Mitchell Reports | August 17, 2012
>>> what's new since we last got together? mitt romney and his running mate. joining me now, " washington post " columnist ruth marcus , major garrett , capitol hill correspondent, kelly o'donnell. welcome all. first, major, okay, you thought it would be portman . some of us also thought portman was probably tops on the list.
>> i wrote that it would be portman . i was wrong. i own that.
>> how's he done the first week out?
>> look, paul ryan has provided energy and dynamism and ideas and a new matrix for the romney campaign. that's been a plus and a negative. what mitt romney is now understanding, if he didn't last saturday, is that he owns ryan 's profile on budget , taxes and entitlements. he better make it his own and be able to explain it persuasively and be if not as passionate, partially as passionate as paul ryan or it's going to become a problem going forward.
>> we did go through a couple days where it was, well, i'm the person at the top of the ticket, it's my budget , not his. then i believe in everything in his budget . which is it?
>> i don't know is the answer. has it only been a week? i am befuddled by two things, by this pick which allowed major garrett to predict incorrectly rob portman . some of us didn't have the guts to write it. and also, having made this pick which is clearly bold, also risky, that they didn't seem to have a game plan for how to address it. they've either -- if you pick paul ryan , you might as well just embrace paul ryan because otherwise, you're going to face the well, where exactly are you different questions. if you don't -- if you're going to take that second approach and you don't have an answer to the where are you different questions, then you're just going to be in muddled land until the rest of time, until you beg to talk about tax returns .
>> kelly o'donnell, you're the first to report that chris van hollen is going to be the stand-in to play ryan in debate practice. let me play a clip. i'm looking forward to the next debate between you and your republican counterpart, paul ryan .
>> i would welcome that opportunity.
>> he seemed to have all the medicare facts yesterday but paul ryan , you cover him, because you have been on the hill obviously with him as the budget chair, you have been tracking the budget . he is ready to go, primed to go. we watched him in virginia this morning. do you think they now embrace ryanism and make a virtue of it, that's why they chose him?
>> it's interesting, usually we are asking the second person on the ticket where they differ from the nominee and somehow that's been flipped around this time. maybe in part because there was a degree of surprise even though there had been a lot of discussion that paul ryan is a bright face in the party would be considered, but there had been a sense this a safer choice was going to be the more likely path for romney . well, that didn't happen. so now it really is a case of trying to find out how can mitt romney try to own some of the things that conservatives like about paul ryan , a willingness to sort of lead with your chin on an aggressive budget that does attract a lot of critics but also tries to address some of the long-term deficit issues. that's one thing where romney has had some difficulty in specifics. paul ryan brings so many specifics, then you need a truckload to deliver them and to try to go through it and figure out what can they live with going forward during the campaign and what do they have to try to sort of tamp down a bit. ryan has done his part to say i'm joining romney but that doesn't really end the questions, looking for that daylight between them.
>> one of the things that's most awkward about all this, major, is that the republicans are attacking barack obama for cutting medicare , when republicans like ryan have been calling upon him for being, you know, standing up to the challenge of cutting medicare .
>> right. and those same cuts are in the paul ryan budget because they're built into the baseline. now, already we've gone two degrees into wonkville and that's not a comfortable place for romney or ryan . it happens to be essentially true and worth pointing out when this debate goes forward. the central difference on medicare is not whether or not you reduce the rate of growth. both seek to do that. it's methodology, providers or do you put the power in the hands of medicare recipients who would no longer simply go to a doctor and have the government reimburse their physician but they would have money in their own hands, go out in the private market and find the best insurance they can. that's the paul ryan approach. he thinks it's innovative. many think it's dangerous and would reduce coverage and create problems for seniors that don't exist now. that's the debate i think paul ryan is perfectly comfortable having. i'm not quite sure if governor romney is comfortable or well versed in that debate and its contours.
>> one of the fascinating things about the degree to which medicare has been brought front and center by the ryan pick is that of all the question marks and lack of details in the romney campaign, he's actually been fairly clear about what he would do on medicare and it's almost, if not word for word, it lines up very, very closely, almost identically, with the ryan plan, and so ryan 's just brought it up but romney was already there. i think we're going to see in the next few weeks questions about social security , questions about some of the specific cuts in the ryan budget , where --
>> discretionary student loans, things like that.
>> let me quickly show all of you, this is deeply affecting, really, kelly o'donnell, this is your story. we have only a matter of seconds but i wanted to show some of the pictures you've shared which are the pictures of patrick kennedy , the former congressman, visiting his colleague, former colleague, jesse jackson , jr. at the mayo clinic .
>> the first time we have had any insight into what life is like inside treatment for jesse jackson , jr., who left congress june 10th on what was then a mysterious leave of absence. we now know he's being treated for bipolar disorder. patrick kennedy has suffered with some of the same issues. we talked to him and will have a story on tonight's "nightly news" that goes into this further, trying to shed light on what patrick calls a deep depression that jesse jackson jr . is dealing with. his own father, reverend jackson, is also acknowledging what a struggle it is but he is working hard to get that treatment and his political future will be decided sometime later.
>> kelly , thank you for that reporting. thank you to ruth and to major. always great to see you guys. have a great weekend, all.