OTR Interviews

RNC Chair: Biden's mission was to save Obama's campaign ... he'd make a lousy lifeguard

RNC Chair Reince Priebus sounds off on Joe Biden's antics during the VP debate, previews the second presidential debate and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 12, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Grimace, sneer, smirk, laugh, well, whatever you call it, everyone is talking about it!


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: Joe took a couple of five-hour energy drinks beforehand. Maybe he overdid it a little bit and came out there as Mr. Aggressive, and obviously, has very white teeth.


ROVE: That he likes to grimace and show and grin as much as possible.

REP. PAUL RYAN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan...

BIDEN: Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?

REP. ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: If you're someone still tuning in, undecided on this election, what you saw was a class act in Paul Ryan. You saw somebody who's certainly up for the job, versus a Joe Biden who was Joe Biden.

BIDEN: They talk about this great recession as if it fell out of the sky. Like, Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I am aware that the consensus opinion seems to be that Biden was mean, rude, disrespectful. The Joe Biden that you saw last night is the Democrat party. It's the modern Democrat party, particularly the last 12 years. It's who they are.

BIDEN: Incredible.

LIMBAUGH: Biden did exactly what was desired, and in the process hurt himself and Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vice president is authentic. What you see is what you get. He didn't bring a bunch of canned political talking points like Congressman Ryan did. And I think he reached a lot of Americans in doing so.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: I just don't think you should be laughing during a discussion about thermonuclear war with Iran.

RYAN: Thank heavens we have these sanctions in place. It's in spite of their opposition.

BIDEN: Oh, God!

BROKAW: However amused you are, it's about tone, as well

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what do you do?

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think he was really sent on a mission because the president was just the opposite. He was very lethargic. He was very -- just the opposite of what you saw last night from Biden.

MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Now, did you get a chance to watch the debate last night? Yes. I think you might agree with me that there was one person on stage last night who was thoughtful and respectful, steady and poised, the kind of person you want to turn to in a crisis. And that was the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan!

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you talk about him smiling, and this is a matter of policy -- when Congressman Ryan starts attacking the administration over the Recovery Act and the split screen shows the vice president smiling, I can tell you, I can guess why he was smiling because he knew how hypocritical that was.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS, DEBATE MODERATOR: I have a feeling you have a few things to say.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST "HANNITY": Did Al Gore prepare Biden for this debate?


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: You and I were talking before we went on the air, reminded me of when Gore got over in Bush's face back in 2000.

HANNITY: Oh, man!

THEN-GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what the question in this campaign is about. It's not only what's your philosophy and what's your position on issues, but can you get things done? And I believe I can.

LIMBAUGH: These people are worried about their taxes, their Social Security, what the hell they're going to have to pay to get us out of this debt. And we got old man Biden there laughing about it? And then he starts laughing in a discussion about security and dead ambassadors. He was laughing about practically everything for the first half hour. I'll bet you a bunch of young people did see an overbearing father that they think doesn't get it. I'll bet you.


VAN SUSTEREN: And today, RNC Chair Reince Priebus calling Vice President Biden's debate performance "unhinged," chairman Priebus tweeting, "The smirk didn't work." He joins us. Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I expect the Republican Party not to be impressed with Vice President Biden last night, smiles or no smiles. What was surprising to me is Tom Brokaw, NBC's Tom Brokaw coming down hard on the vice president for smirking about when we were talking about nuclear war with Iran.

PRIEBUS: Yes. Well, look, I think serious people that looked at Joe Biden's behavior last night, they weren't impressed with it. And even people that thought that Joe Biden did an otherwise decent job also threw into the conversation -- look, it may have been much better if he didn't distract everyone by his own actions.

Look, I thought that Paul Ryan displayed a real gentlemanly, decent, good-natured person that was intelligent, well versed on the issues, and how he just sat there and took that embarrassing shrapnel coming from Joe Biden.

Look, if it was Joe Biden's mission to save the Obama campaign, I mean, he'd make a lousy lifeguard, I'll tell you that. He was just somebody that I think just fell flat.

