Watch CBS News

"Face the Nation" transcript May 6: Gingrich, Bachmann, Schumer, Dean

(CBS News) Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on May 6, 2012, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. Guests include former former Republican presidential candidates former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Then the Democratic take with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Zbigniew Brzezinski on the Chinese dissident situation, and a politics panel on Campaign 2012.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, and they're off. And we're not talking Kentucky Derby. We're talking campaign 2012.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We've come too far to abandon the change we fought for these past few years. We have to move forward. That's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States.

(Crowd cheering)

BOB SCHIEFFER: The President was everywhere from the battleground political states to Afghanistan, where he marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. Mitt Romney said fine, but--

MITT ROMNEY (CBS THIS MORNING): And the idea to try and politicize this and to say, "Oh, I, President Obama, would have done it one way, Mitt Romney would have done it another" is really disappointing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: With Romney now all, but, certain to get the Republican nomination, former rival Michele Bachmann settled her differences and endorsed him.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Yes, he not only can win. He will win. He will be the President.

BOB SCHIEFFER: No endorsement yet from Newt Gingrich, but he finally quit.

NEWT GINGRICH: I thought, frankly, in my role as providing material for Saturday Night Live, it was helpful.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We will talk with both of them about where Republicans go from here. And we'll get the Democrat side of where the campaign stands from New York Senator Chuck Schumer, and former presidential candidate and one-time chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean.

On page two, we'll talk with a leading voice on foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski, about the case of the Chinese dissident, and we'll try to put it in perspective with analysis from Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, Michael Gerson of the Washington Post, David Corn of Mother Jones magazine, and our own John Dickerson.

All that plus the highlights from the Republican primary campaign because--



ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin this morning with two former Republican candidates and former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Mister Gingrich, why don't we just start with you? Was it worth it?

NEWT GINGRICH (Former Republican Presidential Candidate/Former House Speaker): Oh, I-- I think as a citizen, sure, I had a chance to go out and explain what I would do and how I'd do it, and Callista and I got to meet thousands of people who were very positive, and hopefully I made some positive contribution to the dialogue and proposed some very big ideas that I think over the next five or ten years, some of them will actually become law, so I think-- it's-- it's part of the process of citizenship.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think because many times, during the campaign, you were all over Mitt Romney for claiming he was a conservative, and you said he wasn't. Do you think he would have been better off, or would be better off now to simply concede that he is a moderate? I mean is that a bad thing to be known as a moderate?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, look, we had a very hard-fought campaign, and a lot of different people threw punches in a lot of different directions. The fact is, compared to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney is a solid conservative. I think you have to come down to what's the choice this November, and the choice is the most radical President in American history and a failed President at the economy and somebody who has a solid record on jobs and who in fact, on basic principles is a conservative. And I think, you can get into arguments about who is how conservative. But compared to Obama, Mitt Romney is a solid conservative.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Does Mitt Romney want your support? I notice you haven't endorsed him yet?

NEWT GINGRICH: You know, that's very strange to me. I said on Wednesday when I did the statement of suspending the campaign, I'm going to campaign for him. I favor him over Obama, and I went through, like, seven different issues where I favor him. I'll do everything I can to help elect Romney and I'll do everything I can to help the Senate and to help the House Republicans. I'm not sure what endorsement means beyond that. I will be campaigning with Mitt in the near future--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): So-- so you have endorsed him--

NEWT GINGRICH (voice overlapping): As far as I'm concerned--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): --you already endorsed him.

NEWT GINGRICH (voice overlapping): --I have endorsed him and-- and I-- we're working with his campaign team and I want him to carry the maximum number of states and I want the election in September and October to help win the Senate for Republicans and to help increase Republican margin in the House.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He is running basically and says this campaign, and you're almost saying the same thing, is just simply a referendum on Barack Obama? Isn't it going to had to be more than that if he's going to win, doesn't-- he have to come up with some big ideas, like you proposed?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well-- well, I think you will have some things and he already has proposed some things towards job creation, towards better tax policy, better regulatory policy. But I also think when you have a President who has had the worst economy since The Great Depression, you know, Barack Obama was wrong about change. I mean he said yesterday change is the still the issue. Well, we have had change. More Americans have lost jobs. More Americans have had their homes foreclosed. More Americans have paid more for gasoline. More Americans have been driven into poverty. I mean we have seen a lot of change under Barack Obama. The sad thing is almost all of it has been negative.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you think, Governor Romney, ought to be doing right now?

