tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC August 11, 2012 5:00am-6:00am EDT
paul ryan was on the short list, it was never known for sure. the first time we started tracking paul ryan, he himself told our producer, you should be in ohio. what are you doing here? but even he didn't know at that time he was truly being closely watched as he was. it had been -- among to group of conservatives here in washington and new york, what would they have said, andrea, had he not gone with ryan and gone with one of the, quote, blander choices? >> he would have, mitt romney would have faced very strong conservative criticism, especially after the wall street journal had a powerful editorial calling for paul ryan to be the choice. so he was boxed in in that regard. he would have faced a rebellion from conservatives in his own party. the very conservatives that he had just finally been trying to win over after the contentious
primary when he was not their first choice. so this could have become a big problem for him if he had not chosen ryan, but that said he's buying into other problems. clearly they know this. they have gained this completely. they know that this is a more controversial choice, but ultimately they've got to believe that by throwing the long ball, that they might actually score a touchdown. >> well, they do want to have brighter lines. as somebody said to me, one thing about ryan, yes, democrats are enthusiastic about it, but republicans want a bright line election, too. they believe that they can't just win on being anti-obama. let me go to peter alexander in norfolk for what we thought might be just a bus trip. in fact, it seemed as if they were almost giving off the vine of saying, yeah, we are going to tease you for another three or four days on this bus trip and you'll have to deal with our head fakes, but not at all.
this is clearly the rollout. are the senior folks that are with the campaign, are they up? are they at the bar? are they drinking? are they having a brat to dell brat what's going on? >> reporter: a brat would be a fitting celebration. chuck, we were him with literally a couple hours ago at the hotel lobby having drinks with hem in the neighborhood here. and they were dark on it. they wouldn't say a thing about it. right now despite as you can imagine a bus tour of reporters filling up the hotel, knocking on their doors. nobody is answering right now. they are waiting for tomorrow morning for the official announcement to be made, but as you noted earlier, and we'll repeat now, one of the most compelling points that we noticed when we first arrived on the bus terror is an indication that something was on the immediate horizon with the fact that there are five senior advisers traveling with mitt romney right now. that's the first time in the course of the last eight months that we have been with the campaign we have seen that many of his top advisers with him at a single town for a tour of this
sort. they include eric fernstrum, kevin madden, his wife anne, bob white, one of his closest friends, stewart stevens, one of the top strategists to name a few individuals here. and picking up on the conversation you're having with andrea about the fact that this adds enthusiasm for both republicans and democrats, some top democrats have been e-mailing one making a point that in their language the push to add paul ryan to the ticket was as they described, quote, a recognition that the gop is not enthusiastic about romney. they are already describing ryan as an idealogue championing the extreme agenda, so in very much the same way the romney folks are trying to get reporters on board with the fact that the president and his campaign has been so negative in attacking governor romney appear that is some of the top democrats are going after paul ryan. so before we even believe he was
on the ground here in virginia, the harsh language is coming out. >> andrea mitchell, that is -- we know what democrats are going to try to do, but we aught to remind people what has been the political landscape over the last six weeks. and it is clear mitt romney was taking on water. the president, people can debate part of the sampling of the different polls out there, but nobody was disputing the fact that the president was ahead and mitt romney's unfavorables were rising. and while -- that was a problem, we are in august. if we are going to judge of who won or lost the summer, as far as up until july 31st or up until now we can say august 9th and august 10th, we could say, barack obama was winning the summer and tactically on the campaign, obviously they hope this provides a bump. we heard today from the romney campaign that they hope that the combination of the running mate pick and the convention gives them anywhere from a five to
ten-point bump. >> well, you're exactly right. first of all, we in the media were looking at this incredible spend rate. the democratic side, the campaign itself and their supporters and their super pac supporter, were spending money on tv ads at an extraordinary fast rate. and they were defining mitt romney before he defined himself. and they were focusing on the tax issue, on bain and everything negative they could throw out of it. it was a really hammering that he's taken this summer. on top of that, the fact that he had really a bad foreign trip, which could have been a plus, but in fact was something of a minus. i'm not sure how big a minus in the long stretch of things, but certainly did not go well for him. and that as you point out, he was falling behind. and this, i assume they think, could stem that blood letting
that's been going on all summer. they need to do something about the gender gap and i'm not sure how ryan helps them there. a gender gap in a number of the battleground states is bigger than it can be if he's going to win the race, but they are winning with men. and in wisconsin, they are behind in wisconsin. this will clearly help them in wisconsin. we should point out president obama won paul ryan's district last time around. >> look, he represents, and that's something -- that's something we should point out about paul ryan. he's not -- he does not represent a, quote, safe republican district. he has made it safe. he has always been popular in his district even if his ideology may be less popular than he personally. so it may give us a sign about something, he must have some political skill, some hand-to-hand political campaign skill to hold a seat that on paper, yes, you can say slightly leans republican, but it was never a slam dunk for him.
