"Face the Nation" transcript, June 3: Axelrod, Priebus and more
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, Romney clinches the Republican nomination and turns up the political heat as the economy cools.
MITT ROMNEY: The President's policies and his handling of the economy has been dealt a-- a harsh indictment.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The President's top strategist David Axelrod went to Romney's backyard to say hold it right there.
DAVID AXELROD: After selling him-- himself to Massachusetts as an economic savior, the Massachusetts record was alarmingly weak.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Axelrod is with us this morning as is the chairman of the Republican Party Reince Priebus. It's all about politics and we'll continue the conversation with former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and columnist Bob Shrum and Michael Gerson.
On page two we'll bring in David Sanger and Daniel Klaidman authors of two new books that peel back the secrecy around the administration's war on terror and the Iranian nuclear threat. Plenty to hash out and now that former President Bush's official portrait has been unveiled at the White House--
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You'll now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?
BOB SCHIEFFER: And why not?
This is FACE THE NATION.
ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning, again, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. David Axelrod is the senior strategist for the Obama campaign. He joins us at the table. Well, when you tried to talk about your strategy up in Boston; the Republicans organized a rally to try to drown you out. So we'll-- we'll let Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party talk in a minute, but we'll give you a chance to say what you have to say first. What about that rally up there?
DAVID AXELROD (Obama Campaign Senior Strategist): Well, look, we went up there to make a point about Governor Romney's economic record. Governor Romney offers himself as a job creator, a kind of economic oracle, and he's saying these same exact things that he said ten years ago when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. And what happened? Massachusetts plunged to forty-seventh in job creation. They lost manufacturing jobs at twice the rate of the country. They grew jobs at one-fifth the rate of the rest of country. It wasn't the record of the job creator. He had the wrong economic philosophy and he failed. And I was disappointed that they chose to send a bunch of campaign staff to try and drown out the speakers. But you can't drown out the-- the record, Bob. The record is very clear.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The New York Times says that the weakening recovery is a serious liability for the President's reelection. Romney, as you just said, said the job numbers out Friday were devastating. Is the President going to have to do something here that he hasn't tried before? Is he going to have to do something to jump start this economy?
DAVID AXELROD: Bob, first of all, obviously the-- the numbers this month were disappointing. The President said when he took office back in 2009 and-- and the country was losing eight hundred thousand jobs a day that it took years to get into this mess and it was going to take long, persistent effort to get us out of it. He took some tough decisions, the auto intervention being a major one, and we've had twenty-seven months of private sector job growth now and 4.2 million jobs created or 4.3, but we have to do more. He's asked the Congress for a series of steps to get construction workers back to work, rebuilding our roads and bridges. To put teachers back in the classroom to help homeowners renegotiate, re-- re-finance their homes under these low interest rates, homeowners who are responsible and their homes are under water. All these things would help the economy. What was striking about what happened on Friday was how quick the leaders of Congress were out there wringing their hands. These are the architects of obstruction, and now they're complaining about the pace of-- of the recovery. They should put down their political hats and join us and help solve these problems.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But aren't you going to have to do more than just attack Congress, I mean?
DAVID AXELROD: It's not a matter of attacking Congress, Bob, and I don't think the American people are looking for us to attack each other. They're looking for us to work together. There are specific steps-- you look at this jobs report, what was interesting about it is, manufacturing up. We've had five hundred thousand manufacturing jobs created over this recovery. The best record in two decades, largely because of what the President did relative to the auto industry which the Congress and Governor Romney opposed. What was down was construction. What was down was education. The very things that the President has been trying to get the Congress to act on were the things that were down. I think the country is going to demand action. What we have learned is they will only act when the country demands action. Otherwise they're going to sit on their hands and instead of high-fiving each other on days when there are bad news they should stop sitting on their hands and work on some of these answers.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you--maybe this is kind of a philosophical question--but it occurs to me that the President got himself elected with a very positive campaign that basically appealed to our better angels.
He talked about hope, he talked about change. But this time he just comes right out of the gate with a very negative ad, an attack on Mitt Romney. Isn't-- I wonder, doesn't he have to talk about what he's accomplished and what he hopes to do--
DAVID AXELROD: You know, Bob--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --before he talks about what the other guy is trying to tear down.
DAVID AXELROD: Well, let me just correct one thing. We've run probably twenty-five, twenty-seven million dollars of advertising in this campaign and virtually all of it has been positive. A lot of attention was given to an ad one particular ad but if you let--
BOB SCHIEFFER: The Bain Capital.
DAVID AXELROD: Bain Capital. But if you-- but if you live in the states where our advertising is running you have seen a steady stream of ads over the last month talking about the things that have happened over the last three and a half years, talking about all the hard work we've done together as-- as a people to move out of the mess that we were in when the President arrived. So-- so I-- I just have to challenge your premise.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So you're saying you're running a positive campaign? I mean, what-- what about this Bain ad--
DAVID AXELROD: You're just talking about advertising--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah, well I mean, you know--
DAVID AXELROD: Yes, I think we are--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Bill Clinton of all people said the President that-- said Mitt Romney had a sterling record as a businessman.
DAVID AXELROD: I saw-- I saw that interview, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What about that?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, what he said was he had a-- his business record and the fact that he was a governor qualify him to be president. He went on to say that his economic views would be disastrous for the country and I agree with him on that. No one's arguing whether Mitt Romney is qualified to be President. What we're arguing is whether he's qualified to call himself a job creator. That's not what he did in his business, that's not the purpose of his business. And it's certainly not what he did in Massachusetts where they had one of the worst economic records in the country. So when you hold yourself out as an economical oracle and say to people, trust me, I know how to move the country forward, and your record says something else, of course, you're going to be challenged for that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this: I do notice that this weekend and most of this week the President did not talk about Bain Capital. Does that say that-- should we take from that, that maybe some of this criticism that people in your own party have been making on that attack that perhaps it's not working and you're going to dial back a little on that?
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