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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Medicare Scare Tactics?; Getting to Know VP Pick Paul Ryan

Aired August 13, 2012 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Mitt Romney's V.P. pick and the battle it touched off over an issue that, no exaggeration, matters to almost every American alive today, as well as generations yet to come? How often can you say that about a running mate?

Then again, how often does a presidential candidate choose his party's leading policy guy, which is precisely what Paul Ryan is? Candidates rarely ever choose anyone like Paul Ryan to run with, much less anyone whose big policy claim to fame involves a hot button, third rail, death-if-you-touch-it program like Medicare.

Yet that is one of Paul Ryan's big policy ideas, dramatically changing Medicare. And running against Paul Ryan's plan is central to the Democrats' campaign. So you've got the makings of a battle royal, especially in swing states like Iowa, which is where Congressman Ryan was today.

And so was President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Congressman Ryan. He's a good man. He's a family man. He is -- he is an -- he is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision. But the problem is that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What President Obama alluded to in Iowa, his campaign is spelling out in the state of Florida. Florida is ground zero in the Medicare fight. And today the Obama 2012 forces rolled out an ad tying Mitt Romney to Paul Ryan's plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida, we have a very large elderly population.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Medicare is a boon for senior citizens who without that would choose between food and going to a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those kinds of cuts are going to be incredibly painful to the working class person ad because we're going to be the ones who are going to be paying for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Romney/Ryan, the ad goes on to say, ending Medicare as we know it.

"Keeping Them Honest," though, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are not totally on the same page when it comes to Medicare as that ad suggests. What's more, the Ryan plan would not affect Americans who are 55 and over. It would be phased in over time.

However, anyone younger would see a totally different Medicare when they retire. Instead of the government paying your medical bills, seniors would get government money to buy private insurance. In other words, you're no longer guaranteed coverage. You're guaranteed a subsidy which might or might not cover all the expenses that Medicare does now. You can decide for yourself. If that adds up to ending Medicare as we know it.

The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that an earlier version of the plan would substantially increase out-of-pocket expenses. It could not, however, even make an estimate about the latest version.

As for dealing with Medicare's current money troubles, the Romney/Ryan forces have been slamming the $716 billion in savings over the next decade that were agreed to in President Obama's health care reform law.

Here's Mr. Romney this afternoon. He was in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We also shouldn't cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare to the tune of some $700 billion. That's what -- that's what the president does to Medicare, to current recipients of Medicare. He cuts the payments that go to Medicare by $700 billion. And he uses that to pay for Obamacare. Those are places where Paul Ryan and I agree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, that was kind of the gentle way of putting it. Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus wasn't so gentle. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: This president stole. He didn't -- he didn't cut Medicare. He stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it's Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," though, Congress agreed to the cuts.

The AARP endorsed them, largely because they don't trim benefits. And the Congressional Budget Office projects that they will extend the life of Medicare by eight years. And to top it all off, there's this. Congressman Ryan's budget proposals this year and last year also preserved the Obamacare cuts to Medicare that the congressman and Governor Romney are now campaigning against.

We've got more from both sides this evening. First, senior Romney campaign adviser Barbara Comstock joining us. It's nice to talk to you. Thanks for being with us.

BARBARA COMSTOCK, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate that.

People listening to both the governor and the congressman today might get the impression that they actually oppose the $700 billion cut. But, in fact, the congressman's plan not only includes this cut but instead of restoring it to the funding, he puts the same cap, the yearly cap on growth in spending per beneficiary. And unlike the president's plan, doesn't put the savings back into the system. It actually uses that money to finance deficit reduction and tax cuts.

Aren't they arguing against something that actually not only do they support through the Ryan budget plan but that virtually every Republican has voted for in 2011 and 2012?

COMSTOCK: OK.

Well, I'm not sure if there's a question in there, but why don't we start with the fact that nobody 55 or over needs to be part of this discussion, because under the Romney and Ryan, you know, what we're putting forward with the Romney and Ryan team, it will affect -- change nothing in Medicare if you're over 55 actually. By the time it's implemented it will probably go down to about 53 or so because it takes time to phase it and change it.

So the same plan. Nobody is -- we are not stealing the $719 billion that Barack Obama took away from Medicare, from current seniors, from my parents who are retired.

O'BRIEN: OK. So...

COMSTOCK: From Paul Ryan's mother who's a senior. But what we did...

O'BRIEN: Let's stop -- let's stop there because the stealing thing, right, is really what that long question I asked you before...

