"Face the Nation" transcript: August 14, 2011
NORAH O'DONNELL: And do you feel like your campaign has received fair coverage? I want to point specifically to the cover of Newsweek magazine. And your friend Sarah Palin was here in the Iowa this week and she said that she thought that the headline was worse than the picture, the headline reads Queen of Rage. How do you feel about that?
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, you know this last week I was focused on what was happening in the country. I was trying to prevent President Obama from getting that 2.4 trillion dollar check.
NORAH O'DONNELL (overlapping): I know and you won. So what about the cover?
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, quite honestly, when-- when you lose your AAA credit rating and when you lose thirty Americans in Afghanistan, a magazine cover is really the least of your problems. So it really didn't make any impact on me. I was more focused on the country and how we're going to create jobs and turn the economy around.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann congratulations on your victory.
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: Thank you.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Thank you for being here. We appreciate it.
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: We'll talk to you again.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And we'll be back in a minute to hear from the head of the Democratic National Committee.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz is also in Iowa this weekend and joins us now. Congresswoman, good to see you. I know--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (/D-Florida/Chair, Democratic National Committee; overlapping): Good to see you as well.
NORAH O'DONNELL: --you're here focused on many of the Republicans, who are part of the Iowa Straw Poll, but it was another Republican in South Carolina Governor Rick Perry who threw his hat into the ring and also offered a withering attack on President Obama's economic leadership and he talked about the S&P downgrade. I want you to listen.
GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: The fact is for nearly three years President Obama has been downgrading American jobs. He's been downgrading our standing in-- in the world. He's been downgrading our financial stability. He's been downgrading our confidence and downgrading the hope for a better future for our children. That's a fact.
NORAH O'DONNELL: The governor said that for nearly three years President Obama has been downgrading American jobs, downgrading our standing in the world and downgrading our financial stability. I am sure you disagree with that. But what's factually inaccurate about what he said?
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I-- I am incredibly proud of President Obama's accomplishments. This is a President that took on the health insurance industry and reformed health care to make sure that every American could have coverage and insurance companies couldn't drop you or deny you coverage. Took on Wall Street, made sure that banks were not ev-- ever again too big to fail, made sure that we began to get our economy turned around. So I think Americans are appreciative of the-- the hard work and effort and accomplishment that President Obama has made and certainly that those accomplishments are not reflective of any of the government-- governor's inappropriate comments.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Inappropriate, but what about the--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): In-- inaccurate.
NORAH O'DONNELL: --and what about the argument that since the President has taken office that there hasn't been a strong turn-- turnaround. For instance, you have said repeatedly that we're in much better shape than we were when President Obama took office. But the facts are-- are very difficult, perhaps for the Democratic Party and that is this. That unemployment was at 7.3 percent, when he took office, now it's at 9.1 percent, unemployment up twenty-five percent, 11.1 million were unemployed then compared to almost fourteen million unemployed now. And thirteen and a half million more people are on food stamps today. How are we in quote, unquote "much better shape" as you argue?
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, President Obama inherited a huge problem, the-- the worst recession that we have had since the Great Depression, created by the policies-- the failed policies of the previous Republican administration, where we went from a record surplus to a record deficit. And so, working our way out of that problem is incredibly challenging but-- but the fact remains that before President Obama took office, Norah, we were bleeding seven hundred and fifty thousand jobs a month, the economy was in freefall, we were on the precipice of economic disaster. And now, two and a half years later, although, we have a long way to go and we need to work together and come together to get the economy to continue to move, we've created 2.4 million private sector jobs, seventeen straight months of private sector job growth. So, we have begun to turn things around. We acknowledge that we have a long way to go and we are certainly no longer in freefall. We've just got to keep our nose to the grindstone and-- and keep focused.
NORAH O'DONNELL: But how you draw a contrast then against the governor of Texas, where nearly half of the jobs that have been created in America were created in Texas?
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There are dramatic contrasts with-- with the governor of Texas, not the least of which is that it's extremely difficult for him to deserve credit for that job creation when you have rising gra-- gas prices that created oil jobs that he had nothing to do with, when you had military spending as a result of two wars that he-- that created military jobs that he had nothing to do with. When you had the Recovery Act championed by President Obama that created jobs in Texas that he had nothing to do with. So it-- it is way over blown to suggest that the job creation in Texas is-- is squarely on the shoulders of-- of his policies.
