"Face the Nation" transcripts, October 7, 2012: David Axelrod
(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on October 7, 2012, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod. A roundtable with The Washington Post's Michael Gerson, National Review's John Fund and CBS News' John Dickerson and Norah O'Donnell. A roundtable on baseball includes author Jane Leavy, former Dodgers' Manager Tommy Lasorda, former A's and Cardinal's Manager Tony La Russa and Peter Gammons with the MLB Network.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, what a difference a debate makes. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may be many things, but after his appearance on FACE THE NATION last Sunday, he could claim a new title, prophet.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: And this whole race is going to be turned upside down come Thursday morning.
BOB SCHIEFFER: To hear some of the President's friends tell it, it wasn't so much that Romney was good.
STEPHEN COLBERT (The Daily Show with Stephen Colbert): It was like Obama wasn't even there. He hasn't done this poorly since he debated Clint Eastwood.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The pounding came from every corner. Explanations fill the air waves. Former vice president Al Gore thought maybe it was the altitude.
AL GORE (Current TV): When you go to five thousand feet--
AL GORE: --and you only have a few hours to adjust--
WOMAN: That's interesting.
AL GORE: I don't know, maybe--
BOB SCHIEFFER: David Letterman thought the problem ran deeper.
DAVID LETTERMAN (Late Show with David Letterman): And the number one President Obama excuse: It's Bush's fault.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The President's top strategist David Axelrod is with us this morning. We'll ask him about it. And we'll hear from conservative columnist John Fund and Michael Gerson of the Washington Post; analysis from our own Norah O'Donnell and John Dickerson.
Then with the baseball post-season under way and Washington's team headed to the play-offs for the first time in seventy-nine years we'll talk baseball with the Dodgers' legendary Tommy Lasorda; Tony La Russa, manager of last year's world-champion St. Louis Cardinals; Jane Leavy who literally wrote the book on Mickey Mantle; and Peter Gammons of the MLB Network. It's batter up on FACE THE NATION.
ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Welcome to FACE THE NATION. David Axelrod, of course, is a senior campaign strategist--the senior campaign strategist for President Obama. Thank you for coming this morning.
DAVID AXELROD (Obama Campaign Senior Strategist): Good to be here, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're joined by CBS THIS MORNING co-host Norah O'Donnell and political director John Dickerson. I'm just going to start, Mister Axelrod, with the obvious question. What happened?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, what happened was the President showed up with the intent of answering questions and having a discussion, an honest discussion about where we go as a country, and Governor Romney showed up to deliver a performance, and he delivered a very good performance. It was completely un-rooted. In fact it was completely un-rooted in the positions he's taken before, and he spent ninety minutes trying to undo two years of campaigning on that stage but he did it very well.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What-- are you saying that Governor Romney lied or was dishonest?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, yeah, I think he was dishonest, absolutely. When he said he never proposed five trillion dollars in tax cutes that was dishonest. He said on the broadcast to seventy million Americans, "I will repeal Obamacare, but I'll still be able to cover people with preexisting conditions," and ten minutes after the debate he sent someone into the press room to say, well, you know, he really didn't mean that. He said, "I-- I want more teachers. I love teachers." It was just a few weeks ago when he stood on a platform and chastised the President for saying we needed more teachers. He said, "We don't need more teachers. We don't need more government." So, yes, I'm-- I'm saying that he was dishonest. Yes, I am.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you go so far as to say he lied?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, I'm not-- I'm- I'm saying that he was dishonest in his answers. You can characterize that any way you want.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know why didn't the President bring up the famous forty-seven-percent video tape?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, I mean, the President, obviously, didn't see the-- the appropriate opportunity. I mean I think the President was earnestly trying to answer questions that were asked on-- on-- on the topics that were being discussed. And he didn't find the opportunity to raise it. And it's obviously well known. We-- we've been discussing it for a long time. I think all of America knows about that, so--
BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I bring that up because the very next night when he was on Fox, Romney himself brought it up--
DAVID AXELROD (overlapping): Yes, I saw it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --or at least talked about it. Here's-- here's what he said.
MITT ROMNEY (Thursday, Fox News): In a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that-- that doesn't come out right. In this case I said something that's just completely wrong.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So he said some-- what does that mean?
DAVID AXELROD: That was astonishing for a whole number of reasons. The first was three weeks ago he was asked the same question and he stood by the essence of what he said. But when you look at that tape that was behind closed doors, it wasn't just a comment. It wasn't just a word. It was a whole exposition. It was an essay on how forty-seven percent of the country were shiftless, people wouldn't take personal responsibility for themselves and so on. I mean he slandered half the country to say, whoops, I-- I-- I misspoke, is-- is a little unconvincing. You know as I watched that tape and as I watched the debate, it-- it reminded me of the old George Burns-- St. George Burns said, "All you need to succeed in show business is sincerity and if you can fake that, you've got it made." And that's essentially what Governor Romney has been about this-- this whole week.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Norah.
