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Public Statements

NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

DAVID GREGORY:
Let's continue our conversation and turn now to the governor of Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. Governor, welcome to you.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
Good to be with you. It's great to have a fellow cheese head in the ticket.

DAVID GREGORY:
Right. The Wisconsin takeover as we say thank you to the chairman. And I asked him--

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
Actually, David--

DAVID GREGORY:
--a tough question but--

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
--it's great for Wisconsin but it's even greater for America--

DAVID GREGORY:
Well--

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
--I think (UNINTEL PHRASE).

DAVID GREGORY:
--and I've got some tough questions for you too about Paul Ryan's record.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:
But I'm going to start with something else. And that's a favorite of his is noodling, the sport of noodling. What is that, exactly?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
That's an interesting one. You have to ask Paul a little bit more about that, but the nice thing about Paul, at least in our state, is we talk a lot about the Packers and we talk a lot about hunting in our state. He does a lot of both of those. And so in our area we've got the MVP in football and the MVP in sports. We're hoping to have one of the MVPs, the next vice president of the United States, from Wisconsin as well.

DAVID GREGORY:
You said something recently that raised some eyebrows in Romney's circles. You appeared on Morning Joe last month and here's what you said about the campaign.

(VIDEO NOT TRANSCRIBED)

DAVID GREGORY:
I'll ask you the same question, then. Was this a game changing choice? A concession by Romney that he needed to change his approach in the campaign by choosing Ryan?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
I absolutely think it is game changing and it's unique. Paul Ryan offers something I think distinctively unique. On one hand he has a tremendous way to inspire and (UNINTEL) off the base. You'll see that going into the convention. But at the same time, and we've seen it for years here in Wisconsin, he has tremendous appeal with swing voters and independent voters in states like Wisconsin that are battleground states because he's smart and he's bold, but he listens.

And he relates well to voters all across the political spectrum. I think this is a game changer. And I think it shows just out courageous Mitt Romney is. Not just with this choice, but how courageous he's willing to be to take on our fiscal and economic crises here in America.

DAVID GREGORY:
But talking a bit about Medicare, it's a signature issue for the chairman of the Budget Committee as you look at his budget. It's also such a heavily politicized issues in any campaign, as you know well. And I want to go back to something that I was going to show Chairman Priebus and that's the polling on this that we have done on the issue of Medicare and Paul Ryan.

The reality is, if you look at the polls, the majority of Americans, 53%, say it's just fine the way it is or only have minor modifications. That's a huge thing to deal with if you're going to go voters and say, as Paul Ryan has, and as, presumably, Romney-Ryan will, and say, "We have to change Medicare fundamentally."

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
Well, I think what you're going to see, and this is it's a game changer, the reality is that the Obama campaign doesn't want to talk about their record. They don't want to talk about the contrast. All they want to do is attack Mitt Romney and now attack Paul Ryan. I think Americans deserve better than that and I think the discourse you've seen in the past is that Paul Ryan will raise the stakes and say we need a true and honest debate.

The reality is-- you said reality. Reality is voters in his district across the spectrum, everyone from a blue collar area like Jamesville, urban, rural, suburban. Everything's included. And it's one of the most competitive Congressional districts in America. And even though he's talked about this for years, he consistently gets over 60% of the vote there. Why? Because voters appreciate the truth. And the truth is seniors and people near retirement are not going to be touched under his plan. And the bigger truth is in the end it's going to be Governor and then President Romney's plan that ultimately will prevail. And he's going to protect Medicare for seniors. He's going to protect Medicare and other programs for future generations.

What I think I care about the most is not only my parents and people like Paul Ryan and his mother, all of whom care very deeply about senior issues. We also care about our children and our grandchildren and those are the ones that Governor Romney and Paul Ryan are going to be looking out for in the future, because the current administration has failed miserably to protect future generations.

DAVID GREGORY:
All right. But you certainly understand, as governor of Wisconsin and what you've been through politically that taking on tough fights like Medicare. In your case it was collective bargaining and pensions for state employees. That it has a real political cost. You face a recall, which you survived. Politico has an interesting analysis piece by John Harris and Mike Allen. And this is part of it I want to put on the screen for you. "It's hard to overstate the risks Romney is taking in making a choice that virtually guarantees a far reaching debate about the broader role of government and the entitlement state."

"Simply put, it's a debate Republicans have almost never won when they put it directly before voters in the past. As Gingrich learned when he squared off with Bill Clinton in the 1990s and President Bush learned with his politically disastrous effort on Social Security reform in his second term. Voters may despise spending and deficits in the abstract, but they like many of these programs in particular."

And what I'm getting at, Governor, is that what you and others support so strongly about Chairman Ryan is that he's taken tough stands on big issues like the budget, federal spending, role of government and Medicare, the program for seniors. It would all change under his vision. Is that politically risky to a point that could actually imperil the Romney candidacy?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
Well, I think conventional wisdom maybe in the past in Washington is you can't take those tough decisions on. But here in Wisconsin, a good example, a year ago those same sort of polls would have showed you that I probably would have lost a recall election if they predicted at that point and yet we won by a bigger margin with more votes cast than ever before in that election, because in the end if you put your faith in voters, if you give them they truth, you believe in the taxpayers, and in this case you believe in the American people more than in the government, ultimately those people will stand up and affirm you.

And I think that's exactly what's going to happen with the kind of courage, the kind of bold, direct courage that Governor Romney's exhibited both in this announcement of Paul Ryan and in the larger context of taking on a very specific plan to protect the middle class. I think voters want leadership. I think they're going to get that under (UNINTEL) governors and the next president. I think that's good for all of us, not only here in Wisconsin but across America.

DAVID GREGORY:
All right. Before you go, about Wisconsin. We can put it up on the screen. Ten electoral votes. It's an important part of the industrial Midwest. But it's tough for Republicans. 1988 was the last Republican to win. Is it up for grabs this year?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
It is. And actually '84. The last time with Ronald Reagan.

DAVID GREGORY:
Yeah, I think I looked at it and I thought that was wrong. But 1984. Thank you.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
No, that's all right. You're right. In 2000 and 2004 it was the closest blue state in America out of about 2.5 million votes there were just a few thousand between Bush and Gore and a few thousand between Bush and Kerry. Obviously a big win in 2008 when then neighbor U.S. Senator Barack Obama was a candidate.

I think it's competitive. I thought it was competitive after our election. I think it's even more competitive with Paul Ryan on the line. And I think it's not just because Paul's from Wisconsin, but I think in the end to win Wisconsin, for a Republican to win, you not only have to secure your base, you have to reach out to independent swing voters.

In our state, you saw my election two months ago. What they want more than anything is people who tell them the truth, who are courageous and willing to take on tough decisions. And Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are exactly the kind of comeback team we need to make that happen.

DAVID GREGORY:
All right. Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Our special coverage this morning of the Ryan pick. Governor, thanks so much.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER:
Thank you, David.

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