Paul Ryan on US embassy attacks: 'We should stand up for our values ... for our free speech rights'

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

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: "On the Record" today traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to talk one-on-one with GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.


VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you.

REP. PAUL RYAN, GOP VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be back with you. Welcome home. It's good to be home, isn't it?

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    VAN SUSTEREN: It is nice. And today, you had a big crowd at town hall, all the sort of local people here in Green Bay. I thought it was -- as you started it, you started talk about foreign policy, about what happened in Libya.

    RYAN: Yes. Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: There are early signs -- just signs -- that the attack was planned. Of course, it was 9/11 and on territory belonging to the United States, a consulate.

    RYAN: Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: If you were vice president working with a President Romney, what would you be thinking today about it?

    RYAN: Well, I'd want to get to the bottom of it, number one. Number two, I would not speak in equivocal terms. I disagree with the original statements that the embassy put out, that the administration put out in Cairo sympathizing with the people who were storming the embassy.

    We should stand up for our values. We should stand up for our free speech rights. And so I think that statement was wrong. And the administration was right to walk it back after they stood had by that statement a couple of times.

    Now, what happened in Benghazi afterwards -- we've lost four of our diplomats. Our ambassador was killed. This is a tragedy. This is outrageous. And of all the things we need in a moment like this going forward is we need peace through strength.

    Our adversaries who are tempted to test us need to know that America is strong militarily, that we're not going to have these devastating defense cuts that I think questions the resolve and the strength of our military.

    And our president needs to speak with force and clarity for our principles.

    VAN SUSTEREN: That sort of mixes several issues. One is -- is how you achieve peace through strength.

    RYAN: Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Two, we have this issue of sequestration.

    RYAN: Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: And three, Afghanistan -- what are we going to do about Afghanistan? So do you want to sort of pick off each one?

    RYAN: Sure. So Peace through strength -- what we mean is don't gut the military. The president, don't forget, gave us a big cut to the military, $478 billion, which we think goes past the bone, compromises readiness, force strength. We need to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines the equipment they need to do their job as safely as possible.

    Sequestration -- I know you've talked about this. It's kind of a wonky word. We passed the legislation in the House -- I authored it -- to prevent it from happening by cutting government spending elsewhere. There's a lot of waste in Washington. Let's get after that. Now, there's waste in the Pentagon. We definitely have to go after that.

    But this goes far past that. And doing this, by having these reckless defense cuts coming down the pike, that's coming under President Obama's lack of leadership or his proposals, that weakens us. That is not peace through strength.

    So we believe that that's wrong. We would do that differently.

    With respect to Afghanistan, we believe and agree with the 2014 transformation, but we also think if our generals, our commanding generals are saying, Give us the force strength we need throughout the fighting season, then they ought to be given that because if you have a troop drawdown in the middle of a fighting season, in September, my -- our fear is if you're giving them the same objective, the same counterinsurgency strategy, but taking people out while we're getting shot at, that I fear makes us more vulnerable.

    So we have issues with the way the Obama administration is prosecuting it on some of these decisions. We support the 2014 transformation.

    VAN SUSTEREN: In the event you become vice president and Governor Romney becomes president, you inherit wherever we are...

    RYAN: That's right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... in the -- in the transition of Afghanistan. So Assuming that you are vice president and he's president, what do you do at that point?

    RYAN: Well, we stick with the 2014 transition period. And then 2013 is the time where we reassess what the post-2014 posture looks like. That's something we've been saying all along. That's what any administration's going to have to do, which is we have this timeline of 2014. We agree with that timeline. We're moving toward that.

    But we have to spend 2013 assessing our what is our posture because the goal here, Greta, is to continue to deny a safe haven for al Qaeda and related groups so that they don't have staging grounds and the means of acquiring weapons and money to come and attack us again.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Are we safer now than when President Obama took office?

    RYAN: Well, I think because of the drone strikes, because of killing Usama bin Laden, because of the Bush administration's prosecution on the war on terror, we are safer, but I would say it's kind of a mixed record.