NORAH O'DONNELL (CBS THIS MORNING Co-Anchor): So, when you say that he was dishonest and you went through those series of things where you think that Mitt Romney was dishonest, why didn't the President make that point in the debate?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, the President--as I said, Norah--the President was there to answer questions that were asked and to discuss the future of the country as he saw it. But, look, I also-- I-- I will be honest with you. I think he was a little taken aback at the-- at the-- the brazenness with which Governor Romney walked away from so many of the positions on which he's run, walked away from his record. And, you know, that's something we're going to have to make an adjustment for-- in these subsequent debates.
NORAH O'DONNELL: So, you admit you were surprised by that that the President was surprised by that. So, what will he need do it differently, do you think?
DAVID AXELROD (overlapping): I think anybody-- anybody would be and it takes a certain--as President Clinton would say--takes a certain brass to do what Governor Romney did there. And it's consistent, you know, when you-- this was what he used to do in private business. I mean he was the closer at Bain Capital, and the basic theory is say whatever you need to to get the deal and that's what he did that-- that-- that night.
JOHN DICKERSON (CBS News Political Director): And Romney says it- that wasn't the case. The- the President just didn't do his homework.
DAVID AXELROD: Well, the President did plenty-- plenty of home work. The-- the difference is that Governor Romney went to give a performance. He gave a good performance. Homework entails internalizing facts. Governor Romney was about the business of distorting them, and-- and ignoring them.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the facts and that's on the taxes question. You say that-- that Governor Romney wasn't truthful. But was that-- you know he-- he's making a promise. He's saying we're going to give-- have twenty-percent tax reductions and we're going to make that up with loophole closures. You may say that's unrealistic but it's not.
DAVID AXELROD: Now John-- John-- John, he said twenty percent personal income tax deductions. Earlier in the year he said for upper income people as well as everyone else. He's changed that now. He said thirty percent tax cut on corporate taxes and he has a series of other tax cuts that he has promised that add up to 4.8 trillion dollars. He cannot name one loophole that he would close. If you took away all the loopholes for upper-income Americans, every single one of them, he would still be trillions of dollars short. He either has to sock it to the middle class or he's going to explode the deficits. And that's why he wants to walk away from the whole thing.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, what you're saying is it's unrealistic so for when-- when Senator Obama in 2000--
DAVID AXELROD: I'm saying it's impossible, not unrealistic.
JOHN DICKERSON: But when Senator Obama in 2008 said I am going to cut the deficit in half, I'm going to close Gitmo, a lot of people said-- those are unrealistic but they didn't say he wasn't telling the truth. There is a difference, isn't there?
DAVID AXELROD: No. There isn't-- the difference is that closing Gitmo was involved an active Congress and he wasn't able to get Congress to agree with him on that question. This is basic math. There are only so many deductions, you can-- you can close them all for upper income people-- people above two hundred thousand dollars. And you still have trillions of dollars hole, and he hasn't even named the deductions that he would close. This is a shell game, John. It's a shell game in whichever shell you pick up, the middle class loses, the economy will lose, and I think that this is going to catch up with him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What did the President think of his performance?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, I think the President understands-- you know, the President is his harshest critic. And without getting into detail, I think you can assume that he-- he has reviewed the tape and it will inform how he handles these-- these subsequent debates.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think he was ill prepared? Some are saying it was the people that prepared him. You were in the room most of the time.
DAVID AXELROD: I was one of the people who prepared him. And I'm happy to take whatever responsibility people want to assign to me. I think it was more of what I said though. I think he went thinking that this was going to be a discussion about the country's future and he was confronted with this kind of gantry-esque performance on the other side, just serially rewriting history before his eyes.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What did you just say--
DAVID AXELROD: Gantry-esque--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Elmer as an Elmer Gantry the fictional evangelist.
DAVID AXELROD: Elmer Gentry. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thanks for clarifying.
NORAH O'DONNELL: You talked about there were issues in this debate. It was supposed to be a debate, where there were some areas of perhaps facts that the President-- or his side he didn't get out. What about just stylistically? Some people have questioned why the President was frequently looking at his notes? What was he writing and will he look at Mitt Romney in the future? What was the decision behind that?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, I think that the President was taking notes on what was being said because he wanted to make sure that he was-- that he was responsive. You know, again, I think that from a stylistic standpoint I think the President is, as I said, his harshest critic. He'll look at that tape and he'll make the adjustments that he thinks are-- are necessary.
BOB SCHIEFFER: If-- If the debate was bad news for your-- your folks, you did get some good news toward the end of the week?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, country got some good news, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And the country did get some good news. And that was the unemployment ticked down below eight percent for the first time. What do you think the impact of that's going to be? Do you-- do you see that as significant or-- or-- or you know, some people are saying the books were cooked. That they-- it really the numbers weren't accurate.