NORAH O'DONNELL: We're going to have an interesting day on-- on Monday here in Iowa, because not only is Governor Perry going to be here but President Obama is going to be here in Iowa. He's getting-- launching a Midwest bus tour through three different states, key swing states--Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. His approval rating, I just want to show you his approval rating in some of these states. In Iowa, it's dropped from sixty-one to forty-nine percent in just two years. In Minnesota, it's dropped fourteen percent, sixty-six to fifty-two percent. And even in his home state of Illinois, the President's approval has gone down seventeen points, seventy-one to fifty-four percent. Is the President in trouble?
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Not at all. The President is-- in actually remarkably good shape given that he is still struggling to help pull our economy out of the Republican-- the Republican recession that he inherited. He-- his numbers are still strong. He still has widespread support. If anyone is in trouble, it's the Republican Party. Right now, they have a collection of candidates for President, who are busy out trying to-- trying to out right win each other. Essentially, they are all so similar that they might as well be Legos. They are that interchan-- they are that interchangeable. You have a-- a President who has asked the country to compromise, tried to bring them together, and all nine presidential candidates the other night raised their right hand at a debate and said, even when faced with the most reasonable question, would you support a deficit reduction deal that would be ten to one cuts to revenue? They still said no. That's how strangled by the Tea Party that they are and that's not what Americans are looking for, they are looking for solutions.
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right, the debate has begun, Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz. Good to see you.
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You too.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Thank you so much for joining us.
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks so much, Norah.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And I will be back in a moment with our political panel. Stay with us.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Joining us now, a team of the best in the business, Dan Balz is the chief correspondent for the Washington Post, Gwen Ifill is the host of Washington Week, and the senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour, and John Dickerson is our own CBS news political analyst. Thank you all so much for being here.
John, wow the race for the Republican nomination is on. We've breaking news this morning, and we have got a different landscape.
JOHN DICKERSON (CBS News Political Analyst): That's right. You know, the-- the Republican race has been on a bit of a slow roll for now. And then in the last twenty-four hours, bang we've one candidate jumping in Governor Perry. One drops out Tim Pawlenty and we now have a front runner in Iowa, Michele Bachmann. So now the-- and that's the new pace and we have a new top tier and it is Perry, Mitt Romney and Bachmann. And the question now will be the one that was debated here in Iowa, which is which candidate can best express those Tea Party values, the Tea Party is the animating force in Republican politics and would-- but which candidate can get elected in the general election. That's the key question for the months ahead.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And Gwen what about that we're going to see Governor Perry here in Waterloo, Iowa. Michelle Bachmann switched her schedule around to go to Waterloo is well defend her home turf.
GWEN IFILL (Washington Week, PBS NewsHour): No fool is she.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Yes. What does it say about the Republican Party now the fact that Tim Pawlenty couldn't ignite any excitement?
GWEN IFILL: You know, in past campaigns we have always seen the Republicans eventually flock around the presumed leader. We-- that's why we've been paying so much attention to Mitt Romney who completely dropped off the face of the earth in the discussion yesterday. But one of the things that we're seeing this time, is the debate is-- is between at least for now, until Mitt Romney finds a way to elbow his way back in, between Tim Perry-- Jack Perry-- Governor Perry. Governor Perry and--
JOHN DICKERSON: They are all interchangeable like legos.
GWEN IFILL: --and Congresswoman Bachmann but the reason is because they are fighting for just their base. And that's what the-- the Democrats and-- and Debby Wasserman Schultz hoping they'll do--fight for the Tea Party while they're trying while they are trying to still go to the middle. And we don't whether either one of them is capable or even wants to at this stage to get to do that.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Dan, Gwen makes an excellent point about Mitt Romney, and I can show you one of the papers today, The Boston Herald and says that, you know, Rick Perry is Mitt Romney's worst nightmare. Is there some truth to that?
DAN BALZ (Washington Post): There is some truth to that. I mean, Governor Perry comes from a very big and important state. He's been the governor of that state for a decade, longer than anybody in the history of Texas. He has a record he can talk about on job creation. The question about Rick Perry that is unanswerable at this point is what kind of a candidate he will be on the national stage. He's been a very effective candidate in Texas. But we don't know when somebody steps out of that comfort zone that he is so familiar with, and on to something that is totally different, how he's going to perform.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, we're going to see how he is going to perform, right, John, because we've got three debates in September for the Republican candidates.
