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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Booker Talks Paul Ryan; Giuliani Calls on Biden; Romney-Ryan Budget Plans

Aired August 15, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight the question that may change the election. The Ryan budget, good or bad for America? I'll ask rising Democratic star Cory Booker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK: Here's a guy that in many ways supported the budgets that got us into this complete budget deficit in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And I'll let leading Republican Rudy Giuliani have his say. Plus, why he's questioning Vice President Biden's capacity to lead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Joe Biden has gotten a free pass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Also, he started this country's tax wars. And he calls the Ryan budget smoke and mirrors.

Both sides battle it out here tonight.

And to sum it all up, a man who's just about seen everything when it comes to American politics. Dan Rather.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER: Each of these campaigns is in a mode to be meaner than a mama wasp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus the champion daughter of the greatest, Laila Ali, on a controversial new television show.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Our big story tonight a man who suddenly catapulted into the spotlight in this election, Paul Ryan. Everybody in politics is talking about little else. Listen to what the man himself said in Ohio a little earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama is out of ideas, and that is why his campaign is based on anger and division. You know, the president, I'm told, is talking about Medicare today. We want this debate.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

RYAN: We need this debate and we will win this debate.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The big knock on Paul Ryan has been on what his budget would do to the neediest Americans.

And here to talk exclusively about that and other matters with the Democratic mayor of Newark, Cory Booker.

Mr. Mayor, welcome back.

BOOKER: Thanks. It's good to be back, Piers. How are you?

MORGAN: Good to hear it. Now let's turn to Paul Ryan because I think you guys may have a problem here. Paul Ryan is captivating the electorate. He is good TV. He is young, he's vigorous. He does these insane workouts. He's charming. He appears to be a man of consensus. He likes to do deals. He's a bit of a problem for you, isn't he?

BOOKER: You know, actually I don't think so. I think that really provides the American public a very clear choice. And remember, you know, Paul Ryan's history which he can't escape. Here's a guy that in many ways supported the budgets that got us into this complete budget deficit in the first place. He voted to go into two wars and giving a tax break for the first time in American history, ratcheting up a federal spending in a way that was irresponsible.

He voted for prescription drug plan that we did not pay for. Remember Clinton left us with a surplus. The Ryan Congress, under his leadership, his votes, actually drove up the federal deficit in a dramatic way. And then if you now see what Romney is doing which is adopting basically much of what Ryan stands for, you see a tremendous amount of draconian cuts that, to me, are undermining the urgencies in America right now.

Yes, we need fiscal prudence. And this is why Obama has put forth $4 trillion in cuts. But understand what the Romney-Ryan budget is doing. It's cutting all domestic spending 19 percent across the board. This means impacting programs for veterans. It means impacting Pell grants and pathways to colleges. It actually means impacting investments in innovation economy in our and infrastructure, and the kind of things that are going to help America grow.

And so this is a great choice for Americans. Do you want to see draconian cuts that are going to affect seniors, children, innovation, research, development, or do you want to see the Obama plan that puts us on to reducing the federal deficit but does not forget that America's got to remain competitive?

MORGAN: If the American public just basically don't want to pay more tax, aren't they going to lean in an election in economic hard times towards the party that is saying, I'm not going to hit you in the pocket so hard?

BOOKER: Well, again, we've got to get out of political cliches. And this is what we're talking about, as a Trojan horse kind of political cliches. If you look at the facts of President Barack Obama and how he governed -- forget his proposals to cut middle class taxes and forget his proposals to cut taxes on small businesses. This is a president who's cut taxes on over 97 percent of businesses and Americans.

Literally cutting taxes on small businesses 18 different times. And giving taxes to middle class Americans amounting to over $3,000 per American family. So this is the rhetoric versus the reality of how Obama has governed. The president has governed in a way that actually has been about tax relief during an economic crisis. But more importantly if I'm an American right now, say I'm a senior citizen, and I'm listening to the other side saying, hey, I'm going to roll back Obamacare right away.

Well, what that means is they're going to erase the getting rid of the doughnut hole which means seniors prescription drug costs won't go down. They're going to erase the preventative care things where seniors can go in and get preventative care and preventative treatment. If I'm an American listening to the Romney budget and the Ryan budget right now, I'm thinking to myself, wait a minute, these guys are going to slash Pell grants and the access to college for millions of American students.

