Exclusive: GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan on 'Hannity'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: I caught up with Congressman Ryan at a campaign stop in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. That was earlier today, let's take a look.


Congressman Ryan, thanks for being with us.


HANNITY: All right. So, you knew you were on the short list, you knew you were being vetted. Then you get a call to go to Massachusetts, you throw on a baseball camp, were able to sneak through. Nobody -- not one person noticed you?

RYAN: No, I'm a big bow hunter so I had a bow hunting hat on, and blue jeans, and just a t-shirt. And I flew to Hartford, Connecticut, and then (INAUDIBLE) 19-year-old son Curt picked me up at the airport there and drove me to her house.

HANNITY: All right. And the media was on full VP watch.

RYAN: Uh-huh.

HANNITY: So, you're dropped off at your home and you sneak out in the back woods, you have to navigate through the woods to another family member's house.

RYAN: Yes. So, we live in the block I grew up on, and there are a patch of woods between the house I live in now and the house I grew up in. So, those are the woods I spent my childhood in building tree forts, and capture the flag, and all of that. And so I snuck through the woods.

HANNITY: So no New York Times reporter would be able to keep up in those woods?

RYAN: Right. So, they would -- yes. I'm an outdoorsy guy anyway. So, I know those woods like the back of my hand, and my chief staff just picks me up at the end of the block in his van, and we -- all along with my family and we flew out to Virginia.

HANNITY: All right. You've been in Congress 14 years, you're at this meeting with Governor Romney. What are you talking about in terms of him asking you to be his running mate?

RYAN: You know, it was one of the most moving conversations I've ever had with anybody. He told me where he thought the country was headed, how we got to get back on track, his life story, what is in his heart. And then be basically said, you share my values, and you have the kind of experience I'm going to need to help me fix this country's problems. Our experiences complement each other quite well. And we applied the same principles, founding principles, to the problems of the day. And he basically said, let's go fix this country.

HANNITY: And that's how he asked you?

RYAN: Pretty much, yes.

HANNITY: Sort of like a proposal?

RYAN: Yes.

HANNITY: And you were ready to go.

You know, look, there's been a lot of attacks already against you, but you kind of experienced this beforehand.

RYAN: I've been doing this a while.

HANNITY: The Paul Ryan look-a-like, throwing granny over the cliff. David Axelrod, you're right-wing ideologue, you views are dangerous, he said. What is your reaction to that negativity, that level of attacks just on you, and then we'll talk about Governor Romney.

RYAN: I'm used to it. It is what we expect from President Obama these days. Look, this is what you do if you can't run on your record. President Obama clearly cannot run on his record. All he's offering is more of the same. That's not good. Look at the economy. It's stagnating.

And so, what they're now going to try and do is bring this campaign down to little things, distractions, distortions, smear, fear, anger, frustration.

This is just that.

HANNITY: Uh-huh.

RYAN: The country is not going to buy it this time. Hope and change? We're not doing that anymore. They're doing attack and blame.

And so, I just think people are going to see through this. They want real leadership. They want us to get this country on the right track.

So, yes, it's a referendum on the president's failed leadership, but it's also a positive vision that we're offering about how to get our country back on track. The president, he can't compete with that. He's not offering that. That's why they're doing those types of attacks.

HANNITY: But they're doing these attacks, but do you worry that on some level that they may work? In other words, look, they basically accuse Governor Romney of being responsible for a woman's cancer death. They've called him a felon. They said he's a tax cheat. They can't -- President Obama himself said their plan is for dirty air and dirty water.

RYAN: Right.

HANNITY: And kids with autism and Down syndrome and the elderly will quote, "fend for themselves."

RYAN: Right.

HANNITY: What is the best way to counter this?

RYAN: I'm not worried about this. I'm really not worried about this at all. Because people see through this. Look, I represent a Congressional district that voted for Clinton, Gore, Dukakis and Obama. My average is about 63 percent re-election. I'm a conservative. Why is that? It's because people are ready to be talked to like adults. They're ready to have solutions offered to them. And they'll see through this. They don't want to be pandered to like children. They don't want all this negative distortion kind of campaign.

