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Ryan Is Romney's V.P. Pick; Many Don't Know Romney's V.P. Pick; Romney And Ryan On Bus Tour Now; Troops Attack Rebels In Aleppo; Clinton Holds Talks On Syria
Aired August 11, 2012 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just a few hours ago, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ended all speculation about his vice presidential pick by revealing his choice. You know it by now, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Romney made that announcement at a campaign rally in Northern Virginia on the retired battleship, U.S.S. Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party. He understands the fiscal challenges facing America, our exploding deficits and crushing debt and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don't change course.
He combines a profound sense of responsibility for what we owe the next generation with an unbounded optimism in America's future and understanding of all the wonderful things the American people can do.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I worked closely with Republicans as well as Democrats to advance an agenda of economic growth and job creation.
I'm proud to stand with a man who understands what it takes to foster job creation in our economy, someone who knows from experience that if you have a small business, you did build that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: After that rally, Ryan and Romney boarded their bus and headed to Ashland, Virginia, for an afternoon rally.
As CNN's national political correspondent Jim Acosta is headed to Ashland right not as well and he is joining us by phone. So Jim, tell us more about the thinking behind the selection of Paul Ryan. What does the Romney camp think that he will bring to the ticket?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I just got an e-mail from a senior Romney advisor, Fredricka, who e-mailed me some guidance as to, you know, what the thinking was for Mitt Romney in making this vice presidential pick because obviously, there is some controversy. There will be questions about some of the proposals that Paul Ryan made when he was budget committee chairman in the House, when he was there on Capitol Hill.
And this advisor tells me, quote, "A vision of the country on the economy and on spending, entitlement reform was an important consideration," going on saying, quote, "this was an important decision about how Governor Romney plans to govern as president."
And so I think what they wanted to do, Fredricka, is make a bold pick. They wanted to send the message to conservatives especially if this is going to be a 50-50 election, where turn out will be key on Election Day, they wanted to make sure to get conservatives to the polls.
And I think this pick at least to some degree helps them do that. And I will tell you right now we are in sort of bumper to bumper traffic trying to make our way up Interstate 95 right now. We've been trailing the Romney bus.
It's just a few buses ahead of us and just to give you some interesting color of what's been happening so far. We talked about a little bit of what Paul Ryan brings from philosophical standpoint to the ticket.
But also we should talk about that Washington word that everybody hates is the optics of what we are looking at today. Paul Ryan who is a young father, 42 years old, he's got small children.
Well, their small children and the Romney grand children were all riding on this bus together. And apparently at one point during the journey up Interstate 95 in Virginia, Fredricka, Mitt Romney showed the kids how to make his favorite peanut butter and honey sandwich.
There was a light moment there. The kids were even doing some bus surfing on the bus, which I'm not really sure. I haven't gotten a demonstration of how that works, but apparently they were doing some bus surfing as well according to the body man for Mitt Romney, Gerald Jackson.
That's the man you see shadowing Mitt Romney pretty much everywhere he goes especially at those events. And so I think the country is also getting a sense, Fredricka, in getting a look sort of the old and new in the Republican Party.
Mitt Romney sort of represents where the party is right now, but Paul Ryan very much is where this party is going. So I think you have sort of a yin and yang with this pick -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jim Acosta, thanks so much as we enjoy these pictures from the U.S.S. Wisconsin. But again, they are on the bus now heading to Ashland, Virginia, and then on to North Carolina, Florida, and the other swing state of Ohio.
So where does Congressman Paul Ryan stand on the important issues of the day? He's most known for his conservative budget principles. In July 2009, he proposed the road map for America's future, an economic plan that would end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security.
First he got pushback from his own party because Republicans worried that it would scare away senior voters. Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich even called it, quote, "a right-wing social engineering."
But he has become the darling of Tea Party supporters, Paul Ryan that is, on abortion. Ryan, a Catholic, voted to ban federal health coverage of abortion. On economics, he's a leading GOP voice against the Obama administration.
He voted no on the president's stimulus plan. And Ryan took on the White House over the Affordable Care Act and wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And on guns, he is backed by the NRA. Ryan voted to decrease the gun-buying waiting period from three days to one.
