WASHINGTON, DC -- July 15, 2012 -- Today’s “Meet the Press with David Gregory” featured an interview with Romney senior adviser Ed Gillsepie; a debate between Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jon Kyl (R-AZ); a roundtable discussion with Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, NAACP President Ben Jealous, GOP strategist Mike Murphy, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward; and insight on the fallout of the Penn State scandal from NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas.
Below are highlights, web clips, and a rush transcript of today’s program. All content is available online at www.MeetThePressNBC.com.
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Gillespie on Romney’s Bain tenure: “He was still CEO and had shares. But he wasn't responsible for management.”
ED GILLESPIE: The fact is, he took a leave of absence from Bain to run the Olympics in Salt Lake City. ... And he was not responsible for day to day decisions, did not participate in day to day decisions or the management of the company at that time. He was on leave. So as-- former S.E.C. Chairman Harvey Pitt was quoted in a story about this, it is standard, though, while you're on leave, to sign those documents for the S.E.C.. He was still CEO and had shares. But he wasn't responsible for management. And that's the bottom line. … He actually retired retroactively at that point, David, because he ended up not going back to the firm after his time in Salt Lake City. So he was actually retired from Bain.
Gillespie on outsourcing: “Obama politics are forcing jobs overseas”
DAVID GREGORY: Mitt Romney is somebody who is in the private sector, who understands it. So would he not stand by the practice of outsourcing?
ED GILLESPIE: What he believes is that American companies and, you know, private shareholders, and CEOs should be free in our economy to make decisions. What we need to do as a policy is to make policies that make those decisions easier to say, "I'm going to invest here in the United States. I'm not going to move my jobs overseas." The Obama policies are forcing jobs overseas. ... The president is the outsourcer-in-chief with our taxpayers' dollars.
Gillespie on Romney’s reaction to American Olympic uniforms being manufactured in China
ED GILLESPIE: I think what he said was that, you know, we shouldn't politicize the Olympics, and that, you know, this is an American company that contracted out. And the fact is, again, we need to make investment here in the United States more attractive and make manufacturing in the United States more attractive. The underlying policies that make it more attractive to sub-contract out to China are what is at the root of the problem here. And the root of that problem is President Obama's not being tough enough on China, and the currency manipulation, which Governor Romney has said he will, on day one, begin to address in a serious manner.
Gillespie on Romney’s tax returns
ED GILLESPIE: The fact is that Governor Romney has put out, already, 2010, and will put out 2011 before this election. So, you know, very transparent. It's ironic coming from a White House that has proven itself to be not transparent in its policies. And be worth asking them, for example, why they're hiding behind claims of executive privilege and that kind of thing.
Durbin: Romney is running away from Bain “like a scalded cat”
SEN. DICK DURBIN: I can tell you the documents that were filed with the S.E.C., with the signature of Mitt Romney, are completely confusing. They claim that, for three years, he was the sole shareholder, sole director, CEO and president, of Bain Campaign. And he said he was gone from the scene. But we need to get down to the bottom line here, David. Why is Mitt Romney running away from his company, Bain Capital, like a scalded cat? Because there's abundant evidence that, under Bain Capital, they were exporting American jobs to low-wage countries, and he doesn't want to be associated with it.
Kyl on outsourcing: government policies are like an anchor around a runner’s neck
SEN. JON KYL: Let's look at the symptom versus the cause. The symptom of the problem is outsourcing. The cause is when the government taxes businesses too much, when it regulates businesses too much, and when it creates too much uncertainty, as with things like Obama Care. The outsource is accelerated because of those things. And speaking of the Olympics, it's a little bit like the president saying, "Oh, get out there and compete, you runners, and beat all the other countries. But I the meantime, wear this big anchor around your neck, which is the taxes and the regulation." As Gillespie pointed out, we have the highest tax rate of all of the industrialized countries. That makes us very uncompetitive.
Durbin: “The outsourcing of jobs by Bain Capital to low-wage countries is an embarrassment to Mitt Romney.”
SEN. DICK DURBIN: The bottom line is this. The outsourcing of jobs by Bain Capital to low-wage countries is an embarrassment to Mitt Romney. And he's trying to distance himself from his own company that made millions of dollars for him. … Outsourcing, unfortunately, costs good American jobs. We need a president focusing on creating jobs in America, not a former governor whose company specialized in exporting jobs overseas.
Durbin on tax cut extensions: “the top 2% of wage earners in America should pay their fair share”
SEN. DICK DURBIN: I think the president has drawn the line in the proper way. He believes, and I agree, that the top 2% of wage earners in America should pay their fair share. That's what this comes down to. And if we extend the Bush tax cuts, as Senator Kyl and others have called for, it will add $800 billion to our deficit ... We believe that asking the top 2% of wage earners in America to pay their fair share of taxes is not going to kill the economy. Instead, it's going to make sure we move toward reduction of our deficit.
Kyl: “don't raise taxes on the people who create the business”
SEN. JON KYL: We're not talking about giving tax cuts to anyone. All we're asking is don't raise taxes on all Americans. And especially don't raise taxes on the people who create the business. When you say that the high income earners, the top 20%, pay 90% of the taxes, what should they pay, 99%? These are the people who have enough money to invest in businesses and to create jobs. And the problem with the tax cut, or a tax increase that the president is proposing is that it falls directly on those job creators.
Durbin on Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: “American people and the people of Illinois will stand behind a Congressman who is facing his challenges head-on”
SEN. DICK DURBIN: I hope very, very soon that Congressman Jackson can tell us what he's facing. I think the people of Illinois and this country are going to embrace anything he's doing to put himself back in the good, strong position to return to his family and to Congress.
DAVID GREGORY: But do you suspect that his political career is over or not?
SEN. DICK DURBIN: Oh no, I wouldn't say that at all. I don't know what his specific challenge is. But let me tell you, members of Congress in both parties, men and women, go through a lot of trials, physical and mental trials. And they emerge from them stronger. American people and the people of Illinois will stand behind a Congressman who is facing his challenges head-on, and they'll support him.
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Web clips from today’s program:
Full interview with Ed Gillespie
Full debate between Sens. Durbin and Kyl
Full conversation with Bob Costas
David Gregory’s post-show analysis
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Below is a RUSH transcript of this morning’s broadcast -- mandatory attribution to NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” A final transcript of the program will be available at www.MeetThePressNBC.com.
“MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY”
July 15, 2012
MR. DAVID GREGORY: This morning we'll discuss the president's efforts to define his
opponent for voters. Again, the hot topic is Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital. Is his private
sector experience his greatest strength or now a political weakness? With conflicting reports
about exactly when Romney left the company, a campaign's traded attacks about whether he was
there when the firm began to outsource jobs and whether Romney was dishonest about his
FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA): I think the kinds of attacks are beneath the dignity of
the presidency. I think the president needs to rein in his campaign and start talking about the real
issues people care about, which relate to our economy.
MR. GREGORY: A new pretty negative turn in the campaign. So can Romney clear the air
about his Bain record and will he provide more information about his personal finances and
investment accounts? And in the end, is this what voters really care about? With us, senior
adviser to the Romney campaign Ed Gillespie.
Then the tax fight for the fall. Will rates go up? And for whom? The president sets up a fight
over the middle class.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: The fate of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will be
decided by the outcome of the next election. My opponent will fight to keep them in place, I will
fight to end them.
MR. GREGORY: A debate here this morning with two key senators, assistant Democratic
Leader Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Assistant Republican Leader Senator Jon Kyl of
And our political roundtable later with insights and analysis, including the veepstakes for Mr.
Romney. With us, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, president of the NAACP Ben Jealous,
anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, and
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.
Also this morning, a few minutes with Bob Costas of NBC Sports on the Penn State sex abuse
scandal after this week's devastating report about who knew what and when.
Announcer: From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.
MR. GREGORY: Good morning.
Well, you knew it was going to get nasty and here we are in this presidential fight. Really, the
choice is by the fall is this going to be a campaign that turns on the Obama economy or Mitt
Romney's business record? A week ago we're talking about a bad jobs report for the president,
this week because of the Obama team going on the offensive, it's all about Romney's Bain record.
And the president is staying with it on the campaign trail yesterday in Virginia.
PRES. OBAMA: You know, he invested in companies that have been called pioneers of
outsourcing. I don't want a pioneer in outsourcing. I want some insourcing.
MR. GREGORY: To respond now, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, Ed Gillespie.
Ed, good to have you back.
MR. ED GILLESPIE: Thanks for having me, David.
MR. GREGORY: So this period of time that matters, 1999 to 2001.
MR. GILLESPIE: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: And the question of Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain is really what's been at
issue, an issue that's been made by the Obama campaign. Huffington Post described the issue this
way, the headline, "Romney's signature appears on Bain SEC filings during time he said he left
Bain." "Between '99 and 2001, Mitt Romney, then CEO of Bain Capital, signed at least six
documents that the private equity firm filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission." Can
you understand the confusion here about when he was at Bain and when he wasn't?
MR. GILLESPIE: Yeah. And the fact is he took a leave of absence from Bain to go and run the
Olympics in Salt Lake City. If you remember at the time the International Olympic Committee
was going to pull the Olympics from the United States, which would've been a huge
embarrassment for our country. There was corruption, it was poorly run, it was in chaos and they
needed someone of Mitt Romney's stature and leadership ability to come in and save it. So he
took a leave of absence from Bain and left a life that he loved to help a country that he loves
more, to save the Olympics. And he was not responsible for day-to-day decisions, did not
participate in day-to-day decisions or the management of the company at that time. He was on
leave. So as former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt was quoted in a, in a story about this, it is
standard, though, to--while you're on leave, to sign those documents for the SEC. He was still
CEO and had shares, but he wasn't responsible for management and that's the, you know, that's
the bottom line.
MR. GREGORY: Well, he was still financially linked to Bain. And of course, a lot of his
fortune is due to his time at Bain. Even when he was on leave, does he stand by business
decisions that were made by the firm he created?
MR. GILLESPIE: He, he actually retired retroactively at that point, David, because he ended up
not going back to the firm after his time in, in Salt Lake City. So he was actually retired from
Bain. Look, Bain's a good company. It's been very successful, it's helped create a lot of jobs and
the fact is, private sector experience is a beneficial thing would be beneficial in, in the White
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. GILLESPIE: ...and, you know, the Obama campaign and the president...
MR. GREGORY: But so he stands, he stands aside--behind decisions the company's made about
MR. GREGORY: ...or about outsourcing, which in a lot of circles is considered good business.
MR. GILLESPIE: Well, in terms of stands by them, I don't know what you mean. They weren't
his decisions. He wasn't there at the time that those decisions were made. Bain is a good
company. And in fact, as you know, a lot of Democrats, you know, Obama--you know, folks
take a lot of money from Bain because they think it's a good company. It's only when they're
distorting Mitt Romney's record, for example, saying as has been proven inaccurate by The
Washington Post and independent fact checkers, this notion that while he was at Bain Capital and
Governor Romney, you know, shut down American jobs and moved them overseas. It's patently
false, it's, a lie, and it's, it's sad to see the Obama campaign reduced to this kind of, you know,
these kinds of reckless, baseless charges.
MR. GREGORY: Does Mitt Romney believe that outsourcing is a legitimate decision for
companies to make, to make them stronger companies, more efficient companies?
MR. GILLESPIE: David, you know, what's--what Mitt Romney believes is that we need a plan
to make America more prosperous and for people to invest in the United States.
MR. GREGORY: I understand that, but this is a particular business practice.
MR. GILLESPIE: No, but--no, but it's, it's linked to particular federal policies and what we see
now is the highest corporate tax rate in the world in the United States of America. That has taken
place under President Obama's leadership. Excessive regulations, the threat of punitive taxes that
are, that are making it more difficult for...
know, outsourcing is a tough political topic, but if you are a businessman, there's a real need for
outsourcing jobs. What the president was talking about there was taking a politically charged
MR. GILLESPIE: Because of our policies. Because of our policies, David.
MR. GREGORY: Right. But that's what I'm saying.
MR. GILLESPIE: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: Mitt Romney is somebody who's, who is in the private who understands it.
So would he not stand by the practice of outsourcing?
MR. GILLESPIE: What, what, what he believes is that American companies and you know,
private shareholders and CEOs should be free in our economy to make decisions. What we need
to do as a policy is to make policies that make those decisions easier to say I'm going to invest
here in the United States. I'm not going to move my jobs overseas. The Obama policies are
forcing jobs overseas and not only, by the way, in terms of making private investors look for
investment overseas as opposed to the United States, but in taking American tax dollars and the
stimulus package and putting it into companies and jobs creating jobs in China and Finland and
Mexico and Denmark. The president is the outsourcer in chief with our taxpayers' dollars.
MR. GREGORY: All right. So just one more try at this, does he believe that outsourcing is a
legitimate business practice?
