tv Meet the Press NBC September 9, 2012 10:00am-11:00am EDT
this sunday morning, f this be sunday ormorning, r the first time during this campaign, i go one on one with the republican nominee for president, mitt romney. we go behind the scenes and on the record with governor romney less than two months before the election to press him on how he will turn around the economy and solve the nation's debt crisis. >> are you prered to cut a deal with democrats that would cause conservatives to revolt? is it that important to get a deal to get us away from this fiscal cliff? >> well, it's critical to get the country on track to avoid the kind of financial calamities you're seeing around europe. and i have a plan that does that. >> and we get his reaction to president obama's stinging criticism during his convention in charlotte.
>> now, our friends down in tampa at the republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with america but they didn't have much to say about how they'd make it right. >> the fall campaign is now in full swing with new disappointing job numbers sharpening the debate over the economy. will americans blame the president for a high jobless rate or give him for mour years to solve the problem? a rising star in the democratic party this morning who gave the keynote address at the democratic convention. mayor of san antonio, julian castro. author and radio talk show host, bill bennett. columnist for "the washington post," and our political director, chuck todd.
good sunday morning. this weekend i spent time with governor romney on the campaign trail for an exclusive two-part interview on the state of the race and what specifically a romney presidency would mean for the country. we met up with the romney friday in manchester, new hampshire where they began a short trip down state for an evening campaign rally in nashua. >> this economy's going to come back in a big way and you're going to see more jobs again and you're going to see rising home values again and you're going to see more take home pay again. but it is going to require me being elected and new hampshire is going to do it. >> it was a day that also saw the president in battleground new hampshire to kick off his post-convention push to election day. >> now that both sides have made their argument, there's a big choice to make. and i honestly believe this is the biggest choice -- the clearest choice of any time in our generation. >> on-board the romney campaign bus, i asked the governor where the race now stands.
>> so the two conventions are now in the books. and we are really kicking off the final stretch, the fall campaign. how do you feel? you feel like you're winning? do you feel like you're losing? >> i think we're making real progress. i don't think i was as well known of course as the president and so we had a convention and i got better known. people got to see ann and hear our story and the result of that is i'm better known, for better or for worse. and that allows me to continue to hammer away on what i do to get america on the right track and i have really two months to be able to convince people i can do a better job than the incumbent. i think i can do that so i'm in a better spot than i was before the convention. >> it's tough to beat an incumbent, as you well know. do you feel like an underdog or do you feel like you're right in this ping. >> i think it is tough to be an incumbent if the incumbent's record is good. i think this incumbent has a very challenged record and jobs numbers that come out this week as well as the performance over the last 3 1/2 years suggest that this is a president that
has not been able to deliver on his promises. people are dissatisfied with where he's taken the country and that gives me an opportunity which might not have been available had he done what he said he would do. >> i want to ask you about the news of the day, these job numbers. less than 100,000 jobs created last month. yet it is striking because here you have the stock market at the highest level since 2007. i spoke to a top prominent business leader today who said the underpinnings of the economy right now are terrific. it's prime to take off. and yet we seem to be relatively speaking in a jobless recovery. what do you think's going on? >> i think it is a jobless recovery. if it's a recovery at all. it really doesn't look like a recovery. you're not seeing the kind of job growth that keeps up with population growth. you're not seeing any wage growth so it's not at all what a recovery's supposed to look like. it is really not the kind of recovery people had expected. normally when things go down as deeply as they did, they come rebounding but it's now been how many months?