And on privacy, Ryan voted to allow electronic surveillance of Americans without a warrant. And on defense, he voted to send America to war in Iraq and voted against ending the war in Afghanistan.
So although he's enjoyed seven terms in the House of Representatives, many Americans say they are not quite sure who Paul Ryan is. According to a new CNN/ORC international poll, 54 percent of Americans say they don't know enough about the Wisconsin congressman to form an opinion, 27 percent view him favorably, and 19 percent don't like him.
John King takes a look at the political career of Romney's vice presidential pick.
RYAN: We want to give you that scalpel.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Paul Ryan debating Joe Biden might feel like demotion.
RYAN: So my question is why not start freezing spending now and would you support helping us getting a vote on it in the House?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let me respond to the two specific questions, but I want to just push back a little bit on the underlying premise about us increasing spending by 84 percent.
RYAN: The discretionary spending, the bills that Congress signs that you signed into law that has increased 84 percent.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We'll have a longer debate on the budget numbers there, all right?
KING: Ryan is the GOP's numbers guy. The House Budget Committee chairman who isn't afraid to say, in his view, the only way back to fiscal sanity is to dramatically shrink government and fundamentally change Medicare. RYAN: If you don't address these issues now, they are going to steam roll us as a country. The issue is the more you delay fixing these problems, the much uglier the solutions are going to have to be.
KING: In short, he's a lightning rod.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It would be a bold choice. It would be a risky choice. It's hard for me to see Mitt Romney who has played it safe all the way through this campaign making that kind of gamble.
KING: There are upsides. It would energize the GOP base sometimes suspicious of Romney. Ryan is an energetic debater and campaigner. And at just 42, he would add youthful vigor to the ticket.
Close friends like former House colleague, Mark Green, says Ryan would help Romney in Wisconsin and across the Midwest.
MARK GREEN, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think he does get Wisconsin, but I think more importantly, he gets that sort of blue-collar conservatism that I think is the heart of the Republican Party.
KING: But tapping Ryan is a big gamble because of the House GOP Budget that bears his name. Up to now, Romney has done everything to make this campaign a referendum on the incumbent.
ROMNEY: The president's policies are not creating jobs.
KING: Add Ryan to the ticket and there's no escaping this.
SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Ryan planned to end Medicare as we know it, must be taken off the table.
KING: Other potential down sides, Ryan has never run statewide. He has no foreign policy experience and some will question whether a 42-year- old House member is ready to be commander in chief.
GERGEN: One of the stars of the Republican future over the next 10 to 20 years, whether he's ready at this moment, only the campaign trail could tell. He's going to get -- I will tell you he's going to take a real beating.
KING: Ryan says family history makes him a fitness fanatic, leading House colleagues in grueling cross training workouts.
RYAN: My dad died of a heart attack at 55, my grandfather at 57 so I've always had this incentive to stay healthy.
KING: And an avid hunter as Green learned one day when he sent an e- mail from his post as ambassador to Tanzania.
GREEN: I got this response saying I'm sitting in a deer stand. It's hunting season. Leave me alone.
KING: He's a self-described nerd, but don't underestimate Ryan's ambition or competitive streak. It's clear if he had his druthers, he'd rather debate the president.
RYAN: I love the idea of Barack Obama. I love the fact that we have elected an African-American man as a president. I think that that is just a really cool thing. I don't like the idea it's coming from Barack Obama.
KING: But it is Romney who will share the biggest fall debate state.
RYAN: Governor Mitt Romney, hopefully the next president of the United States of America.
WHITFIELD: That was John King reporting. Among Republicans, 49 percent like Paul Ryan and 45 percent say they don't know enough about him.
So as Romney announces his running mate, President Obama heads home. Birthday celebrations are on tap this weekend and so are a series of fundraisers. The mark key event carries a ticket price of $40,000 per person.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the Republicans are off and running. We'll talk about what's next for this duo.
WHITFIELD: All right, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are wasting no time hitting the campaign trail together. After making his choice known in a speech from Congressman Ryan, the two set off on a four-state bus tour.