If I'm listening to the Romney and Ryan plan right now, I'm saying, wait a minute, as a percentage of budget, these guys are going to cut infrastructure investment, they're going to cut the innovation economy, research and development.

So this is a clear choice between a ticket that's saying we're going to cut all of these things and cut taxes on the richest Americans versus Obama not only plan but the way that Obama has governed in a way that has said look, we're going to find ways to relieve taxes on the middle class but never shirk investment in our seniors and kids wanting to go to college, and in those critical innovation economy aspects from infrastructure to R&D they're going to build a stronger America in the future.

MORGAN: Let's turn to what Vice President Biden said yesterday. It caused a lot of contention, this. I want to play you the clip that's got everyone going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Look at what they value and look at their budget, and what they're proposing. Romney wants to let -- he said in the first 100 days he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They're going to put you all back in chains.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Now, be honest, Mr. Mayor. Did you slightly recoil when you heard that phrase alluding to chains? I mean it -- there was a large number of black African-Americans in the audience who many people say this was a deliberate attempt to try to bring a slight racial tone to the whole proceedings, which was a bit unfair. What did you think?

BOOKER: Piers, this is really what I recoil about in where our politics is getting now and is being fueled by super PAC money, is being fueled by a media that becomes so much more obsessed with sound bites than substance. Every single week now, every single week from both sides, we seem to be running on 10-second clips of sound bites and ignoring substance.

Please, I beg America, listen to the whole speech by the vice president. Don't let the sound bites that the media is presenting to you affect your mind. Listen to the whole speech. This was a substantive speech about how we're going to reform Wall Street and about how we're going to protect consumers, about how we're going to stop the overleveraging of banks, about how we're going to create a consumer bill of rights, a credit card bill of rights, how we're going to go against predatory lending.

All of that is the substantive things that my majority black city in Newark is concerned with. These are the real substantive issues that the media and that the sound bite politics is distracting us from.

MORGAN: No, but I can see why the Republicans are grabbing hold of anything they can to haul this stuff back. Because only last week we had this super PAC ad on behalf of the president basically accusing Mitt Romney of killing a woman, which was, I thought, one of the most obscene things I've seen. I mean does your anger extend to that kind of stuff?

BOOKER: Well, I think that I've been clear on the record about my feelings about these super PACs and the negativity on both sides. I'm clear on the record on that. But let me get back to the substance. Because I believe when you hold substance of Obama up against the substance of Romney, that the American public will choose Obama every time because again, look at this issue.

You have one folks that want -- that do want to release the -- a lot of the reforms on Wall Street. One side that does want to release the kind of things that caused the problem in the first place. The overleveraging, the predatory lending, and another group that says hey, we need to protect against these things. And so it serves the purposes of the Republican Party right now to jump on our vice president's words and distract people from an incredibly substantive speech.

MORGAN: Just shifting gears slightly, let's move to the issue of guns. Last time you came on my show you said the level of violence we have in America is preventable and that most Americans, Republican and Democrat, gun owners and not, actually agree on some common sense solutions.

Now since then we've had the Aurora massacre, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple abomination. We've had only today the conservative Family Research Council, a shooting that may well have been politically motivated.

When you take all these things into consideration, you must be disappointed that the president isn't ordering some new form of gun control, aren't you?

BOOKER: So, Piers, two points. And one is because you've been incredible on this issue and right after Aurora you have one show that you were a champion for going against these people that said let's leave this debate for another time. But I just want to just make a point to you that is lost right now.

We have these horrible egregious things that are happening. You know, intermittently. Aurora and the Sikh Temple, but please understand these aren't unusual. In America every single day dozens of people are being victims of gun violence. But they're in places that we don't really talk about that much. In inner city Chicago. In Oakland. In Detroit. In Newark. So the urgency that I live with is not an occasional horrific tragedy. It is a daily nightmare around America.