DAVID AXELROD: They can join the lunatic fringe of birthers with that. Every single respectable economist has said that is completely nuts. And it was completely nuts. And I understand that for someone who supported Governor Romney it was disappointing that the economy is improving. That that number ticked down but for the country it was very good news. And I think what it does do is rob Governor Romney of one of the talking points you heard in the last debate. You know for-- for months he was running around the country saying well, the President-- this President's lost jobs. Well, no, now we've-- we've net gained jobs under this Presidency. We need more but we've created 5.2 million in the last thirty-one months and obviously, this ticking down to where we were on January of 2009 is a significant milestone. But we have to keep going. Our point is we can't go back to the policies that created the mess in the first place. And whether he wants to deny it now or not, that is what Governor Romney is proposing.
JOHN DICKERSON: When bad jobs reports come out or ones that have been relatively weak, members of the President's team have said, you know, people's views about the economy are kind of baked into the cake.
DAVID AXELROD: Mm-Hm.
JOHN DICKERSON: So, why if they're not going to react to weak jobs reports-- as a political matter people suddenly feel better just because the number changed.
DAVID AXELROD: Look and I am not suggesting here that this is going to cause a sea change. I think this is a very stable race. We always thought it was going to be a close race. But I think that it does-- it-- it weakens this argument that Governor Romney's clung to and Governor Romney is so determined to take every-- every development and fit it into this rubric that-- that he wants to paint. And I don't know they're talking (sic) the economy down. We have a lot of work to do. We have to move forward. We have to accelerate this recovery. But the fact is we're in a much different place than we were when the President walked in. We were losing eight hundred thousand jobs a month. And part of it is the things that he did, like intervening to save the American auto industry, which despite what Governor Romney said on this-- on that stage he opposed. He opposed government intervention and without that intervention the auto companies would have collapsed. And everyone involved in that including the automakers agree on that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Axelrod, thank you very much for coming by.
DAVID AXELROD: So good to be with you guys. Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back in a minute with our political round table. Be in a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we have added two people to the table, columnist Michael Gerson of the of The Washington Post and John Fund of the National Review who has just written a book called, Who's Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk. John and Norah still with us of course.
Let me just start with you, Michael. Why do you think that he didn't bring up the forty-seven-percent? That seems to me the question everybody in Washington is kicking around these days.
MICHAEL GERSON (Washington Post): Well, I have a suspicion about the President's performance because I saw it myself when in 2004, when I helped prepare George W. Bush for his debate, the first big debate against John Kerry. He had not debated in four years. He knew all the facts but he hadn't been sharpening the arguments, you know the three points here, the four points here, the offense and the defense. I think something like that took place in this case. The President has not debated in four years. It was a wake-up call. I think he'll do better the next time but I think it would be hard to do worse.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Best-- best hitters always have to take batting practice, and maybe he needed some batting practice. John, do you think Mitt Romney has gone to the etch-a-sketch here? Is he still the conservative he was when he was running against Rick Santorum and some of those folks or did he actually move to the middle during this debate?
JOHN FUND (National Review/Who's Counting): Well, certainly there was some rhetoric moving to the middle but, remember, Mitt Romney has one advantage with his conservative base his opponent is Barack Obama. And Barack Obama has already demonstrated through executive orders and all kinds of things that he will have a very activist second term. So regardless of what misgivings some people might have about Mitt Romney if you are a conservative, Barack Obama's second term would be a disaster.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to ask both of you. You were here. You heard-- you heard David Axelrod, who I must say came off pretty strong this morning. Nobody's going to accuse him of sleeping through his segment here. Where do you think things are right now, John?
JOHN DICKERSON: I think the President's team what David Axelrod is doing is trying to say that this was all a show, that this was artifice and fakery in this ninety minutes of debate and that-- that essentially at his core Mitt Romney is dishonest. I mean they've got a new coming out of the campaign, that's the charge they are making, that he is not telling the truth in the attempts to get back at. The central character question here, which is at the center of this debate, we know both candidates have said that we're going to have to shrink government. You know there's a difference between the promises government makes and what people are willing to pay for. And at the end of the day who is going to make that decision? The President is. And do you trust them? That's where they want to get this--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Am I the only one old enough to know who Elmer Gantry is.
JOHN FUND: Oh, 1960 Burt Lancaster film. Wonderful. That's a bit of a stretch. My gosh, Elmer Gantry was a creep. And--
MICHAEL GERSON: Wait and politics a stretch.
JOHN FUND: Well, Mitt-- Mitt Romney is a very successful businessman, has had a fine career and fine family. Look, both candidates, I think told things that stretch the truth. Mitt Romney with the preexisting conditions. Remember Barack Obama said that his independent advisory panel on Medicare wasn't going to make any decisions on treatment. It has unilateral power, unless Congress overrides it with a super majority, to basically tell all doctors and hospitals this is how much money you have to treat people. That is incredible power. It is effectively the power to ration health care. So I think the President was stretching the truth in a big part of Obamacare, which, by the way, remains very unpopular.
BOB Schieffer: Norah, you-- you've covered all these people. You've interviewed all of them. Where do you see this right now? And where do you see it going?
NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, Mitt Romney energized not just his supporters of Republicans and conservatives across the country, but even his own campaign, who I think, you know, having talked to them acknowledged that they had had trouble with their own message, that they had been sort of chasing the shiny penny, as one adviser put it today, that they feel like they have had a reset button, if you will. They certainly also feel like they've got an opportunity now to focus on different sorts of issues.
