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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Republican National Convention Coverage
Aired August 30, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: -- in business and public service.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is not government that makes us great. It is the people of America.
ANNOUNCER: It all leads him to this place, this stage, this moment.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Tonight, we stand up for Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.
ANNOUNCER: In Tampa tonight, Mitt Romney accepts his party's nomination and begins the final round of a bitter fight for the White House.
ROMNEY: If there's an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the president of the United States.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would make sense to release your tax returns.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obama-nomics is not working.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: What's so bold about gutting Medicare and education?
ANNOUNCER: Will Romney do what it takes tonight to help seal his presidential dream and deliver on his promises?
ROMNEY: Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.
ANNOUNCER: Now CNN turns the spotlight on one of the biggest platforms in American politics. This is the Republican National Convention. This is Mitt Romney's night.
ROMNEY: He and I will be the next president and vice president of the United States and America will stay strong and prosperous and free.
ANNOUNCER: This is AMERICA'S CHOICE. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention. Live from Tampa, Florida.
This is the night that all the delegates here, all the visitors here in this forum, have been waiting for. We're awaiting what really could be the defining moment of the presidential campaign for the Republicans. Mitt Romney's acceptance speech here at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Anderson Cooper.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Wolf Blitzer here on the convention floor. We'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to this Republican National Convention.
We're watching everything that's going on during this hour. We'll ask the Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, why he was moved to tears by the vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's speech last night. But right now, we're going to hear from Congressman Ryan himself.
When we spoke just a little bit ago in "THE SITUATION ROOM," Representative Ryan was in absolutely no mood to back away from some of the controversial comments, the attack lines, in his acceptance speech last night. Listen to this.
BLITZER: How pumped are you about all of this?
BLITZER: Because it's been moving very quickly in your life.
RYAN: That's true. But I've been working on these issues for a long time.
BLITZER: The issues but the fact that you're the vice presidential nominee. A few weeks ago, you didn't think that was in the cards.
RYAN: Well, when you submit yourself to vetting which occurred a few months ago, I always had the thought in the back of my mind. And then it got real, so to speak. I'm excited because Mitt Romney is going to finish telling the story that we started telling last night. He's going to introduce himself to the American people so they get to know the kind of man, the leader that he is, that we know. He's going to offer his solutions to get people back to work.
BLITZER: Is he going to go through specifics like you did last night?
(CROSSTALK) RYAN: Yes, he's -- he's going to go into his plan for a stronger middle class. He's going to go in more granular detail about these ideas to get people back to work. He's going to talk about how we need real leadership to make key decisions now before we have a debt crisis on our horizon. Before we lose grip of the American idea. And before we find ourselves in a situation like Europe is facing.
And he's going to introduce himself to the American people in a way so that they can get to know him like we do. And I'm excited about seeing that.
BLITZER: Because this -- the debt problem, the trillions and trillions of dollars didn't just start with the Obama administration --
RYAN: Absolutely not.
BLITZER: I mean there's plenty of blame to go around.
RYAN: There's plenty of blame to go around.
BLITZER: And during the Bush --
RYAN: Both parties, they own this problem --
BLITZER: During the Bush administration, it doubled.
RYAN: So I've been saying that for years. All I would say is President Obama made it worse. The debt went up $5.5 trillion during the Obama years. More to the point this crisis is coming closer. It's already hitting Europe. And President Obama has had four budgets and four times he avoided tackling the problem.
The Senate hasn't passed a budget for three years. That's the opposite of leadership and Mitt Romney is going to provide the kind of leadership we need to get this thing under control.
BLITZER: I know I have a limited amount of time. But a couple of things from your speech last night. Erskine Bowles, you know, and the Bowles-Simpson Commission, you were a member of that. You criticized the president for saying he rejected the recommendations but you rejected the recommendations as well.
RYAN: And the next paragraph of my speech, I said we've offered alternatives. If you don't like this idea, then offer your own. That's what we did in the House. And what I did was, I took what we thought were the best ideas from Bowles-Simpson then added other ideas to it and passed it. President Obama did none of that. President Obama said, I don't like this plan and offered nothing in return.
BLITZER: But he said that he did come close with a deal with John Boehner. They were -- they were negotiating.
