The Ticket

Axelrod, GOP leaders spar over Ryan on Sunday morning talk shows

The Ticket

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Romney and Ryan participate in their first joint interview, Aug. 12, 2012. (Chris Usher/CBS News)

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate dominated the discussion on Sunday morning's political talk shows. And the reaction to the choice of Ryan, a tea party favorite, fell along party lines.

"I'm excited for the ticket," former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was reportedly on Romney's shortlist of VP candidates, told ABC News' "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos. "I'm excited for Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan. I didn't support Gov. Romney because I expected to be vice president, so I'm not disappointed. I didn't get something I didn't expect, but it's a great ticket, it's a terrific pick by Gov. Romney, and Congressman Ryan, as you've already seen, is bringing energy to the ticket, and he's got a clear, specific vision, an adult approach to solving the nation's problems, and you don't see that from the president and his team."

[Related: How Romney picked Ryan for his VP and kept it a secret]

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Ryan a "game changer."

"He relates well to voters all across the political spectrum," Walker said. "I think this is a game changer."

"Paul Ryan represents the kind of leadership that people in this country are hungry for," Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said on CNN's "State of the Union With Candy Crowley" on Sunday. "His efforts to not only define the issues that we need to face as we get into the days and the weeks and the months and the years ahead, but also to come up with solutions to those issues, is something that I think that will serve as a great asset to Gov. Romney and the campaign."

In making this pick, "Romney has said, 'I'm going to take the game to my opponent,'" Thune continued. "'I'm not going to sit back and just run the clock out and hold the ball.' I think he's made it very clear that this is going to be a campaign about big issues and about a very different vision, contrasting vision for the future of this country."

"I think that what it shows the American people is that Mitt Romney has the leadership and courage to present to the American people a real contrast and a real debate in this country," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on NBC. "I think of the 40 headlines that we've seen this morning, it's been pretty clear that people have said this is a courageous choice, but it's what the American people deserve."

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. John McCain called Ryan an "excellent choice" and a "new generation of leadership in our party and nation."

[Also read: Sarah Palin congratulates Romney on Ryan]

David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, appeared on ABC, NBC and CNN to curb the GOP enthusiasm.

"It is a pick that is meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party," Axelrod told Stephanopoulos. "But it's one that should trouble everybody else, the middle class, seniors, students, because of Ryan's record. I mean, he is a right-wing ideologue, the intellectual energy behind the Republican caucus there in Congress.  He constructed a budget that, like Romney, would lavish trillions of dollars of tax cuts, most of them on the wealthy, would raise the burden on the middle class, would cut back things deeply like student loans, and research and development, and things we need to grow the economy."

What does President Barack Obama think of him?

"I think that he thinks that he is a perfectly genial and bright guy," Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union With Candy Crowley." "He just thinks his theory is wrong. I mean, Congressman Ryan is a right-wing ideologue, and that is reflected in the positions that he's taken."

"He's young, he's articulate, he clearly gave a jolt of energy to Mitt Romney yesterday," Stephanopoulos said. "Are you worried this is going to be a booster shot for the Romney campaign?"

"Well, I think it will be a booster shot within his own party," Axelrod said. "I think the tea party is excited. I think the social conservatives are excited."

"I really didn't think that Gov. Romney would go so far to satisfy the most strident voices in his party, that he would pick someone who is so demonstrably a right-wing ideologue," Axelrod said. "But you know, I was wrong about that."

[Related: After Sunday, Romney and Ryan won't appear together until the convention]

But will Ryan help Romney in crucial swing states--such as Wisconsin and Iowa--in November?

"Well, that remains to be seen," Axelrod said. "I think it helps voters clarify what this choice is about. And if what you care about is strengthening the middle class and building an economy that's meant to last ... then no, I don't think he's going to help the ticket. If you believe in a woman's right to choose, he's not going to help the ticket. But I think he will help the governor have a more convivial Republican Convention."

Said Walker: "In our state, 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."

[Slideshow: How newspapers in swing states reacted to Ryan as VP pick]

"I think it is a risk for President Obama to have someone like a ticket like a Romney/Ryan ticket where you have actually laid out definitive solutions and answers to America's problems," Thune said on CNN. "This president has kicked the can down the road on every major issue."

Axelrod and his fellow Democrats contend that Ryan's budget proposal--which would transform Medicare into a voucher system--will hurt Romney's chances in November. Pawlenty doesn't think so.

"I think the American people are smart, and I think the American people respect people who have real solutions to big problems," Pawlenty said. "And so Congressman Ryan and Gov. Romney have put together a plan that actually tackles the problem in specific, preserves Medicare and other programs for people who are already on the program, but begins to change it in needed and realistic ways for the next generation."

He added: "There's only one candidate in this race who's actually cut Medicare and signed such a thing into law, and that's President Obama."

Pawlenty also dismissed criticism that Romney and Ryan do not have national security and foreign policy experience.

"Don't assume that Gov. Romney doesn't have foreign policy and international experience," Pawlenty said. "My goodness, he spent his entire career in global business arrangements, transactions, traveling and understanding different countries, cultures, geography and the like. So he gets these issues very well and probably better than the president."

"This was a defining choice for Mitt Romney," Axelrod said of Ryan. "And now it's also a clarifying choice for the American people."

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean agreed.

"He is going to give [Americans] a real choice," Dean said on ABC. "That's exactly what Romney was trying to avoid before. He was trying to move towards the middle, and Ryan makes it almost impossible for him to do that."

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