Joining us to talk about all of this is anchor of CNN's "STATE OF UNION," Candy Crowley and also with us is Ryan Lizza, a CNN contributor who recently wrote an in depth story on Paul Ryan for "The New Yorker" magazine.
Good to see both of you. All right so, Candy, you first. In what way does Paul Ryan address some of the detriments of Mitt Romney's campaign?
For example, many people have made criticisms of perhaps Mitt Romney being out of touch or that he's only looking out for the wealthy and not the middle class. Does Paul Ryan help address any of those things?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not if the Democrats going to help it particularly on score of helping the middle class. I think this is clearly a choice that totally excites the Republican base.
You know, we said this repeatedly. They think that Paul Ryan is, you know, putting out this budget. I mean, his thoughts -- it was his budget that they passed in the House. Conservatives love him.
They do not necessarily -- they don't love Mitt Romney. They don't necessarily trust him so this was a huge, huge pick in terms of just activating the base, which really is kind of the first thing you have to do before you can even consider how you turn that into an election victory in November.
WHITFIELD: So I wonder, you know, you talked about it's exciting the Republican base. At the same time, there's many in the Republican Party who felt division about Paul Ryan saying he was a little too extreme, too conservative. He turned off an awful lot of Republicans. Have they changed their mind about him now?
CROWLEY: I don't think you're going to hear that publically. I do think that to a certain extent, the 2010 elections were some kind of vindication for at least the direction that Paul Ryan was talking about.
He is widely recognized certainly as a top Republican rising star. So I think what you're going to see here is yes, there's unease. You're absolutely right. There's unease from the Republicans saying it's such a big target.
You know, Paul Ryan is such a big target and Mitt Romney now in a full embrace of Ryan's ideas or at least the direction of those ideas. There are Republicans who worry that this just gives Democrats another target.
WHITFIELD: OK, we have a lot of Ryans in this one. So Ryan Lizza now, let me ask you. Something you wrote in the "New Yorker" where you're reminding us that Paul Ryan was just 28 years old when he was elected to the House of Representatives.
Like many young conservatives he said out loud that he was embarrassed by some of the Bush administration years and some of the decisions made. So I wonder now, you know, when he says he wants to help the nation get back on track, is he talking about recovery post-Bush years or is he talking about the Obama years?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, he said he was miserable under the last Republican majority, under the Bush years because he felt like he was forced to take some votes that he now says he regrets like Medicare part D and TARP although I guess he hasn't actually reversed himself on TARP.
But anyway, he feels like the Bush years they spent too much money and that's what's driving him now. I do think just to get back to what you were talking about with Candy, the Ryan budget is an untested proposition.
Remember he first proposed the bulk of these ideas on Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and some of the discretionary spending cuts in 2008. His first plan attracted eight Republican co-sponsors.
He comes back in 2009, Boehner and the other Republican leaders say, no, no, Paul Ryan, we don't want to do that. That's too crazy. In 2010, he does not get the House Republicans to run on those budget ideas.
Boehner and the campaign consultants say no way. It's only once that new Republican class comes in, in 2011 that he has these I think 87 Tea Party freshmen who become his base in the House of Representatives.
He convinces those guys, you know what, we're going to go big and bold and we're going to go with this new budget. They pass it in 2011. So we haven't had an election in between the period when the Republican Party embraced Paul Ryanism and today. So Romney is testing this.
WHITFIELD: So I wonder, following up on that, it's been no secret that the party has not been coalescing around Mitt Romney. So given Paul Ryan's appeal particularly to, you know, the Tea Party Movement, I wonder, Candy, is this going to make a big difference for Mitt Romney?
CROWLEY: There were signs that the party was beginning to coalesce around Mitt Romney. I think in some sense, you can look at this choice as a way to measure how Mitt Romney is now currently viewing this race.
You know, we started out and we all said what Barack Obama wants to do is make this a choice election. You can either go his way or mine. When Mitt Romney started out, he wanted to make this a referendum on Barack Obama's economy.