(CROSSTALK) RYAN: That was -- that wasn't even close to actually fixing the problem. It was a small or medium-sized deal. Look, cutting a backroom deal that gives you plausible deniability is not leadership. Offering a plan, submitting a budget to Congress that fixes the problem, that's leadership. And we haven't seen it four years from President Obama.
BLITZER: Now the GM plant in Janesville, you're getting some grief on that. Do you want to revise and amend --
RYAN: No, I don't want to revise --
BLITZER: -- what you hadn't -- what you said -- just to remind our viewers, you said that the president came there, and he did come there.
BLITZER: In February of 2008. And he said, you know, if the government takes action, you guys will have a plant here for 100 years.
RYAN: That's right.
BLITZER: But they announced that plant was shutting down in June 2008. That was during the Bush administration.
RYAN: Well, it's still idle. The point is this is the story of the Obama economy. A man running for president in 2008 making all these grand promises and then none of them occurring. He got elected. He put his policies in place. And the plant still shut down. My friends who I went to high school with --
BLITZER: But that was a decision General Motors made.
RYAN: I'm not saying it was his decision, I'm saying he came and made these promises, makes this commitments. Sells people on the notion that he's going to do all these great achievements and then none of them occur. These are empty promises that become broken promises. And that's the story of the Obama economy.
He said he was going to cut the deficit in half in four years. We're nowhere close. He said unemployment, if he passed the stimulus, would never go above 8 percent. It's been above 8 percent ever since.
So what we have here are a man who ran for president with grandiose plans and promises, great rhetoric, none of the results.
BLITZER: But you were with him when he saved the auto industry, though. You supported that legislation.
RYAN: Yes, I voted for the bill in the House which would have prevented TARP from being used for auto -- and this is under the Bush administration.
RYAN: I didn't like the idea of TARP being used so I voted for a bill which would have prevented TARP from being used, which is open ended. We're now $25 billion and counting in lost taxpayer dollars. I voted for a bill which would have far more minimized that. But President Obama and President Bush used TARP for it.
BLITZER: How are you preparing for your debate with Joe Biden?
RYAN: By preparing.
BLITZER: What are you doing?
RYAN: Well, I'm studying. I'm reading Joe Biden speeches. Reading -- watching Joe Biden tape. And just studying on all of the various issues.
BLITZER: He's pretty good.
RYAN: He's good, but I've been in Congress 14 years. And this is what we do. Especially in the House. The Senate, they don't debate as often and as frequently. That's all we do in the House is we debate. I love debating. It's one of the things I like about this job.
RYAN: Thanks, Wolf, appreciate it.
BLITZER: We'll spend some time together.
RYAN: All right.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.
RYAN: Sounds good.
BLITZER: Good luck.
RYAN: Good to see you around, see you on the trail.
BLITZER: Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee. Speaking with me just a little while ago here at the Republican National Convention.
Anderson, I was impressed he seems very, very confident not only going forward with his argument, he's being criticized for some of the statements he made last night. He's not backing away from any of that. But also pretty confident about that upcoming debate in October against the Vice President Joe Biden. COOPER: He certainly energized the crowd here last night. All day today, a number of fact checking organization, CNN included, have pointed out a number of factual inconsistencies, misrepresentations, incomplete arguments in his speech.
Let's talk about the speech last night and whether you think some of those same arguments are going to be repeated tonight. I mean obviously Paul Ryan energized this crowd here last night. But there were a number of statement he made which were just flat-out misleading or wrong.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But he also said something that was, shall we say, welcome to politics, where he criticized the president. The president did appoint a debt reduction commission. The Simpson-Bowles Commission. The president did asked them to do their work and the president did walk away from their findings. That was all very factual.
And a lot of people were disappointed in the president for doing that. But one member of the committee -- commission was a guy named Paul Ryan. The chairman of House Budget Committee. And he voted against it, too.
COOPER: He was instrumental in them not coming up with a recommendation.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.
KING: And he says he has good reasons for that. Well, then aren't the president's reasons good -- don't you open the door to the president saying, well, I had good reasons, too?
BORGER: The debt commission was something I think was sort of ridiculous for him to use in his speech because he opens himself up to that kind of criticism.
COOPER: He made it seem as if he was not on the debt commission and did not vote against --
COOPER: -- their ideas.
BORGER: Right. And he -- you know, he was on the debt commission.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No.
