Exclusive: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan react to first presidential debate

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The consensus is in. Governor Mitt Romney was the decisive winner in last night's presidential debate. Now, in a moment, I will be joined for an exclusive interview by both Governor Romney and his running-mate Congressman Paul Ryan.

But first, although, even the most left-wing political observers and pundits have conceded that their candidate bombed without his teleprompter last night, Obama aides are trying to peg all of their candidate's stumbling and bumbling on Mitt Romney. Believe it or not, yes, they are accusing the governor of lying. Of course, they are the ones that are. Watch this.


DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Again and again and again, he told the story to the American people that is completely in contrast with what he said before and unfounded in fact. And that's going to catch up with him. I think that I give him credit for strong performance. I give him an "F" for being honest with the American people.

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    HANNITY: All right. Here's the sad truth. For 90 minutes, it was President Obama who lied about his record, it was President Obama who lied about what he would do in a second term. You want proof? Here it is.


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, OCT. 4: If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth. The truth.

    GRAPHIC: President Obama vs. the truth.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Now, with a fact check of the debate.

    UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This claim is based on a fiscal fiction.

    ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: The bipartisan nonprofit Committee for Responsible Federal Budget has called that a gimmick. And the president is also counting on savings agreed to last year when the White House and Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling.

    OBAMA: Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I rate that mostly fiction. Mostly fiction.

    MITCHELL: Tonight, President Obama said that his plan would cut the deficit by $4 trillion. That estimate comes from a left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    OBAMA: Social Security is structurally sound. It's going to have to be tweaked

    MITCHELL: But according to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security will run into financial trouble by 2030. The amount Social Security pays out will exceed the tax revenue coming in.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: President Obama accused Mitt Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut into adding to the deficit. But the nonpartisan web site Factcheck.org says that is not true. Another questionable statement, Obama again said, he would raise taxes on upper income people only to the rates they were when Bill Clinton was president. But actually, many high-income people would pay more than they did then.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That's not true.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mostly fiction.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Another questionable statement --

    GRAPHIC: Obama' can't lead. So instead he misleads. America deserves better.

    OBAMA: If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.


    HANNITY: And joining me now for an exclusive interview, the very first since last night's showdown, our Republican presidential candidate, Governor Mitt Romney and his running-mate Congressman Paul Ryan. By the way, Congressman Ryan, I know you have to leave in a couple of minutes. So, you won't be here the entire time.

    All right. Governor, you went into last night's debate. There were a couple of polls out, they said that Barack Obama was a two to one favorite, clearly a good night for you. What's your take?

    MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I was pleased that I had the chance to talk about my vision for America. The president was able to answer some questions that I posed that I think Americans across the country have wanted to have answered. And it was an evening of substance. I am happy that Jim Lehrer was willing to ask us our positions on issues and we could describe those. It was not a big gotcha night coming from the moderator, but instead, a chance for the president and I to go toe to toe on important issues people care about.

    So, I thought it was a helpful night. I think in the final analysis, people will decide what kind of America they want.

    HANNITY: Congressman Ryan, you are up next. There have been a lot of controversial statement, I'll show the tape in a little bit, but to save a little bit of time, in recent weeks, Joe Biden has said that the middle class, the last four years has been buried. And today, he went out there and said he's going to raise taxes, yes, we plan to raise taxes over $1 trillion. Your reaction?

    PAUL RYAN, GOP VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He was half right. It's about $2 trillion. But, you know, every now and then, Joe is little candid. He drops the veil and he speaks with candor. And yes, the middle class has been buried over the last four years. He was right when he said that. Yes, they are proposing a massive tax increase. And two years ago, when they said they were going to prevent this tax increase because of a bad economy, the economy is growing slower today than it was then when they said that.

    So, they don't have a record to run on. This is why they're running the kind of campaign they're running. What I am excited, Sean, is last night, the American people got to see the guy I know -- a decisive, optimistic, confident leader. A person with a plan to create jobs and grow the economy. That's what the country saw. So they now know they have a very clear choice. Growth, opportunity or stagnation and dependency. The president is basically saying, four more years of the same. And Mitt gave them a better choice.

    HANNITY: Congressman, because I know you have to go and you are going to be introducing Governor Romney at an event soon, I will ask you one last question if I can. Because you have -- you are best known as being a numbers guy. Governor Romney, your running-mate is running for president, last night, pointed out the state of our economy, one in six Americans are in poverty, 25 million un and under-employed, 17 million more Americans on the last four years on food stamps, that's 49 million Americans. Governor, I didn't know the statistics you brought up last night, but apparently 50 percent of college students are having a hard time getting that first job. And we've got $6 trillion in new Obama debt in four years.

    You told me once, Congressman, that we have got maybe two or three years before an economic calamity. Explain what you mean?

    RYAN: Yes. That's what the experts have been coming to the budget committee for years saying which is, if we keep staying on this path, we will have a debt crisis much like what is engulfing Europe. We have to get off this path. Mitt Romney's proposed a plan to get us off this path. President Obama is doubling down on this same direction.