(CROSSTALK)

COMSTOCK: That's right. The Democrats voted for it. OK. The Democrats voted for it. So that's it. Democrats voted to take that Medicare money that we all paid with our premiums when we all work in our paychecks. We pay those premiums for Medicare so it will be there. They took out that money and they're putting it into Obamacare...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: But that money is not taken out. That money is a reduction in the growth over 10 years, right.

COMSTOCK: No, it's taken...

O'BRIEN: And that money doesn't come from the benefits. COMSTOCK: I'm -- CBO said that that money was taken from Medicare. But then let's go back. So if you're 55 and over, no impact. If you're under 55, let's talk about what's on the table now with Congress. It's the Ryan/Wyden plan. Everyone likes to leave out Congressman Wyden. A liberal from Oregon who worked very responsibly in an adult way with Congressman Ryan to come up with an option.

So younger people, like you and I, and our kids, will have a future where we can still have the same Medicare that's in place. But if you'd like to choose, if you want to look at things and choose a different option, we will have different choices. Younger workers -- 55 and over, it stays the same. Younger workers, we get a choice. What's wrong with a choice? That's why when you had Ben LaBolt down here earlier...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: So...

COMSTOCK: -- he couldn't answer that and he couldn't answer that Ron Wyden supported this very sensible plan...

O'BRIEN: So here's what...

COMSTOCK: -- for younger workers.

O'BRIEN: Here's what Ron Wyden, who by the way voted against the plan as you well know. He said...

COMSTOCK: No, no, he didn't vote against his own plan. He voted the whole budget...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: It was a policy proposal. He said, I did -- now this is a quote from him in a statement from his office. "I did not co- lead a piece of legislation. I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out, I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don't protect seniors by making things up. And his comments sure won't promote real bipartisanship."

I'm just reading what his office sent out today.

COMSTOCK: OK. Well... O'BRIEN: Distancing himself from what clearly you're trying to connect him to.

COMSTOCK: Well, you can go back and look at the plan that they worked on. But the point is, we aren't touching seniors.

Anyone 55 years and older doesn't even have to listen to this debate because if you hear them talk about Romney and Ryan plans are going to impact you, they are lying. They do not touch anything for seniors or for people who are 55 and older. We have a plan that will then look at -- it will be something that will be negotiated, that everyone will work on. The House has passed a budget.

The Senate, because that are no adults in the room, and the White House, they haven't passed a budget in 3.5 years. The way you get a budget is the House passes one which we, the House had. Then the Senate, if they were grown-ups, they would do it. Then you come together and you come with a compromise and you work things out.

But the president for 3.5 years has provided no leadership. Harry Reid's asleep at the wheel and done nothing...

O'BRIEN: We're covering a lot of ground, but I want to go back to that $700 number.

COMSTOCK: But that's the budget.

O'BRIEN: Because the budget...

COMSTOCK: They ignored it.

O'BRIEN: The budget, as I put it out earlier, was passed. That $700 billion was -- what Republicans, virtually every Republican agreed to that twice, twice in 2011 and 2012. So to say that it's -- the money is being stolen I think is the word that you used, that has been debunked.

COMSTOCK: That has taken -- that's taken...

O'BRIEN: That's factually not true.

COMSTOCK: No, that is taken from current seniors and our plan...

O'BRIEN: It is not. It is not taken from current seniors. It is not affecting the benefits.

COMSTOCK: Well, you have to look...

O'BRIEN: I am telling you, it has been -- the CBO and others have done a breakdown of it. And as you know this, they're not cutting the benefits to the elderly. They are cutting the benefit in fact...

COMSTOCK: We aren't, we aren't -- what about the 15-member board that can decide what procedure, whether my dad can get, you know, ablation again because he's 77. O'BRIEN: Let's go...

COMSTOCK: And if this 15-member board decides that you can't get a treatment, that's how they plan on controlling the spending, is by having a 15-person on elected board decide what kind of treatment seniors can get.

O'BRIEN: So you're conceding...

COMSTOCK: We don't have 15-person board. O'BRIEN: You're conceding that the $715 billion is not stolen.

COMSTOCK: No, that's -- they're -- whether cutting the $700 billion by having this 15-person...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: That's not from benefit.

COMSTOCK: Well, if you can't get a service anymore than you can currently get, that is cutting. I think when seniors can't get a procedure because this 15-person, unelected board tells them they can no longer get a hip replacement, they can't get treatment for macular degeneration, they can't get a treatment for their heart illness, that's going to be a cut.