    I really think, by gutting defense like the president is doing, that risks -- those risks are unpalatable because what it does is it tells our adversaries that we're weakening, that we're reducing our strength of our military.

    And I think you'll have more foreign policy adventurism. I also think the Iran policy by this administration has been woefully inadequate. We are at a place where they are 90 percent of the way toward getting a nuclear weapon.

    VAN SUSTEREN: What would (INAUDIBLE) though? I mean, it's, like, you know, this has been a troubling thing for the world. What would you do?

    RYAN: Well, I think -- I've been working on increasing and boosting of sanctions for quite a while in Congress. The Obama administration was brought kicking and screaming to putting in these tough sanctions. They've equivocated on these sanctions.

    Had we had the kind of resolve we needed back in 2009 and earlier, hopefully, we would have had a different outcome. But these sanctions can only work if they're really tough sanctions that make the mullahs in Iran change their opinion about going for a nuclear weapon. They haven't changed their opinion. They've gotten much farther down the path of getting a nuclear weapon.

    And at a time when our ally, Israel, needs our strength and needs our moral support, our public support, it's now, and I fear that the relations with Israel are at an all-time low.

    VAN SUSTEREN: How much more can we crank up? We have the problem that they're cheaters, I mean, that they'll get around the sanctions or there'll be some countries that won't go along with the sanctions and will cheat. There comes a point when there just isn't that much more margin to crank it up, and it's only hurting the people.

    RYAN: Yes, but the thing is, with these central bank sanctions -- the Obama administration requested and got waivers -- they're giving waivers -- and so...

    VAN SUSTEREN: So you say no waivers?

    RYAN: No, I'm saying -- well, yes, in some cases. The great thing about central bank sanctions is you can really bring pain to the government of Iran without necessarily hurting the people of Iran. And I don't believe that the administration has been strong enough on sanctions.

    More importantly, they dragged their feet on sanctions. It was only because of an enormous bipartisan support for sanctions in Congress that we have the sanctions we have today. They're a little late. And that's what I -- that's what I'm concerned about is it's been four years. They've gotten this much closer toward a nuclear weapon.

    But think about what the world would look like with a nuclear Iran. This is the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism. It could very well trigger an arms race in the Middle East, a very dangerous part of the world.

    And think about what they would -- how they would conduct themselves if they were a nuclear nation. They've been supporting terrorism already - - Hezbollah, Hamas. Think about what they would be like if they had a nuclear weapon behind them. That just -- that thought shudders -- I shudder to think about it because this, I think, is -- is our greatest foreign policy concern right now. It affects the national security of America and our allies.

    And I just think by the results of the fact that they're this much closer toward a nuclear weapon, that this administration has just not done near the job they should have done.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned today at the town hall meeting -- someone asked you about the doctor in Pakistan...

    RYAN: Yes.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... and you were harsh about the leaks coming out of -- you say coming out of the White House. But you also said something about our relationship with our allies. And I don't want to misquote you, but has our relationship in the last few years changed with many of our allies?

    RYAN: Well, I worry that by gutting defense like we are, by not speaking with moral force by standing up for our principles -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, women's rights, individual rights -- the president's missed lots of opportunities -- the green revolution in Iran. He said Bashar Assad had to go about a year ago. He's still there.

    And so I worry that our resolve is being tested. Our adversaries see us gutting defense, and so they're more willing to engage in what I call foreign policy adventurism. And our allies -- they wonder if we have the kind of resolve that we traditionally have.

    Take a look at the way we've been treating Israel lately. Take a look at all these other issues. And I really believe that we need a peace through strength option, which we don't have. If America is strong, if we assert our beliefs by standing proud for what we stand for and have a strong military that's unrivaled, then our adversaries won't test us as much and our allies will trust us more. And I just don't think that's where we are right now.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned women's rights. The Obama campaign is running an ad saying that a Romney-Ryan administration would be dangerous to women. You smirk?

    RYAN: I smirk because this is what politicians do when they don't have a good record to run on. Look at where we are in this economy, 23 million people struggling to find work. The poverty rate among women is the highest in a generation.

