TODAY   |  October 23, 2012

Ryan: Romney has ‘vision for foreign policy’

Vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan praised running-mate Mitt Romney’s foreign policy stances at the last presidential debate, telling TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie that the GOP candidate did a “fantastic” job of spelling out his doctrine.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> much. following the debate i spoke with governor romney 's running mate congressman paul ryan , and i began by asking him if romney , who is known for his stinging critiques of the president's foreign policy , made a strategic decision to strike a more moderate tone in the debate.

>> you know what we saw with this debate. we saw that mitt romney is ready to be a great president. we saw a man with a command of the facts, with the kind of temperament and demeanor that makes for a great president. we saw a man with a vision for foreign policy . there are areas where we agree and clearly areas we disagree, and we fleshed that out pretty well in this debate.

>> congressman, this has someone who has launched scathing criticisms on issues like libya, on iran . he's come right out and said under my administration iran wouldn't get a nuclear bomb . if you stick with president obama he will, and yet we heard none of that kind of talk tonight . is this somewhat misleading? is governor romney trying to portray somebody?

>> no, not in the least, savannah. look, on iran , we're four years closer to a nuclear weapon . mitt romney spelled that out very clearly. the sanctions in place now are only in place because of bipartisan opposition to the president's unwillingness to put these sanctions in place in the first place. look, what we see was a huge difference in defense. we have $1 trillion in defense cuts coming down the pike which will hollow out our military, we don't agree with that.

>> sir, you voted for those defense cuts?

>> no, i did not support the president's -- you have to understand we have a third round of defense cuts coming. we obviously oboes the obama budget and let's never forget it was the president who insisted that these defense cuts be part of this sequester bill. i wrote the legislation preventing them from happening to cut spending elsewhere so that these devastating defense cuts don't occur but the president has not done a single thing to prevent them from happening.

>> tonight governor romney said that the sanctions against iran were working.

>> that's right.

>> would a romney administration sit down and have bilateral talks with iran ?

>> first off, these sanctions are in place after a bipartisan agreement in congress overruled the obama administration . now with respect to bilateral talks or multi-lateral talks, we are fine and happy with having talks but not with preconditions, not with any chance of tempering our sanctions. we want to push sanctions further. if they want to talk because of these crippling sanctions, that's fine, but the bottom line is no enrichment, no nuclear program . that's the bottom line , and so if -- if iran wants to talk, that's perfectly fine but not as an excuse to lessen the pressure.

>> but in the last couple of months even governor romney has said that iran is not a rationale regime, that the engagement rewarded bad behavior and that the administration 's policy of engagement was naive. is this a major change of heart for governor romney ?

>> no, no, no. i think the administration 's notion of meeting with no preconditions, that was naive. hillary clinton called it naive in the primary debates when they were running in 2008 . i think it was naive for the obama administration to try and block tougher central bank sanctions in congress. we finally got them in place in spite of the obama administration 's posture on this. i also think it was naive for president obama to come into office and say that we need to have more daylight between ourselves and our ally israel. that's the naive policy that we're criticizing. what we have to place needs to be buttressed and made more forceful and we don't think the president's policy has been credible because if we're going to peacefully resolve this dispute with iran , the mullahs in iran have to themselves decide not to pursue nuclear weapons . they clearly haven't made that decision. they are moving faster towards nuclear weapons .

>> you've been talking about foreign policy naivety. john kerry said this is the most inexperienced foreign policy ticket to run in decades talking about you and governor romney . what specific national security experience qualifies governor romney to be commander in chief?

>> we have had fantastic governors who have made very effective foreign policy presidents. look back to bill clinton and ronald reagan what. matters is policy, doctrine. mitt romney did a fantastic job of spelling out his foreign policy doctrine . i know it sounds like a cliche but peace through strength is a doctrine. i've been in congress 14 years. i've been running the budget committee for my party six years. 20% of our budget is national security , homeland security , it's security. that makes a big difference. voting to send men and women on war on ovations that gives you experience. mitt romney has the demeanor, the temperament, the principles, the skills to be a great foreign policy president.

>> congressman paul ryan , the election two weeks from today. thank you, sir, for your time this morning. we appreciate it.

>> thank you, savannah.