MR. GILLESPIE: What he believes...
MR. GREGORY: In the creation of a healthy economy?
MR. GILLESPIE: We can do it a fourth time if you'd like.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MR. GILLESPIE: What he believes is that American companies should be free. We have a free
economy to make decisions that are in the interest of their shareholders. And what we need to do
is make those decisions more attractive to invest here in the United States rather than make them
more attractive to go overseas, which is what the Obama policies do.
MR. GREGORY: But clearly he's sensitive about the outsourcing issue because it's a politically
charged issue. In that same vein, does he have a problem, as somebody who ran the Olympics
before, with Olympic uniforms not being made in America, being manufactured in China,
Congress is taking this up now. It seems to be a bipartisan sense of outrage. Where is Mitt
Romney on this?
MR. GILLESPIE: He believes that, you know, we shouldn't politicize the Olympics. He
believes that, you know, we should stand by our athletes and make sure that they have the best
experience possible. I know that the Olympics get politicized, but as someone who...
MR. GREGORY: Is it OK for uniforms to be made in China? Is this just a...
MR. GILLESPIE: What I understand is that the--it was an American company that
subcontracted. I understand that...
MR. GREGORY: Yeah, Ralph Lauren. But does he have a problem with that?
Meet the Press (NBC News) - Sunday, July 15, 2012
MR. GILLESPIE: I don't know what his response to that was. I didn't see his, if he was asked
about it or not.
MR. GREGORY: Right. But he says no comment. But as somebody who ran the Olympics,
does he not have a comment on whether uniforms should be made here?
MR. GILLESPIE: I think what he said was that, you know, we shouldn't politicize the Olympics
and that, you know, this was an American company that contracted out to--the fact is, again, we
need to make investment here in the United States more attractive and make manufacturing in the
United States more attractive. The underlying policies that make it more attractive to subcontract
out to China are what is at the root of the problem here and the root of that problem is President
Obama's not being tough enough on China and their currency manipulation, which, which
Governor Romney has said he will on day one begin to address in a serious manner.
MR. GREGORY: Let me talk about tax returns...
MR. GILLESPIE: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: ...and the issue of releasing tax returns. We compiled a list of former
presidents and the average of the tax returns they've released over the years, you can go from
President Obama, McCain, Kerry, Bush. A lot more than the two years that Mitt Romney is
proposing to release. Why not be more of an open book and release more tax returns, as his
father did, as previous presidential candidates have done?
MR. GILLESPIE: Well, as you know, the standard of releasing fully two years of, of returns,
which goes above what the law requires, was a standard that Senator John McCain had adhered
to as the Republican nominee in the last presidential campaign. It's the standard Senator Kerry
adhered to as the Democratic nominee in the, in the election before that. And, and the fact is that
Governor Romney is putting--has put out already 2010 and will put out 2011 before this election.
So you know, very transparent. It's ironic coming from a White House that has proven itself to
be not transparent in its policies and, and would be worth asking them, for example, why they're
hiding behind claims of executive privilege and that kind of thing.
MR. GREGORY: Well, right, that's a separate issue. I won't get into that today.
Back in 1994 his own standard when he was running against Ted Kennedy was the following.
Here was the headline from The Boston Globe, "Romney chides Kennedy on taxes." "Mitt
Romney yesterday challenged Kennedy to disclose his state and federal taxes to prove he has
`nothing to hide.' Romney said he would disclose his own state and federal taxes for the last three
years on the very day that Kennedy turns over his taxes for public scrutiny." So this is hardly new
to Mr. Romney to make taxes an issue, he did it against Kennedy. And even when he was
running for the Senate he was willing to release three years. But now he's running for presidency
he says two and nothing more.
MR. GILLESPIE: Well again, it's standard for the last Republican nominee, the last Democratic
nominee. And the real issue here David is what are we going to do to make it where more
Americans are filing their income taxes because they have a job.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MR. GILLESPIE: You know, under this president their household income has gone down
$4,300 since he took office. We have our record 41st month of unemployment rates above 8
percent under this president and as a result of his policies. Five hundred thousand, more than
500,000 fewer Americans are working today and millions have left the workforce. In fact, 23
million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed or have left the workforce entirely.
That's what the voters are focused on. And I understand the desire of the Obama campaign to try
to shift attention away from his dismal record in office, because they can't run on their record.
And as he said in his own speech in accepting the Democratic nomination in Denver, you know,
when you can't run on your record you try to make campaigns about little things and they hold up
these shiny objects and frankly we spent a lot of time on shows like these talking about that
instead of the fact that, for example, if you're a middle-class worker in today's economy you're
facing layoffs. If you're a campaign donor to Barack Obama, you're getting payoffs. And that's
the nature of this economy where he is trying to, you know--he makes it harder for people to--
middle-class workers to get and keep jobs and makes it easier for his campaign donors to get
MR. GREGORY: I'm going to leave it there. Ed Gillespie, thank you very much.
MR. GILLESPIE: Thank you.
MR. GREGORY: Appreciate you being here.
Coming up we're going to get some response from a key Obama ally in the Senate, Senator Dick
Durbin. He will respond to Mr. Gillespie here. Plus the future of the Bush era tax cuts. That's a
big debate as well for the fall. Also joining me, the assistant Republican leader in the Senate, Jon
Kyl. Durbin and Kyl will square off here. We'll also get their thoughts on this Olympic-style
outrage in Washington over the uniforms being made in China.
A little bit later on Bob Costas will be here to talk about the Penn State scandal and the fallout
from this week's Freeh report. That's all coming up.
MR. GREGORY: Coming up here, your taxes depend on your vote in November. So are your
rates going to go up or not? Joining us--me this morning for a special debate on the future of
those Bush era tax cuts, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Jon Kyl.
They're up next after this brief commercial break.
MR. GREGORY: Back now with Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and Senator Dick Durbin of
And, Senator Durbin, let me start with you. I want to pick up on this fight in the campaign this
week over Bain. This is the spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, Stephanie Cutter, bringing
the charge against Mitt Romney over these signatures on these SEC documents after he said he
left Bain. Listen to this.