On Monday Mitt Romney is going to give a major speech at VMI on foreign policy. Well, he will-- he will attack the President on what has happened in Libya. They are considering a big economic speech. They are also considering a big deficit speech. There are some people who are deep in policy who say maybe Mitt Romney should have done this before these big policy speeches that have been missing from the campaign. But you see a campaign that is trying to-- to shift on this issue and feels energized by it. As for Obama's team, I think it was in some ways a wake-up call, and a wake-up call for the President, who-- I thought David Axelrod today was incredibly frank saying that the President has watched the tape. The President is his-- his own toughest critic and that there will be significant changes on substance and style in their next debate.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The next debate, of course, is the vice-presidential debate, Michael. What are you hearing about that?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, it's going to be an interesting match-up. You know, I think it's a preview of the-- of the presidential debate. Because Joe Biden now, because of the way that Barack Obama failed by being too passive, Biden is going to have to be aggressive in this debate. That's not an easy thing to calibrate. You can go over--- overboard here. And he's opposing a young, earnest guy, that's like, you know, Boy Scout. So it's not an easy thing to do. Biden, however, has run for President himself. He's been through this many times. Paul Ryan has never been on a stage this large.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, just--
MICHAEL GERSON: And I remember during the convention, in the first ten minutes of his convention speech, he was really nervous. So, you know-- it-- it's not sure how this is going to come out.
JOHN FUND: Sarah Palin had never been on a national stage before she debated Joe Biden and the consensus of most observers were that she fought him to a draw in their vice-presidential debate. Joe Biden, I think has had a long, distinguished career, but he's been-- become a little rusty and a little bit excitable on the campaign's trail.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you think that Paul Ryan has to do here? I mean I'm sure no one would advise him to take the tack that Sarah Palin did, because while she caused a lot of talk, I think in the end, she was not a plus for that-- for that campaign.
JOHN FUND: No, but--
BOB SCHIEFFER: And you may disagree, but--
JOHN FUND: --she fought-- she fought Joe Biden to a draw. I think Paul Ryan has to address some specific questions about his budget plan, but he also has to make it clear that it's his budget plan. Mitt Romney's plan is the one that's going to be implemented in the White House and you can't say everything in the Ryan plan is automatically going to be in the Romney plan. I think--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Mitt Romney has said it won't be. I mean--
JOHN FUND: Exactly. So I think-- but I think a lot of what Joe Biden is going to say is whatever Paul Ryan has ever said is automatically going to be what Mitt Romney says. That's not the case. Ryan's the number two guy.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, I still think you have an incredible economic debate to have in this country. I mean there are some great issues to talk about and I think that will continue in this vice-presidential debate.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Not to mention the job numbers.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Exactly. Not to mention the job numbers. And we still have-- I mean the word "fiscal cliff" was never mentioned in the first debate will likely come up, I assume in this vice-presidential debate. And you do have an important argument to have which is about the future of this country and the size and spending of government. And you have two different candidates proposing vastly different things, if the tax reform has to be done because of this fiscal cliff Mitt Romney is proposing not only keeping the Bush tax cuts but a twenty percent reduction for everyone.
President Obama is proposing to get rid of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans but keep them for middle and lower class. Where does the money come from? This five-trillion-dollar argument that both campaigns have new ads out on today, they should debate this. They should go head to head on this issue so the American people have a good understanding as both sides are calling one other--
JOHN FUND: Well, there is a response. In 1986 we had bipartisan tax reform. Bill Bradley, Dick Gephardt, Ronald Regan all got together. We had a tax reform that lowered the rates, got rid of a lot of the deductions, and over the next fifteen years revenue poured into the federal government. And there was no increase in the deficit overall because the tax reform made our economy more efficient and it created incentives.
MICHAEL GERSON: But it's also fair to say that it's not a debate just to call someone a liar. This is a disagreement.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Right, exactly-- exactly.
JOHN DICKERSON: You can say that what Mitt Romney is offering is unrealistic, but that's different than saying he's being dishonest.
MICHAEL GERSON: Because he's (INDISTINCT) advisers saying, well, maybe it won't be twenty percent. One of his key advisers said, well maybe it has to be lower. You can play with various parts of this plan to try to make it work but that's what a debate should be about.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Right.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, that's very-- that's exactly right. Kevin Hassett, the top economic adviser, said we have two goals here. One is deficit reduction, one is reducing marginal rates. If those come in conflict, our primary goal is deficit reduction and the marginal rates might not go down as much, which is an interesting economic argument.
I think John made an interesting point about-- about what Romney did though is in emphasis during the debate, he talked about how on tax cuts there is going to be tax cuts to the middle class. When Medicare is fixed under his plan, he didn't talk so much about premium support or vouchers which some conservatives would have liked. He talked instead about the fact that the middle class will be okay, but maybe upper income people will see have to take some pain on the Medicare fix that he is proposing. He kept the focus on the middle class. It's Joe Biden's job to say, all right, if we want to have a debate about the middle class, here is the way in which what Romney and Ryan are proposing is going to hurt the middle class.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you two. I think it has generally conceded that Mitt Romney won the debate. We have about fifteen seconds left, so very short answer. Do you think he changed minds as well?