NEWT GINGRICH: Pretty close to what he's doing. I think, the Republican Party-- again, my bias and listen, he has got to run his campaign. He won the nomination, I didn't. Well, my bias is towards a team election, bringing together the House, the Senate, and the presidency as Reagan did in '80. I think that Governor Romney once he governed, I mean, he has been in a situation in Massachusetts where the other side ran the legislature. He knows how big a difference it would make to have a Republican Senate and I think his team has got to put together-- how do they define the election, so it elects Romney and elects Republicans to the House and Senate. And if it comes together that way, I think he could have a very successful campaign.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think President Obama made too much of the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden?

NEWT GINGRICH: I think President Obama will take any topic, other than the economy, and maximize it. And I think you're going to see that for the next five months. You give President Obama a chance to talk about anything except this economy, and he's going to do so. And the question that ought to be asked of him over and over again is so how many jobs did you create yesterday? What did you do to help Americans keep their homes? What have you done to bring down the price of gasoline? Then, he can dance all he wants to. In the end, this campaign is (INDISTINCT). Do you-- do you-- can you really afford four more years of a failed presidency? And they wanted to use "Forward" as their slogan. They should be using "Downward" because that's been the trend for the economy, for take-home pay, for people being able to afford gasoline. In every case, it has been downward under Obama.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Will it make any difference who he puts on the ticket with him?

NEWT GINGRICH: Who Romney puts on this?


NEWT GINGRICH: Oh, to some extent, sure, I mean, you-- there are boundaries beyond which you couldn't go, but, you know, people underestimate how deep our bench is. You know have somebody like Kelly Ayotte in-- in New Hampshire. Mitch Daniels, you have got Marco Rubio. You have got Rob Portman, you have got Bobby Jindal, you have got Susana Martinez-- go-- go down a list and you'll find that there is an enormous depth of talent in the Republican Party that wasn't there probably twelve years ago.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You didn't mention Newt Gingrich? Would you be interested?

NEWT GINGRICH: You have known me a long time. Would you pick me to be vice presidential nominee? I mean, I'm so much-- my own agent, it would be-- it's inconceivable.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Mister Speaker, always a pleasure to have you--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --and thank you for coming on and answering the questions when we posed them, you-- you did that--

NEWT GINGRICH (voice overlapping): I tried to do it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --and we always appreciate that. Thank you.

NEWT GINGRICH (voice overlapping): Thank you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to turn now to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. A lot of talk about Mitt Romney is not reaching women in this campaign, Miss Bachmann. You've endorsed him. What does he need to do? What does he need to say to women?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (Former Republican Presidential Candidate/R-Minnesota): Well, first of all, that's a myth and it's not true because Obama is-- whole objective has been--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): What's the myth?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: The myth is that there is a Republican war on women. There's not a Republican war on women. That's coming from the Obama re-election team because everything they do right now is-- any-- any word that you hear will go through the grid of Obama's re-election.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, it-- it must be working in because most of the polls show he's running way behind with women.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: But actually, if you look at the 2010 election, women went Republican. They didn't go Democrat. And they will this time as well because women are more concerned about the economy and jobs for themselves, for their husbands, for their children, and that's not happened because Bara-- Obama's broken his promises. He broke his promises on job creation. That was the number one thing that the President was focusing on and this election is about the economy. And I think Mitt Romney had a great line. He said, "It's still the economy and we're not stupid." Women aren't stupid. Women are very capable. They're intelligent. They're competent, and women want to know we're going to have jobs created and the Speaker was right when he said that since The Great Depression, we've had more foreclosures, more people have lost their incomes, more people have-- seen-- seen their inc-- not only that, but their jobs lost in any time. And, also, in the history of the country we've never gone this long with over eight percent unemployment. That's the issue. That's what women care about. I will tell you that because I was pumping gas for people in Anoka, Minnesota, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and women at the pump told me I can't take gas prices that are hundred and ten percent more now than the day Obama came in. That's what women care about. They deal with the price of gas. They deal with the price of groceries. And they know if they have got a job or not. That's why this utter failure of Obama and all of his broken promises, one after another, that's what's staring him in the face. That's why he's bringing up all these phony issues that are distracting and distortions. And that's why I think Mitt Romney is going to be trusted by a lot of women--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): But--

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: --he's very smart. He has a very optimistic message. Women trust him because they see this is a man who started a business from scratch for heaven's sake.

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): With-- with-- with all due respect, Congresswoman--

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (voice overlapping): --and he's very-- he's very successful.

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): --the polls do not suggest that.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (voice overlapping): Well, that's a snapshot today.

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): It suggest that Barack Obama is--

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (voice overlapping): I-- well, I think right--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): --is getting the women's vote right now.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I think-- I think again, the polls showed, and the ballot box showed in 2010, women went with a Republican and so we don't know what the final result will be in November, but that's why I think Mitt Romney is making a very positive case for women. Women know they can trust someone. What women want more than anything is-- is jobs and the economy to turn around. That is the big issue. That's what Mitt Romney has spent his life delivering and that's what he'll do if he's President of the United States. And I believe he will be President of the United States.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why do you think he's having so much trouble sort of connecting with people? Because again, the polls suggest that when you talk about who cares most about our problems, things of that nature, it seems to be Mister Obama, President Obama. Somehow or another, he doesn't seem to be connecting in a way that the people feel comfortable with him.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, again, I think that's another myth of the campaign trail. Because if you look at Mitt Romney, it's all about his proven track record and what he's done with his life. He's met budgets when he was a governor. As I said, he started from scratch a business, and was very successful. And I think--


REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: --now that we just have-- let me just finish.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You're-- you're talking about--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --poll results and you're saying--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --poll results are myths. I mean, you said just a while ago that the women supported in-- in the last election, that-- that Obama didn't carry them. He did by thirteen points, I believe.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: I'm talking about the 2010 election. In the 20-- remember, a woman lost the gavel as the speaker in 2010. That was Nancy Pelosi. And it was women who overwhelmingly went Republican and threw out a women's-- a woman speaker. I think this time again what women want, Bob, is they want competence, and, unfortunately, with all due respect to the President, he's not competent to deal with the economy. Mitt Romney is competent in spades. That's what women are going to be looking for. And I think as far as connecting, people want to connect the economy. And that's, again, they see broken promise after broken promise, after broken promise from Obama. And what they see for Mitt Romney is a guy who is optimistic and can do it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you-- after you left the campaign, the campaign really moved to the right. I mean we saw all these social issues come to the fore. Do-- do you think that was good?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: I think what we saw was the reality of Obamacare. One thing that Mitt Romney has demonstrated, he will repeal Obamacare. That's a big compare in contrast between Barack Obama. We will never get rid of socialized medicine, which is Obamacare, under Barack Obama. Mitt Romney is committed himself to repealing Obamacare. Big issue. And that's what we have seen, whether it is denying religious liberties to the Roman Catholic Church, or one thing after another, the cost-- I will tell you in my home town of Anoka, Minnesota--


REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: --it's the number one reason that employers tell me they won't hire people it's Obamacare. That's your big compare in contrast--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are-- are you--

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: --between Barack and Mitt Romney.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --are you worried about Governor Romney moving to the center now?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: I am worried about Barack Obama become-- having a second term.


REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: But a lot of people know Mitt Romney's positive agenda.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We have to end it there. Thank you so much, Congresswoman.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We're going to hear now from two top Democrats, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Governor Dean, let me just start with you and get your reaction to what you've just heard.

HOWARD DEAN (Former Democratic National Committee Chair): Well, I mean, frankly, Michele Bachmann has never had much command of the facts and that shows us exactly why. The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama has created jobs, four million of them since he became President. The economy is in much better shape than it was when he took office. That women are terrified of what Republicans are talking about. They're talking about basically stripping away their ability to have insurance pay for their birth control pills. Latinos are terrified of the Republicans because they seem to have a total tin ear when it comes to the basic needs of treating people with dignity. And the average American thinks Rip-- Mitt Romney doesn't care about them. Here's a guy who is building during a campaign mansion in Malibu with an elevator for his car. He had a Swiss bank account and he invests in the Cayman Islands. I don't think we've ever elected a President invested in the Cayman Islands as a tax dodge before. This candidacy is a shipwreck and for Michele Bachmann to go on there and claim that women are going to vote for Mitt Romney is perfectly ridiculous.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Strong letter to follow as they say.