CASTELLANOS: No. I think every Republican -- a lot of voters out there who actually want to get something done would actually take this race all the way to the finish line and say, look, if the president didn't do anything and if Ryan didn't do it, why did Ryan take another step and put a proposal on the table afterward --
COOPER: But is it fair to say the president didn't do anything? The president's supporters would say, and fact checking organizations pointed out the president did take a couple of the ideas and try to move them.
CASTELLANOS: The president walked away from his commission and did not put a proposal on the table. Paul Ryan says, look, that's not good enough. Put a better proposal on the table.
BORGER: But --
CASTELLANOS: The difference here is, somebody actually put something that got through Congress and was a real proposal. The other guy walked away.
BORGER: But there were Republicans on that commission who voted for that report. Conservative Republicans. I'm not saying that President Obama didn't sort of dish the commission because he did.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He didn't -- no, no, no.
CASTELLANOS: Now which is it -- but which is it, Gloria? That Paul Ryan is so extreme and radical that he wants to cut the budget? And he actually wants to put a balanced budget proposal --
BRAZILE: But it's not a --
CASTELLANOS: Before that he didn't do anything.
BRAZILE: But it's not a balanced proposal.
CASTELLANOS: Because we're attacking him for both.
BRAZILE: No. But -- no.
BORGER: But he --
COOPER: But also, doesn't -- his budget --
BRAZILE: Paul Ryan's budget is not a balanced budget.
BORGER: OK. He didn't --
COOPER: His budget -- his budget doesn't balance the budget for 20 years.
BRAZILE: It doesn't -- it's not a balanced proposal.
CASTELLANOS: But he starts --
BRAZILE: And also, Alex, President Obama has put forward his plans. He has put forward plans to not only streamline the budget but bring us into balance decades before the Republicans will even see daylight on the balanced budget. But the point --
CASTELLANOS: Actually, he won't.
BRAZILE: But the point that Paul Ryan was --
CASTELLANOS: This is the same president who said Obamacare wouldn't cost us what it did and it's shooting through the roof.
BRAZILE: You know, and -- and --
CASTELLANOS: And it's not even a plain tax.
BRAZILE: But, Alex, don't be on defense when the truth needs to be spoken, as Chris Christie said. It's hard truth. The hard truth is is that we're facing a very serious fiscal problem at the end of the year and what Paul Ryan last night presented was a lot of misleading statements --
CASTELLANOS: No, he didn't.
BRAZILE: Yes, he did. On the $716 billion in Medicare savings --
CASTELLANOS: I didn't hear it.
BRAZILE: -- that is included in the Ryan budget proposal that helps us streamline Medicare and extends the life of Medicare. And that's another proposal.
COOPER: You also want to talk about the welfare, the attacks on welfare reform that the Romney camp has been saying.
CASTELLANOS: Yes, I do.
COOPER: Again, fact checking organizations just say, point out, what they are saying is just factually incorrect.
CASTELLANOS: Exactly. And so I went to them, I said, hey, guys, what's up? The fact checkers are killing you on this. And here's what they told me, they said, the Obama people outplayed us on this. They are smart. Technically, they didn't change the work requirement. They did something smarter. They changed the definition of the word work. Now anything counts as work. And --
CASTELLANOS: Excuse me, let me -- no, no, let me -- here's what they told me. And here's the truth. John King just stood up there and said no, we gave the governors the flexibility, complete flexibility they wanted. If that's true, then the governors have complete flexibility to change anything including the work requirement.
COOPER: I asked Newt Gingrich about this. He said after many dodging and weaving factually yes, there is no evidence that they are trying to change anything or that he's trying to gut welfare reform yet. But he believe in his heart that's the kind of guy Obama is and that will happen.
CASTELLANOS: Please tell Newt Gingrich for the first time he actually -- in his whole life he could be wrong.
BORGER: But you just heard the Ohio --
CASTELLANOS: That's the response that I got from --
BORGER: But you just heard the Ohio governor saying that he wasn't clear where he stood on this particular issue. And that he wanted --
CASTELLANOS: Well, I would ask John --
BORGER: He wanted to take another look at it .
BORGER: A Republican governor --
COOPER: David Gergen, go ahead.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Alex, can I just disagree with you, my good friend, on this one? I do think on this welfare issue the Republicans are exploiting. It was Republican governors who asked for the waiver.
GERGEN: They were among those asking --
CASTELLANOS: It's a powerful argument --
KING: Well, wait a minute --
GERGEN: Powerful, but it's wrong.