I think seniors will see that type of thing as a cut. And that's how Barack Obama saves things by having 15 people decide what treatment you get. We aren't going to have anything like that. If you're 55 and older, you are not going to have your plan changed. We're looking about future generations and how we can change things there.

And that's the fact and you're not going to see Barack Obama talk about this 15-person board or talk about the fact that his Senate and his White House has totally failed on the leadership of the budget and done nothing for 3.5 years but criticize those who try and come up with a solution.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting if it's a solution that people embrace or a solution that people run from.

Barbara Comstock, nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.

COMSTOCK: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it.

Other side now.

A little while, I spoke with the Obama 2012 deputy campaign manager. That's Stephanie Cutter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: So, Stephanie, a little bit earlier, we took a look at a campaign ad.

Good chunk of the spot has three seniors and they're saying that basically there are lots of people who are elderly in the state of Florida who depend on Medicare and that Medicare cuts that Ryan is proposing are going to be incredibly painful because this is what they say specifically.

"We're going to be the ones that are going to be paying for it." But the reality is, really, that these wouldn't go into effect until 2022 so they're really not the ones going to be paying for it, right?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. So that means seniors do have increased costs. That means the -- the doughnut hole gets blown wide open again. Because under the president's reform law it closes that doughnut hole. It's saving seniors thousands of dollars each year on prescription drug costs.

It means that they're going to have to pay out of pocket for preventive care. Right now, they don't. They don't have to pay a co- pay for their wellness checkup. They don't pay a co-pay to get their mammogram. And that's an incredible amount of savings for seniors and it encourages them to go get that preventive care and stay healthy. That comes directly out of seniors' pocket. So they are going to have increased costs because both of them repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Now, on...

O'BRIEN: But not because of Medicare changes?

CUTTER: -- the Ryan Medicare -- well, that is Medicare. Those are Medicare changes because under the president's reform law, Medicare was strengthened. And under the president's reform law, we extended the solvency by eight years. If Mitt Romney had his way, Medicare wouldn't be insolvent in just four years. So that does impact today's seniors. And it impacts every generation.

You know, I think it's cynical to think about this debate as just impacting seniors. It impacts me, it impacts you. It impacts the way I think about my parents and how we're going to -- I'm going to care for my parents. About my children. Whether Medicare is going to be there for them. Medicare is an incredibly popular program across this country because it's been an institution that ensures seniors can make ends meet and stay healthy.

O'BRIEN: There are plenty...

CUTTER: That's why it was created in the first place.

O'BRIEN: There are plenty who would say, or it could be cynical to think that what the Democrats are trying to do is essentially what the Republicans were able to do very successfully back in 2010.

CUTTER: Well, you know, Soledad, if the Ryan plan is such a good deal for seniors, then why is he not implementing it until 2022? Why can't today's seniors get it? Do you know why? Because it's not a good deal for seniors. Going into a voucherized system is the beginning of the end of Medicare. Because the only people that would be taking advantage of the voucher is our healthy seniors, people without pre-existing conditions, people who don't need protections. Which mean the sickest and the oldest stay in Medicare which means they pay more for their health care. Which means we pay more for their health care.

So there's nothing -- there's no cost savings in the Ryan Medicare plan. The only cost savings that there are for Medicare is by increasing costs for seniors. That's where they get their cost savings. By making seniors pay more.

O'BRIEN: Is the --

CUTTER: So, again, it's an incredibly good deal. Why are they not implementing it until 2022?

O'BRIEN: Is...

CUTTER: Because they know politically it would be deadly for them.

O'BRIEN: Is the strategy to make all seniors immediately fearful about this plan so that you're able to affect what is going to be a critical vote in states like Florida, like Pennsylvania, like Iowa, where you have a large elderly population and you can swing the vote?

CUTTER: The strategy is to continue laying out the choice in this election. And I think every American needs to know, no matter what your age is. You know, so it goes into effect in 2022. So if you're 54 right now and you're thinking about whether Medicare is going to be there for you, you need to really take a look at the Ryan Medicare plan because it won't be there for you.

Medicare will not be there. So as you're thinking about your retirement, people of all ages need to be thinking about this, not just today's seniors. So, you know, the strategy is to continue laying out the choice. There are two different ways to grow the economy. The president has a way of growing it from the middle out. Responsible balanced deficit reduction that doesn't make seniors pay more.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a very different plan. A very different radical plan which will lead to the end of Medicare. Those are the facts.

O'BRIEN: Stephanie Cutter, always nice to see you. Thank you for talking with us this evening.

CUTTER: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it. You bet.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, or you can follow the program at @AC360. We're going to be tweeting tonight. Coming up next: the Ryan effect -- what choosing Paul Ryan could mean in the polls and fund-raising and how the race is run.

"Raw Politics," new numbers, and our political team will help make sense of it all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: When John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, it touched off a wildfire. When Michael Dukakis chose Lloyd Benson, not so much.

So far, the Paul Ryan pick falls somewhere in between. He's got about 100,000 new Twitter followers tonight. More than 100 CNN iReporters have contributed items on the Wisconsin congressman. And so has chief national correspondent John King who's covering Mr. Ryan's first day soloing on the stump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like I said, she must not be from Iowa.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a feisty welcome to Iowa a raucous first solo outing on the national political stage.

RYAN: Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another.

KING: Iowa State Police hauled off two women who charged the stage and Paul Ryan soldiered on, ignoring one persistent heckler near the front who screamed throughout his 15-minute Iowa State Fair speech.

RYAN: We don't want to follow Europe. We don't want a welfare state. We don't want a debt crisis. We don't want to prolong this recession. We don't want to keep this path of household incomes going down $4,000. We want to turn this thing around.

KING: On the way in, CNN asked Ryan about immediate Obama campaign attacks that a Romney/Ryan victory would endanger Medicare.

(on camera): Hey, Mr. Chairman, they are calling voters here in your state and in here Iowa saying this is proof they're going to take away your Medicare. What do you say to that?

RYAN: We will play these issues later. We will play stump the running mate later. But our job is to strengthen and protect Medicare. That's what we do. President Obama, they're raiding and ultimately rationing Medicare. We will deal with these issues later, though, OK, John?

KING (voice-over): This was his first solo event since being picked for the Republican ticket, and Ryan's casual, at-ease style is one reason the Romney campaign believes he's a big asset in Iowa and across the Midwest, especially with white working-class voters critical to Republican chances here.

RYAN: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Des Moines, Iowa.

RYAN: Oh, great. Great.

KING: The upsides are obvious,. Conservatives love the pick. Ryan is an energetic campaigner and that youthful energy is rubbing off on Romney. But there are downsides, like Romney, limited foreign policy experience, only 42, but already 20 years of working in Washington, and a conservative record the base loves, but is a tougher sell with suburban moderates.

What is immediately clear though is that the Obama campaign in Wisconsin is already working harder, same look for their brand, but a new script to slam the opposition. Calls to Wisconsin voters now deal directly with the Ryan factor, nice guy, the Obama volunteers say, but a threat to Medicare and Social Security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think his policies are the big difference. And I think that Obama, you know, is going to help people like you and I.

KING: The president won Wisconsin by 14 points four years ago, but it's much closer this time. And Republicans here say the Ryan pick adds even more energy to a hungry GOP base.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Much more intense, much more at stake, much more on the line. That hope and change isn't quite working out like everybody hoped it would.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: John King joins us now, along with political analysts Gloria Borger and Ron Brownstein, who's also editorial director for "National Journal."

Nice to see you, gentlemen.

John, I'm going to start with you. You talk a little bit about what Ryan could do to help Mitt Romney in Wisconsin. Outside of his district, District 1, what can he bring? Is it enough to help him really with the entire state and even the states surrounding Wisconsin?

KING: It's a great question, Soledad. Picking a House member is risky.

He's never run, meaning he's never won statewide. He is well known across the state, though. And the energized Republican base in Wisconsin was already saying this will be a closer election. Remember, the governor of Wisconsin was just through a recall election. The Republicans won that race despite all the Democratic money, all the labor money that came in. So they were ginned up anyway. The recent poll showed about five points. So in Wisconsin there's no question now. The Obama people are going to have to work harder. Is it enough? Who knows? Then you get into the bigger questions. And remember, in the end, vice presidential picks almost never matter. There's the big rollout buzz, then they tend to fade, the way both campaigns that we're talking so much about Paul Ryan, maybe this year will be different.

O'BRIEN: And it also seems that a lot of the conversation about his budget is really the -- the conversation right now, which it certainly doesn't feel like it's going away anytime soon. Ron, you have said that you think that the Ryan pick could make any kind of victory for the GOP more difficult because he takes away some crucial voting blocs. Which blocs?

ROB BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, Soledad, I had no idea you were this nocturnal so...

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: I'm really not.

BROWNSTEIN: I'm very pleased to see you after dark. But look, as John said, Ryan brings a lot of assets to the ticket. He's dynamic. He's personable and he has produced probably the document -- the policy blueprint that is mobilized and galvanized conservatives more than anything since the Reagan supply side tax cuts. But he does expose an inherit strain in the Republican coalition.

