"Face the Nation" transcripts, September 23, 2012: President Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton, interviewed by Bob Schieffer for "Face the Nation," at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, Sept. 23, 2012. (CBS News/John Filo)
(UNKNOWN): But the thing is, he's been running for president for seven years now.
(UNKNOWN): I think you're right. The Mitt Romney of 2003, 2004 would have been the ideal Republican candidate in the general election. That guy would have lost, probably, the Republican primary. And that was a chance -- a risk that Mitt Romney wasn't willing to take. So, yeah, he moved so far to the right, he has had all of these flip-flops; he has an authenticity issue coming into the very start of this thing.
And then through the campaign, he seems to go back and forth. He ran as an outsider Now, Obama said something this week, so now Romney runs as the insider.
He just -- he's been reactive to almost everything the president has done, and it has been noticed, when you don't have a rudder, the winds push you back and forth much easier. And I think people are looking at Romney the way they looked at John McCain four years ago when the financial collapse happened and they don't see a steady hand. They don't see this guy who knows himself or knows what he wants to do as president. And I don't know if that can really be changed that much at this point. He is lucky that it's still close because maybe...
(UNKNOWN): You helped him. I'll tell you why. Because he has an authenticity problem. They should buy an hour ad and run that whole video. That is -- that is Mitt Romney, the real guy. He's fluent; he's articulate; he shows what he believes; he's not optimistic about a lot of things. He connects better in that video talking to those fund-raisers than he has on the stump.
(UNKNOWN): They should buy that ad.
SCHIEFFER: This is just getting good, but I have to break here and take a little commercial break. Back in one minute. Don't go away.
SCHIEFFER: John Dickerson, I want to talk to you a little bit about -- you know, Peggy has been talking about bringing some of the Republicans say bring back an old hand or something. What about that? DICKERSON: This is one of the things I heard in interviews this week is Mitt Romney has been all over the map. What an old hand might do is say, "Governor, you run the campaign; we'll tell you what to do; you need to step back and, you know, you've just got to accept that role, Governor."
And here is one specific way that might work. Governor Romney jumped in the middle of the violence in the Middle East and he broke a little bit of a tradition by inserting himself. Then he disappeared on the issue. We have since learned that this administration had first thought this uprising in Libya was just a kind of -- something that bubbled up from the ground. Well, now they are calling it a terrorist attack. Well, what went wrong there? What did you get wrong in the first place? Why weren't you securing the embassy the way you should have been?
These are points that a Republican could make, that Mitt Romney needs to make because he knows the press isn't necessarily going to make that case for him. He can make it because he was the one who jumped in and said, hey, this is a very serious issue. But instead he hasn't really come back to it.
What an old hand might do is say, look, you've got to prosecute this case against the president in this way, not just let it be.
NOONAN: I think that was perfectly said, and unfortunately for me, it was what I wanted to say.
And I would also add that an old hand on the plane would have said to him -- to Mr. Romney as soon as Libya blew, Mr. Romney went out there and he tried to make some political hay of it. An old hand would have said, "Buddy, when Americans come under attack, the first thing you do is say we are praying for them; we are asking for unity; we will have no criticism right now for the president, but this will unfold; we will be thinking about it and we will be talking to you very seriously about it very soon."
(UNKNOWN): ... Romney have that instinct himself?
NOONAN: That's why old hands need to be there, not...
SCHIEFFER: Let David make the point.
GERGEN: I am an old hand.
I am -- I am very persuaded that he should have an old hand there. I think having a Jim Baker would help. I think there were a number of mistakes they would have avoided. But my uniform experience has been that what really matters is the person who is running, because what you learn in a campaign is what that president would be like -- what that person would be like as president.
And you know, when they get to the Oval Office, so much depends upon the quality and the character -- you wrote a whole book about Reagan and character -- of the person...
NOONAN: Instincts, also.
GERGEN: ... and the instincts and the way they carried themselves. And Reagan -- you know, some of the things that Romney is having trouble are the very requirements we look to for a successful president, the capacity to persuade people to rally behind your positions. The presidency is not about having some engineer who comes up with the best set of solutions. We saw that with Jimmy Carter. It's a question of how you mobilize people behind you, get them to rally to do the hard things that need to be done.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, that brings up a point. I mean, you know, this week you saw President Obama say, look, what I have learned is you can't run Washington from the inside, that you have to run it from the outside.
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