'This Week' Transcript: Sen. Rob Portman and Beau Biden; Miller Center Panel

PHOTO: This Week Roundtable

TAPPER: We'll cover the campaign and the debates from all angles this morning. The vice president's son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, is standing by, but we do begin with Ohio and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who's at Romney headquarters in Boston working on debate prep with Governor Romney.

Good morning, Senator Portman.

PORTMAN: Good morning, Jake. How are you?

TAPPER: I'm well, thanks. Thanks for joining us. As we said in the open there, you're playing President Obama in Governor Romney's debate prep. Here is Governor Romney and what he has had to say about that role that you've played.


ROMNEY: He's playing Barack Obama in these mock debates we have. I don't like him very much anymore, all right? He keeps on beating me up, and I keep on going away shaking my head. This guy's really something. You're lucky to have a guy so bright and so capable.


TAPPER: And this morning, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz called you, quote, "the Romney campaign's most valuable player" for your multiple roles as Ohio point man and Obama stand-in. I'm assuming you're anticipating that President Obama will have a little bit more pep in his step in Tuesday's debate. How do you prepare for that?

PORTMAN: Well, I think you're right. I think President Obama is going to come out swinging. I think he's going to have to compensate for a poor first debate, and I think that'll be consistent with what they've been doing this whole campaign, Jake, which is running a highly negative ad campaign. They've spent hundreds of millions of dollars around the country, including a lot in Ohio, mischaracterizing Governor Romney's positions and misrepresenting him. And I think you'll see that again at the debate on Tuesday night.

TAPPER: Congressman Ryan said something at the debate that I would love for you to explain. Here he is.


RYAN: Joe and I are from similar towns. He's from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I'm from Janesville, Wisconsin. You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?

J. BIDEN: I sure do.

RYAN: It's 10 percent.

J. BIDEN: Yeah.

RYAN: You know what it was the day you guys came in? 8.5 percent.

J. BIDEN: Yeah.

RYAN: That's how it's going all around America.


TAPPER: "That's how it's going all around America." Now, Senator, this has been a weak economic recovery without question, but it is a recovery. And unemployment is going down, just as a factual matter. Why would Congressman Ryan, in defiance of facts, suggest otherwise?

PORTMAN: You know, I think what he was saying is the truth, which is unemployment's higher today than it was when the president took office. And, you know, unfortunately, in the meantime, we've created net zero jobs, Jake. This is the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

So I think he's right. You know, look, we all are happy to see some improvement in the economy, but the fact is the economy's weaker this year than it was last year. It was weaker last year than it was the year before. We're not heading in the right direction.

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