Over the last generation, they have become much more dependent on blue collar and older whites. They won about 60 percent of both groups in 2008, over 60 percent of them in 2010. Those are voters who are generally anti-government. They don't like transfer programs that they see as moving money from the middle class to the poor. And that's one reason, for example, why they overwhelmingly oppose Obama's health care plan.

But they are much more supportive of the big entitlement programs that benefit the middle class. And if you look at polling, there's a lot of skepticism among them about changing Medicare. And as you noted before, 2010 is proof of that alone. The argument that Democrats were taking money from Medicare for the health care bill, debatable in the way it's presented. But nonetheless, it led to a very sharp movement toward Republicans among both of those groups.

And that is now what Romney and Ryan are going to have to defend. Those gains against a ferocious Democratic attack primarily on Medicare.

O'BRIEN: And we're seeing that already.

Gloria, let's talk polling since Ron brought it up anyway. "Washington Post"/ABC News poll, 15-point jump in Romney's approval after Mitt Romney chose him. There's a "USA Today"/Gallup poll as well, a one-day national poll on how Americans feel about Paul Ryan. And if you look at the numbers there, they look pretty good. How do you assess those polls?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's a first impression, right? People took a look at him. They took a look at him with Mitt Romney and it looks in many ways like Mitt Romney of Bain Capital hired a junior partner there. They kind of like the way he looked. He seems more at ease than Romney. In fact, I think he makes Romney more at ease on the campaign trail.

There almost seems to be a sense of relief from Romney that there's somebody else out there with him. So these are first impressions. But as you know we're talking the Ryan budget becomes issue number one. Question of Medicare. Question of seniors. Question of entitlement cuts. Question of, by the way, what do you do about taxes? I mean, Paul Ryan is for tax reform. If you get tax reform, what taxes are going to be increased as a result of it?

These are questions that are all going to come up and should come up in the presidential debate. And the question I really think is as people give Ryan a second look, not just the first look, but the second look, is really going to depend on how he answers the questions, like John King put to him today.

O'BRIEN: And, John King, he looked pretty comfortable while you were putting questions to him. Gloria seems to think he loosens up the governor. Do you think that's true?

KING: Well, there is no question, Governor -- look, a nominee goes through three big tests. A running mate, the convention speech and the debates. And each one sort of elevates the confidence level of the nominee. And there's no question, you can see, making this choice as Governor Romney has a little bounce in his step. He has a little bit of a swagger. That's the part of the evolution of any nominee.

Now this is the easy one, picking a running mate, as long as it doesn't blow up in your face. The debates, the convention speech are much bigger, because in the end, this is a race between Mitt Romney and President Obama. Governor Romney and President Obama.

Governor Romney has some problems right now with his unfavorable ratings. If introducing Paul Ryan to the United States voters can help him, maybe. But he's going to have to solve his fundamental problems on his own.

However, there's no question, look, don't take my word for it. Take President Obama's word for it. He says Paul Ryan is an incredibly likable and thoughtful guy. They just happen to disagree big time.

O'BRIEN: Do -- does he have good likability numbers, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, I think -- I think Romney's problem is likability. And maybe they hope some of Ryan's likability will kind of rub off. I mean, as you saw the polls show, first glance, people like Paul Ryan. And they're going to look at Mitt Romney and say gee, what was it about Mitt Romney that made him choose this person? Romney's biggest problem right now is that he's underwater on the question of likability, meaning more people dislike him than like him. So he's got to do all he can to warm himself up and they're hoping that Paul Ryan dipping into another generation, choosing somebody younger with a great family and a story, is going to rub off on Mitt Romney in a good way.

O'BRIEN: John King, Gloria Borger, and Ron Brownstein, nice to see you, guys. Thanks so much, appreciate it.

BORGER: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Beyond his policies, Paul Ryan, of course, has a personal life. He's a father of three. A former prom king. He has hobbies that he's passionate about.

What you might not know about Paul Ryan is what Gary Tuchman goes "Up Close" to tell us all about it -- just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Up close tonight -- Paul Ryan is obviously a known quantity in Wisconsin where he has build a successful career in politics. But nationwide, he might have some work to do. In that "USA Today"/Gallup poll we mentioned a little bit earlier, just 39 percent of Americans polled yesterday called Ryan an excellent or pretty good choice as Romney's running mate, 42 percent said he's a fair or poor choice, 19 percent said they had no opinion.

Voters have between now and Election Day to form an opinion or change their opinion about Ryan. Tonight, some things you might not know about him.

Here's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mitt Romney's oldest son was born the same year as the man who is now running for vice president. Paul Ryan is young. He was only 10 years old when one of his political heroes, Ronald Reagan, began his first term as president.

But the 42-year-old Ryan is certainly not an inexperienced politician. He's in his seventh term as a Wisconsin congressman, after five years as a staffer for one congressman and two senators. His entire professional career has been in Washington.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm excited for what lies ahead. I'm thrilled to be part of America's comeback team. And together, we will unite America and get this done!

TUCHMAN: The man who says he will unite America is a Badger through and through -- born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, which is fewer than 20 miles away from Obama's home state of Illinois. He went to Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville, where he was high school prom king, and also declared the biggest brown-noser in the school yearbook.

He still lives in Janesville, in a home very close to where he was born. He talked about his hometown in an extensive interview with CNN's Gloria Borger last summer.

RYAN: Look, we have a normal wife. My wife and I, three beautiful kids. Soccer on Saturdays. We have Cub Scouts. We have a normal life like everybody else.

I go to Washington four days a week, which I call the silly place. You know, it's two different kind of worlds.

TUCHMAN: Ryan has three small children, one girl and two boys: Liza, Charlie and Sam.

He got married in 2000 to the former Janna Little. Ryan graduated from Miami University in Ohio in 1992, the year Bill Clinton was elected to his first term. He majored in economics and political science.

One of his summer jobs in college was a salesman for the Oscar Mayer Company. He would likely be the first vice president to have driven the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. But it was before college when the then 16-year-old Ryan experienced what's been described as a pivotal moment in his life. He found his father dead in their home.

RYAN: My dad died of a heart attack at 55. My father at 57. So, I've always had this incentive to stay healthy.

TUCHMAN: Indeed, Ryan is known as a fitness fanatic. He and other House members participate in ambitious workouts. Ryan helped spread an extreme workout routine known as P90X.

Another one of his passions is hunting. A friend of Ryan's, former House member Mark Green, learned how important hunting was to Ryan when he once sent him an e-mail.

MARK GREEN, FORMER HOUSE MEMBER: I got this terse response saying, "I'm sitting in a deer stand. It's hunting season. Leave me alone."

TUCHMAN: Now, Paul Ryan is involved in another kind of hunt, a hunt for votes. As he works to convince Americans that this conservative supply-sider and lifelong Green Bay Packer fan would be a good vice president for this nation.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.

RYAN: Are there any packer fans here? All right, cool.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: There's a lot more we're following tonight. Susan Hendricks joins us with a 360 bulletin.

Hey, Susan. SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad.

Texas police fatally shot a gunman who killed two people just blocks from the Texas A&M campus today. One of the victims was a law enforcement officer who was serving an eviction notice. Police said the shooter was a 35-year-old local man.

In a civil lawsuit filed today, the House Oversight Committee is demanding that attorney General Eric Holder turn over documents from the botched gun tracking operation known as "Fast and Furious." Last month, the Justice Department said it would not prosecute Holder.

And the Mayo Clinic says Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is responding well to treatment for bipolar disorder. It is the first word of an official diagnosis. The Illinois Democrat has not been on Capitol Hill since late May.

And the longtime editor of "Cosmopolitan" magazine, Helen Gurley Brown, has died. She was 90. Brown spent 32 years as editor of "Cosmopolitan," which today has 64 international editions. Before joining the magazine, Brown created the idea of a modern woman in her best selling book, "Sex and the Single Girl." Certainly a pioneer.

Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Y, she surely was. She surely was.

Thanks, Susan. Appreciate it. Going to check back with you in just a little bit.

Up next, a former elementary school teacher and camp counselor is now on the FBI's most wanted list for allegedly possessing and producing child pornography. He's been on the run for years. Maybe you can help investigators track him down. The full story in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: From pilfered penguins to real life hamburglars, crime has a way of finding its way to the 360 "Ridiculist." Starting tonight, we're counting down our top five "Ridiculist" law breakers. Remember Car Pool Guy? He's back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, the hunt for an accused child pornographer who managed to win over wealthy families within Washington, D.C.'s elite. His name is Eric Justin Toth. He's on the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives list.

The agency is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Toth was an elementary school teacher and former camp counselor, within easy reach of potential victims. He's also a computer whiz who's managed to evade capture for years.

Here's Tom Foreman. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the last day of school in 2008, at Beauvoir, an elite private school operated by the National Cathedral, a pornographic image of a child is spotted on a camera assigned to a third grade teacher. Although Eric Toth is beloved by the administration, students and parents alike, school officials order him off campus and summon police.

But it's too late. Investigators say within hours, Toth leaves the city, leaves the state and is on the run.

RONALD HOSKO, FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: That's right.

FOREMAN (on camera): The moment he was found out, he hit the road?

HOSKO: He knew there was trouble and he headed West. That's right.

FOREMAN (voice-over): For four years, no one has followed the trail more closely than FBI special agent-in-charge Ronald Hosko who says Toth is a very dangerous man in the murky world of child porn.

HOSKO: This is somebody who's beyond looking at images. This is somebody who's created images.

FOREMAN (on camera): This is a genuine predator on this front?

HOSKO: Absolutely, absolutely.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Hosko has no idea how many children Toth allegedly photographed. Whether he's selling the images or simply keeping them for private use. He does know Toth is good at it.

According to the FBI, Toth not only secretly installed a camera in his third grade bathroom at the D.C. school, he also ingratiated himself to parents, offering his services as a tutor, a baby-sitter, a trusted friend to watch their young boys. Tactics he learned in his previous job as camp counselor.

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER FBI PROFILER: He's very much almost like a puppeteer.

FOREMAN: Mary Ellen O'Toole is a former FBI profiler and author of the book "Dangerous Instincts." She is convinced that Toth loves fooling rich and powerful parents like those at the cathedral school.

O'TOOLE: I think that grooming process before he even accessed that child is incredibly important to him.

FOREMAN (on camera): So you think that may be part of the thrill for this guy?

O'TOOLE: I absolutely think that's part of the thrill for this person, absolutely. FOREMAN (voice-over): So, where is he? Authorities say Toth, who is only 30, has changed his identity several times, faked his own suicide. He moves around the country using his technological skill to evade capture.

For example, once tapping into an employer's phone and fleeing when he heard authorities were on the way -- all the while, reveling in the high-profile pursuit.

(on camera): You think he's watching all of this?

O'TOOLE: I think he's watching as much as he can.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And yet through all of that, Hosko says a string of discoveries along the trail, photographs and testimony, convinces him Toth has never quit hunting.

HOSKO: This is somebody who's out there looking. He is on the prowl for his next victim. There's I think a high likelihood he's already found his next victim.

FOREMAN: So the FBI's hunt for this suspected child predator goes on too.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Now to Mary Ellen O'Toole, the former FBI profiler who was featured in Tom's report.

Mary Ellen, thanks for being with us.

You think he is still out there working with children in some way?

O'TOOLE: Oh, I think he is out there working with children, finding ways to ingratiate himself with the child and the child's family. I think he's very strongly motivated to do that and he'll take risks to do that. Yes, he is out there and doing it probably right now as we speak.

O'BRIEN: Because he can't stop?

O'TOOLE: Well, the kind of behavior that we're talking about here probably rises to the level of being really paraphilic behavior. And that behavior is very need-driven. So, it's very obsessive, compulsive kinds of behavior, not to say he's not in control and can't choose to stop it if it's not in his best interest.

But this is very, very strong behavior for him. Very strong recurring urges. And he will be pursuing as a predator his next victim and how to access the victim after that and so forth.

O'BRIEN: It seems like he goes a step further though, trying to curry favor with the parents too to get even, you know, closer to the victims.

O'TOOLE: Well, that's a really strong indicator of someone who is -- is really a predator and they groom people to make sure that they can have access to the child and the parent will say, geez, what a wonderful teacher what a wonderful nanny, can you watch my child for the weekend? And he knows that that works. And he knows that by grooming the parents as well as the child, he'll have access to the child for a much longer period of time. The parents will trust him and maybe even be less likely to report it if their son or daughter comes forward and says, "This is what happened to me."

O'BRIEN: That's when the parents say, don't be ridiculous, it couldn't be him.

O'TOOLE: Yes, that's right.

O'BRIEN: Is it rare for someone like him to make it on to the most wanted list?

O'TOOLE: Well, he's a teacher. And he is a college graduate. He went to a very prestigious school. So when you look at the history of the FBI's ten most wanted, you don't see a lot of teachers on that list. So I would say in my opinion, that's very unusual for someone like him to be put on that list.

O'BRIEN: Wow. All right. Mary Ellen O'Toole, thanks for joining us this evening. We certainly appreciate it.