CASTELLANOS: Excuse me, one moment, though, because if what David said is right, the governors asked for it, and they got it, they got complete flexibility, then they have flexibility to waive the work requirement.
COOPER: We've got to -- we've got to take a break.
CASTELLANOS: It's one or the other, guys.
COOPER: We're going to discuss this further. We're also watching a very tough Senate fight in Mitt Romney's home state. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown who took Ted Kennedy's seat, battling a controversial figure in the Obama administration. Brown joins us next.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Tampa for the Republican National Convention. It's an outdoor shot. We're watching what's going on inside though right now. Let's go to the floor. Dana Bash is standing by with the governor of Wisconsin, Dana, he got rather emotional last night.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did get emotional last night. I actually have one of the few Republicans from Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is one, I have another one, Senator Scott Brown, with me.
Thank you very much for coming.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks. Well, there's a couple of more but yes.
BASH: One of the few.
BROWN: It's good to be here.
BASH: Not the only. Just a few. But you served with Governor Romney, you were in the state legislature, he was in the governor's mansion. Tell us --
BROWN: Well, we don't have a governor's mansion but he was the governor. And we actually -- he came in when a time when we were in a fiscal emergency and we were -- had some very serious debts and he came in and through his knowledge and hard work and working really across the party lines because it's mostly Democrats in Massachusetts legislature. We were able to balance our budget and get our house in order and get our credit rating upgraded.
BASH: It's kind of remarkable, and I'm not the first one to say this, that throughout the campaign so far, he hasn't talked much about his record in Massachusetts. Why do you think that is?
BROWN: I think you'll hear more and more as we go along. Obviously this convention I think will set the tone as to where he's going to go from here. People at home know that we were in deep trouble financially. Our credit rating had been downgraded. We were, I think, $3 billion structural deficit. He came in, not raising taxes, looking at things that hadn't been upgraded for decades and really did a good job and has a lot of respect from the people at home.
BASH: You've known Mitt Romney for a long time. You worked with him on a state level. Tell us something that we might not know about him either personally or in terms of politics.
BROWN: I've always found him to be fair, and honest, and hard working. You know, we don't agree on everything. I mean he's -- you know, I'm more of moderate on a whole host of issues. I overrode him on stem cell, on emergency contraception, and a whole host of other things, but on the fiscal issues we're I think pretty solid. We understand the value of a dollar. And want to make sure that people have a good value.
BASH: What do you think -- it's neck and neck right now with the president. What do you think he needs to do in order to pull ahead?
BROWN: I just think he needs to be himself and tell people what -- what's at stake here. Do we want to have this "you didn't build it" mentality or do you want to thank people for their -- and not demonize our small business owners for doing their jobs?
BASH: Senator, thank you very much.
And I just want to tell you, Wolf, that Senator Scott Brown was just here for one day.
BROWN: Hi, Wolf.
BASH: He says hi, because he was serving -- doing his service with the National Guard for the past two days.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Dana.
I want to go up to the podium right now. The former Florida governor Jeb Bush is speaking, making the case for Mitt Romney.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Making sure every classroom has an effective teacher. Because he is a former governor, Mitt Romney understands that states must lead this national movement. In Massachusetts --
BUSH: -- Governor Romney narrowed the gap between students of different races. Raised testing standards and put into place a merit scholarship, the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, that give students four tuition free years at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.
BUSH: He is a champion for bringing hope to education. And he intends to be a champion for a quality of opportunity, a president who always puts students first.
So in this election, remember this. Our future as a nation is at stake. Fact is, this election is not just about one office. It's about one nation. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation on the planet, we must give our kids what we promised them. An equal opportunity. That starts in the classroom. It starts in our communities. It starts where you live. And it starts with electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: Thank you. God bless you. God bless our excellent teachers and God bless the United States of America.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BLITZER: The former Florida governor Jeb Bush making the case for Mitt Romney.
You know, Anderson, at the top of his speech, he also said something rather provocative. Listen to this, listen to what Jeb Bush said when he came up on that stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Something personal I'd like to share with you. I've been so blessed to be part of a family that has committed its life to public service. My granddad --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: My grandfather and my father have been incredible role models for me and served our country honorably. And my brother, well, I love my brother.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. And during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: So Mr. President, Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: You were dealt a tough hand. You were dealt a tough hand but your policies have not worked. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions and you haven't done it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Tough words from Jeb Bush. Not only defending his brother but going after President Obama, Anderson. Most of his speech was on education. But I just wanted our viewers to hear that little portion of it right at the top.