and certainly not the first time. this was les aspen's old seat. >> wisconsin has been right in the middle of all of the budget wars and the wars over public employees and what governor scott walker has done. so wisconsin is a very hot state indeed. and paul ryan can try to help mobilize that anger and mobilize it into a successful force for mitt romney if they do it right. it certainly is wide open for that kind of campaign. but the gender divide is a big deal. and again, i'm not sure how ryan makes that appeal because -- they are going to be talking about the issues that have become republican issues as well, especially among suburban women and younger women and they are issues of choice and reproductive freedom. >> i am now joined by david gregory, moderator of "meet the press." david, you have been talking for
months that this is -- pay no attention to the campaign we are seeing, this is a big election. well, we may be, we are now waking up early this morning and tomorrow morning, now that big bright lined election you have been talking about indeed may be taking place. >> well, and i think if you look at how the obama campaign is also talking about this campaign behind the scenes, they want as much of a distinction between the two candidates as possible. well, evidence dentally mitt romney wants that as well because he is now with his choice of a running mate expected to be paul ryan, would paint a bright red line that says, we are for this and the president is for something else completely different in terms of the role of government, what government aught to do in a down economy and how government aught to take on the very real problems of such a huge budget deficit in a fiscal imbalance. so that would send a very strong signal. and i think that's an important point right now about the kind
of final stretch that we are going to see. bright lines, big distinctions between these two candidates. >> you know, the other thing, david, about -- you have spent a lot of time with paul ryan and you have spent, you have had a lot of people on your show that the ryan plan has been the center of the debate that you have been trying to encourage on "meet the press." and it's got one presidential candidate, frankly may have cost him a chance to get off the ground in the first place, mitt romney. when he and paul ryan debated the first time, you can't get more sort of polarizing than the ryan plan. fair or infair to call it that? >> if you remember, a big part of what the ryan budget included in terms of tackling medicare was introducing a voucher plan into medicare, preserving it for seniors currently on the program, but for younger americans that they would be down the line given a voucher and they would enter into the private system. and newt gingrich on the program said memorably it was right-wing
social engineering and no better than left-wing social engineering. and he was accosted pretty quickly by average voters who thought that was a terrible response and of course at a conservatives rally. why? because very quickly paul ryan became the soul of fiscal conservatives in washington and beyond. he represented something very powerful within the party. >> he gave them a test, didn't he? >> he did. it's the kind of language ryan himself has used going back to other fights on the budget, even when republicans win in terms of pork barrel spending and some other things they wanted to get out of the budget. but even this week on with chris matthews, newt gingrich said he's the smartest strategic thinking in the party. so it shows you how far ryan has come in a relatively short period of time. then i think it also goes to the
point you have been making, chuck, which is this is a risk because of what democrats will do to ryan. because he is a target-rich environment, particularly on medicare, but why it is that romney felt this was the risk that he needed to take. >> well, for mitt romney, this is as risky as he would go. you know, when you think about it, it sort of is a controlled risk, he knew he was going to own romney/ryan. david, let me ask you this, you have spent a lot of time with ryan covering him, is he ready for the crush? >> i think he is. you know, one of the factors you look for here, we have a tendency, especially when news breaks like this to think, wow, it's going to be all about paul ryan. no, it's not, it will still be about mitt romney. but you talk about what you want a vice president to do, energize the base, you'll have that with paul ryan. can he give a touch speech and go after president obama? you bet he can. maybe a lot of people forget paul ryan was the one who took on president obama in the
initial meetings that the president had with the house republicans even before they took over in 2010. so he's been an outspoken critic of the president, so he can go out there on the stump to excite the base and raise money and really take a tough message and a tough critique to president obama. and beyond that, you know, the pressure is always an adjustment, but he's pretty weathered now to being a target, certainly of this administration because of the budget. so i think he'll be prepared for that. >> a few personal things i want to get out. we all -- they are known about paul ryan to some, he is a fitness buff, if you will. and i forget which he was into, was it "i sanity" or p90x. he used to work out with p. sexualer, a proponent on the hill, right? >> the congressman is a disciplined guy who spends his time in washington. he's a devoted family guy and is
home when he can be home, but he spends a lot of time in washington and is a very regimented schedule about how early he's up and how often he works out and trains, which he's very serious about. and then how much he's working the rest of the time. so that's definitely a part of his personality. and what's interesting is how honest he seemed to have been about, how strongly he felt that he didn't want this national platform just yet. but, of course, a lot of politicians say that and i think he may have just been overtaken by events in his own political career, not just the fact that mitt romney would ask him to join the ticket, but he was moving ahead very quickly in his own -- >> becoming a national figure. andrea mitchell, you and i talked about this a couple days ago, more about paul ryan's family. i just want to let people know about him. his wife is jana little, the former jana little. he's got three kids, one daughter liza, two sons.
and all of his children, i think, are at least under the age of 12. but his wife has an interesting connection to a famous democratic family. tell us more. >> jana little is the first cousin of congressman dan born of oklahoma. the borns of oklahoma are democratic royalty. david born, the long-time senator from oklahoma who retired, i believe in 1992, he was the chairman of the senate intelligence committee. he's now the president of the university of oklahoma and has been for many years. and his son is the congress member, so they are democrats. in fact, jana little's sister lives in bethesda, maryland. and paul ryan when he's not sleeping in his office, i know this myself, he has said that he stays with his sister-in-law's family. he's a very low maintenance guy and does go home to jamesville, wisconsin. he's not part of d.c. in terms of the washington, d.c. culture.