It seems to me by picking a man known for his big ideas and for, you know, bold new changes that Romney has now embraced the fact that this is going -- that he will go with the ideas, with the choice.
Now whether the bulk of voters will go with that is what we clearly don't know. But I do think that it wasn't so much that they weren't coalescing around him as they weren't just all that excited and you have to get folks excited for that turn out.
WHITFIELD: All right, Candy Crowley, Ryan Lizza, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. Candy Crowley, of course, we'll be watching you tomorrow morning on the "State of the Union." You'll be dominating a topic of discussion in a very big way. Appreciate that.
All right, we're also watching other news this morning. Hillary Clinton is in Turkey talking Syria. We'll tell you who she is meeting with and what's on the table.
WHITFIELD: All right now to some other news that we're following today. In Syria government tanks, troops and military jets attacked a rebel held area in Aleppo forcing rebels to retreat from some of the neighborhood there. Rebel activists are saying they need more arms and ammunition and asking for international help.
And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Turkey discussing the crisis on Syria. She's been meeting with Turkish leaders and Syrian opposition activists today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I came away very impressed by these young activists and very committed to increasing the assistance we are already providing several of those present has already received support from the United States. As you know, we are providing nonlethal aid, mostly communications, to civil society and activists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, at least 35 people have been killed around the country today.
All right, on Facebook, you can click the "like" button to like a celebrity or a web site or even a political party, but should it be protected as free speech.
Our legal guys have been giving this one some thought. They are going to share a lesson or two on free speech. Like it or not after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, Facebook's "like" button is at the center of a free speech argument. A Virginia deputy sheriff says he was fired for "liking" the Facebook page of his boss's opponent. Well, he sued, but a federal judge tossed that out.
He's now appealed and Facebook and ACLU have also joined in. Let's bring in our legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland. Good to see you.
And Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor joining us from Las Vegas. Good to see you as well. OK, so there we're talking about free speech arguments. You know, they are really getting a run for their money these days.
It seems as though we have an awful lot of cases that are using that as kind of the real starting point of whether indeed a case is legitimate or not, this one involving "liking" someone on Facebook whether it will be protected by free speech.
So this employee he "likes" the button who happened to be an opponent, you know, or "like" the page of an opponent of his boss. He gets fired. So Avery, is this an issue of a protection of free speech? Can he be fired for a choice like that?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, that's the ultimate issue. I think it's constitutional cutting edge, Fredricka. It's a wonderful case. The deputies lost in the trial court for one reason.
Not that the "like" -- hitting the "like" button wasn't constitutionally protected, but rather whether the deputy said something of public concern, a matter of public concern.
The federal judge says it might be protected, but because there was no expression of public concern, the federal judge took the case away from the jury and now the case is pending in front of a three-judge panel in Virginia. So they have to ultimately answer that question.
WHITFIELD: So was part of that translation also, you know, that "liking" kind of undermined the job or the duty of this elected official, this sheriff in town? And this is far more egregious than liking somebody else of any ordinary stature. RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They made an argument that it also disrupted the workplace. And I think the court weighed heavily on that argument as well. But with the social media sites going around these days, Fred, courts are getting flooded with cases like this, from Facebook and Twitter, and whether or not a simple expression of a thumbs up or a thumbs down is akin to someone standing on a street corner and saying I like this opponent.
This opponent is better than this person. Does it equal that? That's what the courts will struggle with over time. I don't think a simple thumbs up or thumbs down is entitled to constitutional protection, but we'll see how the court rules.
WHITFIELD: So this could potentially impact other social media or messages, Twitter, for example, might it, Avery?
FRIEDMAN: Well, it could. One of the great misunderstandings about the first amendment, Fredricka, is that this protection, free speech, only applies to a restriction on public employers. That is on the public.
Many people think that s most people are employed by private sector, that they are protected. Believe it or not, they are not. So while the issue is a, you know, very important one, cutting edge, what we e don't know the answer to is if just hitting the button is covered by the first amendment, the court of appeals will be answering that.
Frankly, I think it is covered. As soon as you hit like, it means you supported someone and believe in that person and that's why the deputies were fired.
