A Look at Paul Ryan as He Launches VP Campaign

Uploaded by PBSNewsHour on 13.08.2012

bjbj"9"9 GWEN IFILL: After a weekend spent together, the Romney-Ryan team split up today
to hunt for votes in the South and Midwest. President Obama and Vice President Biden were
in the same regions, and the two sides trained their sights on each other. KWAME HOLMAN:
Mitt Romney stumped solo this morning for the first time since Saturday, when he announced
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential choice. In Saint Augustine, Fla.,
the Republican presidential hopeful praised Ryan as a great leader. MITT ROMNEY (R): A
man who has proven that he knows how to solve problems. He didn't just go to Washington
and become involved in public service to try and make a name for himself. He instead went
to make things better for the American people. KWAME HOLMAN: Ryan, 42, is married and has
three school-age children. He was a prot of former Republican congressman and vice presidential
candidate Jack Kemp. Ryan first was elected to Congress in 1998 and now is serving in
his seventh term. He became chair of the House Budget Committee last year, after Republicans
took control following the 2010 midterm elections. In that role, Ryan authored a budget that
would require sweeping cuts in federal spending, repeal the president's health care law, and
impose changes for future Medicare recipients to hold down costs. Democrats say his proposals
would gut Medicare. But Romney assured his audience in Florida today that the Republican
ticket will preserve and protect Medicare. And in an interview Sunday with CBS News'
"60 Minutes," he insisted his campaign wouldn't be based on the Ryan budget. MITT ROMNEY:
Well, I have my budget plan, as you know, that I have I have put out. And that's the
budget plan that we're going to run on. KWAME HOLMAN: Still, in Durham, N.C., Vice President
Joe Biden made it clear the budget issue is going to be front and center for Democrats.
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: There's no distinction between what the Republican Congress has been
proposing the last two years -- actually, the last four years -- and what Gov. Romney
wants to do. So let's cut through all this. We're running against -- or they're running
on what the Republican Congress has been promoting for the past four years. KWAME HOLMAN: And
in Council Bluffs, Iowa, President Obama charged Ryan and other Republicans have blocked congressional
action on a number of fronts, including drought relief for farmers. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
I am told that Gov. Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the next few
days. He is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way. So, if you happen to
see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.
We have got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America
and for Iowa. KWAME HOLMAN: Indeed, Ryan was in Iowa today, making his first solo appearance
at the state fair in Des Moines. He deflected the president's criticism, and focused instead
on the Obama economic record. REP. PAUL RYAN (R-Wis.): My guess is, the reason President
Obama isn't making it here from Council Bluffs, because he only knows left turns. (CHEERING
AND APPLAUSE) REP. PAUL RYAN (D-Wis.): But, as you see the president come through on his
bus tour, you might ask him the same question that I'm getting asked from people all around
America. And that is, where are the jobs, Mr. President? KWAME HOLMAN: The early response
from Americans to the Ryan selection appeared to be mixed. A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll
found 42 percent of registered voters rated the selection as fair or poor, while 39 percent
called it excellent or pretty good. JUDY WOODRUFF: And our look at Ryan continues. Jeffrey Brown
has that. JEFFREY BROWN: He was born, raised and still lives in Janesville, Wis., served
as class president, prom king, and worked at McDonald's in high school, attended Miami
University in Ohio, and was first elected to the House of Representatives when he was
just 28. Among those watching his rise in Wisconsin and on the national stage has been
Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who joins
us now. Craig, start with the personal side. What's important to know about Paul Ryan's
family background? CRAIG GILBERT, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Well, he comes from a big
Irish-Catholic family, multi-generation family in Janesville, Wis. His father was a lawyer
who died when he was 16. And Paul Ryan has talked about having to grow up really quickly
and talked about learning lessons of self-reliance and independence that sort of put him on his
road to pretty a brand -- a conservative brand of politics. JEFFREY BROWN: Well, talk -- tell
us a little bit more about that, the development of his political and social beliefs. When
and how did they come? CRAIG GILBERT: Well, I think, as a young man, he kind of gravitated
toward thinkers like and writers like Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman and economists who
really extolled the virtues of the individual and the virtues of free markets. That happened
in college. And after college, he went to work for Sen. Bob Kasten, a Republican from
Wisconsin, and later for Bill Bennett and Jack Kemp. And he really was schooled in the
economic doctrine of supply side, which is all about using deregulation and lower tax
rates on income and investments to spur economic growth. He's a true supply-sider. JEFFREY
BROWN: Now, we said he still lives in Janesville, but of course he's been in Washington a good
while now, elected at the age of just 28. So, how did that happen? How did Paul Ryan
become a politician and especially at such a young age? CRAIG GILBERT: Well, after, you
know, being a staffer and a speechwriter and a policy guy on the Hill, he -- his ambition
was to go into elective politics. And he ended up running in a district that was once represented
by Les Aspin for many years, the Democrat who went on to be defense secretary for President
Clinton, a pretty diverse district politically. I mean, Janesville is a Democratic-leaning
city, but this is a district that contains Democratic areas and Republican areas and
urban, rural and suburban areas. It's become a little bit more Republican over time. But
Paul Ryan is one of the few really top conservatives in the House who has had to run in a district
that is fairly purple. And I think that speaks to his political skills. JEFFREY BROWN: And
it's often been remarked that he's had this great success in bringing his ideas to the
fore, particularly given his youth and lack of seniority in the House. You have watched
him do it. How has he done -- how has he done that? CRAIG GILBERT: Well, I think he was
-- he's talked about being advised early on as he entered his congressional career to
master a subject, to carve out a niche for himself, develop an expertise, which he obviously
did in economic and fiscal policy. And so the really remarkable thing about his rise
is, here's just a single member of the House of Representatives who, you know, through
the Budget Committee, and not typically a platform of great power and influence, you
know, becomes the architect of domestic policy for the Republican Party, setting a doctrine
for House Republicans and now to some degree ultimately for a national ticket. I mean,
that's something that he went about methodically, very methodically to do in terms of his relationships
with his colleagues, his relationships in the conservative media and the conservative
movement. JEFFREY BROWN: And has he expressed surprise in his success, a sort of self-awareness
of that, both at -- over the last couple of years and of course now to this very high
level of national prominence? CRAIG GILBERT: Yes, well, I haven't had a chance to talk
to him too much about his selection to the ticket. I mean, he's always downplayed his
political ambitions, but they're obviously there, when you think about the swiftness
of his rise. He likes to talk about himself as a policy wonk. "I'm a policy guy. I'm not
a politics guy." So, there's a little bit of aww shucks there. I mean, he actually is
a very good politician. He's a good communicator. He works his district very hard. And I think
it would be a mistake for Democrats to underestimate his political skills. JEFFREY BROWN: All right,
Craig Gilbert of The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, thanks so much. CRAIG GILBERT: Thank you.
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