>> let me get all the children straight. charlie, sam and liza. we are all going to be learning more about all of the paul ryan family. again, his wife there, jana little. david, i want to go back to sort of the big thing in the political moment we are in right now with mitt romney. mitt romney is behind. nobody is disputing this. he lost the summer, if you will, the pre-olympics period. the olympics are winding down. he's know hoping to jump start his own campaign. he would like to see a five to ten-point bump. ryan will give energy inside the party but then what's the next step? >> well, let's talk about issues that people really care about. they care about taxes, they care about the debt, they care about the economy, they care about the direction the country is moving in. there's a feeling within the romney campaign and certainly outside among other republicans i talk to, that romney has to do more than just say the status
quo is unacceptable. he has to be more descriptive of what he would do to turn things around. he told you in his interview with you, chuck, a couple days ago, he's looking for somebody with a vision for the country. looking for more bold leadership in a running mate. this is a special level decision as we always talk about a v.p. pick. it's about the message romney wants to send, not only how he will govern, which is important, but about how he wants to lead and what that vision is. so i think this paves the way leading up to the convention speech as well of mitt romney being very specific about what he thinks the turn-around plan is for america and for the american economy. and in paul ryan, he has a top surrogate now who is not only going to draw some real bold distinctions with president obama, but who is a big strategic thinker about the budget, about the deficit, and about the debt fuel challenges
that america faces. >> david, do you think a pick like ryan and making the romney/ryan plan basically, there's the republican plan. we kind november know the obama plan on debts reduction and fi losty on taxes, does that mean a close result no matter what that november gives a map date to washington on how they go about the fiscal cliff? >> well, i'm just not certain there's that mandate that exists yet. i mean, there's a lot going on within republican circles and the senate about whether there's more room for tax revenue to break the rover nor quis orthodox pledge on taxes. so paul ryan represents the gop insurgency in the house. and he's perhaps the leader of it and will certainly become that if he's in the slot as mitt romney's number two, but i don't know there's a mandate there yet. but i do know this, chuck. there's no question that this bright red line between these
two campaigns is risky. i mean, you're not talking about putting medicare on the table in a way that can advantage the president and allow him to campaign, which by the way republicans already knew was coming, and now if you have in the picture the ryan and romney ticket, it would be a huge punching bag just on this issue alone. you think about a state like florida where that's going to matter so much. that's where the risk is. >> democrats are chomping on the bit. stan greenberg devoted a book about the middle class. a third of it is devoted to attacking the ryan budget. david, i want to jump to kelly o'donnell, kelly, off little bit more context to how rob portman was informed about the vp selection. >> well, chuck, i have been told that rob portman did receive a phone call from governor romney tonight letting him know that he would not be the choice. rob portman will go ahead with what he had planned to do on
saturday, which is to ride in a bicycle race to benefit cancer research. portman, much like ryan, is an avid athlete and this has been something he has had on his schedule for quite some time. now, having talked to rob portman quite a bit covering him on the hill, one of the things he has said is he'll work as hard for mitt romney in ohio whether he's on the ticket or not. believing that for any republican a win in ohio is a must-have in order to win the white house. you know the history there. and ohio is critical. portman was in part considered a likely choice because he has done so well in his cincinnati house district, now a statewide office holder, and has won by big margins. although not a big name all across the state. as you mentioned earlier, had he been selected, there would have been a home state boosterism that might have helped some say, maybe as much as three points. rob portman was also considered a favorite choice among many in
congress who i would talk to who believed that paul ryan as a house member would be less likely simply because he was a member of the house and had not had the national kind of job responsibilities that portman had had. but the headline is that rob portman has been notified personally by mitt romney that he will not be the running meat. >> kelly, we know tim pawlenty has been informed and rob portman has been officially informed. what's interesting is it also confirms what we have been reporting was the short list for the last week. it's not any other phone call going around that the short list really had narrowed to three. and perhaps it was that short for even longer and maybe that's something we'll find out. but to the point of a rob portman and tim pawlenty going through the process and not being picked, you have seen others that have not gone through this process, what is it still do for their careers? >> it is very painful.
