the government, reform Medicare -- more than $300 billion in savings from Medicare, on top of the savings we've already achieved. You know, I heard Mitt Romney deride the $700 billion cuts in Medicare that the president achieved through health care reform. You know what those cut are? It's taking subsidies away from insurance companies, taking rebates away from prescription drug company. Is that what Mitt Romney wants to protect?
And interestingly enough Paul Ryan protected those cuts in his budget. And that's the only thing that extended the solvency of the Medicare program.
CORDES: What about that -- that's a serious debate. That's how you have a serious, substantive debate about the issues.
Eric, what about that point that you're not just -- you're just cutting the social safety net pretty drastically under the Paul Ryan plan, but you're changing Medicare pretty significantly and you're lowering taxes very significantly on the wealthy.
Nancy, let me just say, I agree with Stephanie. We should cut waste from the federal budget, but we need to go further than that, Stephanie. We need to put on the table serious substantive proposals that address the entitlement problem. These are the cost drivers in the budget.
Mitt Romney has talked about, with respect to Social Security, lengthening the retirement age, and changing the benefit calculation such that upper income earners, you know, for our future retirees will not be earning benefits at -- as fast a rate as they used to.
With respect to Medicare, he has two core principles and they happen to synch up with Paul Ryan's. The first is we're not going to do anything that will affect current beneficiaries or those close to retirement age, but for future retirees, we need to create a new premium voucher program that preserves the existing Medicare system as an option, but also introduces new private health care options so that we can have competition and choice.
If we do that, then we'll finally begin to get a hold of the massive budget busters in the federal budget and put us there...
CORDES: There are a lot of -- there are a lot of similarities there.
FEHRNSTROM: I just told you in great detail...
CORDES: What about the fact your campaign ended up...
FEHRNSTROM: I just told you in great detail and specifics what Mitt Romney's plan is with respect to entitlements, and your response is Barack Obama is going to cut waste for the budget.
CORDES: All right. We don't have a lot of time so I want to move on to another topic. CUTTER: I do have one question for Eric. Does Eric think it's right for this country for Mitt Romney to pay less than 1 percent in taxes but you're asking senior citizens who rely on Medicare to pay up to $6,000 more for their health care? Does he think that's right for Mitt Romney to pay less than 1 percent in taxes but the middle class gets a $2,000 tax increase. That's the budget that Paul Ryan has on the table and that's the budget that you just wrapped your arms around.
FEHRNSTROM: Stephanie, you just told us -- you just admitted there's only one candidate in the race who has cut benefits for current Medicare beneficiaries, that's Barack Obama. And he didn't do it by the way to create...
CUTTER: You know, I heard, Eric...
FEHRNSTROM: ...to create sustainability in the Medicare program....
CORDES: I want to ask you a question on another topic, because we don't have that much more time.
Eric, I want to ask you about foreign policy for a moment. Obviously, Paul Ryan knows his way around a budget, but is it a problem that neither of the two men on your ticket have any significant foreign policy experience? I mean we're in a time of great instability in the Middle East, a civil war in Syria, tensions with Iran. Is it a problem that these two men, while very experienced, don't have much experience on the world stage?
FEHRNSTROM: I think Paul Ryan has the same amount of foreign policy experience that Barack Obama had when he was sworn in as president.
Look, Paul Ryan's been in the congress for 14 years, longer than Barack Obama when he decided to run for president. He's got oversight responsibilities for the budget, including the defense budget. He has leaders, governors, generals, members of the military brass calling him for advice and support for their programs. Of course he's prepared.
One of the first criterions that the governor had for the selection of his running mate was he wanted somebody who was capable of stepping into the top job if circumstances ever called for that. He's got that with Paul Ryan.
But I think what Americans will really like about this ticket is the way they complement one another. Mitt Romney has 25 years of private sector experience, a wealth of knowledge about the economy, and what Paul Ryan brings to the table is deficit-cutting credibility, and also knowledge about every nook and cranny of the federal budget. And as I said, this indicates Mitt Romney is serious about solving the jobs crisis in this nation and also the fiscal crisis.
