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May 302013

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Ann Romney gave her first solo interview since the November election on Thursday, weighing in on the recent scandals hitting the White House, as well as 2016 presidential politics, saying that she and husband Mitt Romney are “very partial” to his former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“There are some great candidates out there and I think Mitt and I always are very, very partial to Paul Ryan, but we don’t even know if he’s going to run. But there are some good candidates,” Romney said on CBS News’ This Morning.

Romney called the scandals facing the Obama administration “deeply troubling,” including the IRS’ targeting of conservative tax-exempt organizations.

“I think it’s hard what the country is going through right now,” Romney said. “There is this breach of trust that all Americans feel right now with our government. … We have to have trust in our government, we have to believe that they are doing right for us. When we feel like they are breaking our trust, it’s deeply troubling.”

She said both she and her husband have “no regrets” looking back at the campaign, but the “most frustrating” thing for her is that she thinks many Americans didn’t see who her husband really is because of how “negative” the campaign became in the primary and the general elections, again comparing it to the slate of scandals.

“It’s really hard and it’s hard for the American people to sort through it,” Romney said. “How do they know who is telling the truth and that’s what I’m talking about, this breach of trust that’s going on. Who do we trust? Who do we believe? Where do we turn to know what’s really true?”

Despite some other Republicans’ anger with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s praise of the president in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, days before the November election, she said they have “no regrets, none for anybody, people have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, but things are made into bigger things than people think.”

“Chris is a great guy. We love him and it’s all good and we have no bitterness towards anyone,” Romney said.

And when asked about Christie’s recent weight-loss surgery, she said with a smile, “Good luck to him. I hope it works.”

Wearing a bright-blue dress, Romney said she is “very happy” and “my life is wonderful, I am full of joy,” despite the election loss.

“I really believe that Mitt and I did everything we could and that’s why I feel fine about it. We just did whatever we could. We left it on the table,” Romney, 64, said, adding that Romney has been the “most extraordinary husband this winter,” accompanying her as she gets back to horseback riding.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and breast cancer 10 years later.

“I’ve been doing what I’ve been dying to do for a very long time which is ride a lot and I’ve been competing a lot and showing a lot and Mitt’s been there supporting me and coming with me and watching me and helping me,” Romney said, adding that he has also been writing and “doing a lot of travel with me.”

The interview did cover the campaign and Romney said that even as things started to look bad for them, there were people, including GOP political consultant Karl Rove, who told them to keep hanging on.

“He’s [Rove] like, ‘Don’t give up, don’t give up. We are going to win Ohio and it’s going to turn around,’” she said. “And things just didn’t follow the way we thought it was going to happen.”

When asked about criticism of the campaign, Romney told Charlie Rose it would have been nice to have “a crystal ball” and possibly “done things a little differently,” but that “every campaign makes mistakes, both sides make mistakes.”

As for whether she could see any of her five sons following in the footsteps of her husband, she paused and said, “I’d really have to think about it, I would.”

“It’s a very different environment right now, it’s a very tough environment to be involved right now,” she added, “and I think that’s a sad commentary.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 142013

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Democrats have resurrected their attacks on Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan well ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

Last year, when Ryan was Mitt Romney’s pick as the GOP vice presidential nominee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) lambasted the lawmaker and his initial plan to trim $5.6 trillion from the federal budget over a decade, saying it would benefit the rich and hurt everyone else.

Democrats only picked up a handful of seats last November with Republicans still firmly in control of the House.  But the DCCC believes that it can severely harm GOP chances of retaining the House next year by tying lawmakers to their support for the Ryan budget.

The plan is to harp on Ryan’s goal to eventually privatize Medicare as well as repeal the Affordable Care Act.

To that end, the DCCC has already released a video on YouTube called “Paul Ryan’s Fantasy,” which shows some of his own party members expressing doubts about the budget while Democratic critics mock Republican attempts at jettisoning the healthcare law.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 122013

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will release the latest version of his budget blueprint on Tuesday in an attempt to set the federal government on a course to balance annual revenue and spending levels by the year 2023.

Until now, the Wisconsin Republican and former GOP vice presidential nominee has never proposed a budget that balanced in a single decade.