when you get passed over once, let's try to think whether someone has been passed over once and then been chosen, perhaps john edwards was in the mix earlier on in one time prior, but i think once you get passed over, it's very, very difficult. the exposure, the -- what you have been through, the fact that all of us, all the networks have been staked outside of their homes and we have been trying not to bother them and their families and be very low key about it, but they have been through a pretty torturous process. plus, turning over all of their personal data, going through those interviews, being asked, is there anything about your personal life, what did you do in college? what about your romantic life, did you ever take drugs? all your tax returns, let's face it, that's one question that the romney people have not shared is whether or not they ask for more tax returns than he's been
willing to deliver as the nominee. presumptive nominee. and as the candidate for president. >> hey, david gregory, i want to go back to the issue of sort of paul ryan. we know what he brings as far as definition on the ticket and issues, but this is a person with just a congressional resumé. no private sector experience. >> right. >> not a lot of foreign policy experience. you know, does that leave romney vulnerable at all? >> well, i think it does. there will be questions about his experience, can you picture him in the white house as president being a heartbeat away from the presidency. so those experience questions are no doubt going to come up. and i think that romney will be prepared to deal with that. the reality is what he's chosen is someone who really is a big strategic thinker on the budget, a very controversial thinker, but someone who is certainly a strong conservative on those issues. let's not forget in this
conversation how much suspicion there still is among conservatives about mitt romney. and you're right, it was reopen forced this week just on the issue of health care. so in paul ryan, he's found somebody who can continue to energize that base. and i know people will say, well, where are they going? the social conservatives and fiscal conservatives will be there for romney anyway, but i think testifies looking for a way to really find somebody who was a visionary among conservatives to make sure he was by his side as suspicions linger about him and romney. so i think that's the biggest piece of what you get. >> you know, another part of this, i want to bring luke russert into the conversation, luke, i know you want to talk about another factor here that doesn't get talked about with paul ryan, but i'll be honest with you, it is something the campaign itself said to me, which is, you know, don't underestimate his blue collar
roots. tell me more about it. >> well, not at all, chuck. one thing that mitt romney's' had a problem with during this campaign has come across is too elitist. and paul ryan who i have covered on capitol hill for over three-and-a-half years is down to earth as a politician you'll meet. he set secretly walks around capitol hill with headphones on at times listening to nirvana. he talks about his trips to wisconsin, he goes bow hunting, he talks about the packers and his days on capitol hill, going to a few local watering holes at that time. a very down to earth personable politician. and he is not awkward. something that mitt romney's had a problem with during this campaign. he's a guy that can pretty much go out to any room, talk in language and sell a plan, but also resonates with voters a
common sense language. i was in an event last week on capitol hill where he talked to a el the investigation of folks from illinois and followed charlie rangel who spoke to him in a bipartisan event, and you had people who said, i really liked charlie rangel, but that paul ryan, he's such a smart guy. that's the connect. he does it on a personal level. so for someone like romney who had trouble connecting personally with the voter, ryan is a very good selection. >> obviously, ryan needs to get his sales pitch on because selling medicare and andrea mitchell, we talked about this before, the third state in this bus trip is florida. and it is my understanding that when governor romney was reaching out to various people to sort of get their opinions on the members of the short list, that governor romney said, yes, it would sort of acknowledge, i know this is going to create challenges in florida. >> it is going to create challenges in florida and other
states. pennsylvania is a state with a very large elderly population. and other states as well where you have seniors concerned about medicare, other people of course concerned about medicaid and food stamps, which are also severely cut in the ryan budget. but the medicare issue, it has been costed out to show by nonpartisan budget experts in the congressional budget office that seniors would end up spending more for their health care under the ryan budget. and, in fact, that their system of privatization that has been proposed as part of the ryan budget would eventually become very controversial on this campaign trail. >> and david gregory, one other thing about paul ryan, he not only does this budget, but it is something else we brought up, he was a member of the boll simpson commission and voted no on boll/simpson, which is something everybody claims to be for now. >> romney, of course, will point out with the defense of medicare
going that he initially supported the ryan plan but then modified it to allow seniors to stay in current medicare or make the choice that was part of the ryan model. but this debate is far from over. and they're going to have to deal with that. but i want to go back to luke russert's point because i think it is important. if you think about how ryan compliments romney, i think luke is exactly right. this is a natural campaigner. he's a very easy politician, paul ryan is. can he go out there and energize the republican crowd? yes, he can do that. can he do it in a working class section of the country, justlike joe biden is doing for president obama? yes, he can do that. he can also be a big fund-raiser because he can energize conservatives, especially with the fiscal message he's got, and can he take the fight to president obama? he can do that. so if you think about all those areas, including the convention where, paul ryan is going to have such a big role, he really can perform very, very well.