    So, that's the point we're making, Sean. We can't keep spending money we don't have. We will have a debt crisis, much like that in Europe. And they say, we don't have that much time. So, we have a window of opportunity. The next president will decide how this is determined. This man has put a plan out there to prevent that from happening to get the economy growing, we prevent a debt crisis and we save those people who depend on these programs so much that they have been promised for them. That is what we're going to do, and the country last night saw the choice get have to make.

    HANNITY: All right. One last question while the two of you together. Governor Romney, you brought up last night the $716 billion that was taken out of Medicare to help fund ObamaCare. When you were on "60 Minutes," you pointed out that you had a slight disagreement. Do you guys want to debate that while I have the opportunity of the two of you together?

    ROMNEY: Well, probably not. My guess is we'll be debating with the other guys.

    HANNITY: Yes.

    ROMNEY: The one thing we both agree on and that is, that the President's plan to use $716 billion to fund ObamaCare is a mistake. And we are running on the same platform, we're putting that money back into Medicare taking care of our seniors.

    RYAN: And we are also against the ObamaCare board that will cut programs for the seniors. They will actually put price controls at leads to denied care for current seniors. That was a fantastic moment at the debate last night. Seniors see a very clear choice. We are going to protect this program, the president's raiding the program and it will lead to rationing of this program.

    HANNITY: Doesn't it say in the bill -- correct me if I'm wrong -- about 4,000 times that the board ultimately decides or some number thereabout? Am I wrong, Congressman?

    RYAN: They have lots of commissions in different boards that they cite. This one is one that's in charge of Medicare.

    HANNITY: All right. Congressman, we're going to let you go. Thank you for being with us. Governor Romney stays with us.

    RYAN: Thanks, Sean. We have 12,000 people out here excited to see us.

    HANNITY: All right. Well, I don't want the -- 12,000 people -- we only have four million people here who want to see you. But, so, we are competing. Thank you very much for your time.

    Let's go to a montage as we go back to Governor Romney, some of his best moments from last night.


    ROMNEY: I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut -- I don't have a tax cut of the scale that you are talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I am not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They will do fine whether you are president or I am. The people who are having a hard time right now are middle-income Americans. Under the president's policies, middle income Americans have been buried. They are just being crushed.

    ROMNEY: I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running-mate keep saying that and I know it's a popular thing to say with a lot of people. But it's just not the case. Look, I got five boys. I am used to people saying something that's not always true but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping that I will believe it. But that is not the case.

    ROMNEY: My priority is putting people back to work in America. They are suffering in this country. And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It's absolutely extraordinary. We have 23 million people out of work, or stopped looking for work in this country.


    ROMNEY: When the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps, 47 million on food stamps today.

    ROMNEY: I'm sorry, Jim. I am going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things -- I like PBS, I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.

    ROMNEY: You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I have been in business for 25 years, I have no idea what you are talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant, but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas, is simply not the case.


    HANNITY: And do you agree Governor that maybe the altitude had an impact on the president last night because that was Al Gore's theory.

    ROMNEY: Look, it was a chance for each of us to describe our vision for the country. And the president talked about his vision, which was basically a continuation of the policies of the last four years. He wants another stimulus. He wants to have government investing for us. He wants to hire more government workers. He wants to raise taxes, as the Vice President Biden blurted out today, they want to raise taxes by a trillion dollars, or more like $2 trillion by our calculation.

    But look, he has laid out the same policies he has been following for the last four years. And I don't think that sells very well when people hear that. He also didn't have the chance to continue to misrepresent my views. I got the chance to present my own perspectives. And I think that helped me.

    HANNITY: Do you think to some extent that the Obama campaign has overreached by calling you a tax cheat and attacking Bain Capital and even suggesting that you were responsible for the death of this man's wife, Joe Soptic, et cetera, et cetera, in other words, they spent millions and millions of dollars advancing a narrative against you, you know, the president himself saying that your plan is for dirty air and dirty water and you want kids with autism and Down syndrome, the elderly to fend for themselves.

    To some extent that, do you think that by over reaching and then when people had the chance to see you both side by side that it maybe, that that partly played into the overwhelming belief by the American people that you are not this evil monster that Barack Obama painted you to be?

    ROMNEY: Well, that may be part of the event last night. That's what I hoped we would have the chance to do, is to actually see people and describe what I want to do to help the American people. You know, I have watched this, some of the attacks that have come my way. And you just shake your head. I do recall that in the president's acceptance speech four years ago, he said that if you don't have a record to run on, you attack your opponent. You try and disqualify your opponent. And early on in this campaign, there were Democrat strategists, one in particular, who said their campaign strategy was to kill Romney -- hopefully, not literally.

    This kind of character assassination is something which I think has gone way too far and I think is an unfortunate part of this campaign on the president's part. I think it diminishes the White House. The nice thing about last night from my standpoint, we each got to talk about our own vision for America and where we take it. And I think the American people in the final analysis, will put aside the theatrics and will focus on who can make my life better. And I am convinced that the policies I described will make life better for the American people.