MICHAEL GERSON: I think so. I think he punctured the stereotype in front of seventy-some million people. I think that's important. I think as I have heard said he stopped losing this election. He didn't win the election. There's still a lot to do.
JOHN FUND: He opened people's minds. There's a month more to go. People are paying more attention to the campaign in the last few weeks. People will give him a second look.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Thanks to all of you. Very, very interesting and back in a moment with my thoughts.
BOB SCHIEFFER: When I was asked to moderate this year's final debate, someone asked me if I thought the debates were still important. Well, of course, I do, but not just because it is our best chance to compare the candidates as we did on Wednesday. When I came to Washington nearly forty-four years ago, Republicans and Democrats actually knew one another. Sure, they were partisan, but after-hours they often went to the same places, their kids went to school together, their wives knew each other, and those relationships made Washington work no more. The pressure to raise money is so great now politicians spend as little time as possible in Washington so they're all strangers. Worse, they avoid people in the other party after-hours. They don't want the folks back home to think they hobnob with the enemy. What has happened here reflects the rigid partisan divide that grips the country, which brings me to these debates. They become one of the few events left that partisans from both sides will actually watch. There are not many undecideds this year, but when the debates come on, partisans from both sides will actually tolerate hearing the other side of the story. That's a rare thing these days. But somehow or another I think it's a good thing.
Back in a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. For most of you we'll be back with an all-star baseball panel, including former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda and Tony--
BOB SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to Page Two of FACE THE NATION. Today the Washington Nationals head to the postseason for the first time in seventy-nine years. The last time they were there was the 1933 World Series. We've assembled an all-star panel to talk about this incredible baseball season. With me in the studio here, Jane Leavy, author of The Last Boy; Mickey Mantle and The End of America's childhood, which I think, is maybe the best baseball biography I ever read. In Boston, Peter Gammons from the MLB network, which is airing game two of the A's at the Tigers Series today at noon Eastern; out in San Francisco, the great Tommy-- Tony La Russa, who managed both the Oakland A's and last year's World Series winners, the St. Louis Cardinals and he has written a book called One Last Strike. We want to talk to him about that. In Los Angeles, the legendary former Dodgers' manager Tommy Lasorda. I don't have to say much more about Tommy. We all know him.
Let me just start with Jane here in the studio. And welcome to all of you. As a Washington resident, I'm still from Fort Worth, but I live in Washington. This town is just going nuts and they are-- they are doing a pretty good imitation of Washington up in Baltimore today because the O's are-- are in the play-off. What's going on here? I mean these are some teams that hadn't done so good in recent years.
JANE LEAVY (The Last Boy): You know the only lousy job in the entire baseball season was the prognosticators. Of a hundred and thirty-three that the Times surveyed not one picked the O's or the A's to make the postseason. And the Nats, I mean since it first place since May 22nd, it's astonishing. I was there the night that they clinched, and Michael Morse was waiting on deck, and the (INDISTINCT) on the Beast, and he saw the flashing on the board that the Braves had lost and there was this look on his face like the rest of Washington was looking-- like that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah, it's really been a lot of fun to watch. I just want to go around the horn here as we say in baseball. Tommy Lasorda, I'll start with you. Who do you like in the play-offs? Who do you think we're going to see in the World Series?
TOMMY LASORDA (Former Dodgers Manager): Well-- well, I've said this time and time again pennants, play-offs, and World Series are won or lost in the bull pen. And the team that has the best bull pen is going to be the team that's going to win it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And who do you think that is?
TOMMY LASORDA: Well, Cincinnati with Chapman, he's an outstanding one. And if Strasburg was pitching that would make Washington a pretty good favorite. So I think--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Strasburg is not playing, though.
TOMMY LASORDA: --I think Cincinnati-- Cincinnati bull pen is stronger at-- at this particular time.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Tony, what do you think?
TONY LA RUSSA (Former A's & Cardinals Manager/One Last Strike): Well, I think Tommy makes a good point about the bull pen. And, I mean, look at Baltimore, they haven't lost a game all year long late. And I don't want to make you unhappy, but I think the thing you learn, there are eight teams left, and you could be the best seeder in the world and this is the best seeded team, and this is the eighth, I guarantee you, best of five, best of seven, number eight can beat number one any time. It's just-- it's just the most exciting thing, because you really can't pick an-- a winner, you just respect all eight.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Peter Gammons, you're in a-- you're in the business of picking winners. You've been writing about baseball. You've been a baseball analyst for a long, long time. Who-- who are you liking?