43 months with unemployment above 8%? this last month it was surprising to me, not only the anemic job growth but the three or four times as many people dropped out of the labor force as were added as net new job holders. this is really saying that people are having a hard time finding work. very, very troubling. of course, the stock market does well and, in part because the indication by the fed that they're going to print more money, pour more nn into the system, where else are you going to go? if interest rates are going to be near zero, investors have to go somewhere to protect against inflation. stock market's got no place to go. >> you don't think the fed ought to be any more involved at this point? >> i don't think that easing monetary policy is going to make a significant difference in the job market right now. i think what the nation needs is a change in fiscal policy, a different structure to our economic positions. if we take the right course, i believe you're going to see this
economy roaring back. i do believe as you began by saying that there are many, many entrepreneurs, as well as major corporations, that are ready to jump. but they're hoping to see the kind of conditions on ground in this country, the economic conditions that pro-business, pro-jobs conditions, that suggest it is a good idea to invest in america again. >> you talk about creating 12 million jobs in your first term. i have seen independent reports predicting about that many jobs under any event being created. doesn't that suggest that the president and his team have laid a foundation for that kind of growth to occur? >> well actually, the president has kept in place a series of policies that have made no progress against unemployment and a shrinking job market. the number of individuals that are in the job market today is at almost -- well, a 30, 40-year low. people can't find work. if this president is re-elected, you're going to see chronic high
unemployment kin continue for another four years or longer. you're going to see low wage growth, if any growth at all. of course there will always be this fiscal calamity in our doorstep, crisis potential at our doorstep, the kind that you're seeing in europe today. there's no question in my mind, if president obama is re-elected, you're not going to see our unemployment picture change dramatically. you're not going to see us create the jobs we need to create or the rising incomes people need. >> this is just a wild guess but i don't think either one of you were looking for any souvenirs from charlotte. but i actually did bring one. okay? i brought one. this is a bumper sticker that i found. it says, bin laden is dead, gm is alive. obviously this is one of the big tag lines, bumper sticker line from the obama campaign. why is that not a good bumper sticker for the president? >> well, i don't know that that's going to get him the support that he wants but of course he deserves credit for giving the order for the s.e.a.l. team to go after bin laden and take him out, that's absolutely right. with regards to gm, we'll
probably get a chance to take a closer look at that. general motors should have gone into bankruptcy earlier. president resisted that for six months. i said let them go into bankruptcy. help them come out but let them go in. i don't think most americans know that gm went bankrupt. president put them into bankruptcy and he finally did what i also thought was the right thing to do but i thought it from the very beginning and that would have saved us $20 billion or so that otherwise would have been able to be invested in things like teachers and policemen, as well as growing our economy. >> what's the romney-ryan bummer sticker? >> we got bumper stickers letting people know where we are. it is basically, you want more jobs? you want higher income? then vote for romney and ryan. >> mrs. romney, your speech was very well received around the country. you had an opportunity to talk about yourself and to talk about your husband and to talk about how he's connected to people in your lives and in your family. there was something that caught my attention, i'm sure it caught yours from the keynote speaker
at the democratic convention which sort of went to this charge that somehow neither one of are you as empathetic about what's going on in the country to people who are out of work. and the line was, from julian castro, the mayor of san antonio, you just don't know how good you've had it. how did that sit with you? >> well, i think the thang i want to communicate to people -- it's so important that people understand -- is that mitt and i do recognize that we have not a financial struggle in our lives, but i want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle. and our struggles have not been financial but they've been with health and with difficulty and in different things in life. and one thing that i, again, like to remind people is that multiple sclerosis has been my teacher, it has been at times a cruel teacher, but it has also been a great gift in my life because what it has done, it has taught me to be more
compassionate and caring for those who are suffering. i know people are suffering right now. for people to think we don't have empathy just because we're not suffering like they're suffer something ridiculous. it's ridiculous to think that you can't have empathy for somebody that's struggling. our life has always been devoted to those that are struggling more than we are and i was grateful for the opportunity that we had at the convention for others to speak up and talk about the kind of lives we've led and in particular for mitt, who really has been demonized in many ways as many heartless, and for people to stand up and say, excuse me, he was there when my son was dying of leukemia, he came to my son's bedside, he did all of these things for my son. and another woman saying how mitt was there for her. there's hundreds of those stories that haven't been told. and it was refreshing to me for the american people to finally be able to see the lens through
which i see my husband and the perspective in which i understand how he operates. >> as a candidate now, when is the last time you really got to spend some quality time with somebody who out of work and what did you get from that? >> well, actually, just last night it was. i was with a person who is facing some challenges. we shared our personal experiences, an effort on my part to point out that we can make it through tough times. look, that's part of every day life for most people. you have friends and acquaintances that have challenges and you talk about them. and i can tell you this. my life has been greatly enriched by my relationship with this young lady here. and i know how whiffle's got it because i was able to marry ann. but the reason i'm in this race is to help people. i'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet. i'm in this ris to help the