    President Obama said if you just pass his stimulus package, all his borrowing and spending, unemployment would never get above 8 percent. It's been above 8 percent for 43 months. So the president doesn't have a record to run on, so he's running this divisive campaign.

    Hope and change is now divide, smear and fear, divide and conquer. I don't think people are going to fall for that. This is just a political tactic to try and divide Americans.

    VAN SUSTEREN: But you still need the women's vote. That's a very powerful vote.

    RYAN: Of course we need the women's vote.


    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, no, I understand that. But that -- I mean, that's being run against you.

    RYAN: Look, when I think of women's issues, I think of my mom, Betty. I think of my wife, Janna. I think of my daughter, Liza. I think of the quality of education we're giving our children. I think about the mountain of debt that we are giving the next generation, which will guarantee that they have a diminished future.

    I think about the poverty rate among women. I think about women who are great entrepreneurs who start businesses that employ people, and they're not doing it because of this terrible economy.

    So we are all in this together. And I really mean that when I say that. And what we need are the kinds of pro-growth economic policies that Mitt and I are proposing to get us out of this rut we are in.

    And so the president is going to be trying to talk to people in different groups to divide people in hopes that he can come up with a coalition of 50-plus-1 to win this election. We are talking to everybody with the same purpose, with the same principles about what you need to do to get this country back on track.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Romney says he'll get 240,000 jobs here in Wisconsin.

    RYAN: That's right. He said, if we get this economy growing at the rate we know we can, around 4 percent a year, then we'll create 12 million jobs.

    Here's the problem, Greta. The president's failed on his promises. The economy's suffering as a result of his terrible policies and his lack of leadership.

    We're not going to blink. We're going to get this debt and deficit under control. We're going to pass a budget, which they haven't done for three years! We're going to put the pro-growth policies in place that we know we can let this private sector take off. And if we can get these policies in place, we know we can get this economy growing. If we get this economy growing at around 4 percent a year on average, then we can create those 12 million jobs, which is our goal.

    You have to have goals. You have to have policies that are proven to work. These are pro-growth economic policies that have been proven to work. We're going to put them in place. We have to have an energy policy. We have to have an education policy, spending cuts, budgets, champion small businesses -- all of those things will help us get people back to work.


    VAN SUSTEREN: Straight ahead, more with Congressman Paul Ryan.

    And let's face it, it doesn't matter how good your policy is if you cannot get it passed. So how would a Romney-Ryan White House break the stubborn logjam here in Washington? The vice presidential nominee's answer to that question next.


    VAN SUSTEREN: Once again, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.


    VAN SUSTEREN: You can have the greatest policies in the world, but if you can't get Washington to work together, they're worth absolutely zero. How -- how would you -- let's -- let's assume that you -- let's assume you win. Let's assume you don't get the Senate. You have a divided Capitol Hill. What -- what are you going to do? Are you going to negotiate more or -- I mean, what -- what's the -- what's the Ryan-Romney magic ticket to undo that logjam?

    RYAN: Couple of things. You don't get to common ground unless you put your ideas on the table. As you know, the House passed a budget twice in the last two years. The Senate hasn't for three years. How do you get to common ground if they don't even offer an idea and bring it to the table?

    VAN SUSTEREN: So how do you get them to put an offer up?

    RYAN: So we will put ideas on the table. We will lead with solutions. The other point I would say is look at the policies we're proposing. They have bipartisan origins. The Medicare reforms that we're proposing are Medicare reforms that are bipartisan I authored with a Democrat.

    VAN SUSTEREN: But you put a budget on the table. Even President Obama sent a budget to Capitol Hill. Senator Harry Reid just puts it in his pocket! I mean, how would you possibly go through -- how -- how would you possibly get...

    RYAN: President Obama's budget got zero votes, zero.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but still Senator Harry Reid is the one who -- you know, he's stopping it by not putting a budget up to negotiate. I don't know if your budget's good or not, but you can't even negotiate it if he's putting it in his pocket.

    RYAN: Precisely. You...

    VAN SUSTEREN: So how do you get -- how do you get him to work?