CORDES: Stephanie, very quickly on foreign policy. CUTTER: Well, I think that the most important criteria is the person at the top having the judgment on foreign policy that you need in a commander in chief, and I think that we saw just a week and a half ago, that Mitt Romney didn't have it. He went on a foreign policy trip, and ended up insulting every one of our allies, and embarrassing this country.
So I think that was proof positive that Mitt Romney doesn't have the judgment necessary to be America's commander in chief. And whether Paul Ryan can help him with that, we'll see. But I think it's the person at the top that you need to see if they can pass that test.
CORDES: Stephanie Cutter, Eric Fehrnstrom, thank you both so much for joining us this morning. I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more from both of you, and we'll be back in one minute with former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: 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!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORDES: And we're back now with Newt Gingrich. Newt, thank you so much for being here this morning. Great to see you.
So back in April, President Obama said the Ryan budget is so far to the right it makes your Contract with America look like the New Deal. How does the Ryan plan look to you now? How much of it do you think that Romney should keep? How much should he discard?
GINGRICH: Well, I think the basic thrust of the plan, which is very parallel to what Romney has proposed is the right direction. We have to go to a sustainable, long-term budget that gets us back to a balance that accelerates the growth of jobs, and that is affordable. And we have to recognize -- you look at American cities going bankrupt. The Greek government just announces they have 54 percent unemployment among young Greeks. You look at the kind of problems around the world from spending being out of control, and you have to say to yourself, somebody has to have the guts to stand up and offer a road map, if you will.
And I think that the effort that Ryan has put in -- in my mind it makes him an extraordinarily exciting choice because you now have a national leader who is capable of talking in detail with the American people about some very complicated topics. And that's a very unusual moment in American history.
CORDES: I traveled to Wisconsin after Ryan unveiled his budget in 2012, and it was highly controversial, even in his home district. How does it play with voters? I mean, the Obama campaign is already saying this is going to help them in states like Florida and Pennsylvania with large senior populations who are going to be worried about his Medicare plan.
GINGRICH: Well, see, this is an example of I think what's wrong with the Obama campaign what we just saw a few minutes ago in that dialogue. The Romney team doesn't touch anybody who is over 55. So it's a non-event. It's just plain a lie to run a campaign trying to scare people who are over 55 about this plan.
And because Paul Ryan listened, he came back with the a Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden of Oregon, they developed an improved Medicare proposal. If you want to keep the current system, you can. If you want to keep an alternative, you can. Almost exactly what members of congress have. See, you have the choices.
I don't have-- I mean, I think you can have an honest debate about it, but when you start with an Obama plan which took $700 billion out of Medicare in order to put it into Obamacare, I think you're going to have a pretty hard time being credible in trying to scare people about Paul Ryan.
CORDES: So, let's take a look at the specifics will of his plan, then. Here are the broad outlines. It calls for $5 trillion in spending cuts, which is huge, that's more than two times the Simpson- Bowles proposal. So it's really dramatic spending that reduces the size of government. But he also cuts tax revenue almost as dramatically, by $4 trillion, primarily by bringing tax rates down for wealthy Americans and by reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.
So this is the opposite approach from Simpson-Bowles, which actually raises tax revenue. And what you get as a result is that it would take until 2040 before we have a budget surplus. Is that the right approach?
Why not ask everybody to make the sacrifice?
GINGRICH: One of the great debates, which we're not going to have but should is over the Congressional Budget Office and their method of scoring, because it's just factually false.
CORDES: How so?
GINGRICH: Ryan and Romney have a very specific challenge. And I think this will be the key debate for this fall. Do you want a country with a smaller government, a bigger economy and more jobs? Or do you want a country with a bigger government, a smaller economy and fewer jobs?
Now, that's the honest choice here.
And I think, look, Obama and Biden...