american people. this is a commitment on my part, on ann's part, on our family's part, because we care very deeply about this country. i really think that those people that try and minimize. the feeling and the connection that we have with the american people really miss the mark very badly and are trying to divide americans on who has money and who does not have as much. frank frankly, americans are not defined by whether they they were successful financially or not. a united america can solve the kind of challenges we have today. >> we have this dynamic where i don't think the president and mrs. barack obama weren't watching yours, you weren't watching theirs. nonetheless, a lot of attention to clint eastwood on your final night. he said after taking some shots about this that it was mission accomplished. were you laughing along with him or were you wincing part of the time, governor? >> i was laughing at clint eastwood. look, to have him get up and
speak in my behalf was a great thrill. i mean this is a guy -- ann and i have watched from back in the days of the good, the bad and the ugly. we've been watching his films for a long time, "dirty harry," and "grand torino" recently. he is a true american icon. >> true enough. but it was bizarre have to have him talking to a chair. >> you don't expect clint eastwood to get up and read a speech from a teleprompter like a politician. >> what about bill clinton. he had quite an impact. do you think he could get elected today for president. >> if the constitution weren't in his way, perhaps. i don't know the answer to that. but did he stand out in kcontrat with the other speakers. he really did elevate the democratic convention in a lot of ways. and frankly, the contrast may not have been as attractive as barack obama preferred if he were choosing who would go before him and who would go
after. >> i want to ask you something more personal. you both are guarded about in your faith. you talked more about it at the convention. we came from a quote of a biography written by your father in 1968, about being a mormon, i am among a religion that's among the most persecuted minority dwrou groups in history. you could be the first mormon president. i wonder how much pride that gives you and you think it gives others in the church. is it similar to what many catholics felt with president kennedy? >> i can't speem for aak for al members of the church. i'm proud all members of my faith are proud that someone of our faith is able to run for president. i've got so many challenges ahead of me within don't think so much about the impact this has on the church day to day but more about the impact i want to have on the electorate and what it takes to become elected
president. i'm convinced that my background and heritage and faith has made me the person i am to a great degree. the judeo-christian ethics i was brought up with, the sense of obligation to one's fellow man, the absolute conviction we are all sons and daughters of the same god and therefore in a human family is one of the reasons i am doing what i'm doing. it would have been very easy for me to just stay in business. i like business. that's fun. but when the olympic request came along, ann said you've got to do this, this is important. when i ran for governor, this is important. now when i'm running for president. i think that comes in part from this judeo-christian ethic of service and commitment to one's fellow man. >> mrs. romney, do you think that mormons in america and around the world, for that matter, have got be past a level of persecution that they can very openly be proud of what the two of you are doing? >> i certainly hope so. i mean it's always wonderful when milestones like that are accomplished and i think that was why we were all so pleased
with so many americans were so pleased with the last election and seeing that a black man was elected as president of the united states. it made us proud as americans to know that those prejudices that we've had in the past are falling away. >> beyond some of the more personal areas, we sat down at campaign headquarters the next morning for more detailed discussion about where governor romney stands on the key issues of the campaign. so governor, we talked last night about jobs and the economy and also the debt. i want to begin there. you've called the debt and our deficit a moral crisis and yet in addition to extending the bush tax cuts you want to cut tax rates an additional 20%. you've rejected a 10-1 spending ratio when it comes to spending to increasing taxes. and yet you want to balance the budget. the math simply doesn't add up, does it? >> actually it does. five different economic studies including one at harvard, princeton, aei and a couple at the "wall street journal" all
show that if we bring down our o top rates and go across the board, bring down rates for everyone in america, but also limit deductions and exemptions for people at the high end, you can keep the progressivity in the code, remain revenue neutral and you create an enormous incentive -- >> you haven't specified where you'd cut loopholes. you actually want to increase defense spending in addition to aulg of that. >> i want to maintain defense spending at the current level of the gdp. i don't want to keep bringing it down as the president's doing. this sequestration of the white house cutting our defense is an extraordinary miscalculation. >> republican leaders agreed to that deal. >> that's a big mistake on the part of the white house to propose it. think it was a mistake for republicans to go along with it. the president was responsible for coming out with specific changes that he'd make to the defense budget. it was supposed to have come out this last week. he has violated the law that he in fact signed. the american people need to understand how it is that our defense is going to be so badly
cut. my own plan to bring down the rates of taxation while maintaining the revenues that come in to the government is by making sure that we don't lower taxes on high-income people. we're not going to have high-income people pay less of the tax burden than they pay today. that's not going to happen. i do want to bring taxes down for middle income people. >> erskine bowles said something's got to give, that your plan would not actually reduce the deficit, that indeed taxes would have to go up on the middle class. what gives? if you're not right about your projections? >> first of all, i've got princeton, harvard, "wall street journal" and aei all saying actually that we can bring down the rates and if we limit or eliminate some of the loopholes and deductions at the high end we keep the current progressivity of the code and the same revenue coming in to