And we need to start talking about it. And so when it comes to the Obama campaign, I'm actually firmly supportive of what the president has been saying. Number one, he's been saying absolutely let's support Second Amendment rights. And I'm a mayor that actually says, you know what? I don't mind if people buy guns who are law- abiding citizens because the overwhelming majority of the gun crimes in America are committed by criminals who obtain guns illegally.

And that's what we need to focus on. There is a national consensus on common sense changes to gun laws. National consensus. We mayors, Republican mayors, Democratic mayors and independent mayors, formed a coalition called Mayors against Illegal Guns. We polled gun owners in America and gun owners from 80 to 90 -- over 90 percent, gun owners were in favor of changing laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Things like this. I could be on the terrorist no-fly list. I can't get on a plane but I could drive to gun shows in some areas of this country. A suspected terrorist and buy a trunk load full of automatic weapons. The overwhelming majority of Americans we all agree on these changes but yet we can't make them. And so now you have a president, and I see his frustration. Here we are in an urgent time with too high unemployment. He puts legislation in Congress forward that would create that all independent, all independent think tanks were saying would create thousands and thousands of jobs in America, but Congress won't even act on that where there is an even higher level of consensus.

So we're right now in a silly season where Congress is doing nothing and where frankly people like Ryan are part of the problem down in Congress. And so to suggest that we can now move on gun legislation in this Congress is ridiculous. What we need to do is you and I and others need to start raising the awareness of the real problem in America. And that is every single day dozens of Americans are shot by criminals who have easily obtained illegal guns.

MORGAN: Right. I mean you know I agree with this. The only thing I would say about it -- I think there are two issues.

BOOKER: Yes.

MORGAN: One is exactly the issue you've outlined. I also think there is an increasingly urgent issue about how people who are mentally unstable are getting access to legal guns and ammunition on the Internet and so on. I think there are a number of issues here. What it needs, though, Mr. Mayor, is for people in positions of power to stop just talking and then forgetting about it and actually do something.

But we've run out of time. It's great to have you back on the show. Please come back again soon. You are a great champion, I think, of your president and his issues. And I look forward to talking to you again soon.

BOOKER: Thanks so much. I appreciate that.

MORGAN: Coming up, the man who says that Vice President Biden, I'm quoting here, just isn't bright. It's Rudy Giuliani.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: This is a very, very clear contrast for our country to make. Do we want to go down the path we are on, the path of debt, a path of doubt, a path of decline? Or do we want the ideas that will save the American idea?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So what do other top Republicans think of Paul Ryan? Here now with more on our big story, the former mayor of New York, and a regular guest on this show, Rudy Giuliani.

GIULIANI: Hi, Piers, how are you?

MORGAN: You're very nice to me. You weren't very nice about the vice president yesterday. You said he's basically too stupid to be in office. GIULIANI: Well, the vice president wasn't very nice yesterday. The vice president did something disgusting yesterday. The vice president went to a venue in Southern Virginia speaking to an audience that was half African-American, feigning a southern accent he said that Romney and Ryan are going to put you all in chains.

Now come on. That's outrageous. If a Republican vice president had said that and in the space of 24 hours had also gotten wrong the state that he was in and today the century that he's in, you would be raising all kinds of questions about this man's fitness for office.

If Vice President Cheney did this, if Sarah Palin did this, if Paul Ryan did this, it would have been on the front page of "The New York Times" and you all would have been outraged. So somebody had to get outraged and it's going to be me.

This man makes one stupid remark after another. Today he said that he and Barack Obama are going to lead us in the 20th century. Well, maybe that was a Freudian slip, because they want to take us back to the 20th century and the failed economic policies that didn't work in some parts of the 20th century.

But I mean, this is one gaffe after another.

MORGAN: But tell me this, Rudy.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: There's a Web site devoted -- there's a Web site devoted to this man's gaffes. Now, OK, we all do it. But when we do it, Republicans, it becomes a national headline. It becomes a major focus. And when a Democrat does it, it's just old Uncle Joe Biden, one of the Washington crowd, he gets the century wrong, he tells a man in a wheelchair to stand up, it is all OK. And then he engages in what is a vicious attack.

I mean, the mistakes about the century and the mistakes about other things like that, OK. But to do what he did yesterday in front of a half African-American audience, using and feigning a southern accent to say that Romney and Ryan want to put these people in chains is outrageous.