PETER GAMMONS (MLB Network): Well, I think the Yankees are going to come out of the American League. I don't think it will be easy, but I think that they've gotten hot at the right time. They've got terrific depth in their bull pen. And I think that they're going to end up making the World Series. I thought at the beginning that-- well, Cincinnati was going to be-- was going to be in the series with the Yankees because they've been able to use four starters for two hundred innings a piece, they'd rested at the bull pen all year. But now with Johnny Cueto's back injured last night that kind of throws it up in the air. I-- I-- I tend to think somehow that the ghost of Tony is going to end up getting back to the World Series in St. Louis because of Mister Carpenter and Mister Wainwright.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Jane, you live in Washington. So I guess we'll have to consider you might be a little prejudiced on this, but what are you thinking?
JANE LEAVY: Yeah. I-- I know not to commit the error of the other hundred and thirty-three writers. You know, you could not have written a scenario this delicious. I mean the-- the Orioles' re-- record is reversed, it's upside down from last year. And it's-- it's emblematic of this entire season of it being-- it's an upside down season. The one guy I know who predicted something like this is my pal John Thorn, who's the MLB historian. He picks the Nats and the Yankees to meet-- meet in the World Series.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about something that Tommy Lasorda brought up and that is Stephen Strasburg, because I think it is in-- in some ways, it's sort of indicative of baseball as we know it today and the baseball of yesterday. You know, when I was growing up, you played right through your injuries. And-- and the other part is, pitchers pitched nine innings. Where did we get to this deal where pitchers only pitched six innings now? I mean conditioning is better. Diet is better. Training is better. And, yet, our pitchers can't pitch nine innings anymore. We think they're doing great if they pitch just six innings and-- and with Strasburg, of course, he had the-- the arm surgery, and they didn't want him to wear himself out this year, so they shut him down when the pennant was still in doubt. Really they-- the playoff who is going to be first was-- was still very much in doubt.
JANE LEAVY: One of the things that's really constructive for me and-- and instructive is to compare him to Sandy Koufax in the 1965 World Series when he started three games, the last on two days, and the la-- and the last two complete-game shutouts. In the last game, he couldn't throw a curveball because his elbow hurt so much. And he finished that last game it was his three hundred and sixtieth inning of the year. The Nats shut Strasburg down after a hundred and sixty, and it's actually a hundred and fifty-nine. I asked Sandy not long ago, you know, look at this difference, what is it? He said we didn't know any better.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You did not.
JANE LEAVY: And today, they do know better. They know the consequences of what the torque is on an-- on a young, newly repaired elbow. And so you've got this sea change where, you know, players were, you know, He-Man who went to the mat no matter what, give me the ball, put it in my shoe. And today, you know, I'm sure Strasburg's, you know, languishing and feeling horrible. But today you've got the reverse. You've got management with an investment in this kid, taking the long view, and they're being hammered for it. Whereas, you know, fifty years ago, they were hammered for ruining guys.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah. Let me-- let me just ask Tony La Russa about that. Tony, I want to ask you like about that as the manager. It kind of strikes me in a way as this, you know, you talk about on Wall Street, too big to fail. Are-- are these players now too expensive to run the risk of them getting hurt? Is that what this is all about? Could today's pitchers pitch nine innings if-- if they were called upon to do so?
TONY LA RUSSA: Probably not. I mean no matter-- I think what Jane talks about, you know, there is a lot more information, you know, the MRIs and all that. They are discovering tears that, like Sandy said, didn't know about. So they just pitched through them. But let me ask you, you know, they are only pitching six innings and they're still getting hurt. Even though we're using the last three innings with the relievers, the starting pitchers are-- they're-- almost all of them are finding some surgery at some point in their career sometimes more than once. So I think it may be to do something more subtle. It's just that we have to rush these kids so quickly. They come to the big leagues and the-- and the only way they survive is by throwing them, maxing out every throw. Used to be you give them six, seven years in the Minor Leagues and they learn to pitch which means you don't max out every throw. Put a little on, take a little off, you save something for later. I think it saves your arms for something.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, I asked Frank Robinson, who knew a little something about baseball, managed the Nats when they first came here. I asked him one time, why can't they pitch nine innings anymore. And he said simply that they don't want to. Are-- are-- are these pitchers, are they too pampered, Tommy Lasorda? Should we be asking them to do more than they do?
TOMMY LASORDA: Well, I think, all this begins in the Minor Leagues. They have pitch counts now, which I-- I never liked. You've got to throw to strengthen your arm. When youngsters come up to the big leagues, they've only pitched five, six, seven innings because they were on pitch counts. I mean I've pitched games that were fifteen innings, three times, twelve innings, and never had a sore arm. But you've got to throw in order to strengthen your arm. And I think pitch count has ruined a lot of pitchers.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Peter Gammons?
PETER GAMMONS: Well, I think it depends on the individual. I mean I-- I-- the-- the-- the-- the pitcher that kind of runs contrary to this discussion is Justin Verlander who could dial it up and throw hundred and twenty pitches, can pitch eight, nine innings, usually throws harder in the ninth inning than he does in the first inning, over the last four years has led the Major Leagues in wins, strikeouts, and games started. But, you know, that was his mentality from the time he came up to the big leagues. Roy Halladay did it for years. He's fought through some injuries in the last year. He's done it. I-- I think a part of it is the-- is the process-- the thought process. And I-- I found it interesting with the Reds this year because I think that the-- the-- Bryan Price, their pitching coach, said to me, one of the things-- probably the least famous of all their starting pitchers is Bronson Arroyo, but he has the most effect on the other pitchers because he doesn't gives up three runs in the third, he stays in the game till the seventh or eighth inning. And it's a mindset that he passed on to the other Reds' pitchers who I mentioned ended up with four starters over two hundred innings and allowed their bull pen to throw the fewest innings of any bull pen in the Major Leagues during the regular season.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We have seen some extraordinary young players this year not the least of which is Bryan-- Bryce Harper of our Nats, Trout out there with the California-- the Angels. Jane, I want to ask you, you wrote this book about Mickey Mantle which I've just said I think is one of the best biographies I-- I ever read about a baseball player. It was-- it was really a book of great sadness when you-- here's this kid that came up at nineteen, just like Bryce Harper did, got hurt his first year up, never really got past that injury. You always have to wonder what would he have been like had he not been hurt that first year. But how do you compare Harper and-- and young people today with Mickey Mantle?
JANE LEAVY: You know, I went back, Bob, and looked at the 1951 September stats for those four guys. And, you know, Willie Mays was the 1951 NL, you know, Rookie of the Year. He batted two thirty-three. He was not the reason the Giants ended up beating the Dodgers to win that pennant. Mantel, (INDISTINCT) in September. He had been sent down in August largely because they said he was striking out too much. There were some questions also about whether he was already enjoying the high life too much. If you look at Trout and Harper, Trout had the magnificent year but he tanked in-- in September. Harper, after the-- after the Nats lost five games and Davey Johnson called that team meeting, took off, he hit three thirty, it's sixty points higher than Trout, and he had a slugging average two hundred points higher. So, you know, the-- there are two-- they are going to be the Mantle and Mays of the future. They're two fabulous players. Trout seems to be more complete. Harper carries with him some of that daring that, you know, first-to-third speed and running into walls like-- it reminds me actually of Pete Reiser, but, you know, he was not a natural center fielder, like Mantel. And-- but he, of course, had the burden of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated starting at fifteen. Harp-- Trout and Mantel and even Mays didn't have that kind of pressure riding on them.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think about these new guys, Tony La Russa?
TONY LA RUSSA: Very exciting. I mean, that's exactly what keeps baseball alive. You've got the veterans. They become veterans and they're still performing. And all of a sudden you have the influx of talent. And these young-- I tell you Jane would be a great scout because she just not only describes these two guys but compares them to the guys in the past. But that's what-- that's what is so fascinating. I can just relate that in spring training I was making a tour in Arizona, and I saw Albert and he told me, he said I've just seen the best young player I've ever seen in my life. I said who's that and he pointed to Mike Trout.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I'll be darned. That's-- that's very, very interesting. You know I heard a great anecdote about you, Tony, and I'll-- I'll just repeat it here. You were talking to somebody about giving people tips how-- on how to hit better, and somebody says that you-- they ask well, what-- what do you say to Albert Pujols and you said I just tell him what time the game is and make sure he has a ride to the ball park.
TONY LA RUSSA: That's-- that's, you know, that's how manage when you're a bad player-- if we get into my plane and my manager way back in The Dominican, Tommy Lasorda is the one who told me when I was about twenty years old that maybe I should start thinking about managing. So I'm very careful with what I teach the players.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We're going to take--
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, one thing if I--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Go ahead, Tony.
TONY LA RUSSA: I'll make one quick point because we were talking about the starting pitchers not going nine. I think there is a really important point to make in. There has been the evolution of turning over the last three innings to the bull pen and it's not just because the starters don't want to go deeper. It's just that managers or pitching coaches think these specialist relievers get more outs and they are tougher to hit.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, that seems a legitimate reason, obviously. We're going to take a break here. We'll be back in a minute with more from this panel.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Back now with our panel on baseball. I'm going to go back to Peter Gammons and ask him, you know, Peter, we've seen changes in football, the coming of the-- the replays and all of that. We use that just a little bit in baseball now. Baseball hasn't changed very much and, frankly, that's what I like about it. But do you think there are changes that should be made in the game. Some people say maybe on the intentional walk, just declare the guy, send him to first base and you don't waste time doing that. Do you see any changes coming to the game?
PETER GAMMONS: Well, I actually like that intentional walk idea. I-- I do think that sooner or later, there has to be a way to play under one rule. If you're going to have-- every weekend there's-- there's going to be an interleague series, they really need to play under one rule. Either have the DH or don't have the DH, I think it's-- I think, and also, it makes the World Series something of an aberration because it's-- one team doesn't play by the same rules it played under during the season. And I think that's really important. I also think that in time they have to find a way to slightly shorten the schedule so that the Octo-- the play-offs of World Series can get started in a little bit better time so it doesn't go into November. But, otherwise, I mean, just the way they have changed the whole play-off structure to me has been just an admission, you know what this is entertainment. And we have to get it right for television.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, I think-- I-- I agree with you. I-- I think we should do away with the DH, and everybody go back to playing at where the pitcher had to-- had to bat. I think it changes the whole strategy of the game. What do you think, Tommy Lasorda?
TOMMY LASORDA: Well, I think the designated hitter rule is not as good as not having it. In the National League, you've got to be astute. You've got to be ready to do-- make different changes that you wouldn't have to in the American League.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.
TOMMY LASORDA: If you're in the seventh inning and your pitcher's coming up, and you're losing by one run, you're going to have to probably hit for him. But over in the American League, he stays in the game. So I don't-- I don't think that that's right, the designated hitter rule.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What about you, Tony? Does it change managing? It really does, doesn't it?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it does. I mean, I like the game-- I've had about equal number of years in both of them. I remember Sparky always said, "Before you retire, try the National League" and I would definitely prefer the game without the DH. Some fans like the extra scoring. You see more of the game when you have the pitcher in the lineup. But I just know that right now, there's, you know, baseball is riding a crest of popularity, and you just mentioned it. You know, you-- you like the old-time attributes and the fact that baseball is-- is slow to change. And-- and-- and I think that's the attitude that I'm finding with MLB. You know they don't want to mess with the game, but you've got to be aware like instant replay. I mean, they've-- they keep-- we keep trying to figure out, okay, how do you change the game a little bit but still keep it right and still keep it exciting and entertaining? I personally think that what we did to add the second wild card has excited the fans and-- and-- and provided that division more authenticity and worth more to try to win.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah. I kind of agree with that. I-- I think it's added a lot of excitement. It really has put the emphasis on winning your division, too, hasn't it, Jane? I mean, it's just okay.
JANE LEAVY: Yeah. I mean, it-- it encourages--
BOB SCHIEFFER: We're going to wind up as either the wild card or a division winner, they-- they-- they want to win now.
JANE LEAVY: Nobody's going to coast, you know, and-- and set the regulars in September with that much advantage to being a division winner. Though I have to say the wild card one and done feels antithetical to baseball. I mean the whole point of baseball is that it's a long season and how you do in the spring rains and how you do in the August heat matters. And for it to come down to one game, I-- I understand the appeal for television, for the casual fan, it doesn't feel right to me. And it certainly doesn't feel right that you-- that you have a system in which the Tigers, for example, winning the Central Division in the American League with, you know, a weak division, seventh best record in the AL, and they're-- they're in to the division, you know, games they didn't have to play anything. But it-- so that it certainly needs tweaking if they're going to use it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you all this question and we're coming to the end here, so be short in your answers. You know, with the injury situation, what we're learning about concussions and all of that, there is a question in my mind as to whether and, say, ten years we're still going to be playing football. I-- I think we're going to continue to play baseball. But is base-- can football go on, Peter?
PETER GAMMONS: Oh, I think it can because it has so much appeal. I mean, it's-- both college and professional football is so huge and they're huge businesses. But I do think that it's very hard. I know that in-- in the draft the last two years, there have been a number of kids who were thought to be going to college to play football and were very happy to sign in baseball because, you know what the-- the careers projected to be so much longer. And I-- I think it's a great advantage that baseball is going to have against football over the next few years.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I want to thank all of you for being with us this morning. I think it's just fun every once in a while to take a little break from politics. And I've always thought the great thing about sports is, is that-- that it doesn't really matter. It gives us a chance to think about and worry about something that it doesn't really matter, and it takes our minds off in many ways, the things that do matter. And, Peter Gammons is right, it is entertainment, and as far as I'm concerned, the best is entertainment you can have.
Thanks to all of you for being with us this morning. It's a lot of fun to talk about baseball and we'll be back in a moment with our FACE THE NATION Flashback.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Baseball and Washington go way back but it's been a while since we could put Washington and baseball success in the same sentence. It was in 1933 that Washington Senators last played in the postseason against the New York Giants.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And that's our FACE THE NATION Flashback. For a hundred years, starting with William Howard Taft, Presidents have been throwing out the first ball at Washington ball games. But diamond victories have been few and far between. Washington, they used to say was first in peace, first in war, and last in the American League. Franklin Roosevelt threw out the first ball in 1933. The nation was mired in the Great Depression, and Roosevelt used baseball terms to explain how he'd deal with Congress and get the country rolling again.
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: I have no expectation of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average, not only for myself but for the team.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Roosevelt was more successful than Washington's ball club. The last game of that series was exactly seventy-nine years ago today. Washington lost. But that 1933 team had four future hall-of-famers. Heinie Manush--yep, that really was his name--Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, and manager Joe Cronin. The team also had a catcher named Moe Berg. As far as we know, the only Major League ballplayer who became a U.S. spy. And he was a good one during World War II.
Presidents continued to throw out the first ball, but Washington kept losing. Attendance dropped and Washington lost its team in 1971. Baseball didn't return until 2005. And George Bush did the honors--followed by the current White House occupant.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So forgive us for talking baseball today. It's not often around here. We can find an excuse to do that.
Our FACE THE NATION Flashback.
BOB SCHIEFFER: That's it for today. We'll see you right here next week on FACE THE NATION.
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