the government, we get more growth in the economy. my tax policy is designed to find a way to encourage more hiring in this country. i'm very concerned that we have 23 million people who are underemployed or stopped looking for work. everything i warrant to do with regards to taxation follows simple principles -- bring our rates down to encourage growth, keep revenue up by limiting deductions and exemptions and make sure we don't put any bigger burden on middle income people. in fact i want to lower the burden on middle income people. >> but governor, where are the specifics how you get to this math? >> the specifics are these -- which is those principles i described are the heart of my policy and i've indicated as well that contrary to what the democrats are saying, i'm not going to increase the tax burden on middle income families. it would absolutely be wrong to do that. but i've had the experience of being a governor. i've demonstrated that i had the capacity to balance budgets. i balanced them four years in a row in massachusetts and we cut
taxes 19 times. >> give me an example of a loophole that you will close. >> i can tell that you people at the high end, high income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. those numbers are going to come down. otherwise, they'd get a tax break and i want to make sure people understand, despite what the democrats said at their convention, i am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers. i'm bringing down the rate of taxation but also bringing down deductions and exemptions at the high end so the revenues stay the same, the taxes people pay stay the same, middle income people again get a break. but high end of the tax stays the same but we encourage small business because small business is able to keep more of what it makes and therefore hire more people which is my priority. >> will you balance the budget in your first term? is that a commitment you can make? >> i'll balance the budget by the end of my second term. doing it in the first term would cause i believe a dramatic impact on the economy, too dramatic and therefore the steps i've put in place -- we put together a plan that lays out
how we get to a balanced budget within eight to ten years. >> are you prepared to cut a deal with democrats that would cause conservatives to revolt? is it that important to get a deal to get us away from this fiscal cliff? >> well, it's critical to get the country on track to avoid the kind of financial calamities you are seeing around europe. i have a plan that does that by really do -- >> but are you going to compromise? >> there's nothing wrong with the term compromise but there is something very wrong with the term abandoning one principles. i am standing by my principles and that is, i am not going to raise taxes on the american people. problem in our country is not that we're not paying enough taxes, it is that we are spending too much money and the economy is not growing as it could and should. look, we've just watched another month of tepid job numbers. this does not look like a recovery. the president's policies that meant have this economy is not growing as it should.
fastest way to balance our budget is to grow the economy, put more people to work, see rising incomes. that's how you balance budgets. and so my tax policy is not designed to say, let's get some more money from people. it is designed to say let's get more growth in the economy, hire more people so we can get more tax revenues -- >> a couple of specific areas on health care. you say that you would rescind the president's health care plan on day one. does that mean that you're prepared to say to americans, young adults, and those with pre-existing conditions that they would no longer be guaranteed health care? >> of course not. i say we're going to replace obama care. i'm replacing it with my own plan and even in massachusetts, where i was governor, our plan there deals with pre-existing conditions and with young people -- >> you'd keep that as part of the federal plan. >> i'm not getting rid of all of health kay
health care reform. one, make sure those are existing conditions can get coverage. i also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company. >> that brings us to medicare. one of the things you believe in with the idea of premium support or a voucher for seniors under medicare is to achieve the goal of solvency. if competitive bidding in medicare fails to bring down prices, you have have a choice of either passing that cost on to seniors or blowing up the deficit. what would you do? well, let's stand back first. there's nothing about seniors in our plan. >> right. you'd wait ten years to implement any plan. >> there's no change for anyone who is retired or nearing retirement. it is only dealing with those people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and early 50s. that's the group we're dealing with and we're saying what's the best deal for them. it strikes me the best deal for them is to let them either buy current medicare or to have a private plan. a lot like medicare advantage
today. >> that didn't drive down prices, governor. >> oh, it sure did. actually what you're seeing with medicare today, with medicare part d, the prescription drug benefit, is that congress in putting this together said we're going to allow companies to compete for a package of prescription drug benefits and the costs that they've come up with is far less than anyone predicted. competition -- look, competition works. >> let me turn to foreign policy and ask you a couple of questions there. "the weekly standard" took to you task in your convention speech for not mentioning the war in afghanistan one time. was that a mistake with so much sacrifice in two wars over the period of this last decade? >> you know, i find it interesting that people are curious about mentioning words in a speech as opposed to policy. so i went to the american legion the day before i gave that speech -- >> you weren't speaking to tens of millions of people when you went -- >> i found wherever i go i am speaking to tens of millions of people. everything i say is pick up by you and others and that's the way it ought to be. i went to the american legion
and spoke with our veterans there and spoke about my policy as it relation to afghanistan. the troops know my commitment to afghanistan and the effort that's going on there. i have some differences in policy with the president. i happen to think those are more important than what word i mention in each speech. >> he used some pretty tough words in talking about you saying you and paul ryan are "new to foreign policy, want to take us back to an era of blustering that cost us so dearly." said you were stuck in a time warp. tough stuff suggesting you're not ready on day one to be commander in chief. >> well, i can certainly look at his record and i think one can say that he's had some successes and he's had some failures. perhaps the biggest failure is as it relates to the greatest threat that america faces and the world faces, which is the nuclear iran. the president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear iran. iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear
capability than when he took office. this is the greatest failure in my opinion of his foreign policy. he ran for office saying he was going to meet with ahmadinejad, he was going to meet with castro, kim jong-il, all the world's worst actors without precondition. >> president bush said he would keep iran from going nuclear. so did president obama. neither one were able to achieve that. >> president obama had a policy of engagement with ahmadinejad. that policy has not worked and we are closer to a nuclear weapon as a result of that. ly have a very different approach with regards to iran. it is an approach which the president is finally getting closer to. it begins with crippling sanctions nap should have been put in place long ago. >> is the country safer or less safe because of president obama's leadership. >> in some ways safer. getting rid of osama bin laden, i think a success on the part of the president authorizing s.e.a.l. team 6, commanding s.e.a.l. team 6 to take him out. that was a great accomplishment. using the drones to strike at al qaeda targets. i think those are positive
developments. iran, however, becoming nuclear, is a whole different development and a game changing threatening development, threatening not only to our ally israel but threatening to the united states of america and the president has not been successful. in the words of prime minister netanyahu, iran has not changed its nuclear course one iota by virtue of this president's policies. that's something i intend to change. >> you put troops on the ground to stop iran from going nuclear or can you live with a nuclear iran and contain? >> i don't think we live with a nuclear iran. i think we make it very clear a nuclear iran is very unacceptable to civilized nations throughout the world and we'll maintain every option to keep that from happening. >> two presidents have said the very same thing. why can you succeed on iran when they cannot? >> at the time president bush was president iran was years away from a nuclear weapon. he pursued diplomacy as i think we should continue to pursue diplomatic channels and pursue as well the kind of crippling
sanctions. we need to use every resource we have to dissuade them from their nuclear path. but that doesn't mean that we would take off the table our military option. that's something which certainly every american would hope we would never have to use. but we have to maintain it on the table or iran will undoubtedly continue their treacherous course. >> one question on a social issue. that is abortion. in 2 240u7 you were on this program and said you would fight to overturn roe v. wade. would a president romney fight to overturn roe v. wade? >> there are a number of things that need to be said about preserving and protecting the life of the unborn child. i recognize there are two lives involved. the mom and the unborn child. i believe that people of good conscience have chosen different paths in this regard but i am pro-life and will intend, if i'm president of the united states,
to encourage pro-life policies. >> just encourage or fight for it to be overturned? >> well, i don't actually make the decision the supreme court makes so they'll have to make their own decision but i will, for instance, reverse the president's decision on using u.s. funds to pay for abortion outside this country. i don't think also the taxpayers here should have to pay for abortion in this country. those things i think are consistent with my pro life position and i hope to appoint justices to the supreme court that will follow the law and the constitution and it would be my preference that they reverse roe v. wade and therefore they return to the people and their elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue. >> i want to come back to where we started in this final area about how difficult it is going to be to govern in washington as you well know. you know you could be a very unpopular president if you make tough choices that you say you'll make. if it came to it, if the only way to achieve a deal on this fiscal cliff was to endanger
yourself politically to the point that you were a one-term president, would you be satisfied with that? >> david, i could not care less about my political prospects. i want to become president of the united states to get this country on the right track again. america is at a critical crossroads. we have to strengthen the foundation of our economy, of our values, of our principles so we have a military so strong we can defend our freedom and others. put americans back to work and politics and whether i'm highly favored, not highly favored just doesn't enter into the equation. >> would you be satisfied with one term if you could get a deal on averting a fiscal cliff? >> let me tell you, if i can get this country on track again, i'd be satisfied with anything. >> there's still questions, you acknowledged, do people really flow you. i think the question is are you the moderate from massachusetts who championed universal health care, who at one time was for abortion rights or are you the candidate who said he was a severe conservative? what will you be as president? >> i'm as conservative as the constitution. i believe in the principles this
nation was founded upon. i understand how our economy works. i've lived in the economy. i also understand how to work across the aisle. you get elected in massachusetts where 87% of your legislature is in the opposition party, you've got to work with people across the aisle. i know how to do that. i'm going to work like crazy to break the deadlock in washington and to get america on the right track. i actually think that because we're at this precipice economically, at the precipice fiscally as a nation as well, that there are going to be good democrats and good republicans who have shown respect and if they see a president that's willing to work with them to share credit with them, to encourage them and pull them along, we're going to be able to deal with the challenges we have. if not, i'm going to die trying. i'm going to do everything in my power to fix this country. >> governor, you're in a unique position. you had both parents seek high office and both fell short. victory in this race in november will be humbling enough because of the problems this country faces. but if you lose, how would you handle that?