CORDES: But that was not always your take on his plan. You called it right-wing social engineering. What has changed for you?
GINGRICH: The one thing -- the one thing I objected to back in May of 2011 was that he -- he eliminated Medicare for everybody. He came back with Ron Wyden. He listened -- and one of the things I give Paul a lot of credit for is he really listens. And he came back with an approved Medicare plan that Ron Wyden has cosponsored, the only bipartisan reform, by the way, Paul Ryan and Ron Wyden introduced. And it basically allows people to stay in the current system. So he met my only objection.
The bigger debate's simple. You have an Obama administration that represents government as usual, slow economic growth as usual, the worst economy since the Great Depression. And their answer is to do nothing. I mean, it's like all these mayors of cities that are going bankrupt, They're sitting here saying, oh, protect everything.
Well, you know, Stephanie just talked about the problem with student loans. Well, the problem today is, under the Obama plan, even if you can get through college, you can't find a job. So I think this will be a straightforward debate. Do you want a more dynamic economy, more jobs, a faster-growing country and a smaller government, or do you want a much bigger government with a much bigger deficit, with fewer jobs and a much smaller economy?
CORDES: You heard Eric Fehrnstrom essentially say it isn't a problem that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan have any significant foreign policy experience. But you've been on the world stage. You know that this is complicated. You know that, you know, these are very thorny issues and we're looking at a lot of them right now.
How do they deal with that foreign policy gap?
GINGRICH: As a sophisticated Washington reporter, I'm going to shock you. I think it is an advantage that they are not part of the current mess.
Remember, first of all, Paul Ryan's about the same age as John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt. So you can have young, aggressive leadership that's pretty impressive.
Second, remember that Mitt Romney has exactly the same amount of foreign policy experience as Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet empire decisively in eight years. So I would rather have Romney and Ryan rethinking everything than have the current team continue -- look at the disaster in the Middle East, unrest in Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan.
CORDES: But do you feel that you know what Mitt Romney's foreign policy philosophy is? Do you feel like he laid it out when he went overseas?
GINGRICH: The overseas trip was -- was not an effort to lay out a philosophy. I think I know how Mitt Romney will approach foreign policy. He will be very cautious. He will think about America's interests first. He will apply a decision-making process that relies very heavily on facts. And he will distrust the State Department.
Now, I have to tell you, as somebody who, as you point out, had a lot of experience in this business, I am for any candidate who distrusts the State Department over a candidate who trusts the State Department.
CORDES: Well, Newt Gingrich, I really appreciate you bringing your insights this morning. Obviously, you've got a lot of -- had a lot of experience debating Mitt Romney and you know that Paul Ryan is a tough debater as well.
Thanks for being with us this morning.
GINGRICH: Good to be with you.
CORDES: Appreciate it. And we'll be right back.
CORDES: The setting for Mitt Romney's big announcement yesterday was picture-perfect, majestic battleship, swelling music, enormous crowds. As you saw at the top of our show, it all went off without a hitch, except for this key moment at the very end of Romney's introduction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next president of the United States, Paul Ryan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORDES: During the ensuing applause, Romney realized the error, or someone told him, and he quickly jumped in to correct himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Every now and then, I'm known to make a mistake.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORDES: Nice save. Romney's not the first presidential candidate, though, to get swept up in the moment. Here was then- Senator Obama four years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So let me introduce to you the next president...
... the next vice president of the United States of America...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORDES: There are other similarities betweens the two announcements. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney revealed their pick on a Saturday. Both chose a longtime member of Congress. Both their picks are Roman Catholic. But that's about where the similarities end. Joe Biden was 65 years old when he was chosen. Paul Ryan is 42. Ryan is steeped in the budget. Biden had a reputation as a foreign policy expert. And while Biden accepted the V.P. spot after two failed bids for a presidential nomination, Ryan spent the earlier part of this campaign season denying he was even interested in the job.