MORGAN: Do you really believe that Joe Biden was being deliberately racist? Do you actually believe that?

GIULIANI: Well, then we have to question what was he being? I mean, he had a teleprompter.

MORGAN: Had he said shackles -- had he said shackles --

GIULIANI: From this side -- this side --

MORGAN: Had he said shackles rather than chains, had he said that, would it have made any difference to you? GIULIANI: Well, what about -- what about -- I have no idea. What about -- what about the phony southern accent? What was that all about? In front of a half African-American audience? And tell me, tell me if a Republican did this, that you all wouldn't be outraged that it was some kind of racial appeal, racist appeal?

How about holding both sides to the same standard? That's what we do in America. We have a level playing field. If God forbid Paul Ryan ever made a mistake like this coming out of the box, you'd all be going crazy. That's the point which I make.

MORGAN: OK.

GIULIANI: Joe Biden has gotten a --

MORGAN: You've made the point --

GIULIANI: Joe Biden has gotten a free pass.

MORGAN: Well, he's certainly getting a very expensive pass tonight, Rudy. So I think that you've certainly squared off the free element.

Let's move on to Paul Ryan, because you said before, only a week ago, you preferred the idea of Chris Christie for VP. Your instincts told you, though, that Romney would go for Marco Rubio. So you clearly didn't call this. Were you shocked? Were you dismayed? How would you describe your honest reaction?

GIULIANI: No, no, I wasn't -- I wasn't shocked or dismayed. I actually said that I would have picked Marco Rubio. That was -- I would have picked Marco because I would have probably thought about the appeal to the Hispanic vote and all that.

I'm very happy with the choice of Paul Ryan. I think it was a very, very bold choice. I think it was a strong choice. I think what Governor Romney has done by choosing Paul Ryan is to -- is to put some substance into this campaign. Substance in terms of we can now have a real debate on an issue that's really important like what are we going to do about Medicare that will go bankrupt if we don't fix it?

I think Paul Ryan gets a chance to explain that he doesn't want to take Medicare away from anyone. He wants to fix it so that people can have it.

I was in front of an audience of young people a few weeks ago and I asked him how many of you expect to collect Social Security or Medicare, and about six people put their hands up. Most never expect to collect it.

Well, what Paul Ryan wants to do is to fix it so that it can be solvent. These are intelligent adult discussions we have to have with the American people. And I think that Paul Ryan is capable of carrying that out.

MORGAN: Are you worried at all that the debate has moved very, very fast this week away from Obama and his record in which many people believe that Romney was beginning to score some hits and has now moved almost completely to Paul Ryan and his budget and his record which is -- you know, I find Ryan very personable, very impressive in many ways, but if he's all about him --

GIULIANI: Right. Right.

MORGAN: -- and the public don't buy into him at the election, that's a problem, isn't it?

GIULIANI: I think that Governor Romney has made a gamble here. I mean he's taken a risk. I think he could have made -- made the choice of just focusing on Obama and making it an anti-Obama campaign the way Obama is focusing on making it an anti-Romney campaign and never talking about his record.

I think that Governor Romney has given us a chance to lift this campaign to a debate about issues. It may turn out to be the wrong decision, I don't know. My instinct tells me it's the right decision. A substantive debate about the direction of this economy. I believe Republicans will win now like they won in 2010. But I could be wrong and Governor Romney could be wrong. But I think we're going to have a better campaign as a result of it, which is good for the American people.

MORGAN: Well, I certainly -- I totally agree with that. I think it's already electrified the campaign. I think he's galvanized public interest and that is going to be good for the proper battle come November.

Rudy, as always, thank you very much for joining me.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: It's good to talk to you.

When we come back, is the Romney-Ryan budget snake oil? Both sides battle over the question and could decide the election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have been trying to sell this trickle down snake oil before. And guess what? It didn't work then. It won't work now. It's not a plan to create jobs. It's not a plan to reduce the deficit. It's not a plan to move the economy forward. And you know, secretly I think they know this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama in Iowa today going after the Romney- Ryan budget plan. The two sides are hammering away at each other over the economy as I suspect. Well, my next guest here now with more on our big story, Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Michael Linden, the director for tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress.