And I thought that, in the end, what this will be remembered for won't, unfortunately, be the substance of what happened, except for a couple of Biden gaffes, it was Biden's miserable behavior on that stage.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know...

PRIEBUS: It was sad for him because I don't think he's a nasty guy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, no, he -- people who know him like him. He's a nice guy.

PRIEBUS: But it was a sad night for him, I think, as a person.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think, as a practical matter, it made -- it -- first of all, it changed the narrative. I assume that the Obama campaign wanted the narrative to be substantive about what happened and what the vice president said. Instead, all we do is talk about his smirking. That's all anybody's talking about today. So anything achieved there -- for the most part, vice presidential debates are in some ways a little bit political theater.


VAN SUSTEREN: And we just have to see if the new -- the one who's on a ticket who we haven't seen before, whether he's up for the job. And whether you agree with vice -- with Congressman Ryan or not, he's up for the job. I think everyone agrees. They may not agree with him politically, but he's competent.

But otherwise, it's just -- it was just -- this has been such a distraction.

PRIEBUS: But the momentum is what matters. And so even though I was impressed with Paul, I was proud of the way he sat there and did such a credible and intelligent job -- when we walked into the auditorium, we had the momentum in this race. And when we got in the car and drove back to the hotel, we still had the momentum in this race. And tonight, we have the momentum in the race. So they didn't win anything!

VAN SUSTEREN: Did -- did you talk to Congressman Ryan last night?

PRIEBUS: I did, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: And what sort of -- off -- off-substance did he have to say about, besides the issues? I mean...

PRIEBUS: I think he was feeling pretty good. I mean, I think that he was -- he understood, I think, what Joe Biden was trying to pull off there. And I don't think it worked. I mean, his debate coach, whoever was coaching him -- I don't know if it was Van Hollen or Ed Schultz, but whoever was coaching him gave him some bad advice because it fell flat. And I think Paul did what he had to do, which is to be decent and to be smart and be persistent.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask now about the substance. The Obama campaign has sent out -- you know, both -- everyone sends out statements to us all the time. What it says in part tonight -- it says, "Romney and Ryan want to cut taxes by $250,000 for multi-millionaires and pay for it by raising taxes on the middle class." Basically saying...

PRIEBUS: Yes, they just keep on coming with this lie. They just keep on coming. And you know what? Barack Obama tried that a week and-a-half ago in Denver. And it fell flat because...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they call you guys the liars.

PRIEBUS: Well, listen, I mean, they haven't been able to produce anything. I mean, these guys are incredible. They talked about -- you know, the first thing -- Well, where are the specifics? I mean, what are you talking about? We're going to get lectured by a bunch of Democrats and the president and Joe Biden when they haven't passed a budget in three-and- a-half years, contrary to the law!

And we have the five-point plan that we go over and over and over, the 59-point plan, the Wyden-Ryan plan, the Ryan budget. I mean, we've got plans coming out of our ears, and these guys haven't done their job in four years! They've put this country in the ditch! They can't talk about any of their own record! They have nothing to talk about! That's why they fall flat.

They're going into a closing argument without a single good fact on their side. And there isn't -- you can get the best lawyer in America to defend you, but if you've lousy facts, you're losing the case. That's what their problem is. They're losing the case because they have no case!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, strategy, Tuesday night. I imagine that President Obama is going to come prepared. And he's going to be gunning for your candidate.

PRIEBUS: But he's got to have a case, right? He can come prepared, but eventually, he's got to be able to tell the American people what he did right, why we're going broke, why people are out of work, why he couldn't get it done when he had a majority in the House and the Senate. That's his problem! Because he has to answer to the American people, and he can't!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's going to interesting because it's going to be town hall.

PRIEBUS: Yes. You know, that'll be interesting, but in the end, he's going to have to account for his record, and that's his problem. He cannot make a good case to the American people for the misery that we have endured for four years on his watch.

You know, I think he forgets that he's been president for four years. And I'm sure that Governor Romney's going to remind him. And he knows it, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: Reince, thank you. Nice to see you.

PRIEBUS: All right.