When he appeared on "Face the Nation" last March, he said, "If I wanted to be president or vice president so badly, I would have run for president." Well, when the call comes, I guess it's hard to say no.
We'll be right back.
CORDES: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but for the rest of you, we'll be back with more on Campaign 2012 and Mitt Romney's new running mate with a reporters' roundtable. We're going to talk about whether the Ryan pick was a bold or risky choice -- maybe both. And be sure to tune into "60 Minutes" tonight for Bob Schieffer's interview with Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
Be back in a moment. We'll see you all very shortly.
CORDES: Paul Ryan pick, "Washington Post" columnist Ruth Marcus, Politico's Roger Simon. David Frum of Newsweek and the Daily Beast. Michael Gerson is also a columnist for the Washington Post and a former speech writer for George W. Bush, Bob Shrum is a Democrat strategist and columnist for The Week. He's out in Los Angeles. But we're going to start with CBS News Political Director John Dickerson who is out on the campaign trail in Mooresville, North Carolina, with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
And John, what did you take away from watching this debut for Paul Ryan yesterday?
JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Hello, Nancy.
I think the biggest thing is Ryan has-- his goal is to, one, reintroduce Mitt Romney. He's talking about Romney's business career, his family. He's using his introduction to the country to reintroduce the candidate. And that's important. Mitt Romney has a lot of work to do in terms of the way voters think about him, imagining him as the president. Then Ryan also played the sort of traditional attack dog role, pointing out the differences in problems with Obama administration. Then his other role -- and we'll see how this develops -- is that he is sort of the ideas man. They have -- the campaign is arguing that this is a bold choice, because it's a choice to run on ideas and specific policies.
But when Ryan talks, that's not really what he talks about. And so the question in the end will be how much do -- does the Romney campaign want voters to think about the idea that they have a plan and how much do they want to get into the specifics of those plans?
CORDES: And we heard Jan Crawford talk earlier in the show about how these the two men seem to have personal chemistry. What's it like watching the two of them on stage and I understand the crowds have been larger, more enthusiastic than they have been in the past for Mitt Romney alone.
DICKERSON: That's absolutely right. Here in North Carolina, the crowds are crazy compared to your normal Romney crowd. It's not only standing room only, but the crowd inside is just as big as the crowd outside. The rapport between the two men is very good. One of Romney's adviser, Bob White, who worked with Mitt Romney at Bain, said that Paul Ryan was the kind of fellow they would have hired at Bain. That's pretty high praise in this atmosphere.
They get along quite well. And there's a generational vibe here a little bit. Paul Ryan is as old as one of Mitt Romney's sons. And so, the campaign is hoping that he brings a kind of youthful energy on stage. And that's certainly -- has been evident in the last couple of days.
CORDES: So then, Ruth, I'll ask you, given everything you heard from John, does that mean that Mitt Romney made the right pick?
RUTH MARCUS, WASHINGTON POST: I don't think so, with all due respect. I love the idea of an ideas-driven campaign, but this seems to me to be extremely risky. And I'm going to go out on a limb, it feels like it could be Sarah Palin with substance and a paper trail.
CORDES: What do you mean by that?
MARCUS: What I mean, is, look, vice presidential nominees are important to the extent that they tell us something about the presidential nominee. What this tells us about the presidential nominee is he has decided, and there have been lots of questions about what does Mitt Romney really believe, he now has told us that he really believes in Paul Ryan's vision of America, and Paul Ryan's budget. I thought it was very interesting that Eric Fehrnstrom in your interview didn't exactly answer the question, does this mean he accepts every jot and tittle of the Ryan budget and all the other things that Paul Ryan has suggest along the way.
So I think what we're going to see along the next few weeks is a continuing series of well, does he think this? Does he want to have private accounts for Social Security? Does he want to cut domestic spending quite this dramatically? That's a different campaign than we've been running. And I think a pretty risky campaign. CORDES: But, David, if one of the knocks on Mitt Romney, maybe biggest knock by the Obama campaign, was that he didn't have any specifics, that he spoke in broad generalities. Doesn't this kind of solve that problem. He's got a lot of specifics now.