>> oh, i don't worry about myself. i worry about the country. i watched my dad when he thought he lost actually. it was his second term as governor and lyndon johnson won by a landslide in michigan. my dad wasn't concerned at all. he was running because he cared about the state, thought he could do a better job than the people who were otherwise going to be running the state and he went on and anticipated going on with his life. look, i'm not worried about my life. my life's fine. i'm worried about the country. i'm worried about the people that can't find work. the people in the middle class that have been crushed under this president. their wages have gone down, their costs have gone up. around the world people are asking where is america's leadership. i was with lech walesa in poland. he said where is america to lead? we can't afford a president
who's incomplete. we have to have a president that understand wlaz it takes to restore america's economic vitality, put americans to work and be able to provide the kind of military strength and leadership globally that the world needs and that americans deserve. >> governor, thank you for having us to your headquarters. sorry about the gusty conditions but stay safe on the campaign trail. my conversation with governor mitt romney. coming up here, reaction. how did governor romney change the debate in this campaign with this interview. we'll get reaction to all of it from our political roundtable. one of the stars this past week in charlotte for the democrats, julian castro. bill bennett. peggy noonan and nbc's own chuck todd. we know why we're here. ♪ to connect our forces to what they need, when they need it. ♪ to help troops see danger, before it sees them. ♪
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lots to get to. not quite as much time because we had the opportunity to sit with governor romney. here was i think a key piece of news made in that interview and it had to do with an open disagreement that romney has with the republican leaders who struck a deal to extend the debt ceiling, you remember last summer, that required automatic spending cuts for defense and social programs that would take effect january 1st. this is what he said. >> this sequestration idea of the white house, which is cutting our defense, i think, is an extraordinary miscalculation. >> republican leaders agreed to that deal to extend -- >> i think it's a big mistake. i thought it was a mistake on the part of the white house to propose it. i think it was a mistake for republicans to go along with it. >> and here is from the national review last july, romney's running mate, paul ryan, defending his vote yes for that sequestration deal. he said i support this reasonable, responsible effort to cut government spending, avoid a default and help create a better environment for job creation. chuck, what does this say that there is this open disagreement?
>> well, this is about, i think romney's playing battleground state politics. i hate to say it. but that's what he does. right after the interview where did he go? went to virginia, where some of the cuts, if they take place -- people seem to have amnesia about the whole point sequester was. it was the fourth conversation, fourth new negotiations. nobody wants to sequester. the whole point was pick something that each party thought was something that a third rail in their -- in their conferences so that they would force them to have a new conversation, so the whole re-imaging of the sequester. i understand the battleground state politics that romney's up to. but i think he's walking into a trap. >> bill bennett, my impression spending time with governor romney and talking to him about these issues on camera and off is that he understands the need for some level of compromise, and to even take on conservatives. and yet in this interview there was a level of rigidity, even to the point saying this deal on a defense sequester makes no sense. >> well, he's distinguish between the willingness on principle to compromise and the
willingness to compromise on principle. and that's an important difference. but i agree with chuck, this was to set up a conversation about what's going to be cut and where the cuts are going to be. and i think romney's absolutely right to talk about these defense cuts as being, in leon panetta's words, devastating. it's possible to still have that conversation. time is running out. but i understand the ryan point of view, because you need the forces in order to avoid a fall. but that conversation still has to take place. you cannot strip the military 50%. >> mayor castro, governor romney in this interview goes out of his way to say that your attack and other democrats on him for cutting taxes is unfair. that this is not a give away to the rich. that this is a job creation, pro-greth tax cut, even though, again, he was not specific about how he'd make the numbers work. your reaction? >> that's always a challenge for governor romney. it just strikes me throughout this entire campaign he has missed opportunity after opportunity. you ask him very specifically to be specific, and all he said was
