Obama Campaign Senior Adviser David Axelrod says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's selection as keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention
"No doubt that Governor Christie will do a good job and bring that lacerating humor of his to the task," Axelrod says. "But...it's not going to make the vision any more appealing."
In this second video, Axelrod explains that Mitt Romney's VP nominee Rep. Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare would be a 'death spiral' for the program.
"What they would do is turn Medicare into a voucher program," Axelrod explains. "They would cap that voucher so that over time, more and more of the burden would be shifted to seniors who would be left to contend on the private insurance market, or choose a very weakened Medicare alternative. It is not a plan to strengthen Medicare. It's a death spiral for Medicare. And let's be honest - the Republican Party has never been supportive of Medicare. And Congressman Ryan philosophically doesn't really believe in Medicare. And Romney has a version of the same plan."
Transcript available after the jump.
O'BRIEN: I want to start by talking about Chris Christie, who is going to be we know now the keynote speaker at the RNC. People - even people who don't like him say he's funny, he's irreverent, he's charming. What do you think about his pick?
AXELROD: Well, look, I think that he'll do a great job for Governor Romney. The problem for Governor Romney isn't his keynote speaker. It's his point of view.
And, you know, that's what I think Americans are going to evaluate - his history, his vision for the country. And so, you know, he'll have an entertaining keynote speaker, and no doubt that Governor Christie will do a good job and bring that lacerating humor of his to the task.
But it's not going - it's not going to make the vision any more appealing.
O'BRIEN: There are many Republicans who are cheering that vision, especially in his pick of Paul Ryan. Before he was named as a V.P. pick, he had a 23 percent - this is of Paul Ryan - favorability rating. Afterwards, it leaped 15 points. And anybody assessing that would say that's got to be a pretty good news for the Romney now Ryan campaign.
Are you worried about that?
AXELROD: No. I think anybody who is thrust into prominence overnight like that is going to raise his approval rating. And, you know, Sarah Palin did it. I think it's a natural thing.
He is a genial - I think the president is right. He is a genial person. The problem with Paul Ryan isn't him as a person. It's the point of view he represents. He is a right wing ideologue.
He believes, he voted for all the Bush economic policies in the last decade for the two unpaid wars, two unpaid tax cuts skewed to the wealthy, Medicare prescription drug.
O'BRIEN: He supported TARP.
AXELROD: He did indeed.
O'BRIEN: He supported the bailout of the auto industry.
AXELROD: And that - well, he did in the first instance. When the president followed through on it and made some demands of the auto industry to rationalize itself and make itself competitive in exchange for the help, he then opposed that part of the program. He supported President Bush's first tranche of money to the auto industry.
But in the main, Soledad, what he is advocating now is what Governor Romney is advocating now, which is to double down on the policies of the last decade - huge massive trillions of dollars in tax cuts skewed to the wealthy, $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, while the burdens are raised on the middle class. The Romney plan, for example, would raise taxes on the middle class as it nets out by about $2,000.
And then, of course, cuts, cuts in aid for college, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, for nursing home care and caring for people with disabilities. And the investment - just one more second - and the investments we need to grow the economy, research and development, energy.
So, you know, it is a profound change of direction. And one that takes us back to where we were before the disaster.
O'BRIEN: So, let's talk about Medicare, and we know where the Democrats are going to go in their attack on Medicare. I'll play you a little chunk on what we've been hearing over the last couple of days which I think very clearly spells out the strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both want to end Medicare as we know it.
REP. LEONARD BOSWELL (D), IOWA: Those of you out there that think that Medicare is a good thing, it will change and go to a voucher system if they have their way.
ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: I wouldn't trust the Republicans on Medicare as far as I could throw them.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
O'BRIEN: Yes, that's kind of a sense of the tenor, ending Medicare as we know it. I've heard that a bunch of times. And Republicans I think would argue, well, what it is actually about is changing Medicare to make it more solvent over the long-term. And, frankly, if you're 55 and under, you don't have to worry about it. And targeting older people, you know, is a scare tactic - sorry, 55 and older, you don't have to worry about it.