Welcome to you both.

MICHAEL LINDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Thank you.

GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Good to be with you.

MORGAN: To Grover, you're obviously now into pre-election mode which I would imagine means you're going to be even more aggressive about this than normal, right?

NORQUIST: Sure, if you want.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's just be serious for now. I want to -- and this will -- you'll enjoy this. I want you to treat me like a complete simpleton. I want you to tell me in very easy-to-understand words and phrases the difference between the Ryan budget plan and the one that Romney would like to bring it.

NORQUIST: OK. Well, there's the Ryan budget that is actually been written down, scored by CBO, passed by the Republican House and got most of the Republican votes in the Senate, which gives you a very good outline of where Republican thinking is.

It takes the Clinton approach towards welfare reform, which was passed in '96 and extends it to the various means tested other welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps and programs like that. Then it takes Medicare and takes the bipartisan approach that he worked out with Wyden and moves that so that nothing changes for anybody over the age of 55, but if you're under 55, Medicare falls apart before you get there unless it's reformed as Ryan does it.

And then on tax reform he takes corporate and individual rates to 25 percent, broadens the base for revenue neutral tax reform, those territorial tax system. That's the Ryan plan.

What Romney does is takes a 20 percent across-the-board, cut-it- all income tax rates, looks to broaden the base and on taxes and spending moves in the -- and puts in -- reduces total government spending down to 20 percent, from the 24 percent that Obama took it up to, over the next ten years.

MORGAN: So Michael Linden, from your point of view, where is the best attack line for the Democrats?

LINDEN: Well, the best attack line for the Democrats is just looking at the details of the plan. Grover did a nice gloss on the Ryan and the Romney plan. What he neglected to say is that Ryan and Romney have so far refused to explain how they're going to pay for the five trillion dollars in tax cuts they have promised the wealthy over the next 10 years.

Now there's two ways they can pay for that. They can either raise taxes on the middle class or they can pay for it with more debt. That's pretty much the only way to do it. That's partly why they haven't explained how they're going to pay for it, because that's not exactly popular.

MORGAN: Grover, I saw you grimacing away there, as I would have expected. Answer me this, I don't hear tens of millions of Americans running around screaming, you know what, we've got to have tax cuts for the wealthy. What I hear are tens of millions of Americans who are deeply hurting in this financial crisis still.

They are unemployed or they have lost their homes, whatever it may be. The one thing they're not doing is demanding more tax cuts for the rich. And that's where I just can't see this argument resonating with the core voter. What do you do about that?

NORQUIST: Well, there are two things. First of all, you look at where we are. We've added -- we -- Obama has added five trillion dollars to the national debt. We have more people unemployed than when he took office. This is the weakest recovery since the 1930s. If Reagan was president, GDP -- if we had Reagan style recovery, GDP would be 10 percent higher and we would have about 10 million more people working than we do now.

(CROSS TALK

NORQUIST: One second. No you don't.

LINDEN: The weakest recovery in history was under George W. Bush. I just want -- that's really important. You like to pretend that under Obama things have been terrible. But -- and certainly we could be doing better. But we have created 4.5 million new jobs, private sector jobs since the recession was over.

And under George W. Bush, at this point in his presidency, he was still down private sector jobs. So that's the weakest recovery. We did try your approach, Grover. We said let's cut taxes for the rich. And what did we get for it? Nothing. More deficits.

NORQUIST: Nice try. But here's the challenge. Obama has been president for 3.5 years. Any reform he wanted to enact, he had two years with the Democratic Congress. If he wanted to make tax cuts for lower income people permanent, he would have done it at any time. He chose not to.

What Obama has done is not only put forward a situation where he doesn't have any plan at all. One of the -- when Democrats come out and say we're so pleased --

LINDEN: He has a budget, Grover. He has a 400-page budget. It's strange that you say that's no plan.

NORQUIST: The one that every single Democrat in the House and Senate voted against? That plan, that's the budget? Trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. More spending and no recovery. If that's his plan, he's in big trouble.

LINDEN: That's not at all -- I mean I understand that's how you want to characterize it. No, because his plan was never put up for a vote. It was a GOP written caricature of his plan that was put up for a vote.