that's on one side of the ledger and the other side is that he's just going to be a huge target on medicare. >> all right, david, stick around. we'll take a short break. but just to recap, sources tell msnbc news that mitt romney's vice presidential pick will be congressman paul davis ryan, 42 years old, of wisconsin. the announcement will take place at 9:00 a.m. later this morning. we'll be carrying that live here on msnbc and all of nbc. we'll be right back. define your? the blissful pause just before that rich sweetness touches your lips. the delightful discovery, the mid-sweetening realization that you have the house all to yourself. well, almost. the sweet reward, making a delicious choice that's also a smart choice. splenda no-calorie sweetener. with the original sugar-like taste you love and trust. splenda makes the moment yours. flip your look from day,r-like taste you love and trust. soft, to bright
as we have been reporting here for some 90 minutes, multiple sources now tell us that mitt romney tomorrow morning at 9:00 in norfolk, virginia, will name his running mate. and that running mate will be paul davis ryan, republican congressman from jamesville, wisconsin. paul ryan being selected over two other people that were on the short list and have been informed by at least one that has been informed by governor romney he's not personally the pick, ohio senator rob portman and former minnesota governor tim pawlenty. let's go to the moderator of "meet the press," david gregory, you are saying big election. obviously, the romney campaign wanted to send the message, governor romney said to me yesterday in that part of the biographical interview we were doing and asking what he wanted the vp pick to say, he clearly
seemed to define paul ryan. that's what we gleaned out of it when he talked about a vision and adding to the political debate. that seemed to point to ryan. >> and the fact that this is going to be a big campaign with a debate about big things. you wouldn't know that over the past couple of weeks with some of what's been going on and the charges back and forth and what they have been focused on, but the reality is there are huge issues. in a down economy, what role should government be playing in that particularly when the government is not only dysfunctional but running a huge definite. and paul ryan speaks to a vision for what government should and should not be doing, particularly in a party that's ever more conservative about questions of fiscal rectitude and the debt. and that's the party that mitt romney is now running. that he is now the nominee for. and so ryan, in that sense, makes a lot of sense for mitt romney. and also, don't discount just that personal chemistry. there's a reason why this
process goes on very secretly and privately and why it is so private to the nominee to make that decision. i think about george w. bush, who is the one to say to dick cheney, look, there's one person who is not on that list. and that's you. i mean, that sense of how are we going to govern together, because the vice president is a different player now, a much s, and that can certainly be the case in a romney administration. >> andrea mitchell is excited as bill crystal is at "the weekly standard" and a lot of sort of economic conservatives are going to be tomorrow morning and are right now about paul ryan. there, they are just as giddy at a lot of democratic headquarters, not just the big one in chicago. >> for one thing we have been focusing on the medicare cuts and the fact it would privatize, have a voucher system and most seniors would end up spending more money.
that is, as you have been pointing out, a hot topic at one of the initial stops on the bus tour in florida. but the other piece of it is that there is a tax cut that will benefit millionaires in the ryan budget as well. and they believe his economic theory is that tax cuts as mitt romney said, tax cuts are good and they are productive and that they will create jobs, but the bottom line is you know that the obama people think that that is just risk for their mill. >> well, yeah, i mean, there's one study that shows a good chunk of the tax benefits are going to people that make more than a million dollars per year. and that is something you'll hear over and over again. it is one of those things. kelly o'donnell, a little -- give us a little background, if you will, on paul ryan, the congressman. first elected in 1998. i remember the election. it was actually a very -- it was one of the swing districts. we followed mild days at the hotline, it was less a penn's
old seat, the late democrat there from wisconsin. it's a -- he was elected at 28. and yet he's been there for almost two decades. >> one of the things people will see in paul ryan is he looks like a young man, but he does have more experience than his youthful appearance would indicate. experience as a member of congress. he worked for jack kemp in 1996 as his speech writer during that campaign. when i talked to him, he said he was very much inspired by the sort of jack chen model in conservativism. he talks in interviews i have done with him and in many others about not demonizing opponents. he can be very tough, he can be very cutting about the policy of proponents, but he does not get into personal attacks. and that's a style that may be helpful to romney. it may attract more of the independent voter. we know voters typically don't vote based on the vp selection, but in terms of giving the
ticket another look, those are some of the characteristics i have been struck by, that personal quality he brings to interacting with people. he remains calm. he doesn't get into all of the bluster that has become so common among many politicians who rise to the forefront. he has gone the rocky route and has done so proudly wanting to learn about the numbers, he has a degree in economics, and as a staffer on capitol hill for a very long time was one of the people with that kind of responsibility to drill down on issues and look at numbers and try to deal with the facts. he is clearly a conservative in a social sense that will appeal to christian conservatives and so forth, but he's not a cultural warrior. he has not been someone to come out talking about those issues. so when you have had, let's say the so-called war on women for the past several months where romney has taken hits on that type of issue, paul ryan doesn't fall into that. he's not someone who is hitting
those fire-brand issues in a way that inflames people. he tends to try and be as calm and direct and thoughtful about things. and that's what has appealed. now, of course, the issues he's dealing with and the serious conservativism he talks about and has been trying to represent and push forward is plenty for democrats to chew on. i had a democratic source who said, wow, this is christmas come early and dropped the names of two members of the democratic party elected to house seats, kathy hockel and ron barber, and in both issues the issue of medicare, paul ryan tied to the race, but he was a figure in the races and democrats running against paul ryan. there's plenty for democrats to talk about, but stylistically, he's a calmer voice in a time with heated and ugly politics. >> a little tip for any of our friends in the print reporting community wanting to know how is the ryan budget playing in