MS. STEPHANIE CUTTER: Either Mitt Romney through his own words and his own signature,
was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was
misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of
the consequences of this investments. And if that's the case, if he was lying to the American
people, then that's a real character and trust issue that the American people need to take very
MR. GREGORY: Senator, politics is a rough sport. Was that over the top? Was that
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I can tell you the documents that were filed with the SEC with the
signature of Mitt Romney are completely confusing. They claim that for three years he was the
sole shareholder, sole director, CEO and president of Bain Capital and he said he was gone from
the scene. But we need to get down to the bottom line here, David. Why is Mitt Romney
running away from his company, Bain Capital, like a scalded cat? Because there is abundant
evidence that under Bain Capital they were exporting American jobs to low-wage countries and
he doesn't want to be associated with it. There's a way for him clearly...
R. GREGORY: But to suggest that he was--to suggest that he committed a felony is not over
the top, even by campaign standards?
SEN. DURBIN: I can tell you the standards for false filings for the SEC are a matter of fact. But
here is the bottom line. Mitt Romney can clear the air this afternoon on this whole issue by
making a more complete disclosure of economic information. Right now he has failed to
disclose information which every candidate of both political parties running for president has
made over the last 36 years. And I might say to my colleague, Senator Kyl, if we have one year's
income tax, even two years income tax from Mitt Romney that fails to meet the minimum
requirement that Republican senators insisted for every Obama nominee for the Cabinet that they
had to produce.
MR. GREGORY: All right, we'll get to taxes in a minute.
SEN. DURBIN: So it's a double standard.
MR. GREGORY: But Senator Kyl, weigh in on this Bain issue. You heard Ed Gillespie here
saying that he was effectively--well, he was on a leave to run the Olympics. What do you think
of your, your colleague's thought on this?
SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ): Well, I think Ed Gillespie is right. If you look at the fact checkers, I
looked at The Washington Post, they say Obama is blowing smoke. They give him three
Pinocchios. In other words, he, he is fibbing, he's misrepresenting the facts about Bain Capital. I
think the important point that people are missing here is the final point that Ed Gillespie made
and that is that the reason that business find that they have to find employees in other states or
even sometimes in other countries to do their work is that this administration is making it so hard
to do business in the United States and be competitive that they've got to do that.
MR. GREGORY: But let's be real about this. Companies began to outsource well before Barack
Obama became president of the United States.
SEN. KYL: That's, that's very true.
MR. GREGORY: Do you consider it a legitimate business practice that should not be
SEN. KYL: When--let's look at the symptom vs. the cause. The symptom of the problem is
outsourcing, the cause is when the government taxes businesses too much, when it regulates
businesses too much and when it creates too much uncertainty as with things like Obamacare.
The outsourcing is accelerated because of those things. And speaking of the Olympics, it's a little
bit like the president saying, all right, I want you to get out there and compete, you runners, and
beat all the other countries, but in the meantime wear this big anchor around your neck, which is
the taxes and the regulation. As, as Gillespie pointed out we have the highest rate of all of the
industrialized countries. That makes us very uncompetitive.
MR. GREGORY: Are you--speaking about the Olympics--are you concerned about our athletes
wearing uniforms that were made in China?
SEN. KYL: Again, I go back to--let's don't politicize the Olympics, let's look at why an
American business felt it had to buy those products because they were cheaper than the ones he
could make here. It's because of government policies here that make it more expensive to do
business in the United States.
MR. GREGORY: So you're OK with, with Ralph Lauren doing what...
SEN. KYL: I'm, I'm not going to politicize it. I want to talk about the issue. The underlying
issue is why do we make it so hard for American businesses to compete that they have to buy
things from abroad.
SEN. DURBIN: David.
MR. GREGORY: Senator, go ahead.
SEN. DURBIN: David, let me tell you, what--the bottom line is this, the outsourcing of jobs by
Bain Capital to low-wage countries is an embarrassment to Mitt Romney, and he's trying to
distance himself from his own company that made millions of dollars for him. I would say to
Senator Kyl, I hope that this week the Senate Republicans will join the Democrats in supporting
the measure that Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio will
offer that eliminates the incentive, the tax incentive, that we have to outsource jobs and rewards
American companies for bringing jobs back to America. It would be great to see the Republicans
join us in a bipartisan effort to create a tax incentive to bring jobs home. Instead, they're making
have to say that Mr. Gillespie and my friend Jon Kyl have failed to answer your
question. Outsourcing, unfortunately, costs good American jobs, we need a president focusing
on creating jobs in America, not a former governor whose company specialized in exporting jobs
MR. GREGORY: Let's...
SEN. KYL: I, I, I do agree we need a president that's focused on creating jobs in America, and
you don't do that by increasing taxes on the very people...
MR. GREGORY: All right. Well, let's talk...
SEN. KYL: ...who create the jobs.
MR. GREGORY: I want, I want to talk about taxes because what, what Senate Democrats would
like to do, what the president would like to do, is extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less
than $200,000 or $250,000 as a family and then taxes would go up on people above that. Back in
2010 when this issue first came up, this is what President Obama said back then. Watch.
(Videotape, January 29, 2010)
PRES. OBAMA: I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy
best, and what they will say is that if you either increase taxes or significantly lowered spending
when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a destimulative effect and
potentially you'd see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That
would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off.
MR. GREGORY: Well, that was 2010, Senator Durbin. If it was a bad idea to raise taxes in a
down economy then, why is it a good idea to raise taxes in a down economy now?
SEN. DURBIN: I think the president has drawn the line in the proper way. He believes, and I
agree, that the top 2 percent of wage earners in America should pay their fair share. That's what
this comes down to. And if we extend the Bush tax cuts, as Senator Kyl and others have called
for, it will add $800 billion to our deficit...
MR. GREGORY: But Senator, he wasn't willing to do that two years ago.
SEN. DURBIN: ...which means that we'll be forced to...
MR. GREGORY: He wasn't willing to do that two years ago...
SEN. DURBIN: What we're...
MR. GREGORY: ...because he was concerned about the economy.
SEN. DURBIN: He was concerned and still is. We have seen 28 straight months of job creation
in the private sector, we want to continue it and build on it, and we believe that asking the top 2
percent of wage earners in America to pay their fair share of taxes is not going to kill the
economy. Instead, it's going to make sure we move toward reduction of our deficit. The
Republicans have failed to explain, even one of them, how we can continue to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country and realistically, honestly, reduce the deficit. We can't.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Kyl:
SEN. KYL: We're not talking about giving tax cuts to anyone. All we're asking is don't raise
taxes on all Americans, and especially don't raise taxes on the people who create the business.
When you say that, that the high income earners, the top 20 percent, pay 90 percent of the taxes,
what should they pay, 99 percent? These are the people who have enough money to invest in
businesses and to crease jobs. And the problem with the tax cut--or tax increase that the
president is proposing is that it falls directly on those job creators. Fifty-three percent of the
income raised would come from those businesses, and they employ 25 percent of all of the
people that are working in the United States.
