Former Democratic operative turned TV host George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday immediately set to work on the job of parroting Democratic talking points about the new Republican presidential ticket. The network anchor teased the program by hyping, "Mitt Romney and his new running mate under attack from the White House. President Obama says they will end Medicare as we know it." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Stephanopoulos also used social media to parrot liberal attacks: "President Obama put out a tweet last night to his 18 and a half million followers, saying Romney and Ryan want to end Medicare as we know it, while giving millionaires a tax cut."
Regarding the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Stephanopoulos whined to strategist Mary Matalin: "Mitt Romney has an unfavorability rating of 49 percent. It's been going in the wrong direction for the last couple of months."
A concerned Stephanopoulos wondered, "How does he turn that around?" Of course, Barack Obama's unfavorable number is at 48.3, according to Real Clear Politics. That pesky statistic went unmentioned by the ex-Clinton White House operative.
Stephanopoulos began the segment by insisting that Paul Ryan's initial polling is "underwhelming" and that he's got "lowest initial ratings for a VP nominee since 1988."
In weekend interviews 38 percent responded favorably to Ryan joining the Republican ticket, up from 23 percent in pre-selection interviews last week. Positive views rose among independents as well as among Republicans, and among women. And Ryan was notably well-received among senior citizens – a group of interest given his plan to reshape Medicare.
A transcript of the August 14 segment can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Battle lines drawn. Mitt Romney and his new running mate under attack from the White House. President Obama says they will end Medicare as we know it. Romney hits back. Is this the campaign's most critical showdown?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get more on all this now from Republican strategist Mary Matalin, down in New Orleans this morning. Mary, thanks for joining us. Let's start out with this Paul Ryan pick. You know, certainly gave a burst of energy to Mitt Romney and the campaign. You could see that on the trail. But the first new polls out show- are pretty underwhelming. They show he has got the lowest initial ratings for a VP nominee since 1988. How worried should the Romney campaign be about that?
MARY MATALIN: Oh, I don't think they should be worried about all. They should be, and are, ecstatic. This is- We had a referendum on the President, on every election since his election, President Obama's election, his policies have been soundly rejected, most recently in the historic midterm. With this choice of Ryan, Congressman Ryan by Governor Romney indicates is this is not just going to be a campaign but a presidency of purpose. And that Governor Romney wants to be president to do something. He doesn't want to just be elected to have power and keep power. He's making a purposeful presidency based on principles.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And- And the debate over those plans, as you know, already begun. I guess in this modern age, it all boils down to a tweet. President Obama put out a tweet last night to his 18 and a half million followers, saying Romney and Ryan want to end Medicare as we know it, while giving millionaires a tax cut. That is the core argument of the Obama campaign right now. How do Romney and Ryan beat that line? What's their tweet?
MATALIN: Here's the choice, George. President Obama has ended Medicare as we know it. He's taken $716 billion out of it. And he put 15 bureaucrats in Washington in charge of it, who will be making decisions about the kind of health care seniors should receive. We can choose that or we could choose the Romney/Ryan version, where seniors choose their own health care. And it's predicated on those reforms are- predicated on an idea that was born in the Clinton administration. Premium support was an Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici idea and it has bipartisan support. And it is the only future for Medicare. We won't have Medicare, or at least medicare that can deliver quality care unless we reform it now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, if you look at the likability gap in this race, Mitt Romney has an unfavorability rating of 49%. It's been going in the wrong direction for the last couple of months. How does he turn that around? Is that the next big job he has?
MATALIN: You know, Barack Obama has spent and is still spending, from these clips that Jake played, over $100 million, three-quarters of it negative, attacking Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney has to keep doing what he is doing, which is running a principled and problem-solving campaign, which will portend a popular and prosperous presidency, George.