WHITFIELD: OK, let's move on to another case, most people understand Title IX to mean that sports programs in schools must be equally extended to both men and women.
In the case of Quinnipiac University, it said it has competitive cheerleading and they believe it's a Title IX sport, but there's an argument now that cheerleading is not a Title IX sport so they have not leveled the playing field, so to speak, Richard.
HERMAN: Yes, I think the court got this one wrong, Fred. I think that the type of cheerleading we're talking about here is not the pom pom cheerleaders on the sideline of football games.
We're talking about competition, competitive cheerleading competitions against universities and then national competitions that sometimes you've seen on television.
These athletes and I'm calling them athletes really have to be in tremendous shape, tremendous physical exertion and to rule this as not a varsity sport or a sport I think is ridiculous.
To say that volleyball is better than this, therefore, volleyball stands and this cheerleading is not a sport, the court got it wrong, Fred. And I think the university is going to suffer on this one.
WHITFIELD: So Avery, we're looking at the video. You see the athleticism there, the gymnastic involved there. So is this an issue of the interpretation of what is considered an athletic program or not?
Because, boy, didn't I think that many years ago it had already been determined that this type of cheerleading is indeed a sport. These are athletes so what changed? What's different here?
FRIEDMAN: No court has ever held that cheerleading is a sport for purposes of Title IX. You know what? This three-judge panel got it absolutely right.
They said that the university basically fudged figures and said one day, and this is important, one day cheerleading will have rules and organizations and it may very well be a sport.
But for purposes of where the law is in 2012, cheerleading is not a sport for purposes of complying with gender equity and I think the court got it exactly right.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, Avery, Richard, always good to see you. Sorry, we don't have time for a second segment with you today. So, you know, it was a one-hit wonder today. But as usual, you all knocked it out of the ballpark.
FRIEDMAN: Great pictures of you and your dad in the Olympics. Put that on Facebook so I have to like that.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. We're going to talk later on today about that journey and just the whole encompassing experience. It was a great family affair. All right, thanks so much. Appreciate it you guys. See you next weekend.
All right, meantime, back to politics now because there's a lot to talk about. Mitt Romney picking Paul Ryan as his running mate today, he will be explaining why Ryan is the best choice after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, only a couple of hours ago, Mitt Romney announcing and introducing his running mate. He announced Paul Ryan is the V.P. pick. Here's his speech from early this morning.
ROMNEY: Today we take another step forward in helping restore the promise of America. As we move forward in this campaign and on to help lead the nation to better days, it's an honor to announce my running mate and the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan.
His leadership begins with character and values. Paul is a man of tremendous character shapely in large part by his early life. Paul's father died when he was in high school. That forced him to grow up earlier than any young man should, but Paul did with the help of his devoted mother, his brothers and sister, and a supportive community.
And as he did, he internalized the virtues and hard working ethic of the Midwest. Paul Ryan works in Washington, but his beliefs remain firmly rooted in Jamesville, Wisconsin. He's a person of great steadiness whose integrity is unquestioned and his word is good.
Paul's upbringing is obvious in how he's conducted himself throughout his life including his leadership in Washington. In a city that's far too often characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception.
He doesn't demonize his opponents. He understands that honorable people can have honest differences and he appeals to the better angels of our nature. A lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan. I don't know anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment.
Paul is in public life for all the right reasons. Not to advance his personal ambition, but to advance the ideals of freedom and justice to increase prosperity to people of every class and faith, every age and ethnic background.
A faithful Catholic, Paul believes the worth and dignity of every human life. With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party. He understands the fiscal challenges facing America, our exploding deficits and crushing debt and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don't change course.
He has a sense of responsibility for what we owe the next generation with an unbounded optimism in America's future and understanding of all the wonderful things the American people can do. Paul also combines firm principles with a practical concern for getting things done.
He's never been content to simply curse the darkness. He'd rather light candles. And throughout his legislative career, he's shown the ability to work with members of both parties to find common ground on some of the hardest issues confronting the American people.
So Paul and I are beginning on a journey that will take us to every corner of America. We're offering a positive, governing agenda that will lead to economic growth, to widespread and shared prosperity and will improve the lives of our fellow citizens. Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan.
