'This Week' Transcript: Tim Pawlenty and David Axelrod

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also brought up the point of the Ryan Medicare plan. You said it's going to end Medicare as we know it, but as you saw yesterday, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan talked about the president's $700 billion in Medicare cuts under his health care plan. They say that under the Ryan plan, you can – traditional Medicare will be there as an option, and they kept overall Medicare spending at exactly the same level as President Obama. So how can you say they're going to end Medicare as we know it?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, they want to turn – let's talk about the $700 billion. Congressman Ryan, what he doesn't say is that he's incorporated that same $700 billion into his plan, so he's embraced exactly what the president's done. The difference is the president is trying to strengthen the Medicare program. Under the changes that the president made, seniors are getting more prescription coverage and preventive care. We extended the life of Medicare by eight years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Ryan-Romney plan would not do that. And in fact, by turning it into a voucher program, throwing seniors onto the tender mercies of the private insurance market and capping growth the way they do, ultimately they are going to shift thousands of dollars onto the backs of seniors, and Medicare itself will be in a death spiral because it will – it will be dissipated by seniors who – healthy seniors going into the private system, leaving sick seniors in the existing Medicare program.

They do not believe in Medicare, George, let's be clear. Congressman Ryan is an ideologue, who doesn't believe in the Medicare program. Wanted to do away with it. Newt Gingrich called it right-wing social engineering when he surfaced his Medicare plan, and he was right about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Polling shows that he could help in the state of Wisconsin. The Romney campaign also believes it's going to help in Midwest states like Iowa. That's one of the reasons Paul Ryan is going to go there. Bottom line, does Paul Ryan help the ticket?

AXELROD: Well, I don't – well, that remains to be seen. I think it helps voters clarify what this choice is about. And if what you care about is strengthening the middle class and building an economy that's meant to last, that is – that invests in the middle class and education and training and research and development, and the kinds of things we need to compete and give people a chance to compete, then no, I don't think he's going to help the ticket. If you believe in a woman's right to choose, he's not going to help the ticket. But I think he will help the governor have a more convivial Republican convention.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One other issue before you go. This ad controversy this week. Super PAC allied with President Obama, Priorities USA, put out an ad that seems to suggest that Mitt Romney is responsible for a death. It featured an employee laid off by a company owned by Bain, whose wife later died of cancer several years later. It's been roundly criticized. Your own home town paper called it a vicious and shameful ad. And it drew this response from the Romney campaign.


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