COOPER: And that theme is certainly one we've heard a lot during this week. People saying here in this hall that President Obama is blaming the prior administration, not taking responsibility. Obviously a lot of critics disagree with that. One of the things we're going to talk to our panel about in just a moment.
In 2004, President George W. Bush attracted a record number of Latino voters. John McCain couldn't keep up that momentum. Next, we'll ask New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez what the GOP can do to attract more Latinos.
We'll also ask Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker what caused him to get tearful during Paul Ryan's speech last night. A lot ahead.
BLITZER: They're excited here. Listening to a little good music here on the floor of the Republican convention.
I want to go down on the convention floor. John Berman is standing by with the governor of Virginia -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, tomorrow, when the dust settles here in Florida, the first stop for the Romney-Ryan ticket is the state of Virginia, with Governor Bob McDonnell here.
Governor, Virginia was ignored for 40 years. You were just telling me. Nevertheless, Paul Ryan was announced as his running mate in Virginia. They're going there tomorrow. Why is it such a struggle for Republicans there now?
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: It's a competitive state. We've had changing demographics in part of the state. I think that Virginians are now very pragmatic. They're interested in jobs, in spending, in debt, in deficit. And they care less about rhetoric and more about results.
And I think, you know, look, the president ran a very good campaign to break the mold in 2008. A lot of positive uplifting rhetoric. It's now a fairly negative and small ball campaign. I think that's why Mitt Romney is going to win. He's come down from eight behind to now making it even. And the momentum is on our side. Especially with independent voters.
BERMAN: Governor, conventions are very much about the president but they're also often about the future. You have said that imagine a kid who was raised in Fairfax, Virginia, could have the same office as Thomas Jefferson. You're talking about the governorship. But what about that other office Thomas Jefferson held? What about the presidency? Ever think about it?
MCDONNELL: No, but I do think about winning Virginia for Mitt Romney in 68 days. No, I'm serious about that.
BERMAN: No, come on.
MCDONNELL: I think he's the right man for the right time.
BERMAN: Every kid who plays baseball grows up imagining hitting a homerun at Fenway Park and Yankees Stadium. Every kid who grows up to be a politician must think about giving a speech here at the convention, accepting the nomination. MCDONNELL: You know, I've been in office 20 years, I never imagined I'd ever been in the legislate much less having Henry and Jefferson's job. I'm really not thinking about it. I've got 17 months left. I got a lot of big things I want to get done. And I just think America and Virginia would be a lot better off if we have a change of leadership at the top.
BERMAN: What's the one thing Mitt Romney needs to say tonight to sway Virginia?
MCDONNELL: I think there's two things. One, that he follows up on what Ann Romney did for him the other night and say, listen, I didn't start successful, I worked hard, I dreamt big, I sacrificed a lot, and now I got 18 grandchildren. And yes, I've been successful. That's a good thing in America.
Number one, humanize himself. And number two is say, this is a big difference between Romney's vision and Obama's record. And there really is a positive change that he can make to do better. And it all starts with lifting up the middle class. He's going to hit heavily those five points that he made his theme for raising up the middle class. With small business focus. With workforce development. With education. Debt reduction. And energy.
I mean he's going to hit those hard and show there are real solutions that contrast he and Obama.
BERMAN: All right. Governor McDonnell, thanks very much for joining us.
MCDONNELL: OK. Thanks. Great to be on with you.
BLITZER: John, thanks very, very much. We're getting ready -- Marco Rubio is going to be speaking, he's going to be introducing Mitt Romney. That will be the highlight of the evening. But right now, there's some other speeches. Erin Burnett is here with me once again.
Erin, there's some other speeches coming up that are unusual in this political context.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And interesting perhaps because everyone thinks Mitt Romney may have a problem talking about his own personal life and his own personal achievement, that there are other people here are going to be speaking for him. Parents of a young child who had suffered from cancer that Mitt Romney ministered to, friends, business associates, who are going to talk a lot about the man, the personal side of him and his faith, which is going to be really interesting.
BLITZER: It's interesting because they -- the whole campaign, at least until now, recent days, they really haven't emphasized his religious faith, being a Mormon and all of that, but now it's beginning to come forward. They're speaking much more openly about it. It's something that seems to be a positive, a plus, especially at this convention.