    RYAN: Well, I don't know how you get Harry to do any work. That's been vexing me for three years! So I can't speak for what it takes to get Harry Reid to make decisions or the Senate to do something.

    But I know what we do is we lead. We reach across the aisle. We don't demonize and demagogue people, we work with them, just like I did on Medicare reform. Our tax reform proposals -- they have bipartisan origin. Get rid of tax shelters and special interest loopholes, lower tax rates for everybody. There are a lot of Democrats who agree with us. Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill last did this...

    VAN SUSTEREN: But you voted against the Simpson-Bowles, when they were trying to get rid of all that.

    RYAN: You know what I did? Because I didn't like the total Simpson- Bowles package, I put my own plan out there. That's what leaders do. I took what I liked from Simpson-Bowles, added it to new solutions, put that in the budget and passed it through Congress.

    The reason I didn't vote for Simpson-Bowles is because it didn't tackle the problem of health care. It kept "ObamaCare" in place. It allowed Medicare to go bankrupt and Medicare to grow unchecked, which goes to bankruptcy. I did not want to look my constituents in the eye and say I passed or voted for a plan that I know doesn't solve the problem.

    There are great ideas in Simpson-Bowles. Those two guys, Simpson and Bowles, they're great guys. But what I did was I offered an alternative. That's what President Obama owed the country. Don't tell us that you don't like our plan, show us what yours is. He really has yet to put a credible plan out there that actually tackles this problem.

    Here's the problem, Greta. We don't have much more time. We will be Greece or Europe if we keep kicking the can down the road like the president's failed leadership has done. Mitt Romney's not going to make that mistake.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have been hard on the campaign in the past couple days. They say that you're not -- you're not bold enough or they're saying if you don't win this one, the party's gone.

    RYAN: Look, I believe this is the most important election in our lifetimes. We are literally choosing not just who's going to be president for the next four years, but what kind of country we're going to have. What kind of people are we going to be?

    If I had to boil it down, it would be this. We are offering the American idea of an opportunity society with a safety net, a society of prosperity and upward mobility. President Obama is offering four more years of the same, which will lead to a welfare state with a debt crisis.

    We think the goal and role of government is to protect our natural rights so we can define happiness for ourselves and promote equality of opportunity. President Obama's saying he wants to equalize the results of people's lives. He wants government-granted rights. Very different philosophy, very different vision.

    And what we see with the Obama plan is stagnation, debt crisis. That's not what people want in this country. And I think when Americans look at the final analysis, they'll take us and our ideas to get the American idea back on track.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right, two questions. If you get the first one wrong, you'll never win Wisconsin.


    RYAN: ... Lambeau Field here, right?

    VAN SUSTEREN: "Lambeau" Field or "Lambert."

    RYAN: Greta, I've been coming to games here a long time. I tailgate right over there at the other end of that parking lot. This is "Lambeau" Field...


    VAN SUSTEREN: Are you sure? You're sure?

    RYAN: I took my daughter to the playoff game against the Giants last year. It was pretty cold day, and she cried halfway home because it was a terrible game. So I'm a big-time Packer fan, lifelong.

    VAN SUSTEREN: So it's Lambeau?

    RYAN: It's Lambeau.

    VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Second question, Jerry Kramer played for 10 years for the Packers. He's been up I think about 10 times to make the Hall of Fame. He's the one who threw the block so Bart Starr could win the Ice Bowl in 1967...

    RYAN: Yes, yes, yes.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... and he's the one who kicked the field goals in 1962 to win the championship against the Green Bay Packers. He's not in the Hall of Fame. Do you support Jerry Kramer...

    RYAN: Absolutely.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... going to the Hall of Fame?

    RYAN: Absolutely. On my -- picture on my wall in my office is a picture of Vince Lombardi and Paul Hornung. And on a mantel in my office is a Packer helmet signed by Mike McCarthy. My blood is green and gold, and so...

    VAN SUSTEREN: But Jerry Kramer -- Jerry Kramer...


    RYAN: Absolutely. There are a lot of Packers we should send to the Hall of Fame, more than just that.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir. Nice to see you.

    RYAN: You bet. Good to see you again.