MR. GREGORY: Do you think that the campaign will settle this tax issues one way or the
SEN. KYL: I suspect it--I, I, I hope it will, and I hope...
MR. GREGORY: So by that, I mean if President Obama's re-elected, do you think that
Republicans will accept a reality where they say, "You know what, if we're going to deal with the
debt, we're going to have to have a balanced approach. Some taxes are going to have to go up if
spending's going to come down, if entitlements are going to be reformed"?
SEN. KYL: Well, I'm, I'm believing that the Republicans, first of all, are gain--will gain control
of the Senate. That means that both the House and the Senate will reject these kinds of jobkilling
tax increases that the president is proposing. I think that will make it more difficult for
the president to propose what he is doing now and go back to where he was a year and a half ago
when he said it would be a blow to the economy to increase taxes on anyone. He was right then.
And then we had a 3 percent GDP growth, now we're under 2 percent.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Durbin, before you go this morning, I want to ask you about your
colleague in the House, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. A lot of mystery about what his
condition is. What is going on with him and will he return?
SEN. DURBIN: I don't have any inside information here. I called Reverend Jackson, his father,
this week and said that our prayers are with his son's family. We want him to get well and get
home soon. I think my colleague, Senator Kirk, has set the right standard by talking about his
rehabilitation and the progress he's making. I hope very, very soon that Congressman Jackson
can tell us what he's facing. I think the people of Illinois and this country are going to embrace
anything he's doing to put himself back in a good, strong position to return to his family and to
SEN. DURBIN: Oh, no, I wouldn't say that at all. I don't know what his specific challenge is,
but let me tell you, members of Congress in both parties, men and women, go through a lot of
trials, physical and mental trials...
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
SEN. DURBIN: ...and they emerge from them stronger. American people and the people of
Illinois will stand behind a congressman who is facing his challenges head on and they'll support
SEN. KYL: Thank you.
MR. GREGORY: Coming up here, we'll get some insight from our political roundtable as they
get into this issue of defining Mitt Romney's business background. We'll talk about the politics
with our roundtable coming up here next.
MR. GREGORY: We're back now with our political roundtable. Joining me, the associate
editor of The Washington Post Bob Woodward, Republican strategist and columnist for Time
magazine Mike Murphy, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, president of Americans for Tax
Reform Grover Norquist and president and CEO of the NAACP Ben Jealous.
Welcome to all of you. So much to discuss, but let's talk about the battle over Bain that has
become the issue. And, Mike Murphy and Hilary Rosen, here are the dueling ads. This is what
the Obama team put out, first on this outsourcing issue and then how Romney responded. We'll
play a little bit of each.
(Videotape, Obama campaign ad; Romney campaign ad)
MR. GREGORY: OK. Strategists, how's this playing, Mike?
MR. MIKE MURPHY: Well, it's the Obama game plan, which is to use television money in the
summer to just try to ruin Mitt Romney so there's no debate on economic performance. But I
think what both campaigns are going to want in a few weeks, when they've both knocked each
other silly with these more or less trivial issues. And if you don't like outsourcing, you've got to
fire the president and the entire Congress. It's been going on for a long time. It's the global
economy. Hopefully, one campaign will understand if they move to some bigger ideas going
forward, not this small ball stuff, the cynicism from the Obama campaign, this lack of a plan in
terms of an exciting economic plan from Romney, that'll be the advantage position to get to in
MR. GREGORY: Hilary, how do you see it playing?
MS. HILARY ROSEN: You know, I think we're losing some context here because the context,
of course, is that Mitt Romney actually didn't have a very good job creation record as governor of
Massachusetts and is running around the country saying I'm going to be a great job creating
president because I have all this business experience. Well, we know from Hooper--Herbert
Hoover that business experience doesn't necessarily mean a great economy. So we have to look
at his record. But Mitt Romney doesn't want us to look at his job creating record and that's
exactly what's going on. So no wonder the American people are confused. When you look at the
president's ads, he's actually talking about those periods of time when now Mitt Romney's saying
he wasn't even involved in Bain. And so what's really the truth? Mitt Romney can clear this up,
Dick Durbin was exactly right this morning. All Mitt Romney has to do is come forward with all
MR. GREGORY: Right. Well...
MS. ROSEN: And we'll be able to move past this issue.
MR. GREGORY: But the reality is that in politics, everything gets politicized and all these
decisions. And, Bob Woodward, the idea of when he was at Bain, when he left Bain, is perhaps
less material than whether, you know, somebody who is in private equity will or will not stand
behind some of, you know, decisions that are made in the global economy, including
outsourcing, as much as it gets uncomfortable in political campaign.
MR. BOB WOODWARD: Well, Mike Murphy's right. I mean, if--you would have to fire
everyone in the Congress and all CEOs because outsourcing is a reality. I think Glenn Kessler,
the fact checker at The Washington Post, has done excavation here and demonstrated pretty
conclusively that Romney didn't have his fingerprints on this particular period. And people who
are relying on SEC documents know the value of SEC documents. I mean, they are often
camouflages for what's really going on. So they--that's not really the issue. I think the issue here
is about all this money, personal money, that Romney has that we don't really know what the
trustee is doing. I mean, that's a couple of hundred billion--million dollars, I'm sorry, only 200...
MR. GREGORY: He's wealthy, but not that wealthy.
MR. WOODWARD: ...million.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. WOODWARD: And that's a lot of money. People who worked hard to get their money
love their money, and if he's going to be president of the United States, we're going to really have
to have full transparency on that.
MR. GREGORY: Well, Grover, you know, you, you heard this week Mitt Romney said look, if
you're explaining something like this, you're actually losing. Would he do better to say, "Look, I
am very wealthy. It is complex. There are a lot of investments. Have a look through all of it and
now we can get back to talking about jobs"?
MR. GROVER NORQUIST: Look, the--President Obama's attacking him on this sort of thing,
even The Washington Post says it's a dishonest attack. So why is Obama doing it? Obama's
doing it because he doesn't want to talk about having the lousiest recovery since World War II.
People are leaving the job market rather than moving into it. You know, Reagan's recovery had
about seven, eight million more people getting jobs at this point in 37 months into the recovery.
