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STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Good morning, and welcome to a special edition of "This Week."
ROMNEY: The next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Romney goes bold...
RYAN: Together, we will unite America and get this done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... delighting conservatives...
RYAN: If you have small business, you did build that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and Democrats. They've been targeting Ryan and his budget plan for months.
OBAMA: It is a Trojan horse. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The big questions. Will this high-risk gamble be high reward for Romney? Will it elevate the debate and raise the stakes of this race? Or will an already ugly campaign get worse? And is young congressman from Wisconsin ready for the national stage? We'll ask our headliners, Tim Pawlenty, the Romney campaign co-chair who was vying for the VP job, and for the Obama campaign, senior adviser David Axelrod. Plus, our powerhouse roundtable, with Howard Dean, Peggy Noonan, Gavin Newsom, Paul Gigot, and Cokie Roberts. Full debate and analysis of Romney's choice begins now.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. It's your voice, your vote. Reporting from ABC News election headquarters, George Stephanopoulos.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello, again. Mitt Romney's surprise pick of Paul Ryan to be his running mate shook up a summer Saturday and instantly changed the shape of this presidential race. How much? How long will it last? Will Romney's bold bet pay off? We're going to examine Mitt Romney's most consequential campaign decision from all the angles this morning.
But we begin with more on how the decision was made and how it's playing on the trial with ABC's Jon Karl, our man on the ground for the Romney-Ryan battleground bus tour.
And, Jon, thanks for joining us this morning. We're learning a lot more overnight about how Romney came to this decision and how he shrouded it in pretty extraordinary secrecy.
KARL: Oh, no doubt. And you know, in the end, he vetted extensively -- his team -- several candidates, but he only met one-on-one with Paul Ryan to discuss the job, none of the others. That meeting happened secretly at Beth Myers' dining room table in Brookline, Massachusetts, about a week ago. Romney made the offer. Ryan, of course, accepted.
After that, extraordinary measures for secrecy, culminating Friday with the press tracking Paul Ryan's every move and the other candidates' every move. What Ryan did is he went out his back door and snuck through a wooded ravine. At the other end of the woods, he was met by a car that drove him to the small airport in Illinois, flew from there to North Carolina, and then Saturday morning drove completely unnoticed into Norfolk, Virginia, for the announcement. Nobody had any clue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A secret held pretty well. And Paul Ryan did seem to energize Mitt Romney yesterday.
KARL: There's no question that he has brought energy into the campaign at least now and had an impact on Romney himself.
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ROMNEY: The next vice president of the United States and I are going to lay out a vision for America of hope and opportunity and progress and achievement and individual accomplishment. We're going to stand for America, and we're going to win.
RYAN: And so President Obama is not going to be able to run for re-election on his record because it's a terrible record. He's going to divide the country to distract the country to try and win this election by default. Hope and change has now become attack and blame.
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KARL: Late last night, Romney told us that it's now, instead of being two-on-one, it's two-on-two, and the Democrats have somebody else they can pick on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I was surprised to see this morning, Jon, that actually after today, the candidates are going to be splitting up, that Ryan will not be finishing the bus tour, not going to Florida with Romney?
KARL: Yeah, the idea here is they want to divide and conquer. So while Romney will go on to Florida and to Ohio, Paul Ryan's going to go to Iowa, a place where he's fairly well known and also his, you know, Midwest roots, they will be sometimes together, but often dividing and conquering, spending -- hitting different parts of the country, different battleground states.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Jon Karl, thanks very much.
Let's get the first reaction now from the Obama campaign, senior adviser David Axelrod joining us again now. Thanks for joining us, David.
AXELROD: Thanks, George, good to see you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So reports this morning that the president was surprised by the Ryan pick. Why?
AXELROD: Well, because it is – you know, it is a pick that is meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party, but it's one that should trouble everybody else, the middle class, seniors, students, because of Ryan's record. I mean, he is a right-wing ideologue, the intellectual energy behind the Republican caucus there in Congress. He constructed a budget that, like Romney, would lavish trillions of dollars of tax cuts, most of them on the wealthy, would raise the burden on the middle class, would cut back things deeply like student loans, and research and development, and things we need to grow the economy. He's the guy who's the architect of a plan to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program and ship thousands of dollars of costs onto senior citizens. He's someone who was the architect of a Social Security privatization scheme that was so out there that even George Bush called it irresponsible, and he believes that we should ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
He is outside the mainstream, but he – this was a defining choice for Mitt Romney, and now it's also a clarifying choice for the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Paul Ryan not shying away from the traditional role of attack dog as the vice presidential candidate. I want to show a part of a web video that the Romney-Ryan campaign is putting out today showing Paul Ryan on the stump.
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RYAN: I hear some people say that this is just the new normal. High unemployment, declining incomes, no question that is not the new normal. And next January, our economy will begin a comeback with the Romney plan for a stronger middle class that will lead to more jobs and more take-home pay for working Americans.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: He's young, he's articulate, he clearly gave a jolt of energy, as I said, to Mitt Romney yesterday. You worried this is going to be a booster shot for the Romney campaign?
AXELROD: Well, I think it will be a booster shot within his own party. I think the Tea Party is excited. I think the social conservatives are excited. But listening to that tape is sort of ironic, because Congressman Ryan was a faithful supporter of every bit of the Bush economic policies in the '90s, and now he and Governor Romney want to double down on those policies, and they think somehow that's going to – the middle class is going to fare better this time. Their plan would actually raise burdens on the middle class. The Romney tax plan would give the average millionaire a huge tax cut, and would raise taxes on the middle class by an average of $2,000. How is that going to help the middle class? So you can recite the words "middle class," but your policies have to follow, and theirs don't.