DAVID FRUM, NEWSWEEK: Look at the top half hour of your show. You spent the entire half hour talking about Medicare, Pell Grants , and the future of the American social insurance state. Every minute Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are talking about jobs, Barack Obama is losing this election. Every minute they're talking about something else, Barack Obama is winning this election.
And when you just spent -- and the candidates just cooperated -- in spending 30 minutes talking about something else. Barack Obama cannot win reelection on his job performance. He needs to change the ballot question. And Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are cooperating with Barack Obama in changing the ballot question. And they need not to talk about what they want to talk about, they need to talk about what the american people want to talk about that just got a lot harder.
CORDES: Well, it's definitely nice to talk about issues.
But, Michael, one of the arguments that the Obama campaign is making is that this is a sign that the Romney campaign is worried about its base and needed to make a pick that energized its base, rather than making a pick that might help him with independents and moderates. And the people that they really need, if they're going to win in battleground states.
MICHAEL GERSON, WASHINGTONPOST POST: I think that's a fundamental misunderstanding of Paul Ryan. You know, he does talk about the fiscal crisis that we're facing which he should, because he's one of the few courageous politicians on this topic. He also talks about tax reform. He talks about monetary policy. His whole message is a growth-oriented economic message.
And to disagree with my colleague, the comparison here is not Sarah Palin, it's really to Jack Kemp. You know...
CORDES: His former mentor.
MARCUS: That didn't exactly work out that well.
GERSON: Exactly. But wait, wait. I mean, both Paul Ryan and I, by the way, worked for Jack Kemp at the same time in the 1990s. He was profoundly influenced by that example. I think he can take that message, which he's really good at, to the Hispanic community, to working class voters, to a lot of other people. It's a hope-oriented, opportunity message that Paul brings. And they need to get him out there on that message.
He's going to be a real advantage on those set of issues.
CORDES: Roger, one thing David Axelrod said to me was this pick means that Romney will have a more peaceful convention but a more difficult general election. Is that how you see it? ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: Oh, sure. I mean, he's going to get a bounce from this vice presidential pick, candidates always do. He's going to get a bounce from his convention. These bounces disappear fast.
I agree with Ruth. Everybody says how bold a choice this was. Bold is the new risky. This is an enormously risky choice for any number of reasons. One, it makes the election not a referendum on Barack Obama, but a referendum on the Ryan budget plan. And that's a plan that is going to be characterized by the Democrats as a plan to protect the deserving wealthy at the cost of the poor, and of the middle class.
Another risk is that Mitt Romney is telling people, you know, we really need to focus on my vice president, on my number two. The risk is that most Americans don't care about the number two, they care about the president. And even if Romney says, look, I don't believe in the whole Ryan budget plan. The fact is, if Romney and Ryan are elected, the Ryan budget plan is a heartbeat away from the presidency.
I think this was all based on the fact that Romney was losing his base. This is you have to hold on to the base, that's it. Forget about Hispanics, forget about seniors, even though that's the only cohort that Obama lost last time, and forget about independents. Hang on to the base, scare the middle class into thinking Obama is going to take your wealth away and give it to the poor. Have a huge get-out-the- vote campaign in November and hope that a voter ID laws-- which Democrats call voter suppression laws -- will keep the Democratic vote down.
CORDES: Bob Shrum I want to bring you into this, because as you just heard Roger say therea re a lot of Democrats who are pretty thrilled with this pick. But wouldn't it be wrong for Democrats to underestimate Paul Ryan? I mean, he's a pretty tough debater, and a match-up, head to head between him and Vice President Biden would be pretty interesting to watch.
BOB SHRUM, THE DAILY BEAST: Yeah, I think that's right.
First, Nancy, by the way, I should say that I've joined David Frum at Newsweek and the Daily Beast, so I just need to correct that.
Secondly, I think that he will be effective in a debate. And I think people will watch with fascination to see how he does against Vice President Biden.