BURNETT: It is interesting. You know, when you look a few years ago at the Pew poll, Muslims and Mormons scored the lowest, in terms of America's opinion of those religions. And I think that's kind of what you internalize, right, they talk about it. People see it as a negative. Now it does seem to be a positive.
BLITZER: At center stage, who are we going to be hearing from?
BURNETT: We are going to be hearing now from a man named Grant Bennett. He spent -- you're going to hear him say he spent thousands of hours with Mitt Romney. They were at church together in Belmont, Massachusetts. Let's listen to him talk about Mitt Romney.
GRANT BENNETT, FRIEND OF MITT ROMNEY: -- with a dear friend and a remarkable man named Mitt Romney. These wonderful even glorious hours together were spent in serving our fellow men and women. They were spent in service in our church.
We embraced Christ's admonition in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which we are member, has an unpaid lay clergy.
While raising his family and pursuing his career, Mitt Romney served in our church, devoting 10, 15 and even 20 hours a week doing so. Like all Mormon leaders, he did so on his own time and at his own expense.
I was Mitt's assistant when he was our pastor. I had a front row seat and it was marvelous to behold. As we began working together, Mitt asked, how early can I call you in the morning? I answered, 6:00 a.m. I regret my answer.
Mitt Romney became my alarm clock, typical morning call. Grant, it's Mitt, I'm at the airport, Hazel Young tripped last night and bruised her hip. Please visit her this evening, give her my love. I'll arrange for meals and I will visit her on my way home from the airport tomorrow.
In our early morning calls, Mitt didn't discuss questions of theology. He found the definition of religion, given by James in the New Testament, to be a practical guide. Pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction.
So what specifically did Mitt Romney do as our pastor? For one or two evenings each week and several hours every weekend, week after week and year after year, he met with those seeking help with the burdens of real life.
Burdens we all face at one time or another, unemployment, sickness, financial distress, loneliness. Mitt prayed and counselled with church members seeking spiritual direction, single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youth with addictions. Immigrants separated from their families and individuals whose heat had been shut off. To uphold the dignity and respect the privacy of those who came, he met with them in private and in confidence. He has upheld that trust.
Mitt's response to those who came was compassion in all its beautiful varieties. He had a listening ear and helping hand. Drawing on the skills and resources of those in our congregation, Mitt provided food and housing, rides to the doctor and companions to sit with those who were ill.
He shovelled snow and raked leaves for the elderly. He took down tables and swept floors at church dinners. He was often the last to leave. Years later, I became the pastor. Only then did I understand the dedication this calling requires.
And the clarity this service provides into the full range of our shared human experience. Mitt challenged each of us to find our life by losing it in service to others. He issued that challenge again and again.
The church itself was a marvelous vehicle for extending that challenge. Mitt seldom delivered the sermon himself. He gave that opportunity to fellow church members. He sought to involve everyone so everyone could grow.
Mitt taught faith in God, personal integrity, self-reliance and service to our fellow men. And Mitt did what he challenged us to do. He led by example. I treasure every minute we served together.
I am grateful for my apprenticeship in the things that matter most under the hands of a deeply good man named Mitt Romney. It is my privilege to introduce two families from our congregation. First Pat and Ted Oparowski. They will be followed by Pam.
TED OPAROWSKI, PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTER FOR 27 YEARS: Evening, folks. My wife and I, people of modest means. I made my living as a professional firefighter for 27 years. Prior to moving to Randolph, Vermont, he lived in Medford, Massachusetts.
It was there we met Mitt Romney and his family. It's been over 30 years since we have lost our son, David. The memories are still vivid and painful. But we wanted to share them with you because David's story is a part of Mitt's story.
And America deserves to hear it. Back in the early 1970s, Mitt visited our home numerous times with his oldest son, Tagg, tagging along. He was in the vanguard of our support system when we received the news that no parent is prepared to confront.
You cannot measure a man's character based on the words he utters before adoring crowds, during times that are happy. A true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble.
The quiet hospital room of a dying boy with no cameras and no reporters, this is the time to make that assessment. In 1979, tragedy struck our family when our youngest son, David was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. A non -- it was a cancer.