This is the lousiest recovery. Worse than Ford's, worse than all the recoveries we've ever had. If
you're Obama, any conversation--let's talk about tax returns, let's talk about Bain, please let's not
talk about--look, if you're a successful president, you run for re-election, you talk about what you
did. You talk about morning in America. You invite people to talk about your record. Obama's
doing this. Please do something other than look at what Obama has done for four years.
MR. GREGORY: Well, and Ben Jealous, look, the--Politico last year, Jonathan Martin and Ben
Smith wrote in August of 2011, what the Obama plan would be, destroy Romney. And this is
part of what they wrote from their reporting. "The second aspect of the campaign to define
Romney is his record as CEO of Bain, a firm that was responsible for both creating and
eliminating jobs. Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the
great recession--a sort of political Gordon Gekko." In other words, you know, both things can be
true. You can excavate his record at Bain and you can also be distracting from a slow economy
that you're presiding over.
MR. BEN JEALOUS: Yeah. What we need to get back to actually talking about is how did we
get out of the Great Depression and what can we learn from that to get out of where we are right
now. And we're kind of boxed in, I think, as a country. I mean, it's, it's, you know, this--right
now this president should be pushing forward further about talking about job creation and quite
frankly, Romney should be forced to talk about what his one, two, three is for actually creating
jobs. He's not talking about it. He came to our folks this week, said, look, y'all are suffering
from 14.4 percent joblessness or 14.2 percent. I'm better. But then he wouldn't go further and
say this is how, this is what I'll do. That's what folks want to hear from both these guys.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. ROSEN: And...
MR. GREGORY: And that is an important point. What, what--is he a man with a plan and what
is the plan?
MS. ROSEN: Well, and that's the problem. Right now the plan that we've seen from Mitt
Romney is just mostly significant tax cuts for the wealthy. President Obama actually has put
forth multiple plans that the Republican Congress has blocked. So the only thing we have now is
a choice. This conversation may not be what everybody wants, but we do have a choice between
these two candidates. And when you look at something like what Mitt Romney has done on
hiding his taxes, there's--you know, if every American hid their money and invested it in overseas
tax havens, where would this economy be?
MR. GREGORY: Well, but that...
MR. MURPHY: Well, it's just...
MS. ROSEN: Mike, when Mitt Romney does his vice presidential search...
MR. MURPHY: Mm-hmm.
MS. ROSEN: ...or is he only going to look at two years of vice presidential candidates' taxes?
MR. MURPHY: Oh.
MS. ROSEN: Is that what you would recommend he do?
MR. MURPHY: Well, I--honestly, I'm not in the trivia business. I'm in the how do you take
away the economic pain that Americans are under right now business. And I agree with you.
We've got to get a bigger campaign with bigger ideas. The sad things is the Obama campaign is
so bankrupt on economic policy, they've been reduced to running this thing like it's a local
congressional race, which is just ruin the character of your opponent with negative television ads.
They've set the record for negative TV spending four years ago, they're going for the gold this
time. I think the country's going to reject it. You can't run on biography any more. That's Mitt's
weakness because the ads destroy biography. So it's going to come down to a jump ball of who's got the better forward plan on the economy. I'll take Romney in that fight. But I think the sooner it starts, the better.
MR. NORQUIST: But just one fact check. Hilary said the president has his economic plans that
the Republican Congress has rejected. The House of Representatives for two years has been run by Republicans. The Democrats run the Senate. It was the Democrats in the Senate who voted unanimously against Obama's own budget. So the idea that somehow he has these great ideas the Republicans are stopping, his budget's so lousy the Democrats in the House and the Democrats in the Senate voted it down. The president said, please, Republican House and Senate, pass my tax bill. It was Reid who stopped the vote from taking place.
MS. ROSEN: Well--that's not exactly--that's not exactly true.
MR. JEALOUS: But I mean...
MR. NORQUIST: The Democrats have been rejecting--his entire budget has been voted down
by darn near every Democrat. Quit pretending the Republicans are upset about that.
MR. JEALOUS: If you--you can go back to when the Dems ran the house.
MR. NORQUIST: The Democrats wouldn't touch it.
MS. ROSEN: Because they...
MR. JEALOUS: Four hundred bills blocked by Senate rules.
MR. NORQUIST: Huh?
MR. JEALOUS: You know, we've got to get beyond this cowards filibuster in the Senate and
actually be able to, to bring real bills to the floor up and down.
MS. ROSEN: Democrats opposed...
MR. NORQUIST: Reid was the one that didn't allow the budget.
MS. ROSEN: Grover, Democrats opposed because what this requires is leadership and people
willing to make tough votes. When the House Republicans refused to make the tough votes, the
Democrats in the Senate said, wait a minute, why are we falling on our sword here. That's
exactly what President Obama said for every dollar in new revenue...
MR. JEALOUS: Right.
MS. ROSEN: ...he has proposed--he's proposed $4 in spending cuts.
MR. MURPHY: But everything is--it doesn't matter.
MS. ROSEN: The Republicans have not.
MR. MURPHY: Everything gets frozen in an election year in Congress.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. MURPHY: It becomes a circus. Only the presidential campaigns can lead the country and
get a mandate to do something.
MS. ROSEN: Yeah.
MR. MURPHY: It's on the president of the United States, it's on Mitt Romney to do better than
we've got right now with a small ball.
MR. GREGORY: There is this sense, Bob, as I talk to people that it is true that the trivial is
becoming so big that we're losing sight of some sort of balanced approach on taxes and spending,
immigration reform, infrastructure for the country, big things that it takes to get the country
moving again. Are we going to get back to it?
MR. WOODWARD: Exactly. And listen to this partisan squabbling.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MR. WOODWARD: I mean, it's sincere, but it's all about look what they didn't do. Oh, look
what the Democrats didn't do. Look what the Republicans didn't do. And it's true. Where is the
plan, the one, two, three in a credible way from one side or the other. And I think the...
MR. NORQUIST: It's there.
MS. ROSEN: Right.
MR. NORQUIST: The Republicans in the House have passed 24 jobs-creating bills and a
budget. The Democrats in the Senate have not passed those bills and they haven't done a budget.
They're not co-equally wrong on this.
MR. GREGORY: Right. Well, but...
MR. NORQUIST: One group is actually governing and Reid is not having...(unintelligible).
MS. ROSEN: Actually...(unintelligible).
MR. GREGORY: Right, but it's fair to say when we have is we have these profound ideological
and philosophical differences...
MR. NORQUIST: Correct.
MR. GREGORY: ...that make Washington basically totally dysfunctional.
Ben, well, let me ask you this, to be a little counterintuitive here...