NORQUIST: Can we vote on his plan tomorrow in the House and Senate? That would be nice.

LINDEN: The president's plan would stabilize debt before the end of the decade. It would actually -- look, here's the main difference between the president's plan and the Ryan plan. The president's plan asks people who can afford it to pay a little more to help pay down the debt, help stabilize the debt. The Ryan plan asks those people to take more tax cuts. Here, have more tax cuts and please create some jobs for us. It doesn't work.

MORGAN: I'm going to wrap it up. Grover, out of the kindness of my heart, you can have 10 seconds to finish this off. What do you want to say?

NORQUIST: What Obama did is he's just changed the rules. His old argument was no tax increases on anyone who earned less than 250,000. He changed that on August 8th. No income tax increases on anyone who earns less than 250,000 for the next 12 months.

It's open season on the American people one year into the next presidency. That's Obama's own words on taxes.

MORGAN: I really enjoyed that, chaps. So please come back again and let's do it again. Because we're going have a lot more debate about this. We know the battleground is going to be the economy, taxation, exactly up your alley, Grover and also yours, Michael. So please come back again soon.

Next, a man who knows a thing or two about this country's politics, Dan Rather.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with more on our big story with Dan Rather. He's seen all there is to see in American politics. He's anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on Access TV, and joins me now.

Dan, welcome back.

DAN RATHER, "DAN RATHER REPORTS": Glad to be back, Piers. Always a pleasure to be here with you.

MORGAN: It's a fascinating week to have you back, because we now have the clear final battleground. We have Ryan and Romney against Obama and Biden. And I rather maybe naively began the week saying to people, there's a nice new tone to the debate. They all seem to be trying to be civilized.

Within about 25 seconds, this has now descended into what many are calling the most vitriolic 24 hours the campaign has seen so far. You last time you came on were already bemoaning how ugly it was getting. What do you make of the way they are all going at each other now? RATHER: Well, I think it's gotten worse. It's already one of the nastiest campaigns in my lifetime, which goes back -- I'm sorry to say -- quite a ways. I think it will get probably worse.

Look, each of these campaigns is in a mode to be meaner than a mama wasp. That's clearly in their nature. It's clearly what they planned out as the way to win. My own personal opinion is that the public wants to hear more substance than it does the vitriolic, you know, he said, he said that accusations.

But it's not the kind of campaign we have. And I don't think it's the kind of campaign that we're going to get, by almost acclimation. A risky choice. It may pay a risk that pays off, but a risky choice. Now everything is filled with Paul Ryan, where he stands on Medicare, what's really in his heart of heart about Social Security and making taxes better for wealthy people at the possible expense of the middle class.

So in that way the contours of the campaign have changed. It would be very interesting to see how well the Republicans do at their convention in changing the conversation back to do you agree with Obama or not Obama, rather than do you agree with Paul Ryan and his plan or not?

MORGAN: He's definitely resonating with the American public. They like him. He has a likability factor. And the significance to me of that is that that's what Mitt Romney has been lacking. Most people say, look, Mitt Romney, a smart guy, good businessman, but he lacks that kind of wow factor that make people really fall in love with him.

Paul Ryan already is radiating that. And I think that is going to be a big bonus to the Republicans in this race.

RATHER: I agree that one of the reasons Paul Ryan was picked, in addition to he can activate the Republican base and that also he's young, fresh faced -- he is smart. He is a strong campaigner.

And one of the main reasons was he could increase the likability factor for the ticket. I agree with that. But I have said and I repeat now, in the early going after his being named as Romney's pick, he's been somewhat noxious for the ticket in this way, that It raises Medicare, was barely being talked about here and there, but it really wasn't a focus of the campaign. Social Security wasn't on the -- on the agenda at all.

That he is a polarizing character. You and I both know, because we've been around politics long enough to know, Piers, that you don't want to read the tea leaves too early, certainly not before the cup is hot, because you could get burned by doing so. I think, on balance, you and I may disagree about this. On balance, in the early going, that Ryan is a liability to the ticket overall.

I agree he brings likability. He brings a lot to it. That can change as the campaign develops. But tea is one key. You haven't seen Paul Ryan go to Florida and campaign in Florida. I think the reason for that is that in Florida you have a high percentage of elderly people, people who feel strongly about Medicare and Social Security.

