Interviews

Critics fired up over new video by Rep. Paul Ryan

CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder on America's mounting debt

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Our top business story, Kate Upton steaming up the screen for this ad for a Hardees' new burger.

But there's another video always drawing a lot of heat in Washington, this one ad by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who says if you want to see something immoral, just look what is happening with the nation's debt.

Already, some Democrats are blasting his budget advice. And Paul Ryan is not here and neither is Kate Upton, but the power and the force behind Kate Upton is, CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder.

I should explain Andy is a big backer of Mitt Romney, just to get the politics out of the way. Andy, what do you make of the fact here that Paul Ryan will be targeted because he is revisiting some views that he is looking at draconian cuts to near and dear entitlement? The last time they portrayed him as throwing granny off a cliff. Now what?

ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: You have to be blind not to see that Kate Upton is gorgeous and those are burgers.

But how blind do you have to be not to know that a $15 trillion debt which we increase every year -- that’s larger than our gross national product, which we increase every year by another $1 trillion, is just something that makes absolutely no sense?

You could not do this in the business community, you could not do it with your family and I think you have to be someone from Washington, D.C., who has been in Washington a long time to even approach this with any semblance of being rational -- just its irrational. You cannot make sense of it.

I think Congressman Ryan is right on point and he should continue saying what he is saying.

CAVUTO: By the way, we could do worse than to have Kate Upton do a national debt commercial urging everyone to pay something. I think you could probably halve this baby in a week.

(CROSSTALK)

PUZDER: It would probably work out better than it is working now.

CAVUTO: Well, you’re right about that.

We don’t do that, though, and maybe the way we sell tough love we should expect tough luck. So, your candidate being Mitt Romney, does he effectively register that in a way that is appealing?

PUZDER: Mitt is the one candidate out there who didn’t grow up in government and live in government. Not only has he had a job in the real world.

CAVUTO: Well, he did grow up in government in a way, right? He was a son of a governor.

(CROSSTALK)

PUZDER: Well, that's true, but not in his business career. He ran small companies and had to balance the budget and he ran large companies and a huge company and balanced the budget.

He balanced it at the Olympics. He balanced it, a state budget. This is somebody he lives and breathes this stuff. He is not out there talking about colonies on the moon or whether women should be in the front lines in combat or whether they’re should speak Spanish in Puerto Rico. He is out talking about the economy. He knows how to fix it and he knows what needs to be done.

This is his time. Here is clearly, clearly the best candidate for this office.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But is his tough love tough enough? You talk about entitlement programs and the like. When I last him here, Andy, I think you and I have talked about this a number of times, he does want to rein in entitlements.

Actually, when you look at his specifics, he is not shirking the not- so-pleasant news. For example, when I had him, it was his 65th birthday, and he did talk about means testing Social Security, among other things.

That might not resonate well in the fall, when Democrats throw that back at him and say he wants to do the same as Paul Ryan and throw granny off the cliff. How will Americans respond to that? Because say what you will of the attacks on Paul Ryan, he didn't get much support even from fellow Republicans.

PUZDER: I think when you look at country overall and you have to get away from pundits and analysts, but when you talk to people out there in kind of what we will call the real world, in the private sector, people fundamentally know something has changed over the past four years.

They know there are problems with the budget. They know there are problems with the way government is run, and they know government has gotten larger, and they know entitlements have changed. But something fundamental about America has changed and I think people sense that this is something that they don't want. These are changes that were not good for the country, they’re not good for their children, they’re not good for their grandchildren.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I didn't mean to cut that theme, but here is the thing I'm seeing.

You are a very good marketer. Who else would brings someone like Upton in to sell a burger? And I know your burgers are great, but if she’s eating them, I would be shocked. That’s all I'm saying. And your burgers are fantastic.

(CROSSTALK)

PUZDER: She says she loves them.

CAVUTO: She says she loves them. Fine. OK.

PUZDER: I will trust her.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I am just looking at the marketing of Mitt Romney. And I’m wondering if he is getting that kind of message across the way you just did, and whether that is feeding the doubts about him.

I know the South is one thing and other things came into play. But the longer this drags on and your message might not be resonating with enough folks, you need a new marketing campaign or maybe you need a new marketer. What do you think?

PUZDER: Well, and I don't want to get into the numbers.

You can have any number of people on here talking -- he is ahead in delegates.

CAVUTO: I understand. I understand.

PUZDER: He's -- 7.9 million votes ahead, he is ahead in popular vote.

But he really is -- this is his time. This is the time we need someone like Mitt Romney and thank God we have someone who can come in and really, seriously address the problems. And I do think, when you get into the campaign, and you really sort of wonder what Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich are thinking at this point, because the best scenario for them is a brokered convention. A brokered convention is only good for one candidate and that is President Obama. So, I’m really not sure what their endgame is here. But we have got a candidate who can solve the problems and who can address the issues with the country. I think the country knows they are serious. And I think they know that Governor Mitt Romney is serious about fixing them. And I think that will make a huge difference in November.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But you know as a CEO of great accomplishment yourself that there are others out there who are competing with you, the longer it drags out for the selection, the guys still left standing after you win, if it is dragged out, they will not be happy campers. They're just not going to be.

PUZDER: Well, I do think this dragging it out is a bad thing. I think it’s bad for the Republican Party and I think it's bad for the country, and I think it is bad for the two candidates that are dragging it out. I wish they would stop it.

Again, I really don’t see the endgame here for them. You can’t possibly think that it is in our nation’s interests or the Republican Party's interests to drag this to a brokered convention.

They keep talking about they don’t want the elites to decide this, but who do they think decides it in a brokered convention? Its called a brokered convention because there's brokers.

I can tell you that I was in Washington twice in the past 30 days. I testified in front of a congressional committee, met a lot of congressmen and met a lot of senators, a lot of Republicans and Democrats. And I can tell you the last thing that people in Congress want is to have Gingrich or Santorum at the top of this ticket, which is why you see Governor Romney getting so many party endorsements.

CAVUTO: All right.

PUZDER: Dragging it out to the convention just doesn't make sense. And I wish people in those camps would realize it. You vote for Santorum, you vote for Gingrich, you are really voting for President Obama and hurting the Republican Party.

CAVUTO: Well, they might disagree somewhat with that.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But, Andy, the one thing amazing about you, you have been in the fast-food business for decades and you are thin as a rail, so God bless you.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Andy Puzder, thank you. Good to see you again.

PUZDER: Thank you, Neil. Good seeing you.

CAVUTO: All right.

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