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CNN SATURDAY

Interview With Devin Nunes, Timothy Ryan

Aired November 16, 2002 - 17:42   ET

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

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: There used to be a time when it seemed as if the U.S. Congress was comprised of a bunch of stogie old men -- not that there's anything wrong with that, but times have changed. Two winners from the midterm election nearly two weeks ago are quite young, not even in their 30s. And they're with us today, California Congressman-elect Devin Nunes and Ohio Congressman-elect Timothy Ryan. Congratulations to both of you and thanks for being here.
TIMOTHY RYAN (D), OHIO CONG-ELECT: Thank you.

DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA CONG-ELECT: Thank you.

LIN: Congressman Ryan, you realize that Ohio has not elected someone as young as you or someone so young since 1812. I mean, what do you make of that?

RYAN: Well, it's pretty exciting. It's a good time, but you know, I come from an area that was ready for some new blood and fortunately they gave me the opportunity to come down here.

LIN: Well, Congressman-elect Nunes, you know do you expect when you get to Capitol Hill is it going to be a little bit intimidating at least? You're both 29 years old, so not yet 30.

NUNES: Well, you know surprisingly we're not the youngest one here. Congressman Putnam from Florida is still a year younger than us.

LIN: Yes, he's 28.

NUNES: Yes, he's 28 and he's decided to start a 20s/30s club and Congressman Ryan and myself decided that he would be the chairman. We'd make the youngest person the chairman of the caucus.

LIN: Is it going to make a difference? I mean what sort of points of views and ideas do you bring to Capitol Hill that you think might not be considered by someone twice your age, which would only be 48?

NUNES: Well, I think the only surprising thing for me, I don't know about Mr. Ryan, but the thing that is surprising is that we're the first class to ever get a Blackberry, which is a mobile Internet little computer that you carry with you, and the members in my class, I think I was the only one that actually knew how to use it, so I think that's a little bit different. LIN: Well, Congressman-elect Ryan, what ideas are you going to bring to the table that you think would be different than someone who's middle-aged?

RYAN: Well, I think someone our age is a lot more in touch with the kids who are in college who have seen their tuition rates double in the last four or five years, who have seen the Federal Pell Grant not nearly adequate enough to fund someone's college education as it was when it started in 1970. So, being in touch age-wise with those constituents helps us bring a real different perspective and fight for issues that I think working families really care about.

LIN: Yes, but are there disadvantages to being young on Capitol Hill too?

RYAN: Well, I'm sure there are some. I mean obviously it's a seniority system, so you know someone who gets here in the same class as we did has no greater seniority and actually I think it could be beneficial to bring new blood and new ideas to the system. I guess the downside is, is that they make us buy dinner.

LIN: Oh, well that would be a drag, wouldn't it be, but there are some great restaurants on Capitol Hill too, and a great night life. Congressman...

RYAN: Yes, but they're very expensive though. That's the problem.

LIN: They are. They are. Congressman-elect Nunes, I'm just wondering, you make up for the lack of experience and the age difference in some of your staffing. Does that have to be a consideration then?

NUNES: Well, I think no matter what district you serve and how old you are, I think that staffing is probably the most important decision that you make. Most of us will be hiring 15 to 20 folks that will serve the people of the district, of the 21st District in California. I will be their avenue to the federal government, so I think that staffing will be critical and we'll do -- we'll hopefully bring some folks from the district and hire some folks with Capitol Hill experience.

LIN: Does it get a little weird though because you're probably only eight years older than your office intern?

NUNES: Well, I think Congressman Ryan hit on this a little bit and I think that if you're younger, the upper mobility potential that we have is much greater than say someone that's entering Congress in their 50s or 60s.

LIN: So, Congressman-elect Ryan, what do you think your legacy is going to be then?

RYAN: I don't know and that's really what makes it fun is it's an open book and to come down here now and, you know, every story that you're talking about is really "War and Peace" and facing a recession. I mean it's a very interesting time that not many generations in our country have faced and especially at our age.

So you really can't say because I don't think anybody can predict what's going to happen, either with the markets or with war, with homeland security in the next few years. No one can really predict it and I think that's ultimately what makes it such an exciting job and such a great opportunity.

LIN: Well, tonight we'll start off with a prediction that both of you will have a very successful and exciting career on Capitol Hill. Welcome to the club.

RYAN: Thank you.

LIN: And we'll look forward to tracking your careers.

NUNES: Thank you very much.

LIN: Congressman-elect Devin Nunes from California and Representative-elect Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, good luck.

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