O'TOOLE: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Elsewhere, is this the picture of a major new turn in the battle for Syria? Opposition forces claim they have shot down a warplane. We've got details of that, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: I'm Susan Hendricks with a 360 news and business bulletin.

Syrian rebels claim they shot a fighter jet out of the sky. They posted video showing a jet on fire and crashing moments later. The Assad regime denies this and claims the jet crashed because of technical failure. Now, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the video.

Back home, a judge says certain records connected with the case of the alleged Colorado theater killer may be main public, namely, 34 procedural documents and court orders. However, the judge also ruled the University of Colorado court records on the defendant be sealed. He also reaffirmed a previous gag order barring lawyers and law enforcement agencies from discussing the case with members of the media.

The severe drought in parts of this country will lead to higher food prices at the grocery store. This is because corn and soybean prices -- they are going up, due to lower crop yield. One government report says consumers can expect to pay up to 4 percent more over the next year.

And you got to see this. An alligator handler at a fair in Ohio is a lucky man. He slipped during a live performance and as you see, a gator chomped down on his right arm. It's pretty scary. But the animal finally opened his jaw and let go of the guys arm, and he is OK.

And we'll be right back with our ridiculous law breaker countdown. Remember Car Pool Guy? Well, he's back in a big way. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: So we noticed something recently, our "Ridiculist" is a magnet for misdeeds, people behaving badly and breaking the law. So, all this week, we're counting down the top five "Ridiculist" videos that feature sticky fingers and alleged crooks, but we need your help.

Your votes will decide which lawbreakers get another turn in the spotlight of shame. You can vote on our blog at AC360.com.

Thanks to everybody who voted today. By popular demand, Car Pool Guy is back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Time for "The RidicuList," and tonight, we're adding a fellow we're calling Car Pool Guy, and hell hath no fury like Car Pool Guy.

Here's what happened. KRON 4, CNN affiliate in San Francisco, has a series called "People Behaving Badly." Their reporter, Stanley Roberts, was out with a police officer who was pulling over people who were using the car pool lane while driving solo, which is, you know, clearly not allowed.

That's when they came across Car Pool Guy, and well, he was not too happy to see the camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- in my car I can break it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So put it in my car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not in your car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. I bet you won't put it in my car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won't put it in my car, like I said. So since you're so smart, put it in my car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will get broke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it in my car. I get the ticket. Put it in my car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, fat ass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Ouch, Car Pool Guy. Heading right into the gutter.

By the way, did you happen to notice what Car Pool Guy was wearing? I think I speak for all of us when I say nothing underscores the seriousness with which you should consider the complaints of an irate driver quite like an Elmo T-shirt.

Now, I don't know why Car Pool Guy got so nasty. Maybe his Elmo T-shirt was itchy or maybe he was running late to pick up his Cookie Monster T-shirt from the dry cleaners. Whatever the reason, things only got worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is for KRON 4 News? Stanley E. Roberts?

STANLEY E. ROBERTS, REPORTER, KRON: This is for "People Behaving Badly" on Channel 4.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about people overeating on Channel 4, fat ass, how about that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Oh, zing. No wonder Car Pool Guy was illegally using the car pool lane. He was late to his shift at the Chuckle Hut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good day, chubby guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, too, fat ass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: See, it's not really a 1-800 number; it's an insult. Oh, that Car Pool Guy. But he seems a little hung up on the weight thing. If only he had more comebacks, which I'm sure not at all reflections of his own insecurities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, the ticket is $500.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I can pay it. What you driving? What you drive? I bet you don't drive nothing nice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Duh. Obviously. I mean, if television reporters had real money, they'd all be strutting around in those fancy Elmo T- shirts like you've heard so much about. What? Oh, this just in. I'm being told in my ear, Car Pool Guy has now combined his money complex with his weight complex.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bet you it's a Ford, if you got one, fat ass. All you can afford a Ford with your fat, lazy ass. That's why you're out here videotaping. You don't even have a real job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right, Car Pool Guy. I think you'd agree we put up with a lot from you so far but you're about one outburst away from losing your Elmo T-shirt endorsement deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't they have you down there filming what's going on in Oakland, all the riots and (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? They've got your fat, lazy, non-relevant, non-factor ass out here filming highway patrol. That tells you how much you're worth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good day, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye, fat ass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Good grief. He's awful.

Car Pool Guy, good luck with your issues, the least of which is the ticket you got. I hope you don't have to pawn your Elmo T-shirt before you park your rage on "The RidicuList."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: That does it for this edition of 360. Thank you for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.