HOWARD DEAN: Yes, it is.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Schumer, let me ask you this: Do you think that the President has made it clear to Americans what he wants to accomplish in his second term? You know we started this year with more the half-- more than half the people in a CBS News/New York Times poll saying they did not have a clear idea what President Obama hopes to accomplish in his second term. That kind of sounds like it could mean trouble--

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-New York): Well, the President is focused.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --for you.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: --the President is focused on the middle-class and economy and jobs. And people have already seen it. He fought hard for a payroll tax cut, got a thousand-dollar benefit to middle-class families. He's right now fighting to see that tuition does not-- the interest rates that they charge for tuition does not go up, making it easier for the middle-class to go to college. He's fought hard for an infrastructure bill.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: We have huge numbers of unemployed people. And in the future he's talking about investments to help our future in things like education, in infrastructure, in scientific research, which help create the jobs that make the middle-class feel secure about the future. And--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just say, just to interrupt you, I-- I take your point here, but I'm not sure, do you think that he has gotten that message out there that people really understand that?


BOB SCHIEFFER: I mean, I-- I think it's fair to say he has sort of taken a backseat because he wanted to let the Republicans--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --go at one another for a time.


BOB SCHIEFFER: --it also seems to me that he has some work to do on-- on getting out what he's for.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, you know, the campaign is just being joined right now. And let me just say that as people learn the records, they're going to see a huge difference. Mitt Romney has sort of been given a pass, it's sort of been a dialogue on the Republican right. It was called a monologue by Obama's campaign manager. As people start contrasting the kinds of things the President is for that I mentioned before, and then what Mitt Romney wants to do with the economy, he wants to give further tax breaks to the wealthiest among us. That's trickled down. He wants to further deregulate many industries. That's what got us in this trouble to begin with in many ways. They're going to see that he wants to go back to the policies of George Bush. And I think this chart will say it all in the campaign and you'll see a lot of it. The red shows job loss under the Bush policies, that's what Romney wants to return to. The blue shows the steady hand the President has had on the tiller, reducing job loss, and the twenty-five months of job gain, four million new jobs gained--


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: --manufacturing jobs gained, ex-- export's up. And so I think when the contrast is joined as the President began to do in Virginia and Ohio, the economy is going to be a net-plus for the President.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let's stop right there. We're going to come back and talk to both of you in one minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with more from Senator Schumer and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Governor Dean, let me just quote you something that Peggy Noonan, she's going to be in our round table in just a minute, but she wrote in the Wall Street Journal and I'm quoting now, she's talking about the President. She says, "This is the problem of the world now: big mic, no message. If you have nothing to say, does it matter that you have endless venues in which to say it?"

She said that the President has not only has nothing to say. He's actually become boring. How as a Democrat would you respond to that?

HOWARD DEAN: I think-- I think that's just silly. The fact of the matter is the United States is in much better position in terms of our foreign security than we have been in a long time. Osama bin Laden is dead. We have our troops out of Iraq. Our troops are coming out of Afghanistan. This is-- these are things that are important to the United States. Secondly, there has been four million new jobs added since Barack Obama took over the presidency. Now there've been some loss-- there's been some loss in the public sector. So the Tea Party people ought to be happy. In fact, government is shrinking. I think we've made some real progress. We have two thoughtful, sensible justices on the Supreme Court, no more right-wing extreme people. We have a medical system, while as more complex than I think it would have been desirable, every person under twenty-six whose parents have health insurance now have health insurance. And in two years' time, assuming this-- the court doesn't change this around, people are not going to be excluded from having insurance because they're sick. Real progress has been made both in terms of American Security, in terms of bringing our troops home, in terms of making people more secure at home because of their health care. I think that's a pretty good record for President Obama to run on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, Senator Schumer, just a straight political question, the backbone of the President's support, of course the last time was African-Americans. He still has the majority of African-Americans now, overwhelmingly, according to most polls. But I notice that the number of afri-- African-American registered voters has dropped about to about-- dropped about seven percent now, about five percent drop in Hispanic Americans registering to vote, and it's even larger drops in some of the key states like New Mexico, for example. Is the President in danger of losing some of his bedrock support, the core of his support? How does he get those people back?