But the big story here for me is every time we go through one of these vice presidential selections, we come up with a new rule. I mean, after Sarah Palin, the new rule is you gotta make sure your selection, the person you're picking, knows what they're talking about on foreign policy. I think the rule we're going to come up with after this one is never pick a man with a plan, because in guy-- this guy is going to become front and center in this campaign. It's almost going to be the Ryan/Romney ticket instead of the other way around. All of those issues that were talked about earlier in the show-- what's happening to Medicare, the privatization of Social Security-- by the way, all of which, in terms of the Ryan plan, Romney endorsed during the primaries to pay for a tax cut that would let him pay 1 percent in income taxes -- those are going to be central to this campaign.
Secondly, he does help with the base, Roger is right about that, but he doesn't help with any of the places where Romney has profound weaknesses. First of all, with Hispanics -- and I disagree with Michael profoundly about this, Rromney is 44 percent behind with Hispanics. Paul Ryan voted for the fence. Paul Ryan voted against the DREAM Act and he uses terms like "anchor babies."
In terms of women, he sponsored the Personhood bill in the congress that would outlaw forms of birth control. And seniors, you know, 58 percent of seniors voted Republican in 2010. That was the key to the midterm Republican victory. You look at the new polls, for example, by the AARP in Florida, and it's basically a tie. All those seniors are now going to be pushed toward Obama.
I think Paul Ryan is a perfect trifecta in terms of alienating some critical constituencies.
CORDES: You know, Ruth, one thing I've noticed about about Paul Ryan after covering him for years is that this guy is a happy warrior. I mean, he can be getting it from all sides. He was even getting a lot of heat from his own Republican leadership over his plan because it was so tough and putting him in a difficult position. But he does not care. He plows forward. And that's very compelling when you're up on a stage and you're delivering what some people think think will be political suicide, bad news about entitlements. But he believes in it wholeheartedly. And you can really see that.
MARCUS: That's absolutely true. And I think the best advocate for the Ryan plan is Paul Ryan. I've spent also a lot of time talking to him, talking to him and Senator Wyden about their Medicare plan. I've written critical things about it. And he's always just been willing to engage and explain to me in a really nice way why I'm wrong.
So if you're going to run on the Ryan plan, you might as well run with Paul Ryan. I just don't necessarily think, as some other folks have said, that that's where you want to be wanting to run.
FRUM: I disagree with Bob Shrum. I think the Republicans do need a plan. But they need a plan that addresses the country's primary and present problems and not its secondary and future problems. The American economy is not adding jobs slowly in 2012 because of the problems of Medicare in 2022, it is adding jobs slowly now because of the burden of debt on households. It is adding jobs slowly now because of the housing crisis.
And this is Barack Obama's biggest failure as president. He has not addressed housing. His housing problems policies, to the extent they exist, are horrible failures. The administration itself acknowledges that. That is the point to hit. Why are there no jobs? It is because of household debt. It is not because of what happens to Medicare after 2023.
GERSON; It is a simple misunderstanding of Ryan himself. I mean, I don't think it's risky to pick -- for Romney to pick the single best economic spokesman of the Republican Party in an economy that's about the election. And Ryan does not just speak to Medicare. In fact, he has a much broader economic message.
FRUM: What's his answer on housing?
GERSON: Well, I think this is a very insular attitude here. First of all, even on the question...
FRUM: There's no question.
GERSON: ...even on the issues that relate to the budget, there's -- you know, the Democrats will focus on the microissues, the effect of this cut on this group. Ryan and Romney will focus on the macro issue, which is we're headed towards Greece. That is a real issue.
FRUM: We're not on the euro. We're not heading towards Greece.
GERSON: We are.
SHRUM: We're not heading towards Greece. That's completely ridiculous. The fact of the matter is, Newt Gingrich who used the word lie, and lied earlier in this segment when he said that unemployment in Greece was at 54 percent for young people, because they're spending too much. It's 54 percent for young people because of austerity.