campaigns, they can go to north dakota senate, montana senate, where you have a republican candidate in montana running ads against the ryan budget. and you have a democratic candidate in north dakota also running ads against the ryan budget. i want to bring in luke russert, one of the things you hear about paul ryan is he's not a political guy and that actually used to frustrate some house republicans. >> yes, he's someone who actually enjoys having a spirited debate. he will not always necessarily go and say the partisan sort of talking points that would be demeaning of somebody. he likes to have a debate that elevates it. if you go to the house republican press conferences, a lot of times you see boehner and candor rail against the president saying he's been a-wall for many months and not willing to do the work, but ryan goes after the president saying specifically this is why our children are not going to have
an opportunity to succeed because the president is enacting this policy which leads to this amount of debt. he's not always the type of guy that likes to throw the spears or the bombs, but it is interesting because it's a difference from what sarah palin was four years ago as someone who was a flame-thrower. in a sense, as you guys mentioned before, the high conservatives who take the weekly standard are the people who like to win what they believe the true facts instead of the fiery spirited rhetoric. >> david gregory, ryan/biden debate preview, help me out with it. >> he's a very disciplined campaigner. i had him on the program recently where the issue of gay marriage was coming up and he objected on the air to talking about it and said, this is an election about the debt crisis in the country. so he'll be very focused there. i think as the budget chairman he'll be willing to engage in
the fight with biden over what went wrong with how close they were on a grand bargain on the debt. i mean, he is going to be a top spokesman for the campaign on all issues related to the debt crisis. so i think he'll be a strong debater against the vice president. there's no question about it. and again, i come back to the point of what's the message of mitt romney wanting to send, that he wants to be bold and creating a distinction on these issues, the economy, not just economic growth, but how the government has completely botched the fiscal sanity. and they want to use ryan to lead that charge and in that way it's very complimentary. >> do you feel like you have a sense of his foreign policy? >> no. not particularly. and i think he's going to have to develop that. i think there's a whole range of issues on which he'll be tested and he'll have to develop to use. he'll certainly be behind in
that regard as you talk about a vice presidential debate with vice president biden. but let's be clear, foreign affairs are not going to dominate this fall campaign. what it will dominate is the economy and questions of debt and the role of government. and i think that's among the reasons why ryan was chosen. you know, here was senator obama who had a huge national security gap when he was up against john mccain. that was a big part of why he chose senator biden. that's not the calculation this time around. >> andrea mitchell, when it comes to sort of looking at this ticket now as it comes in matching up ryan and biden, you know, what do you see there in it? is the ryan/washington experience, the fact that all his experience is washington, whether as a staffer, is it all going to be a handicap to him? >> with some audiences, sure it will be, but you can't be more
washington than joe biden. so there's some similarities. they both have blue collar routes and are both scrappy, they are both fighters. it's going to be an interesting debate, that's for sure n watching the two go up against each other. they are both smart. both very good verbally. but there you'll have a generational change as well. and that is going to be a big contrast. i agree with david and you that this is clearly going to be fought on economic policy and very bright lines in shap sharp contrast. you do have to pass somewhat of a test on foreign policy and show that you're ready for that 3:00 a.m. phone call, but that's mostly for the head of the ticket, the top of the ticket, less so for the vice presidential candidates and that's the strength of joe biden. paul ryan, i think, with some studying is going to show that he can handle the big questions, which are going to be clearly here, iran, syria and israel. and they are staking out a hard
line. you can see who they are bringing along as advisers. >> kelly, i want to point out something david said in the interview with paul ryan on gay marriage. when you're running, you can say that when you're not running for national office, when you're running for national office, you're going to have a harder time being able to dictate what question, what topics you want to discuss. it's different when you're actually on a national ticket because everything is on your plate, whether you like it or not. how does he handle -- how will paul ryan handle that? >> and it is also different when you have been acting as a surrogate when you can redirect back to the issues where you're comfortable. this will be one of the big challenges for paul ryan. now, at the same time, he has had some experience with that as members of congress do because they are tested by their constituents and they are pressed in person. each one of those who has done lots of constituent meetings with town hall meetings and very accessible to constituents and
having been on the trail with him, i have seen people don't have any problem challenging their congressman in person and vigorously. so he has some sense of confidence in doing that. he will talk about, i would imagine, the fact that some of these so-called religious cultural issues are not where his focus is. so he will likely give an answer on the issues that he supports where his positions are and then try to move back to some of the issues that are more his expertise. it will be a challenge but he will also try to help pull the ticket away from some of those hot-button issues because he can incredibly argue that that isn't where he has made his political career. that isn't where he has invested himself and it is not where he has scored political points. so he's got some credibility there to step away from symptom of those issues without some of the sort of -- when we think of other candidates who are in the republican field where they would have jumped right in, paul ryan is not one of those.