JOHN DICKERSON: That's right. He-- we got three debates and he-- the expectations are very high, with-- we've never really had a Superman candidate swoop in and take over the field. History is really littered with candidates who came in and weren't-- what-- what was expected. So he'll have to perform in those three debates. He'll have to just perform in the small rooms of Iowa and New Hampshire, a much different stage than in Texas. And he's going to have lots of investigative reporters going down to Texas. He'll have to be fighting off those stories about his terms in office while he is trying to actually mount a campaign that is a tough juggling act.
GWEN IFILL: Here's the huge advantage for Governor Perry. I expect-- he was talking to a lot of voters yesterday at the Iowa Straw Poll and of course, they are your most committed, most engaged but even the ones who are voting for also ran at least for the purposes of-- of the Straw Poll like Rick Santorum and people who were speaking only specifically about social conservative issues, they were saying, you know I like my guy but I really want somebody to beat President Obama. And they are so animated to oust President Obama that he may be able to make the case that I am best able to do that no matter how exciting the other people sound.
JOHN DICKERSON: I ran into that sentiment in the Bachmann tent.
GWEN IFILL: Yes.
JOHN DICKERSON: There was couple there who said, you know if Perry was here we might be in his tent.
GWEN IFILL: So you think that some of the Bachmann people could actually be interested in Governor Perry?
JOHN DICKERSON: If he performs and that's Dan's point, which is that he has got a lot of hurdles to jump over and he's got to show that he can do this balancing act, talk to the Tea Party but also show that he is a viable to the election.
DAN BALZ: And I think-- I think Governor Romney is going to try to make the case that he has a greater ability to reach to the key voters in a general election, that he can do better in the Midwest, for example, or these Upper Midwest states than Rick Perry. Rick Perry has been terrific at appealing to a conservative base in Texas, but he hasn't had to deal with independents down there.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And President Obama is beginning his first bus tour of his presidency here in the Midwest, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois. He will be here in Iowa at the same time as Governor Rick Perry. We're going to have sort of a debate of sorts on-- on Monday, a different visions on the economy by President Obama and Governor Rick Perry.
GWEN IFILL: Because no matter what you think about the Straw Poll and whether it was predictive and whether-- no matter what you think about the caucuses and whether they are predictive, it should be pointed out that the last person to actually get elected President to win a Straw Poll was-- was George W. Bush. Though it's not necessarily predicting the next President but it means that Iowa is going to be a battleground state. President Obama won it in 2008, but it's up for grabs this time.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And, Dan, how vulnerable is President Obama on the economy and other issues?
DAN BALZ: Well, if you just go by the numbers, Norah, he's very vulnerable. I mean 9.1 percent unemployment growth at under two percent. We go back to the Reagan example from 1983 and '84. He had high unemployment and he had low approval ratings but he had growth numbers at this point in 1983 that were so far above what anybody expects coming out. He was in the eight and nine percent growth in-- in the economy at that point that gave a sense of a lift. President Obama doesn't have that to look forward to. And so, he's going to have a very difficult time.
JOHN DICKERSON: So, how does he get out of it? Prayer and also--
GWEN IFILL: He'll be calling Governor Perry for that?
JOHN DICKERSON: He hopes that Governor Perry perhaps is the nominee and he can run against this idea that, oh, another Texan? And also, the President will then be able to run against another candidate, spend all those millions he's raising against one person rather than having to defend his record all the time. He hopes, of course, to change that conversation.
GWEN IFILL: But Norah, he has to switch up because so far, all the Democratic campaign fire has been dedicated to Governor Romney. They have been-- they have been thinking that eventually the Republicans will come home and this will be a real-- a real opponent. Now Governor Perry throws a complete, you know, spanner into the works.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Yeah, absolutely. All Right, thanks to a fabulous round table. Great to have all of you. Dan Balz, Gwen Ifill, John Dickerson, thanks so much.
And that's all we have time for today. Thanks for watching FACE THE NATION. We'll see you all back here next week.
ANNOUNCER: This broadcast was produced by CBS News, which is solely responsible for the selection of today's guests and topics. It originated from Ames, Iowa and Washington, DC.
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