Ryan will unveil the new plan at a news conference in the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. ET.  Ahead of the announcement, he penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal promoting his budget proposal, which he claims will cut the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 112013

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) — On Tuesday morning, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will release the latest version of his budget blueprint, setting the federal government on a course to balance annual revenue and spending levels by the year 2023.

Until now, the former Republican vice presidential nominee has never proposed a budget that balanced in just a decade.

“I wouldn’t expect big surprises from us [Tuesday].  We’re making some additional modest changes to get to balance,” Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters at briefing last week.  “We’re adding some other policies that finish the job, but I wouldn’t expect big surprises from us next week.  I don’t want to set irrational expectations.”

This time, Ryan points to two unlikely factors that actually help achieve the conservative goal: revenue and sequestration.

“Revenue went up significantly two months ago with the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ deal.  The baselines changed.  We’re not going to refight that fight,” Ryan said, referring to $600 billion in new tax revenue President Obama secured in the deal.  “We also have some lower spending and lower deficits in that baseline as well [as a result of sequestration].”

While Ryan is the chief author of the GOP’s budget proposal, he does not work alone and there are varying perspectives.  The Budget committee is a melting pot of lawmakers representing the interests of the House’s most powerful committees, especially the Ways and Means committee, which Ryan also sits on, and the Appropriations committee.

“The starting point is the budget,” Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, the vice chairman of the Budget committee, said.  “It’s our list of priorities, our list of the visions that we have for the country.”

But some GOP insiders confidentially question whether Ryan can pass his budget out of a committee markup this week.  Republicans hold a narrow 22-17 seat advantage over Democrats on the committee.  With Democrats ideologically against his proposals, Ryan can only afford losing two Republicans before a third dissenter stalls the resolution in committee.

“Ryan’s budget is facing opposition from many sides, including within his own committee,” one Republican congressional source said on the condition of anonymity.  “He loses votes on everything from Medicare and entitlement changes to his drastic discretionary cuts, and it will be difficult for him to pass his budget out of committee, let alone the House floor.”

While Ryan would not elaborate on any details from his new budget ahead of Tuesday’s release, there are reports he could raise the threshold at which people are protected from changes to the Medicare eligibility age.

On the House floor, Republicans hold a 232-200 majority, plus there are three vacant seats.  With 216 votes constituting a simple majority, House Speaker John Boehner and Ryan can lose just 16 rank-and-file Republicans.  Last year, 10 Republicans voted against the Ryan budget on the floor, but in the new session of Congress where the GOP’s majority is slimmer than the last session, Boehner has needed Democratic votes to pass several essential pieces of legislation.

At a pen and pad briefing last week, Ryan did his best to assure reporters that all Republican members on the committee are “unified.”

“Everybody sees it my way.  We’re all fine,” Ryan joked.  “We have members who have various priorities and preferences coming from different districts but on the point of getting an agreement that gets cuts and reforms, that gets us on the path to balance, we are completely unified.”

While some of the most conservative Republicans griped in the past that Ryan’s budgets did not cut spending quickly enough, Rep. Tom Cole, a member of both the Budget and Appropriations committees, called Ryan’s bid the “most aggressive budget by any majority in recent years.”

While meeting the spending caps could puzzle the appropriators’ work later this year, Cole urged House Republicans to rally around Ryan’s proposal.  He predicted it will ultimately pass, but also acknowledged the uncertainty ahead as the House prepares for a vote on the floor next week.

“We can’t have 20 members on each end of the conference dictating what’s going to happen.  If you satisfy 20 on right, you’re going to lose 20 on left,” Cole said in a phone call over the weekend.  “We don’t have much margin of error.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 072013

J.D. Pooley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is spending a lot of time lately with Republicans in an effort to get the ball rolling on budget negotiations.

Just hours after he took 12 GOP senators out to dinner at the posh Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C., the president has invited Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Committee, to lunch Thursday at the White House, a senior administration official tells ABC News.  The Republican congressman from Wisconsin is set to unveil the official Republican budget next week.

Also joining Obama and Ryan for lunch on Thursday will be Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

The president has already requested separate meetings next week with all House and Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill, according to officials.  The request was submitted by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

The Senate meeting, which will take place on Thursday, March 14, will be the first time Obama has attended a Republican Policy Lunch in nearly three years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio