02 Sep 2012 12:01 PM
“MEET THE PRESS” CLIPS & TRANSCRIPT -- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
 
 


Mandatory Credit: NBC News’ “Meet the Press”


September 2, 2012 -- Today’s “Meet the Press with David Gregory” featured an exclusive interview with Chigago Mayor and former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel; a roundtable conversation with former GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and NRSC Vice Chair Carly Fiorina, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, and NBC’s Tom Brokaw; and a look at the battleground map going into Democratic convention from NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd.

Below are highlights, video, and a rush transcript of today’s program. All content will be available online at www.MeetThePressNBC.com.

# # #

Emanuel on Romney’s convention speech: he “laid out the policy for Groundhog Day”
VIDEO: http://nbcnews.to/PQ7X2C

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: He's basically laid out the policy for Groundhog Day, which is we're going to go back to the very things that led to a recession. Led to a middle class that for the first time in American history in a decade actually saw their economic security decline. That has never happened as it did in the last presidency. … The reason we're debating, even discussing Clint Eastwood is because there is nothing memorable about Mitt Romney's speech. There is not a memorable line. A memorable philosophy.


Emanuel: This is an election about “clear distinctions of philosophy”
VIDEO: http://nbcnews.to/ONfDXb

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: This is an election about a clear choice. One person who said when it came to the auto industry that it had literally two weeks left before it was going to collapse and implode. "Let Detroit go bankrupt." The president had another four word statement. "Not on my watch." One guy who said, "I want to give tax cuts to the best and well off in our country." A different view, the president, "I'm going to make sure kids who are going to college get tax credits and support so they can go to college." One person who said when it came to the homeowners who were struggling to hold on, the middle class who were trying to hold on to their home. "Let it bottom out." Another view by President Obama which was, "No, we're going to help you try to refinance to hold on here." Those are clear distinctions of philosophy. The president clearly understands the frustration the American people feel.


Emanuel on Obama’s first term: “General Motors is alive and well and Osama bin Laden is not.”

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: The fact is if people want to know about the first term, very simple: General Motors is alive and well and Osama bin Laden is not. And that's what got done. Because the president did deal, and they know in fact what he inherited and what he is trying to fix.


Emanuel: Obama’s convention speech should lay out an agenda for an “economy built on the middle class”
VIDEO: http://nbcnews.to/PQ8QOc

DAVID GREGORY: What is the takeaway from this convention, the tangible idea about how to turn this economy around that he has not been able to achieve in four years?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: That is the crux and what I believe he will do is lay out an agenda and a clear vision of the next four years in which you have an economy built on the middle class. … Building this country means building the middle class. And he has to lay that vision and how we will specifically get there. And that will stand in contrast to Mitt Romney's speech because there was none of that. The entire agenda of both the first and second term are about strengthening the middle class, not weakening it. Strengthening the economy by strengthening the middle class.


Brokaw: “This is the century of women”
VIDEO: http://nbcnews.to/NK87rT

DAVID GREGORY: Tom, you made the point this week that we're going to see Ann Romney, we're going to see Michelle Obama as two of the most effective figures in this campaign.

TOM BROKAW: Not two of the most. The two most effective campaigners in both campaigns. I don't think there's any question about that. ... I think this is the century of women. I really do believe that there's going to be more gains made by more women across every part of our lives. Cultural, political and economic. … But the real issue in this campaign for women will be social issues or economic issues. Will one trump the other? Because the social issues are very important to women. It's their bodies, their lives. They feel that it's not entirely embraced by the Republican party. And that's my own judgment.

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Web clips from today’s program:


Full interview with Mayor Rahm Emanuel
http://nbcnews.to/OeosXg

Full roundtable
http://nbcnews.to/PBirnr

David Gregory’s post-show analysis
http://nbcnews.to/O4Yv0x

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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”
September 2, 2012

DAVID GREGORY:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Mayor, welcome back.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
Thank you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:
As we assess Mitt Romney's performance coming out of his convention isn't the reality is this is a deadlocked race? The president's approval rating is under 50%. Unemployment's still above 8%. Why does Mitt Romney have to come out of that convention any better than being the lesser of two problematic choices?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
Well, first of all, you have to line that a little back and that is you have a convention speech-- and I think that the president's absolutely correct here. I mean he's basically laid out the policy for Groundhog Day, which is we're going to go back to the very things that led to a recession. Led to a middle class that for the first time in American history in a decade actually saw their economic security decline. That has never happened as it did in the last presidency.

And I also think it's interesting in that speech, when you think back at other convention speeches, George Bush, "Read My Lips," Bill Clinton, "The New Covenant," George Bush also said, "The Compassionate Conservative." George W. Bush 43. There is nothing memorable. The reason we're debating, even discussing Clint Eastwood is because there is nothing memorable about Mitt Romney's speech. There is not a memorable line. A memorable philosophy.

All he advocated was the policies that led to the economic recession, the financial meltdown and an auto industry that collapsed. And the American people know that the president inherited those things and through tough, hard work has begun to turn the corner on exactly what he inherited.

The economy is not in a recession. Not growing as fast as it needs to grow. The auto industry isn't near collapse but actually is thriving. The financial industry that was once facing a meltdown is now actually starting to slowly but surely lend again to homeowners, small businesses and kids going to college. And do we stay on that course or the course that led to actually the disaster that he inherited on day one?

DAVID GREGORY:
And we'll talk more about the choice. You mentioned Clint Eastwood. I want to bring that up as well. It's certainly overshadowing what was a critical hour for Mitt Romney. Here's a portion of what he said to the convention.

(Videotape/Thursday)

CLINT EASTWOOD: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. I can't tell him to do that to himself.
(APPLAUSE) // You're crazy, you're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden..

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:
Highly scripted convention and then an impromptu moment that struck many as at least bizarre if not totally counterproductive. But here's the thing, mayor. I'm sure, much to your delight and to the Democrats, you want to make some hay of this at the Democratic convention, Romney advisors are saying, "Hey, not so fast. This is still an American icon who is endorsing Mitt Romney." How do you react to it?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
Two things and what I really believe. Coming out of the convention they didn't want a debate about Clint Eastwood. They wanted it about Mitt Romney's ideas. We're not having that debate. Not even that discussion. People are talking about, using your own word, the bizarre Clint Eastwood performance.

And the reason you're doing that is because Mitt Romney's speech was so devoid and vacuous of any ideas. If there was a "Read My Lips" or, "For those who work hard and play by the rules," as Bill Clinton said in '92. Anything that said, "Here's my philosophy." A compassionate conservative philosophy. There was nothing there. So the space post the convention is being about Clint Eastwood or the fact that Paul Ryan's speech was factually challenged.

DAVID GREGORY:
Let's talk about--

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
That is what's coming-- but no, I mean, wait a second. That is a critical point. Nobody's debating Clint Eastwood's a great director, great writer. I love his movies. But that moment in time is a commentary on Romney's speech. And I think the Romney people-- I know this, you have a convention, you want it about your candidate's ideas, not about a bizarre performance.

DAVID GREGORY:
Let's talk about the president's own record, because there is a lot of deflection the goes on by Democrats. And even you this morning talking about more Mitt Romney, his speech or what he didn't say than the president's own record. The president goes into Charlotte having to deal with a lot of disappointment in the country about what he has not achieved in the course of his first term. This is how Mitt Romney described it on Thursday. Watch.

(Videotape/Thursday)

MITT ROMNEY: Hope and change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I would ask a simple question: if you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't feel that way now, that he is President Obama?

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:
And here's some of the polling, as I know you've seen, Mayor Emanuel, which is this. The question of are you better off or worse off. Look at our poll. 69%, nearly seven in 10 saying things are either the same or worse than when the president came into office. You inherited a recession. You've tried to fix parts of it. But what do you say to Americans who think you just can't deliver. That the president can't deliver the better economy that they want and they expect.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
No, first of all, let me flip that. This is a election about a clear choice. One person who said when it came to the auto industry that it had literally two weeks left before it was going to collapse and implode. "Let Detroit go bankrupt." The president had another four word statement. "Not on my watch."

One guy who said, "I want to give tax cuts to the best and well off in our country." A different view, the president, "I'm going to make sure kids who are going to college get tax credits and support so they can go to college." One person who said when it came to the homeowners who were struggling to hold on, the middle class who were trying to hold on to their home. "Let it bottom out." Another view by President Obama which was, "No, we're going to help you try to refinance to hold on here."

Those are clear distinctions of philosophy. The president clearly understands the frustration the American people feel. A, that the economy's not moving to the pace and the ability that it needs to. And he is working on that because it's economy focused on the middle class.

B, they are very frustrated with Washington and the determination of some to tear down policies rather than trying to build up this country. And that to me is where the frustration is. Both, one on economics, one I would say on Washington's inability to move forward and address it.

And I would also say third a values based. They're frustrated that we have a society and an economy, as well as a culture, that has kind of two sets of rule books and two sets of values. One for those that are most fortunate, who operate by a different set of rules, and another set of rules for everybody else. Think about it. When a business fails sometimes people get a golden parachute. Other people get a pink slip. Those aren't the same rules. Those aren't the same values.

DAVID GREGORY:
But Mayor--

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
So they have--

DAVID GREGORY:
--there's still the president's record. I mean he's got to reckon with his own record--

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
Of course.

DAVID GREGORY:
--which is he set about to do one thing. He didn't deliver.

(MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: UNINTEL)

DAVID GREGORY:
A lot of Americans think that Mitt Romney's got better ideas on how to deal with the economy than this president.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
No, it--

DAVID GREGORY:
You can't just frame it in terms of a binary choice and not deal with the president's own record, can you?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
No, the fact is if people want to know about the first term, very simple. General Motors is alive and well and Osama bin Laden is not. And that's what got done. Because the president did deal, and they know in fact what he inherited and what he is trying to fix.

And the question before the American people, will we go back to the policies that actually took to middle class, gave us the recession, gave us an auto industry about to implode, gave us a financial meltdown of historic proportion or the person that led the country during those troubled times to get its feet back on the ground.
And it is a choice, because that is what elections are. Yes, there'll be looking at the president. And they will make that judgment. And it is incumbent upon us to explain the choices and the direction we're going. But all Romney has to offer, David, is actually to go back to the very policies that got us into the rut we were in when the president was sworn in office.

And, remember, the first month he was sworn into office he took a baton in which an economy was shrinking at the highest rate since the Great Depression. 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs. Today there's over four million private sector jobs that were created on his watch, more on his watch in the first term than all of two terms under George Bush. And yet it is not moving fast enough, but I do believe the American people don't want to go back to the very policies that created the economic mess.

DAVID GREGORY:
Let me ask you about one of the attacks on President Obama that you dealt with and you worked in the Clinton White House and that has to do with welfare reform. Newt Gingrich, other Republicans, Newt will be on the program in just a couple of minutes, the former House speaker, leading the charge at the Republican convention about this change to welfare to work rules that the president acquiesced to at the request of some Republican governors around the country. This is what Gingrich said at the convention this week and I'll get your response.

(Videotape/Thursday)

NEWT GINGRICH: Obama's waiving of the work requirement in welfare reform is just one example of his direct repudiation of President Reagan's values.

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:
This is striking a cord with a lot of people who feel a lot of resentment in this economy. How do you respond to it, Mayor?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
Well, first of all, I was in the room on behalf of President Clinton negotiating that welfare bill. One. Two, Newt Gingrich sent President Clinton two welfare bills that he vetoed because actually it was the wrong course. Before the actual bill got signed. Three, President Clinton's entire goal was to move people from off of welfare to work, from dependence to independence and change the entire philosophy of the system to one to help people move to work.

The work rule reforms in the states and the requirement of giving states the ability of flexibility is we have one goal: work. Fifty different creative ways to achieve it. Governor Romney asked for actually a waiver. But you had to make sure your plan for Massachusetts, which is different than Mississippi or Alabama's or California's, achieves the goal of work. And it was every governor, regardless of party, who wanted to be creative in their own way to achieve this single goal. And that is exactly how it's supposed to work.

And, fourth, I want to say this. When I came back after leaving President Clinton's side, that's what the system wants. A historic change and it's now moving more people to work. One of the very first conversations I had as a Congressman with then State Senator Barack Obama, he was the sponsor of the welfare to work policies here in Illinois. Our first discussion, one of our first, on policies was on welfare to work policies and how to best achieve it.

He has a long record on this, a commitment. And the waiver increases people's placement by 20% in jobs. The philosophy got changed because President Clinton led the way and one of the states that was actually creative in achieving it was Illinois and there was a state senator at the time by the name of Barack Obama who was crafting the Illinois' program in a bipartisan way to move more people from welfare to work. And I remember that distinctly in both places. And Newt Gingrich., when he was speaker of the House, sent two bills to President Clinton that had to be vetoed because all it was about was tearing people down, not lifting them up out of welfare.

DAVID GREGORY:
Let me ask you a final question on policy. Here's the cover of The Economist this week that really gets to the president speaking down in Charlotte. And it says this. "One question, Mr. President. Just what would you do with another four years?" What is the takeaway from this convention, the tangible idea about how to turn this economy around that he has not been able to achieve in four years?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
That is the crux and what I believe he will do is lay out an agenda and a clear vision of the next four years in which you have an economy built on the middle class. The middle class cannot afford, like the last decade, where they see their economic security or their economic position decline further.

They have to participate in the economic growth. They have to be able to own a home, send their kids to college, save for their retirement and not be one sickness away from bankruptcy. And they have to be the bedrock. And building this country means building the middle class.

And he has to lay that vision and how we will specifically get there. And that will stand in contrast to Mitt Romney's speech because there was none of that. The entire agenda of both the first and second term are about strengthening the middle class, not weakening it. Strengthening the economy by strengthening the middle class. And he has to be specific to how he's going to do that and I believe he will do that.

DAVID GREGORY:
Mayor, before you go I want to ask you about a huge crisis in your own city and that is of course the murder rate. It's up 31% from a year ago. Forty shootings just last weekend. Nine left dead. A couple of people shot even near the president's home on the south side. What are you doing to address this?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
First, we put more police on the street. Getting kids, guns and drugs off the street. Our crime rate is down 10% and in fact our shootings have declined from what basically we lost the early part of the first quarter of the year and we've brought them dramatically down.

We have a gang issue on parts of the city. Overall crime? Down 10%. And we're making efforts actually to reduce the gang conflicts because it's gang on gang issues. It does not affect the whole city, but anywhere it happens we're going to be dealing with it.

DAVID GREGORY:
Is this not a crisis in your estimation? Is it something that's being overblown? Or is this something that you have a hard time containing at the moment?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
No, we're containing it. And the question I have is not whether people say a crisis or a challenge. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure every child, when they're going to school, can think about their studies, not their safety, regardless of where they live. And that's my first priority.

DAVID GREGORY:
Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, thank you as always. We will see you down in Charlotte this week.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL:
Thanks David.

(OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

DAVID GREGORY:
We're back with our political roundtable. Joining me, New York Times columnist and co-author of That Used To Be Us, which is now out in an expanded paperback edition, Tom Friedman. Former Republican presidential candidate and speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Presidential historian and author of Team Of Rivals, the new paperback edition will be out in October, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Former CEO of Hewlett Packard, now vice chairman of the Republican Senatorial committee, Carly Fiorina. And NBC News special correspondent and author of The Time Of Our Lives, Tom Brokaw. And I'm here having just written an email about five, 10 minutes ago. Welcome to all of you.

So much to talk about. Speaker Gingrich, let me go right to you and have you respond to Rahm Emanuel who said, "A lot of nothingness, no new ideas and a return to the past." That's what you're hearing from the president this week and it's what you just heard from his former chief of staff. How do you see the Republican convention and the effect on the race?

NEWT GINGRICH:
Well, I mean, first of all, let's talk about the a lot of nothingness and return to the past. He's right at one level. We believe in free enterprise. That's been around a long time. We believe in balancing the budget. That's been around a long time. We believe in a work requirement for welfare. That's been around a long time.

All those things are better than what Obama's done for four years. So if he wants to set up a test between, say, Reagan's 1984 campaign were he didn't mention Jimmy Carter, he didn't explain failure. It was called, "Leadership That Is Working," was his title. I mean I think Obama has a hard sell in the next two months.

And I think the biggest event next week won't be his speech Thursday. It'll be the Friday morning jobs report. And if that Friday morning jobs report is bad, it will drown his speech. You want to talk about Eastwood? Friday morning jobs report is a lot bigger event next week than Clint Eastwood was last week.

DAVID GREGORY:
And I want to talk about Eastwood too, but Tom, talk about record. Because I asked Rahm Emanuel this. You see the Democrats run very fast from the sense of, "Are you better off now than four years ago?" That's where Mitt Romney wants to keep this race.

TOM BROKAW:
Well, absolutely he does. And I think the speech that we ought to be talking about as well is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Ben Bernanke said we're probably going to have to stimulate the economy again because this unemployment situation is a lot more grave than it's getting the kind of attention that it does.

However, to respond to the Speaker, even the lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal says by not explaining his agenda he has left an opening for the Democrats, speaking of Romney. They said, our point is not so much to throw cold water on tap or the afterglow so much as to point out that sooner or later Romney and Ryan are going to have to make the case for their policies.

My own impression is, David, that out in the country, if anyone's looking to give voice to the frustrations that are there it would be Cuba Gooding in Jerry McGuire. Show me the money. People feel a sense of betrayal after not just the last four years but the last 12 years.

They feel a sense that they've been buffaloed and that they can't believe anything anymore because it always seems to be bait and switch. One quarter it's going to get better. The next quarter it's worse. So I think that's what both campaigns have to address this time. They have to restore the confidence of the American people that they have big ideas that are going to advance the entire country.

DAVID GREGORY:
You know, Carly Fiorina, you hear Mitt Romney say, "I'm going to create 12 million new jobs." You have to know there're so many Americans out there hearing that, to Tom's point, who are saying, "Really? You really think you're going to do that? How? Because nothing is going to change in Washington."

CARLY FIORINA:
Yes, but let's talk about a very specific difference. I actually find this critique that Romney hasn't put forward any specifics wrong, whether it's The Wall Street Journal or someone else. Example. President Obama talks about an all of the above energy strategy and then stands in the way of the pipeline.

DAVID GREGORY:
The Keystone Pipeline you (UNINTEL).

CARLY FIORINA:
Keystone Pipeline. Romney talks about an all of the above energy policy and lays out crisp specifics. And one of those is to approve immediately the Keystone Pipeline. Most people estimate that would produce over a million jobs right there.

Is 12 million a big number? Yes. Is it a reasonable and achievable number if the tax code is dramatically simplified and every rate is lowered? Certainly. If the pipeline is approved, certainly. If states are given more control over their energy policy, certainly.

And you're right, Rahm Emanuel ran as far away from that record as he could. Interestingly, when he started talking about the middle class what did he not talk about? The fact that the middle class has suffered more in the last four years of President Obama's administration than in the previous 12. That they don't want to talk about.

DAVID GREGORY:
Tom?

TOM FRIEDMAN:
Well, I think it's unfair to say that Romney wasn't specific. He was very specific. He said he's going to balance the budget, cut taxes, raise defense, protect Medicare and preserve all the institutions of the federal government that we need, from the F.B.I. to the F.A.A. You couldn't possibly do all of those things. That was my problem. How does the math add up?

So to me he's still at war with math. And I think that's where The Wall Street Journal editorial is quite a posit. How are you going to do these things? I believe this time is different. I think the American people really do want a plan. They want one from Romney. They want one from Obama. And I think they will reward someone who they feel has laid down a credible plan.

And please, please, don't tell me it isn't going to hurt. There's no way we get out of this hole without it (UNINTEL) working. They want it be real. They want it to be fair. The wealthy pay more. Everybody pays something. And they want it to be aspirational. They want it to be not just about balancing the budget but making this country great.

DAVID GREGORY:
Doris Kearns Goodwin, there's this appetite for substance, for a credible plan. But campaigns are still in many cases about style over substance. Here's The Week Magazine and on the cover it says, "Unveiling Mitt 2.0, the GOP convention's bid to make Romney more likeable."

It got you thinking and us thinking about an old button from a previous campaign and the whole idea of Eisenhower. "I Like Ike." Did he achieve that? Did he come out of the campaign being better liked and seen as more of a credible figure to then get into some of the substance?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
In fact the song was, "I like Ike 'cause Ike is easy to like." But what's interesting about the 20th century is before that, likeability was not something that you were running around trying to do. It's the media that brought that about. You have to feel comfortable with the person in your living room. That didn't really start until the mass market newspapers, the radio and the television.

And I think the problem is the convention may have achieved making him more likeable, may have achieved making him more decent, but the time that was spent on that probably takes away from a how to plan. And there is something different between likeability-- likeability is the outward manifestation of personality.

It's different from whether or not you can get in the framework of another person. What Lincoln had famously was that empathetic understanding of, "I can understand that person. I know what they're going through. And therefore I'll bring policies that will help them." So, yes, he may become more likeable, but that deeper problem of relationships with the people and understanding them, which was brought up again and again in the campaign, has not yet been addressed.

DAVID GREGORY:
And you know what you need at a good convention? What you need is a bit of a surprise. You need something to catch people off guard. Maybe a celebrity like Clint Eastwood to come in. And what I was wondering was whether the folks at The Daily Show and Jon Stewart sat around and looked at each other and said, "You've got to be kidding. Did they really do this just for us?" because this is Jon Stewart's take on it on Friday night.

(Videotape/Friday)
JON STEWART: Yeeees! Amidst the tired rhetoric, empty platitudes, and over-wrought attacks, a fist full of awesome emerged in the night where it spent twelve minutes on the most important night of Mitt Romney's life yelling at a chair.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
You know, David, all I could think of was at the 1948 election for Truman, if there had been at that convention cameras, they had an equal distraction. They had pigeons up in the Liberty Bell and they let them loose right before he was supposed to speak. And they were so tied up that they went swooping down. They landed on Speaker Rayburn's head. It was a mess. But we didn't have the media, Twitter, then. That would have taken away Truman's speech, just as this took away from Romney's decent speech.

DAVID GREGORY:
Tom, I was sitting next to you. I had the pleasure of seeing you genuinely shocked.

TOM BROKAW:
I immediately sent a message to Lorne Michaels from Saturday Night Live and said, "You booked him, right?" And he wrote back and he said, "No, but you'll be seeing him." Four years ago the Republican convention gave Saturday Night Live Sarah Palin. This time we'll be seeing a lot of Clint Eastwood, obviously.

Was it a distraction that we're paying too much attention to? I rode up in an elevator with a group of Michigan delegates right after that and they were very unsettled by his appearance. Not just the manner in which he conducted himself, but some of the routines that he had about the president. "You want me to tell him to do that to himself?"

And the next day we're all talking about it. If that had happened, Mr. Speaker, at a Democratic convention in which Barbara Streisand came out and did something similar to a sitting Republican, it would have lit up Fox News and Rush and everybody else. They would have been outraged by it.

So it was something that went awry. How long it takes them to get beyond it, I don't know. But it's going to be in the fabric of this campaign on Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live for a long, long time. And I think, unfortunately for Governor Romney, it did take away a little bit from his big moment coming in, because people were still talking about it.

DAVID GREGORY:
Right. You see it differently?

NEWT GINGRICH:
No, not particularly. I mean I like Eastwood. I think it was at one level fun to have him there and it broke up the norm, but I also think you're right to say that you really wanted to build the whole evening around Mitt Romney, to Mitt Romney, through his speech, et cetera. And to some extent it was a distraction.

I think in the long run it's almost irrelevant, but it's the sort of bump that gives everybody something to tweet about and provides lots of fodder. On the other hand, if you are Mitt Romney and your choice is to have Saturday Night Live decide to pick on Clint Eastwood or pick on you, I think I'd give 'em Clint Eastwood every night for the rest of the campaign.

DAVID GREGORY:
Although they have this amazing ability to make room for both. That's true. Tom Friedman, there's something else that I think a lot of people are taking on about the Republicans. Whether there was the building of the myth. Factual errors or the myth that somehow President Obama failed to achieve change because he simply failed and it wasn't Republicans who stood in the way.

And just this morning there's an interesting set of articles looking at this. I'll just put up the headlines. The Huffington Post with the headline, "Who Killed The Hope? Obama's Descent From Renegade Outsider To D.C. Establishment Man." And also The Washington Post, "Who Stood In The Way Of Change?" This cynicism we're talking about does come back to sort of who lost Washington.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
You know, David, I read all those articles this morning and I find them interesting because one of the critiques I've had of President Obama myself is that one of the lines you get from the White House is, "You don't understand how bad those Republicans are. They have been trying to block us from day one." To which I say, "I totally get it. It's obvious to me."

I have one question. "Why are they getting away with it? Why is the American public not sharing your view?" And one of the things I've never understood is why the president never leveraged the American people. The last time he leveraged the American people for his big agenda was the day he got elected.

And that has been one of the absolute mysteries to me of this administration. A man who's incredibly articulate, who is a great campaigner, who I think had big ideas that he was trying to get through. They have a fight, him and Boehner of a grand bargain. The thing fizzles out. It's he said, she said. And the president never goes to the American people and says, "Here was the grand bargain we were going for. Here is why it is so important. Here is why it will lead to jobs. Here is my friend Warren Buffett who says this is the right thing to do." We've never had that.

DAVID GREGORY:
But on the other side of that, Speaker Gingrich, you were quoted in a book talking on election night, hours after the president's inauguration, laying a foundation with other Republicans about how to block the president's agenda. That's not exactly a down payment on bipartisanship in Washington?

NEWT GINGRICH:
But this is another great myth to the city. The president got the stimulus plan he wanted with no elected official having read it. He got every single dollar. Every single power. The president rammed through Obamacare, the largest change in the size of government in modern times. Got it done.

The reason people say he didn't get anything done is it is failing. I mean liberals can't get up and say, "Gee, we passed everything we wanted to under the Democratic House and the Democratic Senate and in 2010 we were repudiated. And, by the way, none of it worked." So it's not that they're--

(OVERTALK)

TOM FRIEDMAN:
--I don't think you can say the stimulus hasn't worked. Number one.

NEWT GINGRICH:
Well, that--

TOM FRIEDMAN:
Number one. I think the book is still very much--

NEWT GINGRICH:
Well, I--

TOM FRIEDMAN:
--out on that.

NEWT GINGRICH:
--very much disagree.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
And (UNINTEL) in fact a new book by Michael Greenwald from Time Magazine marking just the opposite. And healthcare hasn't been implemented yet.

NEWT GINGRICH:
All right.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
But I think in fairness you can't simply say everything he did has (UNINTEL PHRASE).

CARLY FIORINA:
But I think what is absolutely fair is to say that President Obama for two years had a Democratic controlled Senate and a Democratically controlled House. So it wasn't a question of Republican intransigence. They didn't have the power to stand in his way. In 2010 he lost control of the House. He retains control of the Senate. It is President Obama and his administration who have failed to put forward a budget that even members of their own party can support.

What I find so curious about this line of reasoning from President Obama and his administration is it makes him look small. Is he really saying that he is only as powerful as Congressman Ryan? I don't think that's what the American people expect of they president. I think they expect their president to lead. To rise above. And he has manifestly not done that.

I think what's going to be interesting-- whatever you think of the Republican convention. I personally think Clint Eastwood was a mistake before he came out. What I think the Republicans did was offer a performance-based critique of Obama. "Here's what hasn't worked. Here's what we think will work."

I think what's going to be interesting about the Democratic convention is it a performance based defense? Is it an idea-based program going forward? Or is it a bunch of adjectives, which is what they've been majoring on recently. Adjectives like "mean" and "out of touch" and "extreme." Usually more adjectives means less ideas.

DAVID GREGORY:
Tom?

TOM BROKAW:
One of the problems I have, in fact, with that, Carly, with all due respect, was that, for example, Congressman Ryan overreached a couple of times and got caught in those overreaches. The Janesville plant, for example, which was closed in '08.

CARLY FIORINA:
President Obama--

TOM BROKAW:
They ended up blaming it--

CARLY FIORINA:
--never overreached in his rhetoric.

TOM BROKAW:
--on President Obama. And the cuts in Medicare, which were very similar to what he had in mind. Taking on the president for not invoking Simpson Bowles, which I agree with him on that. I think the president made a mistake in not playing up front Simpson Bowles. But he was a member of Simpson Bowles and he voted against it and went on the floor and said, "It's not a good idea to do it."

So I think that's a problem for the Republicans in overreaching. They can make a very good case about the last four years, but when they overreach then the next day's stories are all about the course corrections that have to be made. And I think it goes to their credibility some. And I think the American people are out there looking, saying, "I don't know which of these guys to believe," which is going to make those debates all the more important.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
I would have been a lot more willing just to listen to some of the critiques if one speaker that was there in Tampa stood up and said, "You know, we had a hand in this deficit. We had a president who for eight years launched two wars which, for the first time in our history, we did not pay for with a tax increase but with a tax cut. Passed a Medicare drug benefit bill that we could not afford. We are in this situation, ladies and gentlemen, because we Republicans, and Democrats, okay, have--" there was not an iota. History started the day Obama was elected.

DAVID GREGORY:
And Doris, you're right. The only person who talked about bipartisan compromise was Chris Christie--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
Right.

DAVID GREGORY:
--who said, "We can and we should achieve bipartisan compromise while still adhering to our conservative principles." But this is what I thought was important. Given everything we're talking about there was no roadmap for how we get there. Because we've heard about changing the culture in Washington from two presidents, both of whom have failed. No road map of actually how you go and do the blocking and tackling of getting there.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
And I'm not sure either candidate knows how to break that bipartisan problem that we have right now. I think, however, there was a road map for Obama's acceptance speech in the reference that Mr. Romney made to Neil Armstrong. And I think you talked about this earlier. Neil Armstrong, as the emblem and notion of an entrepreneur who got to the moon, it's just the opposite. It was government investment and then followed by private innovation.

And that's really what's in the stimulus bill. I mean maybe it didn't produce the jobs we wanted, but it did invest in education. It did invest in energy. And a lot of those projects worked. All we know about is Solyndra. Mr. Obama has not made a good apology, not an apology, a defense of what he actually did. What the healthcare bill did. What the Dodd-Frank has done.

And he has to come out full (UNINTEL). If he doesn't believe in the government investment he has to defend government and defend investment as a down payment for the future and say, "If I'm elected it will go much more forward in this direction." But if he doesn't do it, people can't do it for him. It's up to him.

DAVID GREGORY:
Newt Gingrich, you campaigned vigorously for the presidency and for the nomination. You have a real sense of this party. If Mitt Romney wants to make big deals where he balances the role of government, maybe even tax increases, more spending, does he now have a vice president, if he becomes president, in Paul Ryan who can got to the recalcitrant elements in the Republican party and say, "Look, we've got to do this. I can keep you in line because we've got to make this big deal."

NEWT GINGRICH:
Well, I was part of a number of big deals in the early 1980s. We got a third of the Democrats to vote with us in the House because Tip O'Neill was speaker. None of them involved tax increases. Let me just give one example. We did an entire morning, what they had called Newt University, on energy.

And we actually had Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough come to be students, which was a hoot. The next day I did their show and they both said on the air that the briefing they got from Harold Hamm, who developed North Dakota, changed their entire understanding of American energy policy. That they were blown away by the data.

Now why is that important? The number one item on the Romney plan for the middle class is a North American energy independence, which includes Canada and Mexico. And if you look at the jump in North Dakota from 150 million barrels to 24 billion barrels of reserve. In fact North Dakota's now the number two oil producing state in the United States.

They just announced that they have 42 times-- not 42%. 4,200% as much natural gas in Ohio as they thought they did a year ago. I mean just the drive of the energy sector under a Romney administration generates in royalties and in taxes on new jobs and taxes on profits a major step towards a balanced budget. Now you've got to control spending. Paul Ryan would be about as good a vice president as you could get if you wanted to have somebody-- I mean he will know more about the budget than the director of the budget.

DAVID GREGORY:
Now quick comment, then I have to go to a break.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
I'm all for exploiting our natural gas. It's an incredible bounty. But if we don't do it as a bridge to a cleaner energy future we are going to burn up, choke up, heat up, smoke up and melt up this planet. Okay? Far faster than even Al Gore predicts.

(OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

DAVID GREGORY:
We're back. More with our panel in just a minute. I want to go now to Charlotte, site of the Democratic national convention. Our political director and White House correspondent Chuck Todd is down there. Chuck, you wrote in your First Read blog this week, "If you don't think Republicans understand the power of the gender gap, this convention should have made it very clear." A big emphasis there on reaching out to women. You talked this morning about the importance.

CHUCK TODD:
It is. And I can tell you it's the single most important poll number that the Romney folks look at when they go into the field. So let me show you sort of where things stood in 2008 versus where they stand now. As you can see, in 2008 there was a 13 point gender gap advantage for President Obama. Here in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll over Mitt Romney, the gap is 10 points. That's about where the Republicans would like things to be.

Now let me show this through the battleground states. In 2008 the president had a larger gap than 13 points in four of these states: Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. In five of our tossup states he did below that 13 point gap: Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.

So what does this mean and how does it feel on the map? I'm going to go to your little battleground map here. And, as always, follow along up top. When I make the state changes there you'll see those numbers change there. So let's just give the president the states where he did better than that 13 point gap nationally. Well, then that would give him Nevada, you'd give him Colorado, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

And look where it puts him, David. At 266. He just needs one more state. And I can tell you the one that they think they can exploit the gender gap and gender issues more than any other in the rest of those last five battlegrounds and that is Virginia.

And as you know, David, just watching television in the northern Virginia market you see a lot of ads, particularly that one on Planned Parenthood, having to do-- they used Mitt Romney's words. They think particularly in Virginia as well as with Colorado that they could exploit the gender gap and get to 270 without winning any other issues.

DAVID GREGORY:
Chuck Todd, thank you very much. Carly Fiorina, this is so important. Whether the issue is the abortion platform, which is ambiguous about exceptions in the Republican platform, whether it is the issue of Planned Parenthood or Todd Akin in Missouri, this is a real focus.

CARLY FIORINA:
Yes. It is a real focus. It should be a real focus. I was immensely proud as a Republican woman to see these awesome women leaders that spoke last week. I mean, every single one of them is a bright and shining star in the Republican party.

And I also must say as a woman it makes me sad that we continue to treat women as a special interest group. Women are over half of the population. They are not single issue voters. I know that people feel very strongly about abortion and abortion rights. But to try and pigeonhole women, which I think, frankly, the Democratic party continues to milk this issue and manipulate women as single issue voters and say, "All you care about is abortion," whatever their views are on abortion.

Women care about every issue. In the end, the platform, frankly, doesn't mean much. The Republican party has pro-choice Republicans just like the Democratic party has pro-life Democrats. The Republican party platform hasn't changed. Todd Akin should go. His comments were about rape, not about abortion. And the Republican party did the right thing in repudiating him almost universally.

DAVID GREGORY:
But, Doris, as many Republicans might agree with Carly, the reality is that it's not just Democratic women, there's Republican women who not only hear about a Todd Akin but who hear about the platform on abortion or hear about some of these other issues and, frankly, say, "Look, this is just a party that's out of step with where I am." That's the challenge that you see.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
I mean I think in the end platform does matter, because words last. The visuals of the convention may have been very successful in portraying diverse women who were Republicans, but words last and actions last. And I think what the Democrats are going to be able to do in the fall is to somehow talk about votes on bills that had to do with things that women care about. Words in that platform.

I mean it was interesting to me to watch Ann Romney's very good speech I thought and yet even there she felt compelled to say, "I love women," and talk about her husband as a father and a dad. That is such a contrast. The first woman who ever spoke at a convention in 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt, never talked about Franklin's polio. Never talked about him as her husband or as a father. She simply said, "The president cannot be here because there's too much happening in the world at large right now." They were restless. They wanted him there. And she saved that convention.

But it's a whole different change. And it wasn't just Ann Romney. We've changed the whole idea, again, to go back to this likeability, that we have to present them as human beings and we have to focus on the prop platforms, the substance. That's what this election's about.

DAVID GREGORY:
Well, let me show a little bit of Ann Romney with her own testimonial for her husband before I come to Tom on this question.

(Videotape/Wednesday)
ANNE ROMNEY: A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.

I know this good and decent man for what he is - warm and loving and patient.

He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one's fellow man. From the time we were first married, I've seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble (out here if possible) and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital.

DAVID GREGORY:
Tom, you made the point this week that we're going to see Ann Romney, we're going to see Michelle Obama as two of the most effective figures in this campaign.

TOM BROKAW:
Not two of the most. The two most--

DAVID GREGORY:
The most.

TOM BROKAW:
--effective campaigners in both campaigns. I don't think there's any question about that. Michelle Obama will lead it off next week in Charlotte for her husband. I happen to believe-- and you know the kind of family in which I have been raised. I'm living with all women. And I have been witness to this, both in my wife and my daughters and now my granddaughters, I think this is the century of women. I really do believe--

FEMALE VOICE:
Hooray!

TOM BROKAW:
--that there's going to be more gains made by more women across every part of our lives. Cultural, political and economic. And I think that there is even among some Republican women out there that that party doesn't quite buy into that yet. I mean there are extraordinary achievements made by Nikki Haley and Condi Rice and everyone else.

But the real issue in this campaign for women will be social issues or economic issues. Will one trump the other? Because the social issues are very important to women. It's their bodies, their lives. They feel that it's not entirely embraced by the Republican party. And that's my own judgment.

DAVID GREGORY:
Understanding, Mr. Speaker, the difference between Todd Akin talking about rape versus the abortion plank of the platform, I understand there is that distinction. Nevertheless, social issues versus economic issues as being a big motivator for women is a question.

NEWT GINGRICH:
Let me just take a second just to go to Carly. I think Todd Akin was the choice of the people of Missouri. I think Todd Akin has publicly apologized. And the last poll shows he's beating the Democratic senator. I think that we oughta go on from that. Karl Rove said some terrible things on Friday, for which he has apologized, which should remind us people make mistakes. Vice President of the United States--

DAVID GREGORY:
He was joking about if he shows up, you know, murdered somewhere--

NEWT GINGRICH:
No. And in the age of Gabby Giffords it is not a joke to say that a member of Congress ought to get murdered. And I'm, frankly, fed up with the one sided bias. Okay? Let me give you two examples. Vice president of the United States goes to a black audience and says, "If the Republicans win, you will be in chains." Now how can Biden remain as vice president? Where's the outrage over deliberate racism? When we talk about people saying things ought to get off tickets, how come Biden shouldn't get off the ticket?

Second example. The Democratic party plank on abortion is the most extreme plank in the United States. The president of the United States voted three times to protect the right of doctors to kill babies who came out of the abortion still alive. That plank says, "Tax paid abortion at any moment," meaning partial birth abortion. That's a 20% issue. The vast majority of women do not believe that taxpayers should pay to abort a child in the eighth and ninth month.

Now why isn't it shocking that the Democrats on the social issue of abortion have taken the most extreme position in this country and they couldn't defend that position for a day if it was made clear and as vivid as all the effort is made to paint Republicans.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
I'm a Planned Parenthood Democrat on the issue of choice and I think that that is where the country should be. That is where many, many women in this country are. And I am glad there are people running for the presidency who will defend that position. Period. Paragraph. End it.

DAVID GREGORY:
Newt, I guess the question too is whether you're seeking, even in the Akin example, to seek an equivalency between that and, say, Biden, who was using language that Republicans have used about the regulatory shackles, as opposed to making an overt racial--

NEWT GINGRICH:
Biden was not talking to a black audience about regulatory shackles. Okay? But let me go back to back to Tom's point. So you think it's acceptable to have a party committed to tax paid abortion in the eighth and ninth month? And you think that's a sustainable position in the United States? If the news media spent as much time on the extremism of the Democrats as they spend trying to attack us, they would not be able to adopt that plank this week.

TOM FRIEDMAN:
I do believe that's a defensible position, but I also believe-- I'm here as a journalist. I'll let the Democratic party--

DAVID GREGORY:
Well--

TOM FRIEDMAN:
--defend it.

DAVID GREGORY:
--but also, Doris, part of this is that whatever the Speaker's views are, this is not the battle that Mitt Romney wants to have. He does not want to get into the Democratic plank versus the Republican plank. And her certainly is not defending Todd Akin. You're the first Republican, frankly Newt, I've heard who said that he should stay in the race. The party is very much in a different place than you are.

NEWT GINGRICH:
No.

DAVID GREGORY:
Well, they are. They clearly are.

NEWT GINGRICH:
When a majority of the people in Missouri on Friday, in the latest PPP poll, said he should stay in, a majority of Democrats, a majority of Republicans, a majority of independents. He won the primary. Remember, the same Washington figures who last time wanted to kick off Marco Rubio for Charlie Crist, who will be in Charlotte, I just think people ought to be a little cautious about saying, "The voters of Missouri don't count."

DAVID GREGORY:
Have you talked to the Congressman? Akin?

NEWT GINGRICH:
No.

(OVERTALK)

NEWT GINGRICH:
But Akin has publicly apologized. He has said he made a mistake. And I'm not trying to spend the whole show on this. I'm just saying there's a very one sided model here. Romney doesn't particularly want this argument, but the argument's not going to be avoidable. And I'm just making a case Republicans can win. If Republicans communicate the Democratic party plank on abortion Republicans actually win that fight. If they communicate on jobs, we win that fight.

CARLY FIORINA:
But--

NEWT GINGRICH:
And if we communicate--

DAVID GREGORY:
Right.

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:
David, may I just say this is the problem. This is, in my judgment, an extreme example yet again of gender bias. All we talk about is abortion when we talk about women. Women are leaders in this economy and in our political parties.

DAVID GREGORY:
All right.

CARLY FIORINA:
Let's start treating them as whole people.

DAVID GREGORY:
The debate will continue. We'll leave it there. Thank you all very much for being here.


* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *

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