MR. JEALOUS: Sure.
MR. GREGORY: ...is the issue, even as a Democrat, for Mitt Romney that he needs a better
counterpunch? I mean, let's get back into the actual, you know, blocking and tackling of
campaigning. Is that what this week proves? Because the Obama team is going to be very
aggressive. They learned from Bush '04, they're going to run that hard core, you know, contrast
election and make it a choice.
MR. JEALOUS: When he came to our convention this week, what we were actually looking for
is that Jack Kemp speech. You know, somebody to actually say look, I have looked at the
problem and I don't just agree with you on the problems here's some solutions I can agree on.
This is how we're going to deal with the credit crunch facing small businesses. This is how we're
going to actually break open contracts and make it possible for small businesses to create jobs.
You can do all this as a Republican. You can do all this as a Bain Capital guy. But you got to
bring some specifics, you got to talk, one, two, three and you got to make, you know, the 99
percent actually feel like you think about their problems and have real solutions that will help fix
MR. MURPHY: Well, I think the practical political problem Mitt has, I mean, you could have
been frozen in ice in the North Pole five years ago and they thaw you out, what do you think
Romney's chances are? Well, he's got to deal with Bain.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MR. MURPHY: It's not like this wasn't coming. And I have been surprised that the campaign
seems to have been sloppy and defensive. They don't seem to have their Bain act together. I
think they out to go on offense. What did Romney do? People don't understand Bain. They
understand the demagogic attacks on television. They don't know that he managed pension
funds, college endowments, he was paid to be successful investing money for people who really
cared about that money because it paid for scholarships, universities, firemen's pensions,
whatever it might be. They've got to get in and, and have this Bain fight out in a non-defensive
MS. ROSEN: And...
MR. MURPHY: And then we can move on to other things because it is jammed up right now
and they got to break through it.
MS. ROSEN: And along that same sort of less partisan squabbling line, the president has to get
back to the inspiration and give--tell us why he--what he's going to be doing for the next four
years outside of the echo chamber of the choice.
MR. GREGORY: All right.
MS. ROSEN: This will be a choice, but he--it does require him to work harder against this
partisan bickering and try and be more forward thinking.
MR. GREGORY: I want to, I want to get a break in, Bob. I want to come back and talk more
about what the responsibilities and the kind of--the demands are on President Obama and his
comments about that. We'll be back with our roundtable. We're also going to talk about their top
summer reads as well, which we thought you'd find interesting. A little bit later, Bob Costas on
the Penn State scandal as well. We'll come back right after this.
PRES. OBAMA: The mistake of my first couple of years was thinking that this job was just
about getting the policy right and that's important. But, you know, the, the nature of this office is
also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and
optimism, especially during tough times.
MR. GREGORY: Bob Woodward, how's he doing on that score?
MR. WOODWARD: Well, I mean, it's mixed and we don't know. We really--there has not been
this in-depth evaluation of his performance on the economy. And that's something that is going
to come out and I, I think it's, it's really what the campaign is, is going to turn on. Where he says
"If we get the--it's not only to get the policy right," unfortunately he and the Republicans in
Congress, they have not come up with a plan ever in the last three and a half years to get the
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. WOODWARD: In fact, they haven't defined the policy. In fact, what they've done is, as
everyone says, kick the can. But it's a very large can they're kicking down the road.
MR. GREGORY: But Robert gives that a great line, former press secretary. He said, "I've never
been to a meeting where somebody says, `we have a policy problem.' It's always, `we have a
communications problem.'" And that's effectively what the president is saying. Is that all--is that,
is that legitimate?
MR. MURPHY: I, you know, I think if you look at the polling, the country wants to fire him on
economic management--mismanagement. The problem is they're not sure about Romney yet.
He's going to have to do a lot better in that to fix his problem.
MR. GREGORY: Grover Norquist, I have to ask you in this tax debate whether you sense in any
way, shape or form that your pledge to raise--not raise any taxes period...
MR. NORQUIST: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: ...is going to hold, even if President Obama wins the election.
MR. NORQUIST: Yeah. And the good news is that it held in 2011 with tremendous pressure
from Obama and all the spending interests in Washington, D.C. that wanted to raise taxes to
spend more, and the pledge, which 236 Republicans in the House have made to the American
people, not as Senator Reid sometimes says to me, but to the American people and 40
Republicans in the Senate have done the same thing and Romney has. And the commitment is
we're not going to raise taxes. What does that mean? It means we're going to have reform
government. Make all the decisions that Obama hasn't made to reduce the cost and scope of
government and reform government so that it works. The pledge is what allows you to get
reform in government, like the Ryan plan. It worked in 2011. The argument that there wasn't
agreement is wrong. There wasn't an agreement that raised taxes the way Obama wanted. That's what they're unhappy about.
MR. GREGORY: I wanted to talk about something where those who are not obsessing about the
campaign as we are every minute of the day and find out what folks are reading around this table.
I'm going to start from my summer reads and it is Bob Caro's book on Lyndon Johnson, "The
Passage of Power." I got so fired up about presidential biography as well. Just last week I was in
Independence, Missouri, at the Truman Library where they are marketing a particular pitch here
for bipartisan consensus. They'd like to see a new presidential ticket in the fall, Eisenhower and
Truman in 2012. And what's so interesting about that, their up and down relationship, they got
pretty nasty over personal matters and also politics. And I was reminded this week they did not
reconcile until President Kennedy's funeral after he was assassinated, which was so interesting.
Mike, what are you reading?
MR. MURPHY: Well, in fiction I've got the new Alan Furst novel, "Mission to Paris." He writes
these elegantly written atmospheric novels set in Paris on the eve of World War II. They're just
fabulous as a series, a new one out. And "A Man and His Ship" which is the story of William
Francis Gibbs, the greatest American naval architect of all time who had a lifelong dream--he
was a genius--to build the greatest ocean liner in America and he did it with the S.S. United
MR. GREGORY: Wow. Hillary:
MS. ROSEN: "Passage to Power." It reminds you of the days when politicians loved politics.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. ROSEN: Not just the policy, and I love--I'm reading that, too.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. ROSEN: Also, you know, re-reading one of my favorite writers and my friend in her honor,
Norah Ephron's, one of her best essays, "I Feel Bad About My Neck." And then finally, a really
painful but important book by Jeanette Winterson about her growing up as an adopted child.
MR. GREGORY: Wow, fancy-pants, three books. Go ahead, Bob.
MR. WOODWARD: A very serious history of World War II called "The Admirals" that my
young daughter gave to me for Father's Day about the great admirals of World War II, Lay and
King and Nimitz and Halsey, and the shared culture at the Naval Academy. And then how--these
of the five-star admirals in World War II who won the war as sea. And then second, I read the
manuscript of Jack Nelson, one of the old great reporters...
MR. GREGORY: Sure.
MR. WOODWARD: ...here in Washington called "Scoop."
MR. GREGORY: Interesting. Ben:
MR. JEALOUS: You know, I'm really focused on two right now. One is a quest for John
Farley's great book on Bob Marley and really about this early life and what we don't know about
him. And then the other is Hogeland's book about the nine weeks leading up to the declaration of
our freedom from the U.K. and King George and a reminder that the Tea Party wasn't the great
far-right wing fest that people think it is now.
MR. GREGORY: Interesting. Grover:
MR. NORQUIST: Well, for work, Scott Rasmussen the pollster's book, "The People's Money."
Good polling data on taxes and spending.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. NORQUIST: For fun, I'm rereading Steven Saylor's collection of books, some--it's a series,
"Roma Sub Rosa," murder mysteries placed in Caesar to Augustus' Rome where you have a--
well, a guy who goes through real history and real murders and real situations in ancient Rome
and he puts a murder mystery in the middle of it and solves it. But every night I read "There's a
Monster at the End of This Book" because I have a three- and four-year-old, so that, that I read
the same thing every night.
MR. GREGORY: That's what--right, that's important. All right, thank you, all.
By the way, you can go on our website and see all of these selections, as well as some staff picks as well, because you got to be thinking about the book club during the summer when folks are taking some time off.
All right. Before we go here, I want to switch gears for a couple of minutes and talk about the
fallout from the Penn State scandal this week with the Louis Freeh report. Joining me now from
London, NBC's lead prime-time anchor of the Olympics, Bob Costas. We can get to your
reading, too, Bob, but I wanted to start on the very serious matter of, of the fallout from, from
Penn State. And...
MR. BOB COSTAS: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: ...I want to show something to our viewers you may not be able to see, but it
was a cartoon that was out this week in an Alabama newspaper by J.D. Crowe in the Press-
Register, a college student looking up at that statue of Joe Paterno saying, "Say it ain't so, Jo Pa."
MR. COSTAS: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: The, the, the tragedy of Joe Paterno as revealed by this report brings--bring--
brought home in what way to you this week?
MR. COSTAS: Well, I think when the dynamics of the Sandusky situation first began to emerge,
the most benign interpretation might have been for somebody to quote Edmund Burke about Joe
Paterno and to say that "all that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
And it appeared for a while that maybe that's what happened, either that Paterno didn't fully grasp
the severity of the situation, he was somehow oblivious, he was guilty of neglect.
Unfortunately for Paterno's legacy, the Freeh report makes clear that in some sense he was
complicit, that in some sense he was among those who enabled Sandusky, not only to get away
with what he had already done, but to continue to victimize other children. So this does
irreparable damage to Joe Paterno's legacy. Does it invalidate every good and worthy thing he
did besides winning football games, and he did many good and worthy things besides winning
football games? No, it does not invalidate those things, but it may overwhelm them.
MR. GREGORY: And, Bob, we talked this week, what's all the more tragic is what gave
Paterno all the power that he had...
MR. COSTAS: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: ...was doing different things than a lot of programs were doing around the
MR. COSTAS: Yeah. Yeah. If this had happened someplace else where it's seemingly win at
all costs and rogue coaches who jump from job to job for money and recruiting violations and all
that sort of thing, it would have been just as tragic for the children who were victims, but it
would not have had the same kind of resonance as the Penn State situation does because, as you
said, Joe Paterno's power derived not just from victories but because of what he himself called
the grand experiment, that somehow you could win without NCAA violations, and he never had
any, his players graduated at an admirable rate. Even professors at Penn State who were
skeptical of a football factory type environment conceded that those kids went to class, they by
and large didn't take gut classes, they by and large were recruited for the right reasons. But
eventually over time he built up such power that there was no oversight.
Think of it this way: If a sociology professor were accused or suspected of the type of actions
that Jerry Sandusky was at first just suspected of, and if the heads of the university were about to move against that sociology professor and the head of the sociology department said, "You know,I don't think so, I don't think you should report this to child protective services, I think the
compassionate thing to do would be to just talk to this sociology professor and then ease him
out," would he have that kind of influence?
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. COSTAS: Would he be able to obscure good judgment that way? I don't think so.
MR. GREGORY: The question is, to me all week, has been how does this happen in a big
institution? This is much bigger than a sports story. How do you get to a point in a big
institution where you fail the most basic moral tests, which is protecting innocents, and in this
case children, in your midst...
MR. COSTAS: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: ...who, who didn't have any business being on a college campus under these
circumstances in the first place? How much pain do you think Penn State should feel as a sports
matter, as a sports program? Should it be made an example of? How do you see this playing
MR. COSTAS: Well, I think now in the aftermath of the Freeh report that the powers that be at
present at Penn State ought to have the good grace to suspend their football program for at least a year, perhaps more, without the NCAA stepping in. But if they don't, it's a pretty good bet that
the NCAA will step in and render its version of the death penalty, which is to suspend the
football program for at least a year, possibly longer than that. And some people will say, "Well,
wait a minute, that's not fair to the players involved." There's always collateral damage when
justice is meted out. If a team is suspended from participating, let's say, in the NCAA basketball
tournament, that's not fair to the kid at the end of the bench who's a good student and had nothing to do with it, but that's what happens. So if that happens, then you can fairly say to members of the present Penn State football team, "You are free to transfer anywhere you want."
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. COSTAS: "You don't have to sit out a year, or your scholarship is extended beyond this. If
you have to wait two more years, you still have that eligibility to fall back on."
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. COSTAS: And all the members of the staff have to be paid by Penn State. You can
mitigate the damage that way. But if they play football come September at Penn State,
MR. GREGORY: All right. Bob Costas, thank you so much for being here. We'll of course see
a lot more of you as our--you head up our Olympic coverage in just a couple of weeks. Thanks,
MR. COSTAS: Thanks, David.
MR. GREGORY: And before we go here, a quick programming note, you can watch my PRESS
Pass conversation with actress Sigourney Weaver. She plays the secretary of state in a new series that debuts tonight on USA Network called "Political Animals." That's up on our website,
meetthepressnbc.com. A lot to check out on our website this morning.
That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.
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