PAT OPAROWSKI: Over a period of seven months, he was in and out of children's hospital of Boston for treatment. Throughout that agonizing period, Mitt took time from his busy schedule to visit David. They developed a loving friendship.
On one of his visits, Mitt discovered that David was very fond of fireworks. He went out and bought a box full of fireworks that had to sit on a closet shelf because they couldn't be set off in the city.
We waited till we were able to go to Maine where we set them off on the sand dunes with permission from the fire and police departments. Through that simple but thoughtful gift, Mitt brought joy to a young boy who had experienced, who had not experienced any for too long.
He also gave the rest of us a welcome relief. On another visit, David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prized possessions he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family.
The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David's will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind.
So after David's death, we were able to give his skateboard, his model rockets and his fishing gear to his best friends. He also made it clear that his brother, Peter, should get his Ruger .22 rifle.
How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14-year-old and help him settle his affairs? David also helped us plan his funeral.
He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy and Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.
TED OPAROWSKI: We humbly wish that God will continue to bless Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in their efforts. In doing so, he will bless the United States of America.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Pat and Ted Oparowski for a convention in which they have been trying to show the personal side of Mitt Romney. I think that couple did the most effective job we've seen. This hall was completely silent. People stopped in their tracks listening to that couple discuss what had happened to their son.
And, again, we've been talking about the desire on the part of the Romney campaign to show the personal side of Mitt Romney, a man who does not like to talk about himself. They were extraordinarily effective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Extraordinarily effective. The campaign apparently here tonight has opened the door to his faith, opened the door to all the good works that I think Mitt Romney's done over the years very privately.
This is a man who's given away probably more money to good causes than anybody running for president that I can remember, and we're apparently going to get to see a lot of that tonight.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson in doing the documentary, I spoke with a lot of these people and this isn't the only story like this that I heard. Over and over again, it was Mitt Romney going to repair a single mother's roof who had a leak --
COOPER: His position in the church which was not a paid position --
BORGER: No --
COOPER: This was part of what he did in addition to his job.
BORGER: I was told by one of the men who served with him that this woman came in, she said, I have this leaky roof, can you help me repair it.
Mitt Romney looked at everybody around the table and said, I don't have anything better to do after this meeting, do you? And so they all went and fixed the roof.
COOPER: John King had a special guest -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico. I want to talk to you mostly about the crisis your party faces with Latino voters.
To the point you were listening, we kept you -- you were supposed to be on a few minutes ago, we kept you as we listened to this minister and then this family, a lot of conversation tonight is about the Church of Latter Day Saints.
In the eastern part of the country, if you look at this, you don't see this much. You're from a part of the country, not so much in your state of New Mexico.
If you go out west, it is much more familiar. Is it striking to you in the west? People encounter Mormons more frequently when you come to the east and people do have questions and doubts?
GOVERNOR SUSANA MARTINEZ (R), NEW MEXICO: It's a religion they have not laid much contact with, but I think when you do the work for you religion and you do it quietly and do it privately, you're not -- you don't boast about those things.
You don't brag about those things. You do it because you're serving your creator. I think that's interesting to see that mostly in the west and not in the east.
KING: Well, let's move to another map, this one is fascinating when you take a look. I want to bring this up. This is Hispanic- Americans across the country. And if you look at your state and Texas in here, you heard from a voting, percentage of voters. You have the highest percentage of Latinos in the country. You are Latino. You spoke about being the first female governor.
You know your party's problems. You see the demographics here, you know in your state, which could be a battleground state. It has been in the past. Here's the most recent national poll.
President Obama getting 63 percent to just 28 percent for Governor Romney. You know results from '08, about the same, 67 percent for the president and 31 percent for John McCain.
When George Bush last won, when a Republican last won the White House, you had 44 percent of the Latino vote. Is it policy, is it tone? What is the source of what should clearly be called a crisis for the party?
MARTINEZ: I think what's important is going to every county in our state in particular, having a conversation with them, not the rhetoric that you hear all the time. The little short one liners.
And not just visiting them during election time, but making a part of the process. Making them part of the solutions. I went to every single county in the state of New Mexico.
And I never changed my message. And I was very clear about my vision for New Mexico and what I had to offer. That's what has to happen now.
KING: You're from the community. It's easier for you to speak to them. Governor Romney was talking about self-deportation, you essentially said that's nuts, what is he talking about? Have you had a conversation with him or with the campaign about changing the policy or changing the language?