    HANNITY: With 35 days to go, it is obvious -- I was watching David Axelrod on the morning programs this is morning, like you, I am sure you didn't get much sleep. There is now a concerted effort to deconstruct what happened last night. And sort of like, make people doubt what they saw. And the term that we played earlier that you lied, that you misrepresented, that you were acting. Well, the president in Denver today kind of doubled down on the same narrative. And I wanted to give you a chance to respond to what he said earlier today.


    OBAMA: So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney's decisions and what he has been saying for the last year. And that's because he knows full well that we don't want what he has been selling for the last year.


    So, Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.


    HANNITY: Seems like he's insinuating Governor that you were lying. Your reaction?

    ROMNEY: Well, obviously, the president wasn't happy with -- the response to -- to our debate last night. And the reality is that over the last couple of years, I have been followed by -- I don't know how many members of the media. It's quite a crew that we travel around with. And they go to my rallies and go to the round tables I participate in. And they hear the things that I am saying to folks. And it's the same message I have been saying across America, which is, I want to bring our tax rates down. I want to lower deductions and exemptions, broaden the base, if you will, particularly for people at the high end. I don't want to bring a big tax reduction for people at the top end. I want their share of the tax burden to remain as it is today. I want to help middle-income taxpayers. These are messages I have been talking about across America.

    And what I find so offensive about his tax plan is by raising taxes on small business, as he does, he will kill jobs. And right now, what America needs, as much as anything else is more jobs. More jobs, more take-home pay. That's the whole focus of my campaign. And I know what the president's been campaigning on and saying about me is very different than what I actually am, what I actually believe. And I think that's where the difference came. What the President's been saying and the reality are pretty far apart.

    HANNITY: Let me ask you this, because one of the things that the liberals were so angry about and -- you didn't bring up, for example, a moment that I am sure the president would long like to forge, when the president said that people in the Midwest and Pennsylvania, Ohio, were bitter, clinging to God, guns, Bibles, religion, a comment that he made back in the 2008 campaign. But the left seems furious at this tape where you talk about the 47 percent. Why didn't President Obama bring that up? What would you have said if he did bring it up?

    ROMNEY: Well, clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you are going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong. And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent and that's been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent. When I become president, it will be about helping the 100 percent.

    As I put it out last night in the debate, the rich in this country are actually doing better under President Obama. The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger. The rich will probably do fine, even if he's re-elected. It's the middle class that is in real trouble if President Obama is re-elected, and the poor. I want the poor to get into the middle class. So many have fallen into poverty by virtue of his policies. So this for me is all about the 100 percent.

    And, you know, the president can talk about the thing he would like to talk about. I am going to talk about how I'm going to get America working again and help all the people of this country.

    HANNITY: It seemed like the president had a hard time -- he kept telling you about your plan and you kept correcting him, no, there you go against, sort of moment. That's not my plan. You were saying some very specific things about how to increase revenues to the government, how to balance the budget, including putting the $716 billion back into Medicare. Not gutting our defenses. Keeping tax rates low and cutting taxes for the middle class. And the president doesn't seem to understand that fewer people needing government assistance, more people working, a growing economy, results in more revenues to the government. And people are saying, well, the math doesn't add up.

    I want to give you another shot to explain it because maybe some people don't understand exactly what you are saying and how it is that a growing, thriving economy actually is good for the federal government because they benefit with revenue.

    ROMNEY: Well, I think people can understand that if you raise taxes, you might say, well, that's going to bring more money to the government. But don't forget, if you raise taxes, then people have less money of their own, particularly businesses. Big businesses, small ones, companies that are taxed at the individual tax rate. If you raise taxes on them, they have less money to spend and to hire people with. The best way to get a balanced budget at the federal government level is to have this economy grow so more people are working. If more people are working, more people are paying taxes. And by the way, if there is competition, trying to hire people --

    HANNITY: Yes.

    ROMNEY: If there is lots of business activity, wages go up, take-home pay goes up. That's more tax revenue. By far the most powerful way to get us to a balanced budget is to grow the economy. And that's why my plan, my tax plan, which is estimated to create seven million jobs, will help us more than anything else to get to that balanced budget.

    HANNITY: I know that -- this was not about foreign policy last night. We have been following very closely on this program, the issue in Benghazi, the death of our ambassador, the first time in 30 years, two Navy SEALs. Do you believe there is a cover-up going on?

    ROMNEY: Well, Sean, first, let me note my condolences and sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives. And my respect for those who fought so bravely for us. Those two former SEALs that were there on a private assignment. They weren't working for the government in a official capacity at the time that this occurred. I think so much of them. I believe, obviously, that what happened there was a tragic failure. There had been warnings of a possible attack. There were requests on the part of our -- commission there, of our diplomats there, rather, to have additional security forces. They were turned down.

    And then, following the tragedy, we saw -- well, misleading information coming from the administration. And in fact, the president didn't acknowledge that this was a terrorist act for what? A week or two? I mean, this was in a terrorist attack, lives were lost. This happened on 9/11. We expect candor and transparency from the president, from the administration. And we didn't get it.

    HANNITY: All right, Governor. Good to see you. Good night last night for you, obviously. Even liberals -- Chris Matthews agreed. Pretty amazing. Thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

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