so these will be challenges how he will have to stand in kind of the white spotlight, but there's a confidence and he has been, i think, a very vocal and visible surrogate where he's had some chance to test that out. i'm sure that sources and those close to helping mitt romney make this decision, i'm sure they reviewed a lot of the tapes, a lot of the sunday show appearances. he's been a frequent guest on those programs because he is an able debate debater and gives responses. that's why paul ryan is the second name on this ticket. >> let's go to alex moe, she's been following paul ryan around for weeks. somebody paul ryan referred to as, you have been following him enough they think sometimes you're a member of his family. set the scene right there on the ground are. more people showing up? are you seen much movement? what can you tell us, alex? >> reporter: well, there was a group of spectators and
neighbors that turned out when they heard the news, but we have not seen movement in the paul ryan household for a few hours now. paul ryan attended a memorial service this morning for the victims of the oak creek shooting that happened last week in his district and then he came home and has been inside ever since. paul ryan has spent the whole week here in wisconsin. he did a couple closed fund-raisers for gop candidates. he was filming some tv ads for his congressional re-election campaign that he has been going forward with until, i guess now that he'll be on the ticket with mitt romney. but paul ryan is a big family man as you have been discussing. he enjoys being here in jamesville spending time with his family. he took his youngest son to session a couple weeks ago. he comes home on the weekends and wants to be around his family. he was supposed to go on a family vacation tomorrow to vo colorado. obviously that looks like it won't happen, but his bags are packed and ready to go for virginia in the morning. >> that made it easier to
cover-up to the kids why they were packing. maybe he knew something before everybody else did. let me go to one of your colleagues that while the campaign won't be going to wisconsin tomorrow morning, they've got a little wisconsin with the campaign in virginia. garrett hague, who is one of our folk that is follows around mitt romney. our campaign there, garrett, you have been walking around the uss wisconsin, what does it look like? the type of place that a presidential and vice presidential rollout will look good? >> yeah, i think this will be a setting that will be perfectly fitting of a vice presidential rollout. the police here have slowly moved a small group of reporters back and back and back. and now off the property altogether. now i can tell you that even at this hour there are a handful of romney staffers inside setting up the stage. we can see them hanging a trio of enormous banners. there's a romney, mitt romney flag, a u.s. and virginia flag. have not seen any romney/ryan signage or anything to indicate
the choice of the pick here on the ground so far, but as folks continue to get moved further and further back, there's still box trucks occasionally going in and other vehicles. we have been told reporters are allowed back on the grounds here at 4:00 tomorrow morning and folks are getting set up for the morning show live shots. another opportunity to check out the set as it will be put together by the romney campaign who has shown masterful straits along the way in terms of the visual of putting together large events with the uss battleship wisconsin behind me, that should be the case again tomorrow morning. >> garrett haake, we have been looking for every little sign and you pointed out a few hours ago you were like, you wouldn't believe the senior leadership that is following the campaign. i know you sent a note internally saying, guys, the entire senior team seems to be with romney. something is up. garrett haake, thank you very much. david and andrea, i want to talk about paul ryan and talk a
little bit about the battleground map. david, when we talk about ryan and talk about the big, the one issue of big government, we have to remind people where he's from in wisconsin. and wisconsin has been the center arguably of this debate about what is the relationship between government and the people? >> well, and more specifically, how does government deal with budget problems and how does it bring its budget deficit to heel. that's what a lot of states are facing, that's what wisconsin was facing, and you had a governor in scott walker who took on public unions, took on the pension programs, and was willing to break a lot of china and ultimately prevailed and withstood a recall effort. so that's the state from which paul ryan comes. the immediate question on the presidential level is whether on the battleground map, which we still classify wisconsin as a battleground state, although
it's been very tough for republicans. and so does this -- can paul ryan carry his state or can they only make it more competitive? it's been a long time since 1988 when republicans carried the state. >> andrea, one of the things about the final short list of three, they all had one other thing in common besides being three white guys. they all hailed from the midwest, if you will, the industrial midwest of ohio and portman closer to this sort of agricultural midwest, minnesota, wisconsin and ryan and pawlenty, there's no accident. there's no path of 270 to mitt romney without two states in that midwest region. wisconsin, iowa, ohio, pennsylvania, michigan, throw them all in there, he's got to figure out how to win two of them. >> and arguably ohio and wisconsin might be your best bets, although romney is behind right now in wisconsin. that could be overtaken. i mean, you could have a very energetic republican party.
you're going to have a really energetic republican party, scott walker and paul ryan and all the partisans gearing up for the referendum that will be front and center in trying to pull romney through in wisconsin. but you're right, the battleground is clearly through the midwest. and you've got economic factors that we should talk about for a moment. it is not just what we have imagined what we have listened to in the economy, now you have this drought. you have a region really being hit by an act of god by nature, but it's going to have real effects, already is having real effects, not only with the corn crop but with other crops. and corn is in every aspect of the economy. so you're going to have farmers who are really hurting. and that is something that makes the midwest even that more volatile for both sides. >> all right. and david, we talk about the geographical, but now we have the demographic and the issue of seniors and the issue of medicare. and that brings us to florida and the third stop. and i think, frankly, the most
important stop of this rollout. now, when we look at it, tomorrow is always important, the first rollout, but the message in how they frame the argument when they hit the state of florida, the first time. that's a big deal. i know for a fact that it's something governor romney himself is concerned about. >> and they don't have time to get ahead of this or else they get quickly defined and be behind it on medicare. because it's not just senior voters in florida or other states, but it's also this whole question in the middle class and whether paul ryan, his views on taxes and entitlement reform, is going to be something apparent to middle class voters. that's the key voting group that the president wants to make this a contest over and wants to ultimately win. so there's going to be a lot of upfront work to do on what will be his biggest liability and there's no question that mitt romney has thought this through about what all the down sides are to picking paul ryan and the medicare is the one flashing
bright lights, but it's the overall message that a lot of romney advisers i talked to are talking about the need for romney to address in these next sections. vp rollout, then his convention speech. how is he going to win the middle class, particularly with some of the viabilities he faces in his own biography. >> andrea, in looking at other parts of the battleground, whether ryan is a factor, does his youth help at all? perhaps in colorado and virginia, two of the younger states, in you will, in the battleground with independent voters less sensitive on the entitlement front. >> yes, i think that the independent voters, some of the young marrieds and younger voters concerned about the solvency and the budget issues, the tea party energy that might be reignited by this, it is not an accident they are starting in virginia. one analogy in florida, think back to 1992 as to who won the
new hampshire primary. it was paul songus. then he just got clobbered in florida. when they head south, bill clinton called him all kinds of just demonized what songus was talking about in terms of social security and solvency, and he called him a pander bear, and that was the near end of songus' campaign. it shows how treacherous florida can be when anyone trying to speak very tough, tough talk about medicare. >> chuck, let's remember, too, the phrase, change medicare as we know it. we have been through the health care debate and how easy it was to define something that was complex in a really negative way. democrats have had a lot of experience doing this on the issue of medicare. they are going to come out of the gates starting tomorrow with, hey, paul ryan, he's the guy who wants to change medicare as you know it.