MORGAN: It's a fascinating debate. That's why I think it's really kicked off the campaign for real this week, because everyone is wondering the same thing. You get the charm. You get the likability. You get the personality, which maybe Mitt Romney was lacking and so combined it's very effective. But it does take it all from Obama to Paul Ryan, his budget plan. And in the end, this election could, as others have before, come down to Florida, where he is at his most vulnerable, because that's where you have the highest older audience and the whole Medicare cuts thing comes into play.

And it would be truly ironic if it was that that cost Mitt Romney the election, wouldn't it?

RATHER: It would be ironic. But I will say, Piers, and you and I have talked about this before, that certainly one main focus point of this campaign should be the money, the amount of money that's coming in on both sides, advantage to the Republicans. Much of this now, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, secret money.

That's still underreported spine of the campaign. Secondly that doesn't get talked about a lot are the whole argument about voter I.D., possible voter fraud, what I call voter suppression.

I will say that having covered civil rights and voter intimidation in the deep south in the early 1960s, I've seen up close and personal the reality of turning people away from the polls, discouraging people, primarily minorities and poor people, from coming to the polls.

Now you have a much more subtle, much more sophisticated version of that. But let's call it what it is. It's an effort at getting fewer people to vote, voter suppression. You saw the results in Ohio, where the Republicans tried to make some rules for voting favor Republicans in strong Republican districts, and then do the opposite in Democratic districts. It just got reversed this afternoon because of public pressure.

I think that public pressure came from Republicans as well as Democrats.

MORGAN: Dan, for now, again, fascinating. Do come back soon.

RATHER: I will. Thank you very much for having me, Piers.

MORGAN: Always good to have you. Thank you.

Coming up, "Celebrity War Games." Former boxing champ Laila Ali, daughter of the icon, stars in a new controversial new military style reality show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Former professional boxer Laila Ali looked graceful on the dance floor on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." But in the ring, grace isn't quite the word I would use. She'll take you down as soon as they cut you.

She's currently starring on NBC's "Stars and Stripes," which premiered on Monday. Welcome.

LAILA ALI, "STARS AND STRIPES": I'll take you down gracefully, though, in the ring too. Yes.

MORGAN: I don't want you taking me down at all, trust me.

Let's talk straight off the top about this new show. It's got a lot of controversy, "Stars and Stripes." I'll read you the reaction. Nine Nobel Peace Laureates have chimed in with this statement saying, "it's our belief this program plays homage to no one anywhere. It continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence."

The reason they say this is because it trains people like you to effectively join the military. What do you do you think of the criticism? Are you surprised by it?

ALI: I'm not surprised because people always have something to say. No matter what you do, you can't please everybody. When I first got the call about this show, the whole idea behind it was to pay homage to the military people. Because, you know, regardless of how you feel about war, whether we should be fighting, unfortunately there is war.

And I'm just thankful that there are people who have courage and who are willing to go fight for us and protect us, so that we can stay home and sit around and judge and make comments like that. At the end of the day, I think that people are going to se what these people go through on behalf every day.

MORGAN: Also, Mark Burnette, who is the man behind it and who I know well, he is a former British Army soldier himself. I mean, the last thing I think he would want to do is do anything that would be undignified for the military. It's just not in his nature to be that..

ALI: Of course. And all the operatives that are in the show obviously are military people. And they wouldn't have done the show if it was going to paint them in a bad light. And I know people who are in the military now and they love the show. They thought that we did a great job.

We're highlighting, you know, g these people and what they do, their stories. We're not shooting people. We're shooting at targets. When we say training, it's not like we're training to go fight.

MORGAN: Let's watch a clip from it, actually, so we can get an idea of what it's like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALI: Once I came out of the water, I was like, where am I? It was such a shock because everything you have on feels like it's water. I felt like a big heavy rock that was sinking down to the bottom. And I had a moment of fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So what was harder, "Dancing With the Stars", that or getting in a ring pounding somebody away as the try to beat you up?

ALI: Well, you make this sound so --

MORGAN: Real?

