In choosing Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has instantly remade his presidential campaign. Congressman Ryan, the energetic chairman of the House Budget committee, is the Republican master of all aspects of federal spending. And he comes complete with his own detailed conservative fiscal plan to remake the role of the federal government in everything from Medicare and Medicaid to tax policy and agriculture subsidies.
In naming Congressman Ryan, Gov. Romney has transformed the presidential campaign into an ideological battle. Earlier this afternoon, the candidates joined Bob Schieffer for their very first interview together at a furniture factory in High Point, N.C., where they'd been campaigning.
Bob Schieffer: Governor, I want to start with this, you have been going through this process of deciding who you wanted as your running mate for about three months, very methodical, all of it conducted in secret. What I would like to know was there one point where there was one moment when you said, "This is the guy. This is my guy."
Mitt Romney: Well, actually, you know, we've been working together for a while and, over the last year, Paul and I have come together on some policy issues and sat down and discussed those things. I was impressed with his understanding of the issues that we were facing and also his political acumen. But then we spent some time on the campaign trail. I got to meet his wife and three children and was very impressed. But the final decision, Bob, was not until really August 1st when I kept my mind open, but I was intrigued and inclined towards Paul for some time, but I kept my mind open, and then on August 1st it was time to make that final decision. I called Paul and said, "I'd like to meet you on Sunday." And, we sat down and made it happen.
Bob Schieffer: Well, what was it that did it?
Mitt Romney: Well, you know, this is a guy who's a real leader. There are a lot of people who go to Washington or go to their state houses with a personal ambition in mind. Paul had a very different course laid out for his life. And became convinced that he was needed to try and get the country back on track. And he has gone to Washington with a passion for making a difference.
Bob Schieffer: Has this sunk in on you yet?
Paul Ryan: It has. Because I've felt for a while now that our country is in a very perilous position. And I've done everything I could in my career as chairman of the Budget Committee to try and make a difference to tackle this economic and fiscal challenge before it tackles us. Sunday is when we had this conversation and it took a little while to sink in after that, but to see all Americans coming out to these rallies, hungry for solutions, hungry for people that provide leadership to get this country on the right track, I'm very excited about this.
Bob Schieffer: What do you--
Paul Ryan: And I really think we can turn this thing around.
Bob Schieffer: And what did the governor say when he offered you--
Paul Ryan: He essentially said--
Bob Schieffer: --the job?
Paul Ryan: --that we share the same values and that I have the kinds of experiences that complement his skills. That complement his experience. To help him govern. To execute a vision to get this country back on the right track. You know, to create jobs. To help people get back on the path in life.
Bob Schieffer: What did you say?
Paul Ryan: I said, "Yes."
Bob Schieffer: Just "yes"?
Paul Ryan: I said, "I'm honored. I'm humbled." And, I said, "Yes."
Bob Schieffer: How long had you been thinking Paul Ryan?
Mitt Romney: Well, you know, I'd been given a number of people consideration. And there're some terrific people who could become president of the United States as Paul-- I mean Paul could become, if it were necessary, could become president. He has the experience and judgment, capacity and character to become president. And that was the first and most important criteria.
Bob Schieffer: Congressman, this is going to change your whole life. What did your family think about it?
Paul Ryan: Well, we've dedicated much of our lives to saving this country, to public service. I had planned a different path for my life when I was younger. And I felt a calling to public service. And Jan and I, my wife and I, discussed this at great length. It is going to change our life, but we really think that this is a moment in the country that needs leadership. And we really think that we can make a big difference and get our country back on track.
Bob Schieffer: Now I understand you're also gonna run for reelection in your congressional seat. Are you kind of hedging your bets here?
Paul Ryan: No, I'm already on the ballot. You can't even go off the ballot. So I've already filed. Our filing deadline was in June. I'm already on the ballot, so it has nothing to do with that.
Bob Schieffer: And Congressman Ryan, governor, is known up on the Hill as a teacher. He's a real expert on the budget. He helps other people understand it. Do you think he-- does he knows some things that-- will you learn from him?
Mitt Romney: Well, I sure hope so. I can't imagine you'd have two people that couldn't learn from one another. And obviously his experience on the Hill and working with a wide array of issues is something which will, in fact, already has been an input to my campaign and will be going forward. I-- you know, I-- well, I expect to work with him. If we become president and vice president we'll work together, looking at issues together. Important decisions will be made with his consultations along with other individuals. And, obviously, I have to make the final call in important decisions. But, this is a man who's dedicated the last 14 years working in Washington in ways that are not highly partisan or political, but instead are focused on what he thinks the right course is for America. And that's the kind of person I want. This is a man who's also very analytical. He's a policy guy. People know him as a policy guy. That's one of the reasons he has such respect on both sides of the aisle. I'm a policy guy, believe it or not. I love policy. I love solving tough problems. And we face real challenges around the world, places like Syria, Egypt, Iran. We've got real problems. Domestically, you have 23 million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work. The president has not been able to get this economy going. I believe that you have to have folks that have the kind of capacity and experience that we have to get America back on track.
Bob Schieffer: Congressman, what would be your role in the campaign? Are you going to be the attack dog?
Paul Ryan: I'm going to help him win this race so we can do it for the American people. We're going to split up more often than not and double our efforts. So to me this is-- it was one against two for a while. Now it's two against two. We're going to redouble our efforts and we're going to bring a message to the country: "Here's how you get the country back on track."
Bob Schieffer: You made a point of praising Gov. Romney for his accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts and at Bain Capital. I'm just going to put you on the spot here.
Paul Ryan: OK.
Bob Schieffer: Did you think he's been too defensive about Bain Capital--
Paul Ryan: No, not at all.
Bob Schieffer: --and as--
Paul Ryan: No, I think--
Bob Schieffer: --his role of governor of Massachusetts?
Paul Ryan: What I see happening is the president has a terrible record so he can't run on that. He didn't moderate his positions whatsoever throughout his term, so he doesn't really have much to run on, so he's gonna try and run on these distractions. He's going to try and divide people to distract people to what-- try and win this election and that's why these attacks against a record that is outstanding. It's a record of creating businesses and turning around struggling businesses. That's what we want to see happen throughout the country because it creates more jobs, it creates better take home pay, it gives people better futures. Why wouldn't we want a leader like that who knows how to make those kinds of executive decisions in the White House to help us turn this economy around.
Bob Schieffer: What will be Congressman Ryan's role if indeed you are elected and he is vice president? Will you send him up to the Hill? Will you put him in charge of certain things?
Mitt Romney: Well, I anticipate that there will be certain areas that are his areas of expertise and he has passion and concern there. That he'll actually take a lead role in helping oversee those areas and maybe some cabinet officers who will work primarily with the vice president. But he would also have a role in helping shepherd legislation on the Hill. Of course, you have a legislative affairs director that takes that kind of lead as well, but you can't imagine having someone like Paul Ryan, who's been able to work with Democrat senators, Democrat members of the House as well as Republicans, been able to make things happen there. I can't imagine not using him. And to have his skill in finding those people that can come together and find common ground, despite differing views on issues. This is one of the key reasons I've selected him. Is that he has that unusual, almost a unique capacity to find people of different parties who are of a common purpose that can come together to do something that's right for the county.
Bob Schieffer: Congressman, what's happened to Capitol Hill? Congress cannot seem to get anything done anymore. Even when there are things that both seem to want to do, they can't seem to find a way to--
Paul Ryan: It's the worst--
Bob Schieffer: --get it done.
Paul Ryan: --I've seen it since I've been in Congress for 14 years. It starts, in my opinion, with a fundamental lack of leadership. President Obama has not provided the kind of leadership we need to bring people together. The Senate hasn't passed a budget for three years, even though we have a budget law that says you have to pass a budget every year. So it's dysfunctional. What we want to do, and we think we've done this in the House, is we're planting the seeds for bipartisan compromises on the big issues of the day to be realized next year so we can get things done. And that's why we think we need to have an election to give the country a choice to put our country back on the right track and then we need leadership to bring people together. He has proven, when he was governor of Massachusetts, he had to work with Democratic legislatures to get things done. He did that.
Bob Schieffer: You know, I must say, governor, you did something that seldom happens in American politics when you announced that your choice was the congressman here. Conservatives were delighted. They said it was a bold move and a bold stroke. But I have to say, Democrats seemed equally delighted about this because they said that they think that Congressman Ryan's budget plan with its overhaul of Medicare, with cuts in social programs, and education, it's just going to drive voters their way. How do you respond to that?
Mitt Romney: Well, what I respond is very simple. And that is America has a choice. A very clear choice. Are we going to continue to spend a trillion dollars more every year than we take in? And pass that burden to our children.
Bob Schieffer: There's no question your campaign has been trying to make this election a referendum on Barack Obama. Now, some people are saying you are making it a referendum on Paul Ryan's budget plan.
Mitt Romney: Well, I have my budget plan as you know that I've put out. And that's the budget plan that we're going to run on. At the same time, we have the record of President Obama. If people think, by the way, that their utility bill has gone down, they should vote for him. If they think jobs are more plentiful, they should vote for him.
Bob Schieffer: You said yesterday, I'm going to quote you, Mr. Ryan, "America is a place where if you work hard, and play by the rules, you can get ahead." But the fact is, a lot of people don't think that's true anymore. They don't think the rules are fair. They think corporations and rich people are getting all these breaks and they're getting stuck with paying the bills. They see some of the wealthiest paying the lowest tax rates. How are you going to fix that?
Paul Ryan: What I see is a new amount of crony capitalism and corporate welfare which both parties have been engaged in, but the president has brought this to a whole new level. Where President Obama is picking winners and losers based on connections, based on fads like Solyndra and basically giving handouts to businesses, giving preferences to tax code. We want to get Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers. We want entrepreneurs to have the barriers removed from in front of them, so that people can work hard and succeed. We want to turn the American idea back on. We want a system of upward mobility, and what we think we need to do is bring fairness back to the system of getting government bureaucracy and political clout out of the system. Those are the kinds of reforms we've been talking about.
Bob Schieffer: Does fairness dictate that the wealthiest people should not be paying the lowest taxes because that's what happening many times?
Mitt Romney: Well, fairness dictates that the highest income people should pay the greatest share of taxes, and they do. And the commitment that I've made is we will not have the top income earners in this country pair-- pay a smaller share of the tax burden. The highest income people will continue to pay the largest share of the tax burden and middle-income taxpayers, under my plan, get a break. Their taxes come down. So, we're not going to reduce taxes for high-income people, and we are going to reduce taxes for middle-income people.
Bob Schieffer: You say of course the wealthiest people pay the larger share, but don't they also pay at a lower rate? When you figure in capital gains and all of that?
Mitt Romney: Well, it depends on the individual, what their source of income is. But if you look at the top one percent or five percent or quartile, whatever, they pay the largest share of taxes. And that's not something which I would propose making smaller.
Paul Ryan: What we're saying is take away the tax shelters that are uniquely enjoyed by people in the top tax brackets so they can't shelter as much money from taxation, should lower tax rates for everybody to make America more competitive.
Bob Schieffer: How many years of tax returns did you turn over to the campaign?
Paul Ryan: Well, it was a very exhaustive vetting process. It's a confidential vetting process, so there were several years. But I'm going to release the same amount of years that Governor Romney has. But I got to tell you, Bob--
Bob Schieffer: And how many was that?
Paul Ryan: He's-- two. He's-- I'm going to be releasing two, which is what he's releasing. What I hear from people around this country, they're not asking where the tax returns. They're asking where the jobs are. Where's the economic growth? Those are the issues that matter. I think these are more or less distractions to try and take us off the fact that the president has given us failed policies that aren't working, that are putting us deeper into debt, that are costing us jobs. And so, we're going to focus on what it takes to turn this country around and get people back to work.
Bob Schieffer: Governor, there was really a funny moment yesterday at the rally when you introduced Paul Ryan as the next president of the United States.
Mitt Romney: Yes.
Bob Schieffer: When did you realize you had done that?
Mitt Romney: You know, I couldn't believe I'd done it. I came down and stood next to my son and my wife. He said, "You just introduced him as the next president." I said, "No, I didn't." I-- he said, "Yes, you did." I said, "No, I didn't." My wife turns and says, "Yes, you did." So, I just jumped back up on the stage and corrected myself.
Bob Schieffer: Did you catch it?
Paul Ryan: I did. I didn't-- I just sort of rolled with it.
Mitt Romney: I understand President Obama did the same thing in introducing Joe Biden--
Bob Schieffer: I think that's true.
Mitt Romney: Four years before. I guess it's-- we hear the phrase so often -- "The next president of the United States" -- that those words just come tripping off your lips.