And Michael, you might not want to talk about the -- not want to talk about these micro points, but in the Ryan budget, which doesn't balance the budget until 2040, Mitt Romney would pay an effective tax rate of 1 percent, while seniors would pay $6,000 more for Medicare.
Yeah, by the way, they could keep Medicare, but the cost of Medicare would go up and they would have to make up the difference. Maybe what I should have said was never pick a man with this kind of plan. This kind of plan is going to be poison politically in this election.
CORDES: Roger, do you agree with that?
SIMON: Just in case people are in a state of despair -- let me make one prediction, this campaign will not be about wonkiness. It will not be about micro issues. Wonkiness does not play with the American people. I didn't know Jack Kemp as well as Michael, but I covered his presidential campaign. I covered his vice presidential campaign. He was a wonderful guy when he talked about football, and then he started talking about taking America to the gold standard. And you would see people in the audience saying, "what the heck is he talking about" This campaign will be about the economy, but it will be about which team do I really trust? Which team do I really think understands a person like me? Which team cares about a person like me? And, yes, I'll say it-- it will be about likability, because no matter what else you say, go back through history, the more likable candidate almost always wins. And this is why Mitt Romney had to take a risk. He wasn't that likable.
CORDES: And so, John, let me just bring you in before we have to go to break, so which team ends up being more likable? Now we know the field is set.
DICKERSON: Well, it depends. If this becomes a committee mark- up, in which every tiny detail of Paul Ryan's belief is discussed, that's a big problem for the reasons people have mentioned. Also, because Ryan is the better spokesman than the guy at the top of the ticket, and even if Ryan is a happy warrior, that doesn't really matter unless Mitt Romney can be the happy warrior on those specifics.
The Romney campaign is betting in large part this election will be a referendum, but that there's a second piece, a smaller piece, but a second piece, which is that people have to like the ticket, and Paul Ryan helps with that. And, also, they have to have some kind of plan. The Romney campaign has to hope that people just like the idea of a plan more than digging into every tiny little detail of it. And so that's how it will come to in the end.
CORDES: Well, and I'm sure the Obama campaign is not going to let people forget about the tiny details. All right, we have to take a quick break. When we come back I want to talk about what this means for the Obama campaign. Do they now have to get more specific? We'll be right back in one minute with more from our panel. Stick around.
CORDES: Bob Shrum, I want to start with you. Which battleground states does Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney with the most? For example, can he help him with his own home state, Wisconsin.
SHRUM: I think he does help in Wisconsin. I still think there's a good chance the president will carry it, but he has good play there. People, obviously, know him there. And I think there will be home state pride.
I think he actually does hurt in Florida. I think he does hurt in Pennsylvania. I think conceivably he does hurt in Ohio. Because look, at the end of the day, you can't have it both ways. You can't say, "we want to have a debate about big, substantive issues -- and by the way we don't want to discuss the details" because the details are where you get to those big, substantive issues.
I think the Obama campaign, after Romney put Ryan on the ticket, is going to put Ryan on television for tens of thousands of rating points and we're going to hear about a whole set of these provisions that he's proposed, whether or not it's in terms of the economy, in terms of immigration, or in terms of women's health. So I think that this is not a pick that's guaranteed to do very well in the -- in these battleground states. I agree with Roger -- this was a base pick. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with Romney. the grumbling was beginning in the Republican Party. Usually the Democrats are the ones on the sidelines wringing their hands. So he's united the party, much, by the way, as McCain did with the Palin pick, but we have to see what the long-term impact of it is.
CORDES: You know, Michael, Bob mentioned women's health. We had a series of polls here at CBS News recently looking at battle ground states. And in those states Mitt Romney is trailing, often by double digits, among women. What does this pick mean for those numbers when you look at Paul Ryan's record on issues like abortion, where he has came out in favor of anti-abortion rights. Can they make up any round with women?