MARTINEZ: Well, he's certainly talking about immigration reform, and he's talking about putting caps on visa. He's talking about bringing the best and the brightest to our country. We embrace immigration.
We embrace legal immigration. And reform has to take place but there has to be an honest discussion with Hispanics included. We have 4.5 million people waiting to come into this country legally.
What do we do with them by disallowing the 12 million that are here, saying they're here and the next wave comes through because we have not secured the border.
KING: Governor, appreciate it. Do you think your state will be competitive?
MARTINEZ: I do. I think the people of New Mexico are very independent-minded people and they will vote for the best candidate that will bring and deliver on the promises made. Not just making good speeches, but actually delivering results, especially getting back to work.
KING: Appreciate your patience tonight, Governor. Thank you very much for coming in -- Anderson.
COOPER: John, thanks very much. Governor, thank you very much. During last night's acceptance speech by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, cameras caught Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker nearly in tears. We'll ask him why next.
Later, Senator Marco Rubio's moment in the spotlight as he introduces Mitt Romney to this arena full of delegates and the millions of voters at home.
BLITZER: It's all building up here at the Republican National Convention to Mitt Romney's big speech. That's coming up.
Also, Clint Eastwood, he's the surprise at this Republican National Convention. I guess not much more of a surprise. We'll be seeing and hearing from Clint Eastwood.
Right now, CNN's Piers Morgan is standing by with the Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker -- Piers.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Governor, I was going to ask you about an emotional moment last night in Paul Ryan's speech, but we'll come to that. You were next to Ann Romney and some of the Mitt Romney's children, tearing up about the moving testimony we heard from an old friend of the Romneys, their son who died from leukemia, very powerful story.
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: My goodness to talk about their son, Mitt Romney not only gave the eulogy but helped him plan his will to make sure -- I'm an eagle scout.
Think about that, to be buried in your scout uniform. Wow, I mean just another emotional night. I hope people at home get a sense of not just knowing Mitt Romney, but knowing who he is.
MORGAN: This is the kind of stuff we have not heard about Mitt Romney before. He's certainly embracing his faith. I think he's embracing a number of things about his personal life. Why has he waited until now?
WALKER: I think it runs contrary to who they are. They don't do this -- as Mrs. Romney mentioned, they don't do it for attention. I think enough people have said at this point America deserves to know. So they've set aside some of their humbleness in that regard.
Even the next one up, as I came over to talk to you, thinking about that mother up there and just the impact of that quiet charitable sense that he has. I think just shows he has the heart to be a great president.
MORGAN: Last night, Paul Ryan made a big speech. You got emotional at that. You both have come a long way. There were a lot of question marks raised about some of what he was saying, notably the GM plant story, which by any real criteria was disingenuous to put it mildly. Would you accept that?
WALKER: No, not at all. I grew up down the way. I know how important that plant is. He said in February of 2008 as a candidate Barack Obama said this plant will not close down --
MORGAN: Unfortunately, it closed down under George Bush --
WALKER: Announced -- it doesn't matter what date it is --
MORGAN: Let me ask you a question. Is there anything Barack Obama in all honesty could have done to stop that plant closing?
WALKER: He shouldn't have made a promise --
MORGAN: He didn't make a promise --
WALKER: No, no, he made the promise that government would not let it shut down. Whether it was in 2008, wherever it might be, that if you let government run things, the way he envisioned, plants like that would not close.
The plant in Kenosha for Chrysler's closed. Those are the broken promises in many ways that Barack Obama's made. It's why in our state we're part of that -- the 23 million that are either unemployed or underemployed.
Tonight, what they're going to hear about is what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to do to fix it.
MORGAN: We're also going to have Clint Eastwood. You've got Dirty Harry and super clean Mitt tonight. A brand issue going on there?
WALKER: I think you're going to find -- we like that in the Midwest. He comes in Michigan roots, much like Wisconsin roots, we like people who are tough and make tough decisions.
MORGAN: To quote a phrase, do you feel lucky?
WALKER: Well, I'm not going to say make my day, but in the end I think we're going to hear some good things from Mitt Romney --
MORGAN: It will be the biggest speech of his life. Good to see you, Governor. Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Piers, thanks very, very much. You're absolutely right. We're all looking forward to seeing and hearing Clint Eastwood. Yes, he's here, the so-called mystery guest. Stand by.