WHITFIELD: Well, he didn't necessarily mean it as it was said, Romney referring to him as the next president. He did correct himself and eventually say choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. Hopefully the next vice president instead in his words.
All right, in a moment you're going to hear from Paul Ryan in his own words what he plans to do along with Mitt Romney.
WHITFIELD: In May, Congressman Paul Ryan was coy about being the running mate for Mitt Romney. Well, today Ryan was definitive. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I am deeply honored and excited to join you as your running mate. I want to tell you about Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, background and character that our country needs at this crucial time in its history.
Following four years after failed leadership, the hopes of our country that have inspired the world are growing dim. They need someone to revive them. Governor Romney is the man for this moment.
And he and I share one commitment. We will restore the greatness of this country. I want you to meet my family. This is my wife, Jana, our daughter, Liza and our sons, Charlie and Sam.
I'm surrounded by the people I love. I love you too. And I've been asked by Governor Romney to serve the country that I love. I never really left the place I was raised. It's our home now.
For the last 14 years, I have proudly represented Wisconsin in Congress. There I have focused on solving the problems that confront our country, turning ideas into action and action into solutions. I am committed in heart and mind to putting that experience to work in a Romney administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Ryan and Romney are now on their first official road trip, a four-state bus tour through the swing states.
All right, the potential disadvantages and advantages of having Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket.
WHITFIELD: Republicans and Democrats are reacting to today's a big announcement from Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is Romney's pick.
Erick Erickson is here, he's a CNN contributor and editor in chief of redstate.com. So Erick, with Ryan on the ticket, does that greatly influence what has traditionally been a blue state of Wisconsin, turning it red?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it could. Remember Paul Ryan won his congressional district as did Barack Obama. John McCain underperformed Paul Ryan there significantly in 2008.
Will it really make a difference in Wisconsin? I'm not sure it makes a huge difference. I don't know that vice presidents really make differences in state --
WHITFIELD: Really? Even though people say this might be the most important decision that a presidential candidate makes is the picking of a running mate? ERICKSON: Right, and you know, I think it goes towards more is he ready, is he competent as opposed to what state can he pick up. It used to be presidents picked up vice presidents to swing states, but now the nation is so close to divided all over, I think it goes more towards policy ideals.
I think he wants to woo independents nationwide with this idea of -- when you dig into the polling, a lot of independents are really concerned about both the economy and the national debt.
A lot of people don't like Paul Ryan's plan, but a lot of independents take him very seriously as a real serious person and he's willing to admit as he said this morning that both Democrats and Republicans have been to blame.
When you have a vice presidential pick who's been in the party for a while saying it was us as well, I think that sends a good message.
WHITFIELD: So how does this pick round out or even compliment Mitt Romney?
ERICKSON: You know, I think Paul Ryan did a more articulate job of selling Mitt Romney this morning than Mitt Romney has done the last three months.
WHITFIELD: Of selling himself?
ERICKSON: Yes, of selling himself. The Romney campaign had since the primaries had a really hard time trying to address Mitt Romney's success and free markets and defending it. Ryan is an articulate spokesman there and it gives Mitt Romney some additional ammunition for something he's not very articulate on.
WHITFIELD: So perhaps you can see over the next couple months, we're only just over 80 days away from Election Day, that maybe this might help crystallize a campaign for Romney.
ERICKSON: I think so. The danger here for Republicans is it hadn't been a referendum on Obama. It's now a real choice between the Republican way of fixing the budget or the Democratic way.
Republicans can say they have had three years and done nothing. But the Democrats can say we have a lot of specifics in Paul Ryan's plan. You know, we run campaigns every two years now on scaring senior citizens about Medicare.
WHITFIELD: Yes, in fact, let's talk about a little bit more about those potential demerits. So a lot of seniors are a little concerned because they're saying if he doesn't like Medicare now what would be next.
