OTR Interviews

Why granny still loves Paul Ryan

Despite Democratic claims about Ryan's Medicare plan, seniors still seem to have a positive view of GOP vice presidential candidate


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did the Democrats call this one wrong? They were certain their strategy would sweep them to victory, painting Congressman Paul Ryan and his Medicare plan as dangerous for seniors, saying it will end Medicare as we know it.

But seems their strategy might have been a tad bit wrong. A brand-new Washington Post/ABC News poll says 49 percent of seniors still like Congressman Paul Ryan. Now, that is higher than the general population Paul Ryan poll numbers. So what does this mean for the Romney-Ryan team? And if the Democrats thought attacking Congressman Ryan on Medicare would be the golden ticket, now what?

Democratic strategist Joe Trippi joins us. And I suppose the "now what" might be a little bit of Mr. Akin. But we'll get to that. But tell me, what do these numbers mean?

JOE TRIPPI, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's too early to tell. The first thing is, is that what I think's happening is that all the partisans are choosing sides. So if you like Romney -- you know, Ryan's getting up into the 40s on his favorable. And if you prefer Obama, guess what? Thirty-seven -- you're getting near the 40s on his unfavorable rating.

So I think really right now all that's happening is partisans are picking sides. However, look, he does have a net favorable rating. That's important because he's one of the only people in the race that has that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has a what?

TRIPPI: A net favorable, I mean, where he's more favorable than unfavorable. That's really important, particularly for Romney, who is upside down on his. He's got a higher unfavorable than a favorable.

So I think right now, you've got to say, look, it's a net plus for the ticket, that -- where Ryan's favorable is. But the other thing is, look, policies -- there's always been a difference between favorables and where people rank these guys on their policies. I mean, Barack Obama has got a higher favorable than he has job approval. And -- and...

VAN SUSTEREN: So in other words, you say, Oh, he's a nice guy, is what you're saying...

TRIPPI: I like him...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... whether, I like Ryan or I like Obama, but I don't agree with him.

TRIPPI: But I don't agree with him on Medicare or I don't agree with the president on "ObamaCare." I mean, that -- both those things are true. They like Obama. They like Ryan. But it's better to be liked than not liked. So that's good.

But sooner or later, it does get to the policies. And I don't think we've seen who's going to win that war yet on not just Medicare, but on cuts in Pell grants. I mean, there's all kinds of things that -- that affect women, which is -- and again with the Todd Akin thing on -- you know, on forcible rape or "legitimate" rape that Ryan gets sort of caught up in.

This is, like, you're starting to push the gender gap again, which I think was closing a little bit for the Romney team. And now I think -- I don't -- I haven't seen polling that shows it's widening, but I suspect it is.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, when you're in the midst of these stories, they always seem so important, so huge, so defining, and then you go on a little bit and you forget about them a little bit. And I'm curious whether -- I mean, right now, we're in the midst of this and looking at that gender gap and knowing that -- what it would do to Missouri if the seat went Democrat, not Republican, should president -- should Governor Romney be elected.

I'm curious. Is this a short-term thing that we're immersed in, or is this one going to haunt the Republican Party?

TRIPPI: This -- I think this is going to haunt the Republican Party all the way to November. I mean, you know, Sarah Palin's talking about running a third-party candidate in that -- or a write-in candidate.

VAN SUSTEREN: But wouldn't that help them? I mean -- I mean, the Republican Party...

TRIPPI: That would help the Democrats...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... has thrown -- has said to this guy, Get out. That's good, right, for the Republican Party?

TRIPPI: Right, but you get two people in, and the Democrats win the seat for sure. I mean -- I mean, this -- we've got -- the entire Senate could be hanging in the balance in November over Todd Akin and supposed "legitimate" rape and -- and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Whatever. What...

TRIPPI: I mean...


VAN SUSTEREN: The "legitimate" rape thing is...

TRIPPI: No, but I mean, and then you have -- like I said, you -- I think you've got -- it's not -- we keep focusing on the Medicare part of the Ryan budget. There's all kinds of other cuts in there, cuts in Pell grants and education, and a lot of these are issues that affect women. So I -- so we haven't seen the end of that.

And then you tie that to the Todd Akin, to Ryan working with Akin on the forcible rape -- definition of rape in the bill -- I mean, there are just some things that are -- that Ryan could get caught up in here that aren't going to be helpful to Romney in the end.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we got 20 seconds left...

TRIPPI: I think he was the right pick. Look, I was for Ryan being picked, and that wasn't because it was -- I was being a liberal Democrat going, Oh, yes, it'd be great. I wasn't. I really think Romney had to pick somebody that was going to shake the race up, put some bold policies out there. I think Ryan's that guy. But I do think there's a down side and it's not -- this isn't, you know, cleared up yet. It's too early to tell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Joe, thank you.