"Face the Nation" transcripts, September 30, 2012: Gov. Christie, Newt Gingrich
BOB SCHIEFFER: --that now famous Senate race of long ago. What would you be telling Barack Obama if you were advising him about these coming debates?
BOB SHRUM: I'd tell him first that he has got to understand that Romney can win this debate. He can win this debate if he's scripted, prepared, has really worked at it. And if you watched him on 60 MINUTES last Sunday, he was smooth, he was clear, he was succinct. He was different than he's been. He has to be careful not to be spontaneous because when he is, he gets him-- gets himself in trouble. I think they are on a search for zingers and one-liners because Romney was scorched by Kennedy in '94 by several of those. But they have to be careful because the President could very well have a comeback. I think what you do in these debate preps is you try to game out what the other side is going to say and then you try to see how you can respond. It's always strongest when it's a comeback. Zingers don't work as a cute line. They work as part of the fabric of argument. So in 1980 they knew Jimmy Carter was going to look at Ronald Reagan and say, "You were against Medicare" at the beginning, happened to be true. But Reagan looked at him, shook his head and said, "There you go again." And it was really a comment not just on that Medicare answer but on everything that Carter had said.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So what do you--
BOB SHRUM: That's when a zinger works.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --what do you think that-- that the Obama people think that they're going to hear from Romney then?
BOB SHRUM: Well, one thing they-- one thing that's being telegraphed by the Romney folks and I wouldn't have telegraphed it if-- if this was the question I wanted to ask is do you want another four years like the last four years. Because the President has clearly heard that, it's in the Romney ad--
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: But that's the question people ask.
BOB SHRUM: Well, I know, but Ronald Reagan was smart enough not to say are you better off today than you were four years ago until he got to the debate. The President knows that question is going to be asked. He s going to prepared to answer it. All of that said, I think if you look at the history, five of the last six times an incumbent has debated a challenger in a first debate, the-- the in-- the challenger has won.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, so what were you going to say, Marsh?
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: Well, that's the question people are asking.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: They know they are not better off than they were four years ago.
BOB SHRUM: Well, that's the wrong question actually.
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: Because household income has gone down.
BOB SHRUM: But that's--
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: Insurance costs have gone up. The price of a gallon of gas has gone up. Groceries have gone up. People know they are not better off than they were and they're watching--
BOB SHRUM: You know, they're-- then why has Romney moved-- why has Romney moved off that question? He's not asking that question anymore. He's asking a different question, "Do you want another four years like the last four years?" Now, I think there are some good answers to that and I think the President will get ready on that. But four years ago this country was on the abyss of a depression. We're not today and there is a reason why in all this polling data, the President, who should be behind on who can handle the economy is now either tied or ahead. People are not dumb. They don't think Barack Obama created these circumstances.
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: People know that the stimulus and all of this out-of-control spending increasing the federal debt by fifty percent has not helped them. It has made their situation worse.
BOB SHRUM: These are just-- these are just Republican talking points.
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: No, they're not.
BOB SHRUM: And I don't think they're going anywhere with people.
REPRESENTATIVE MARSHA BLACKBURN: They are the truth.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
BOB SHRUM: Then why-- then why is Romney behind on who can handle the economy?
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We're going to give Marsha Blackburn a chance to answer that question. We'll be back to Larry Sabato, too, when we come back in just a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with our panel, Larry Sabato. I want to come back to you. How important do you think this debate is going to be, this first one?
LARRY SABATO: Well, it's critical to Mitt Romney. He really does have to show his stuff there, and he has to-- he has to change his image. He has the image of a country club Republican. He has to go after President Obama in a coherent way with a real message. But, you know, history tells me, Bob, that generally speaking, the challenger does gain from the first debate. It will be a surprise if he doesn't gain. And he very much needs to. He needs to get some momentum. So based on history, I'd say the odds favor Mitt Romney in the first debate.
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