There are going to be a lot of female voters, women voters who are going to say I'm a little concerned. He is very much pro-life and he is also alienated another pretty significant segment of the electorate saying he doesn't support gay marriages, same-sex marriages. ERICKSON: Yes, you know, I think the president's campaign is running these demographics. I don't think on women issues, women are going to look at this guy is pro-life I can't vote for him.
I mean, the nation, I think Gallup poll is 55 to 60, the nation is pro-life. That's not going to matter on gay rights. You know, every state where gay marriage has been on the ballot even in California has lost.
So I don't think that's a big issue. Where it is a big issue is Florida, senior citizens. The Obama campaign during 2010 was already running commercials with a Paul Ryan look alike shoving a grandmother over a cliff.
We're just going to see more of that. I mean, you have a Democratic "Super PAC" right now running an ad that has Mitt Romney supposedly killing a woman indirectly for cancer. I mean, the ads on both sides are just going to get nastier.
WHITFIELD: Boy, all right, they are making their way, Romney and Ryan right now through swing states. After Virginia, off to North Carolina and Florida and Ohio. All right, Erick Erickson, good to see you. Thanks so much.
All right, people are reacting already to the choice of Paul Ryan in other ways. Here are some of our I-Reporters.
WHITFIELD: What do some I-Reporters think of Mitt Romney's choice?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK HUFFMAN, IREPORTER: He's very well spoken, very knowledgeable, articulate and he brings a lot to the table. I think he's going to make an excellent running mate. With him next to Romney, my hopes are even higher that Romney will win this election.
EGBERTO WILLIES, IREPORTER: With the selection of Ryan, we see a choice election. We see an ideological choice. Finally, America is going to be able to select a progressive direction or a recessive direction, a conservative direction. They will get to decide if they want a humane society or the survival of the wealthiest society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let us know what you think about Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan. Send your video, audio or text to CNN.com/ireport.
So what is a nun doing behind bars? We'll show you how she's changing the lives of mothers serving time.
WHITFIELD: This week's "CNN Hero" is from New York where more than 10,000 children are growing up with their mothers locked up behind bars. Sister Tesa Fitzgerald is helping thousands of women start new lives. Her strategy, love.
SISTER TESA FITZGERALD, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: Across our nation there are thousands of mothers behind bars. I've never met a woman inside that said I'm going to go out and really mess up again. What's the lesson you learned here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not to ever come back.
FITZGERALD: The debt of her guilt what she's done to this child is unbelievable. They want to do everything to make it right. But they're always unsure whether it's really going to work.
I'm Sister Tesa Fitzgerald and I happily work with incarcerated mothers to keep their families together and to rebuild their lives. When women come out of prison they're so vulnerable. What's the hardest part?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not having money and a job. It feels like there's no way out.
FITZGERALD: A home is the heart of what's going to make their life possible.
So good to see you. How are you? You're back home. We give them a lot of love and a lot of support. Around her is a community who have seen growth and change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you forgive yourself, it's going to be all right.
FITZGERALD: Over time broken bonds have been mended and there can now be a wholeness to their life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, it's Kelly from the mentoring program.
I was a crack head. I gave birth while I was still incarcerated. I didn't know how I was going to change my life. Sister Tesa didn't just save me, she saved my entire family.
FITZGERALD: It's everyone's right to live the best of life they can. When I start seeing that take place in the women that I've worked with and I love. Very proud of you. That makes it all worthwhile.
WHITFIELD: Remember all of our heroes actually come from your nominations. So if you have someone you'd like to tell us about, go to CNNheroes.com.
WHITFIELD: All right, in just a few minutes, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney holds a rally in Virginia with his new running mate Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan is known as hard core fiscal conservative who's been a vocal critic of Obama administration's policies on debt, spending and health care reform.
So coming up later on in the NEWSROOM, my interview with Olympian Lolo Jones. I'll be talking to her about social media's impact on the London games in this final weekend of competition before the closing ceremony. That's coming up at 2:00 Eastern Time today.
And my Olympic diary, I just got back from an amazing trip to London with my dad who made history there in 1948 as gold medalist marvelous Mal Whitfield. That's in the 3:00 Eastern hour. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Much more straight ahead.
"YOUR MONEY" starts right now.