GERSON: Well, he's a strong Catholic. He brings a certain perspective to this issue. I don't think that's necessarily a drawback. He's won in a pretty evenly divided district among Democrats and Republicans in a way that Kemp did in Buffalo, by having a winning personality, by leading with conviction, not calculation. I think some of that will carry here. I mean, he is-- you know, he's a very likable conviction politician.
The question is whether you think that's toxic in American politics. In fact, i don't think it is toxic.
MARCUS: I don't think that's toxic in American politics, and I think any pick for a vice presidential candidate was going to have the same view on abortion as the majority of the Republican Party. And I think that is what it is.
I have to disagree with the notion that Romney needed to make a base pick. I don't think so.
MARCUS: I think the base is so motivated to get rid of Barack Obama and Obamacare and everything else that they were going to turn out. And they might be holding their noses, but they were going to go for Romney. And that's where I think maybe Romney needed to shake things up with the vice presidential candidate, but I'm not sure this way. If the Bain Capital attacks, if the paying little in taxes attack were taking a toll, why do you pick a guy whose tax plan is actually nicer to rich people than Mitt Romney's?
I mean, he -- his original tax plan had zero -- zero taxes on investment income, capital gains and dividends.
CORDES: David, isn't that going to be a huge messaging problem? We're in a weak economy, and Paul Ryan wants to slash taxes for the wealthy, even more than Mitt Romney?
FRUM: Look, it wouldn't be a problem if there were a convincing and credible explanation of how lowering these taxes would translate into economic growth and jobs. That's the issue, economic growth and jobs.
CORDES: Right. And we don't have a lot of proof that that's happened.
FRUM: What we've got -- what we've got here is a fiscal message. This is going to be an election about the government's finances in a year when people want the election to be about their finances.
It's -- the tragedy of this -- because the president does not deserve reelection on his economic record -- is Republicans are cooperating with the president in changing the subject. They are talking about what Republicans want, which is the future of the American welfare state, a very important question on which the Republicans are right, but this is not the time. The time now is to talk about this economic emergency, and that -- about household debt, about job creation. That's where Republicans needed to be.
CORDES: Roger, I have 20 seconds. I'm going to give you the last word.
Well, the fact is we've been in economic downturn since the day Barack Obama has been elected, was elected. And he's won in all the polls so far. The question is, if it's really about the economic turmoil in America, why isn't Mitt Romney doing better?
And I doubt that Paul Ryan is going to give him any one of the three states he needs, which is Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
CORDES: Great. Thank you so much to our entire panel. We'll be back in a minute.
CORDES: We'll all get to know more about Paul Ryan in the coming days, but when Bob interviewed him back in May, when it was beginning to look like Mitt Romney would get the Republican nomination, Ryan gave us a little insight into how he thought Romney should react to Democratic attacks. That's our "Face the Nation" flashback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIEFFER: If Mitt Romney gets the nomination, now he's out there, doesn't he become the face of what President Obama is trying to say? He said, look, this guy made $20 million last year and he's paying less than 15 percent of that in taxes; you're having to pay more taxes than he is, and that's unfair, and we ought to do something about it?
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I think -- I think that's clearly going to be the strategy, if that's the nominee we have. But what is important for Mitt Romney to do is take the moral high ground on these issues, take on the beauty of our free enterprise system and defend it fully, defend it confidently, and go to the American people not with a -- an envy and division and resentment strategy, which is really what the president is doing, and go with a unity strategy, one that simply appeals to people based our founding principles and how we're going to get this country together and how we're going to take on these challenges that the president has ducked, which, as a result, has made it so much worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORDES: Paul Ryan's take on what the Republican strategy should be before he knew he would be Mitt Romney's running mate, today's "Face the Nation" flashback. We'll be right back.
CORDES: Be sure to tune in tonight to "60 Minutes" for the first joint interview with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, conducted by our own Bob Schieffer. For now, I'm Nancy Cordes. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.
SOURCE: CQ TRANSCRIPTS
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