that, well, for high income folks we would reduce some deductions and exemptions. he will not get specific. and the fact is that over the years, the marginal rate for the wealthiest has come down significantly. so even if we accept him at his word and say he's not going to reduce it further, it's already been reduced tremendously, and independent analyses have shown that his plan, to the extent that he has one, because he hasn't been very specific, would overly burden the middle class. >> e.j., peggy, discuss? >> first of all, i think your interview really made clear he wants to cut taxes. he wants to raise defense. and then he doesn't tell us how he's going to balance the budget. this is a core problem that he has. i think you really got to him on the issue of taxes. because he can't do what he wants to do without cutting -- raising taxes for the middle class, in some way. and it really struck me that he kept falling back on these studies. i mean, a republican leaning on
studies from harvard and princeton over and over again is like clint eastwood throwing away his six-gun and saying let's rely on sweet reason. he just couldn't explain what he was doing so he kept citing studies. by the way the other issue i thought you really had him on was gm. i mean that was not a coherent answer on gm. his original position was, let it go under. that was a irreversible decision that would have destroyed a large part of our domestic auto industry. and he couldn't really explain that. >> peggy, i thought it was pointed when he said, re-election of president obama means chronic high unemployment. and yet, there is all the evidence of the underpinnings of this economy being very strong. is that a credible case he's making? >> well, you had brought up the point about the underpinnings being strong. i think there is a general republican point of view that if mr. obama is re-elected, nothing will move forward in washington. a sort of cold, blanket, heavy
on the economy will probably continue. no progress will be made. taxes on corporations won't be lowered, so we won't be more competitive. so i think that's what he was referring to. however, on the back there was a little news there in what governor romney said about, well, frankly, it's a higher end for more well-off taxpayers. they're going to lose some of the things they were relying on, like certain loopholes. i thought he might be talking about limits on the mortgage interest rate deduction. he was not clear about it. but it seems to me he was saying, look, trying to be fair here, trying to make it all work. but don't demagogue me on the rich get away with everything. >> emphatically taxes on the rich will not go down. he said that three times. but faulting this guy for not having a plan? president obama, where is his plan? he's president of the united states. >> yeah. >> three years ago on this network he said, you know, if i don't get this thing under control, it's a one-term proposition. he puts forward a plan, a budget
plan, it gets rejected 414-0 in the house. and 97-0 in the senate. what was the plan we heard at the convention? this guy has been the president, and he has not made things better. he has made things worse. >> well romney has repeatedly said he won't cut taxes on the rich, and yet he has proposals to cut taxes on the rich. he doesn't explain why it adds up. in terms of obama's budget was a serious proposal. the republicans tried to force a political vote on it. the democrats decided they weren't going to play the game. >> it got zero support. >> yes, because it was put up there as a political matter because it was never going to pass. >> if you read the bob woodward book you will see just how pathetic the white house effort was. >> let me take a break here. we'll come back and talk more about the economy, the impact of jobs and the new numbers on the debate and some of the straightup politics after these two conventions. more from our roundtable. more reaction to the romney [ male announcer ] what can you experience in a seat? inspiration. great power. iconic design.
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if we took the nissan altima and reimagined nearly everything in it? gave it greater horsepower and best in class 38 mpg highway... ...advanced headlights... ...and zero gravity seats? yeah, that would be cool. ♪ introducing the completely reimagined nissan altima. it's our most innovative altima ever. nissan. innovation that excites. ♪ the theory has been tested, it failed, our economy failed, the middle class paid the price, your family paid the price, mitt romney just doesn't get it. >> that's mayor castro who is with us here making a case, chuck todd, against the republicans. and i thought that governor romney went out of his way to try to beat back the idea this say return to a republican orthodoxy of cutting taxes on the rich. >> he tried a little bit, but i
think this is getting to the greater thing we talked about this, we were talking about this off ram ka. he has done one of the drags i think on romney is the unpopularity of the republican party. it's more unpopular than the democratic party as a hole. george w. bush's are not remembered fondly. he has not figured out how to separate himself from that. it was bill clinton's great challenge in '92. he had to separate himself from the old orthodoxies of the democratic party. he figured out ways to do it. that's why he won. romney has yet to figure out how to do it. >> mayor castro, seems to me it comes down to one question, do americans blame this president for the job situation or do they listen to president clinton who said nobody could have fixed it faster, not even me? i mean that seems to be -- if americans believe that, then maybe they give him a chance. >> i think president clinton did a stellar job, as usual, making the case that we see now 30 straight months of private sector job growth, 4.6 million jobs created. and i believe that the folks see that kind of progress around the country.