ALI: Anyway, they're all different. And they're equally as hard. Obviously boxing is something that I did as a profession, I take very seriously. And I spent a lot of years preparing. So it would be very hard to compare it to a reality TV show. You know, "Stars Earn Stripes" was hard as well, because I'm learning new skills, you know, and target practice and having to, you know, jump out of helicopters and repel down walls, and things that I'm not comfortable doing and that I did fear for my life in certain situations.

MORGAN: What is the best and worst thing about being Mohammed Ali's daughter?

ALI: The best thing, just off the top of my head, is just knowing that I have that same blood running through my veins. I have a lot of pride just being his daughter, because I put my dad on such a high pedestal. Just as simply who he is as a man, to stand up for what he believes in, not are what anyone else has to say, not worry about what's going to be taken away from him, you know, monetarily or his titles or anything like that.

You don't come across that anymore, not with these athletes and not with most of these men nowadays. People are all only concerned about money and power. And that wasn't my dad, even though he had so much power. And I just have so much respect for that. And it just really frames my view of people in our world. And I just have a tremendous amount of confidence.

I think the worst thing, which is something I still don't complain about, is probably just growing up in the spotlight, not knowing who is your friend, who's not. And I had to learn a lot at a very young age.

MORGAN: And also, I imagine everywhere you go with your father, the attention -- I met him once at a hotel not far from here. And even then, the reaction from everybody in the vicinity was extraordinary.

ALI: It's unbelievable how my dad literally brings people to tears.

MORGAN: He really did. He did that night. ALI: No, I know. I'm -- literally. And I know, because he's such a great man and I know that he's been through so much in his life and people have gone through it with him. And I think they just do have so much love and respect for him because who he is as a person, not just how great he was inside the ring. There will always be another great athlete. There will never be another Mohammed Ali, who he is as a man.

MORGAN: No. Actually, it's been great to meet you because you're a chip off the old block really, aren't you?

ALI: A little bit. Look, if I was faced with some of the situations that he was faced with, I would have made a lot of the same decisions. I know that I am a chip off the old block. But probably you because it was a different day and time that he was living in, you won't see that from me. But yes.

But I'm a woman. So the thing is that I get judged differently, because I have that same confidence, cockiness when it comes to fighting. And people don't necessarily like seeing that from a woman.

MORGAN: You should come back and talk more about all this. I've enjoyed meeting you.

ALI: I like you too.

MORGAN: I want to talk more about all this. Now "Stars Earn Stripes" on Monday nights on NBC. Three episodes left. Best of luck with it.

ALI: Thank you so much.

MORGAN: Delighted to meet you.

ALI: Nice to meet you too.

MORGAN: Coming up next, Only in America, a labor of love, a heart warming father-daughter team racing together to the finish line, a quite extraordinary story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, a father who in my mind deserves a gold medal more than any of the Olympic champions in London. Rick VanBeek (ph) is a triathlete in one of the toughest challenges in sports. But for Rick, from Michigan, it's not just enough to just swim, cycle and run to the point of exhaustion. He takes the triathlon to a whole new level, because he competes while carrying his teenage daughter who has cerebral palsy.

Yes, you heard that right. In fact, he's carried his 13 year old girl Maddy in more than 70 events now since 2008, only stopping when she feels unwell or when it's too hot. It's one of the most extraordinary things I've ever witnessed, especially since Rick's not a natural athlete. He quite smoking two packs a day when he began training. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right at that moment, I didn't know how it was going to be. It was kind of scary, actually. But that's what a change is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So here is how it works: in the swimming section of the race, Rick swims while pulling Maddy in a kayak. He then bikes with her in a cart. And finally, he runs while pushing her in a stroller. And between the three legs of each race, Rick carries Maddy in his arms.

He told New York's "Daily News," quote, I've never been disappointed crossing the finish line, because I'm always doing it with my daughter. Rick says that Maddy can't walk or talk, and functions like a three month old baby. But she -- the one thing that she clearly enjoys is being outdoors. And he's doing everything in his power to give her those rare moments of joy.

There were many heart warming stories of endurance, determination and devotion during the London games. But none of them could hold a candle to Rick VanBeek, a quite extraordinary man, a quite extraordinary athlete, and most of all a quite extraordinary father.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.