Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA), the chair of Republican Governors Association and Romney campaign surrogate, was the one who introduced Mitt Romney on Saturday when he announced he chose Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate. He tells Soledad on "Starting Point" why he thinks Ryan was a good choice for Romney.
"I think the honesty of these two when it comes to addressing the problems that face the country," Gov. McDonnell says. "When they look at what they're going to say about this crushing debt and the unemployment rate and how they are going to get the middle class back on track to create new jobs...I think they'll like what they have to say because these are two serious candidates that are going to focus on the issues people care about and not some of the side issues the other side has been talking about.
Rush transcript available after the jump.
O'BRIEN: Why do you like Ryan as a pick?
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Because the biggest problems facing the country have to do with a $16 trillion national debt and a crushing unemployment rate that's affecting the middle class. And so, Paul Ryan is the guy that understands the federal budget, perhaps better than anybody and along with Mitt Romney I think has got the right ideas and, Soledad, to say, listen, we can't afford this anymore. We've got to make tough choices. We've got to reform Medicaid and Medicare if we're going to get the country back on track.
So, I think he's the right guy and I was pretty fired up in Norfolk on Saturday.
O'BRIEN: Very fired up. I don't even think it was pretty fired up. They were very fired up on Saturday.
Let's assume that people who are strongly into the GOP are going to go with Romney/Ryan. Let's assume the hardcore Dems are going to go with President Obama. There's a 4 percent to 8 percent chunk that's undecided and I assume that's where some of the independents lie.
When you ask those independents about what they think of Paul Ryan, here's what they say. 27 percent have the favorable opinion, 22 percent unfavorable, 15 percent no opinion at all. Never heard of him is 36 percent and that moves the Medicare and budget conversations right to the forefront of defining who Paul Ryan is.
Is that good for you or is that bad for you?
MCDONNELL: Well, this is a charismatic young leader I think when they get to know him over the next couple of weeks - keep in mind, we have a convention coming up, Soledad, in two weeks. That's going to introduce Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in a new, refreshing way to the American people.
And when they get to see I think the honesty of these two when it comes to addressing the problems that face the country. When they look at what they're going to say about this crushing debt and the unemployment rate and how they are going to get the middle class back on track to create new jobs. I think they'll like what they have to say because these are two serious candidates that are going to focus on the issues people care about and not some of the side issues the other side has been talking about.
O'BRIEN: You know, if you look at a poll, here is a question, CNN/ORC poll the first week in August. Romney cares about the rich and 64 percent agreed with that statement, the middle class 27 percent agreed, the poor only 2 percent. And some of that, of course, I think, is success from the Democrats who have been messaging hard on that.
How is a Paul Ryan pick - how does a Paul Ryan pick help you with that when you look especially at the budget which, you know, looks really closely and rips out a lot of the entitlement spending which will affect the middle class. I think that could be potentially a big problem, wouldn't it?
MCDONNELL: Well, but first, you've got to look at leadership. I mean, this president has had no budget for 3 1/2 years. Harry Reid won't take up a budget. The president's budget would have increased the debt to $25 trillion by 2021. He couldn't get one vote for it in the United States Congress.
I mean, Soledad, we are in a difficult time for the greatest country on earth and the president is talking about issues that really don't resonate with the people. And I think what Paul Ryan brings to the ticket is now a serious conversation about debt, taxes, spending, energy, entitlement reform. These are the things that will determine what kind of country we've got for our kids and our grandkids. They need to be talked about and Paul Ryan is a good guy to do it.
So I think independent voters when they realize that we have these serious problems will say, yes, we do need to make some changes and this is the team to do it because the status quo with Biden and Obama is unacceptable.
O'BRIEN: Governor Bob McDonnell is a Republican from Virginia. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us about that. Appreciate it.
MCDONNELL: OK, Soledad. Thank you.