and so for mitt romney to say, well, there's been no progress whatsoever, folks can tell the difference between what they see out there, and what he's saying. >> peggy noonan, where is this race right now? two conventions, this interview with romney, where are we now with less than 60 days? does it feel like romney's behind or not? >> it feels like it's very close and amazingly nobody knows what's going to happen. i feel like the two conventions coming so close to each other, were a bit of a blur. one night these guys yell, and the next night these guys yell. everything, i think, is about the debates right now. when the debates come, mr. obama's going to say, mr. romney, why would they vote for you when you represent the issues and the stands and the traditions of george bush's party which got us into such terrible trouble for eight years? before that debate i think mitt
romney has to kick away from and define himself again. what happened for the eight years of george w. bush's presidency, in terms of it ended in nick collapse. and there were two long, frustrating wars that people think were not won. romney can't be allowed to have himself painted as, he's going to bring that stuff back. he's got to say, no, there were things there that didn't work, both parties made mistakes. my party, the republicans, made a mistake. set himself up for the debate and go forward in the debate not worried about this likability stuff. >> which he still -- >> what about -- >> strong and capable and say i have the talent to turn around your crisis. >> what about, is there a bump? is there any discernible bump? >> if we only have a couple of the robo polls out there, all of them showing some movement toward the president. the point was the president was ahead before going moo convention, and he's still ahead coming out of it. body language is everything, right? we know the romney campaign
believes they're behind. the map has slunk, yes, wisconsin is in play, no, pennsylvania and michigan are not. it's a narrow path for romney. he's behind and i think it's down to convention's a missed opportunity. the pressure on him to win that first debate. he doesn't win the first debate i don't know how -- >> i completely agree with that. and i think that you can tell the democrats won the pairing of the conventions because liberals say the democrats won. but a lot of conservatives think the democrats won the convention. and i think a couple of things happened. one, bill clinton, as my colleague greg sargent noted is for a lot of undecided voters a kind of referee, vouching agent on the economy. a lot of voters say look, we were gang busters under clinton. if he says this, it may be true. it doesn't decide it, but they listen. i think the other thing is the republican convention was all about business investment and it was businessmen who are the dominant figures, workers almost disappeared from that convention. what was striking about the democratic convention, it came
through in their speech, there was much more talk about family. there was much more talk about upward mobility as a struggle, as a family effort. it was much more about individual struggle. i think that connected to a lot of swing voter kinds of people. >> let's just become unanimous. let me put it that way. i don't think we throw outed bush whole eight years. we won the war in iraq. bush did a lot of fine things. he can separate himself from bush policy particularly in the last couple of years. he's done so with having paul ryan there. he was a critic of bush spending. he's a critic of obama spending. there's a recent survey, ask people would you prefer a bigger government with more services or a bigger economy with more jobs. 75-15, bigger economy with more jobs. conservatives have families, they believe in families, they work, and by the way, this rack of lack compassion for people who are suffering. why in every survey or every study, self-identified conservatives give more of their
time, their money, their blood and their treasures to helping people. >> i want to ask this point. do you believe governor romney is a practical enough politician to cut a deal with democrats to rely on paul ryan to essentially assuage conservatives -- that's important. you don't get that from the interview but spending time with him i get that impression. >> -- sure to fight -- >> that's the point. >> sure to save the country. but we'll see if he has to. >> he said he might even be satisfied with everything, including one term. >> it was e.j. who criticized harvard and princeton, not me. just let me say that for the record. >> i didn't criticize -- >> what they're saying is true. but look, can i just say with all due respect i'm glad the conventions are over. now the real stuff begins. the debate also be very, very significant. >> mayor castro we're talking about family. we're talking about your impact. i know a lot of people are saying you're a rising star. move over fella, there's somebody else who really captured the show, and that is your lovely daughter corona. you thought all the cheering going on in the hall was for you. but she was on the jumbotron.
that was a fun moment. >> i'm going to have to save that for when she gets married at her wedding reception. >> you will. >> yes, i will. >> we have children, too. >> that's right. >> always both sides. >> republicans get defensive about family values -- >> we're going to leave it there. >> thank you all very much. the kwfrgs continues. that is all for today. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." companies used to view us as demographics. because they couldn't see what made people different.
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