in a down economy for middle class, senior voters who depend upon this. and these guys want to completely dismantle it. what they have to use to counter act that is do we want to slide towards european debt crisis, we have to make tough decisions. so that boldness is going to be applauded and there's no question that's part of romney's strategy here to stay to independent voters as well, not just conservatives, we have to take bold stands here on the budget. >> luke russert, you're our guy in that you have spent a lot of time on the house side, there's a lot of house democrats that want to run on the ryan plan. it is now going to be, you know, it's going to be hard for any republican to run away from it. denny reiburg from montana and a house member voted against the house plan and is trying to use that to his advantage, but it's going to be hard to be a republican and be against ryan. >> absolutely, chuck. and one of the things we have to remember about this in terms of the ryan plan, kelly touched on
it earlier, but i can't emphasize how important it is for democrats, kathy vogel of western new york, she ran in a district that chris lee had to resign in for issues, it was a very republican-leaning district. there were signs all over god's country right above buffalo, new york, that said both democratic, save medicare. that message is going to be pounded away just like david said. as for republicans running away from the ryan budget, i think mitt romney making the decision now, they have doubled down on it. in terms of the messaging on this, i just read a report working on confirming it, but i heard rumors about it. michael steele, who is john boehner's press secretary, one of the best mess an men on capitol hill, is most likely going to be working for paul ryan in the campaign. brendan buc will be working for paul ryan. boehner's top press people are now going to be working for paul
ryan as the vp nominee. they are keen on messaging. they are going to hammer this home and try to deflect to the negative things that come out of medicare before. and they are pretty good at doing that, so if this is certainly a big lead, if you will, chuck. >> david, for better for worse, as far as some look at it depending on which side you're on, you know, this is exactly what president obama wanted to have. he now can say, hey, i'm running against the house republicans. and that's what they have been trying to do. they have been dying to tie mitt romney, the house republican, and mitt romney saying, fine, yes, that's my vision. let's go. >> we talked about it this week, if you look at the polling, how polarized the country is. the percentage of republicans who dislike the president, the percentage of democrats who dislike mitt romney. it augers for more of a base election. and the first point i made coming on early this morning, which is the obama campaign wants bright lines between these
candidates. i'm for this, this guy is for that. you've got that now with paul ryan on the ticket for sure. >> all right. i want to just do shout outs to everybody that's been here, david gregory of course, andrea mitchell, kelly o'donnell, luke russert, garrett haake, peter alexander, jamie gugell helping mind the scenes. this is a team effort here at msnbc news. we have been covering that mitt romney is taking his vice presidential nomination today at 9:00 a.m. in norfolk, virginia. our coveragehere. our coverage will continue. breaking news at this hour, sources tell nbc news that mitt romney will announce wisconsin congressman paul ryan as his running mate in a campaign event 9:00 eastern time today. good morning, everyone, welcome
to the special edition of "weekends with alex witt." the announcement is expected three hours from now when mitt romney will hold an event at the uss wisconsin. a seven-term member of congress, paul ryan is the chairman of the house budget committee and senior member of the ways and means committee. joining me right now, nbc news campaign, garrett haake. how did all of this come up last night? >> good morning, alex. the actual news announcement came out 11:15. the campaign sent out a blast e-mail. it will be not be a traditional campaign stop. his reporters and staff members were getting ready to go to bed. folks were caught off guard and everyone went into gear. nbc news tracked down a handful
of sources who were able to confirm the announcement. early clues that look more present this morning than 24 hours ago. the backdrop will be the "uss wisconsin." and even little things like the staff members traveling with the candidate with note worthy. traditional he travels with the bare minimum ever staff, might be a testment how budget conscious they are. five members, the candidate's wives and number of younger staff members, longer motorcade, setting in place this was not just a standard campaign bus tour we'd be about to embark on. >> rather interesting at the "uss wisconsin." >> do you get a sense that journalists getting ready to go