So, I just don't think people are going to buy this. And when they see that we're offering actual solutions, you know, the Romney plan for stronger middle class, how to create jobs, how to have economic growth and opportunity turned back on in America as a contrast to the president's failed record. Look at his record, it's terrible.

So he can't run on that. He didn't moderate his positions. If anything, he went far to the left lately. And so, that's what he's reduced to. And I just don't think people aren't going to see it. And the more he throws of this negative campaigning, I think the less credibility he has. And I just think that's why I don't -- I don't think the country is going to stand for it.

HANNITY: The interesting phenomenon in your district, you're in a pretty Democratic district, last four presidential races they went Democratic, they voted for Obama by four percent, and one in five of those Obama voters switched down ticket to vote for you. They split their ticket.

RYAN: Right. I'm used to that.

HANNITY: What is your then appeal as a conservative, very different vision for Obama, how do you explain they vote for Obama on the top of the ticket and they vote for Paul Ryan --

RYAN: The secret to understanding me is, I'm not trying to be anybody other than who I actually am. People want candid, refreshing leadership. And I've always tried to go with solutions. You know, I've always tried to say, here's how we get our economy growing, here's why we get our debt under control. That's what Mitt Romney is offering.

That's what the Romney plan is all about, how to get jobs created, how to get this debt and deficit under control, how to revive small businesses so we can create jobs, and how to bring growth and opportunity to society instead of this class warfare, instead of speaking to people like they're stuck in some class or station in life.

The president is preying on the darker emotions within people. Fear, envy, anxiety. We're trying to go back to the American people with an agenda that's uplifting, that produces economic growth, opportunity, that gets the American idea back on track before it's too late.

HANNITY: What is your relationship with President Obama? We all got a chance to go back and look at both you and President Obama on the health care issue. How is that relationship?

RYAN: Well, we've obviously known each other for some time. We've debated each other fairly vigorously on these issues. I think it's one of mutual respect, but just very strong principled disagreements on just governing philosophy. I think he's basically given us his philosophy here and there on occasion, you know, like he said in Roanoke, Virginia, if you have a small business, you didn't build that, someone else did.

That reveals a philosophy of a leader who believes we ought to have a government-centered society and a government-driven economy. That doesn't work. Look at any other country that's tried that agenda, it's failed. It's failing in Europe. They're in the middle of a debt crisis. And the problem we have is all these empty promises that government makes to people become broken promises.

So, in Europe, they're cutting people's retirement and health benefits. And that's what we want to avoid from happening. They're raising taxes, entering a recession. That's the kind of economic program that President Obama has put in place. We have the biggest government since World War II, the largest deficits since World War II, 23 million people struggling to find work.

Under President Obama's policies is the poverty rates in this country are the highest they've ever been. Nearly one in six Americans are in poverty. It's not working. He obviously knows that, but he hasn't changed his tune. He's offering more of the same. And we're offering a very clear break with that and a path to prosperity and opportunity and growth.

HANNITY: The president at different times, though, said that he was going to fix these things. He said he'd cut the deficit in half, he said he'd create jobs. We have fewer Americans working now.

RYAN: Right.

HANNITY: What -- he talked about a stimulus, shovel-ready jobs. They weren't so shovel-red to quote him. What went wrong? Because obviously, he wouldn't have fought for these programs if he didn't think they'd be successful? What do you think went wrong?

RYAN: Well, I think that's right. He had everything he wanted, except for cap-and-trade, which was filibustered, now he's trying to deliver that through the EPA and regulations. So, remember, the first two years of his presidency, his party controlled all of government. So, he got almost every item on his agenda passed. It failed because these policies don't work. More regulating, more taxing, more borrowing, more spending, that doesn't work.

Having what I call crony capitalism, where you take money from successful small businesses, spend it in Washington on favored industries, on favored individuals, picking winners and losers in the economy, that's not pro-growth economics. That's not entrepreneurial economics. That's not helping small businesses. That's cronyism, that's corporate welfare.

It doesn't work. It's never worked. The president is still wedded to it. And that's why you have such a failure of leadership. And that's why I just don't think people are going to rehire this president, because number one, it failed. Number two, he's just promising more of the same. And number three, we're offering a very clear break with that and a path to get back on to prosperity.


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