"Face the Nation" transcripts, October 7, 2012: David Axelrod
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.
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