So targeting older people in states where there are a lot of old people like Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, et cetera, is really a scare tactic for the election.
AXELROD: Well, let's start from the fact that they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The changes that the president made in the Affordable Care Act, taking subsidies away from insurance companies within the Medicare system, helped us lengthen the life, the viability, financial viability, of Medicare by almost a decade. They would repeal that, and Medicare would be bankrupt by 2016.
So right away, there are concerns for seniors about what they would do. But in the long-term, what they would do is turn Medicare into a voucher program. They would cap that voucher so that over time, more and more of the burden would be shifted to seniors who would be left to contend on the private insurance market, or choose a very weakened Medicare alternative.
It is not a plan to strengthen Medicare. It's a death spiral for Medicare.
And let's be honest - the Republican Party has never been supportive of Medicare. And Congressman Ryan philosophically doesn't really believe in Medicare. And Romney has a version of the same plan.
So, you know, if Medicare is a concern, certainly you wouldn't choose them as the ticket that will stand up for Medicare.
O'BRIEN: An article in the "New York Times" said this, said, Mr. Obama said that Mr. Ryan had, quote, "an entirely legitimate proposal in his idea to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system."
He is quoted in Ryan Lizza's article from "The New Yorker" the other day. He has looked at the budget, this is President Obama, looked at the budget and made a serious proposal.
These are words from the president. He says this. I think Paul, for example, head of the budget committee, has looked at the budget and made a serious proposal.
That's President Obama talking about Paul Ryan.
It sounds like he is now flipping completely what he thinks.
AXELROD: Soledad, look, I couldn't agree more with the president. I think Congressman Ryan has made serious proposals. But they are seriously wrong.
As well, no one doubts that he's given this a lot of thought. But the fact of the matter is that his proposals would as I say lavish trillions of dollars of tax cuts mostly on the wealthy, would raise burdens on the middle class, would leave gaping holes in the budget, and would lead to cuts in the very things we need to grow our economy, education, research and development, energy.
We're in Iowa today, Congressman Ryan was here yesterday, and he said we support alternative renewable energy and we support bio energy and so on. But he opposes the very tax credits and so does Mitt Romney that has given rise to a whole wind energy industry here in Iowa that supports 7,000 jobs. They support subsidies for oil companies but they want to kill tax credits that will help grow industries like wind and solar and bio fuels.
O'BRIEN: John -
AXELROD: So this is not a vision for the future. This is very much taking us back.
O'BRIEN: John Sununu, who I was talking to earlier this morning, says, listen, you know, don't focus on the Ryan plan. Focus on the Romney plan. The Romney plan is different than the Ryan plan.
If Ryan is going to be the V.P., that puts him as the number two slot and he's not going to be calling the shots. He'll be like every other V.P. He'll be working for the number one guy, the president.
Here's what he told me earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: When Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not. That's a big difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That big difference, one has to imagine, is what they are going to be trying to sell in the state of Florida and all those other states where they are trying to get the message to older voters.
AXELROD: Well, let's first deal with the absolute falsehood in Governor Sununu's presentation. The president as I said took away subsidies, unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies, and he used that money to help lengthen the life of Medicare by nearly a decade. So when Governor Romney says he doesn't support that, obviously, you know, that's problematical.
And as I said, he supports the repeal of entire health care act and wants to have that debate all over again. If he did that, we would be facing a Medicare bankruptcy by 2016.
So in terms of whether Ryan - what role he will play, I can only tell you that Governor Romney said that he is the intellectual leader of the Republican Party. That suggests a much larger role.
When you look at their proposals side-by-side, they are really quite similar. Not just on economic issues, but social issues. Congressman Ryan supports making abortion illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, and this is a position that Governor Romney has supported over time.
So there are a lot of similarities between the positions. And yesterday, Governor Romney was asked to lay out some of the differences and he couldn't do it. So I think Governor Sununu is not giving you straight talk on that point.
O'BRIEN: David Axelrod joining us this morning. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your time.