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: No, I don't believe so.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: I think you'll see as large an African-American turn out if not larger, than previously in the last election. The Hispanic turnout will be large, and the vote will be a greater margin for the President. It's now something like three to one, and, frankly, I don't see how Mitt Romney can win if it stays that way. He cannot win the states of Colorado and Nevada and New Mexico, and probably not Florida which makes his electoral math impossible. So I think you're going to see the minority vote going strong, and then there's the women's vote which you talked about before.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: And I'd like to mention the Republican Party doesn't seem to care about women, not just--


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: --on the issues like contraception, but on economic issues as well.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: We're going to bring to the-- can I-- oh, sorry.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me tell-- let me interrupt you because we're getting close to being out of time here and I do want to ask you about gay marriage. Do both of you, what do you think should the President just go ahead and say that he's for it and-- and get it over with because Vice President Biden said today he's comfortable with it. Yeah, could I get just a yes or no from you, Senator?

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, I think the bottom line is everyone knows that the President is much strongly-- more strongly for LGBT rights than the Republicans.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: And I think that it's not going to be even a contest in that community.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm sorry, we-- we just ran out of time.

We'll be back with some final thoughts or my commentary for the week in just a minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Commentary clearly labeled, so now we know who the candidates will be and how the two sides intend to frame the election. Republicans will argue it's simply a referendum on a President who couldn't keep his promises. Democrats will say it's about a Republican who wants only to keep taxes low for his country club friends. Both sides will go to extraordinary lengths to control the message but what we and they should remember is they cannot control events as the recent episode with a Chinese dissident reminds. Who knows where that will go? In politics, the best-laid plans almost never worked out. Nobody talked much about terrorism in the 2000 campaign, the election before 9/11, but terrorism was the overriding issue of George Bush's eight years in the White House. As the two sides gear up for what promises to be one of our longest and certainly most expensive campaigns, there is no shortage of serious problems--jobs, the nation's precarious financial footing, and some possibly dangerous problems overseas. And did I forget a Congress that remains in gridlock. These are the things this campaign should be about. In the midst of the onslaught of negative advertising, which has already begun, is it too much to wish that at least one or two of those things may actually get touched upon before November? I guess we can hope.

Back in a minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. Most of you will be back in just a minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And welcome back. Joining me now Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, now a trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, and a distinguished professor at a whole bunch of places. Someone I have known since those days back in the Carter White House. Doctor Brzezinski, thank you for joining us. I want to ask you first about this situation that developed with the Chinese dissident. It looks like we have cut a deal that's going to allow him to come back-- or come to the United States. How do you think this was handled?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI (Center for Strategic & International Studies/Strategic Vision): You know, on the whole, pretty well. After all, it was messy. It was unpredictable. My guess is he was really shaken up, uncertain, changing his mind. We had a major meeting coming on. So all in all, I think both the sides-- both sides, the Chinese and us, handled it reasonably well. And one has to take a look at one very specific thing which is a symptom of how things are changing. Can you imagine during the Cold War when we were dealing with dissidents in the Soviet Union who were often imprisoned put in gulag and so forth, one of them being permitted to phone a U.S. congressional committee that's holding a hearing, critical of the Soviet Union?


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: This happened. This tells you something, how much things are changing in China. And the whole thing underlines the importance of the delicate nature of this relationship, and how both of us have to handle it with real strategic vision.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you got the sense or at least I did that both sides really wanted to figure out something to get this done and get on to other things.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely. And that is related to a central issue of our time-- can, for the first time in history, two preeminent powers effectively co-exist and even collaborate? This hasn't happened in international politics.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about this whole business of the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. At one point, Republicans were very critical of the President for going to Afghanistan. I think some Democrats privately wondered if that was a good idea for him to go. But at one point, when talking about this, Mitt Romney said, well, even Jimmy Carter would have made the decision to go after Osama bin Laden. I figured that got your attention.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, in a way, but in a different setting, Carter made a similar decision to take a chance, a major chance, and he took it because we feared that the people who were in prison will be put on trial as spies for the CIA. So we took a chance, we lost. Obama took a chance and we won. Well, life is a matter of chance to some extent.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think are going to be the foreign policy problems that the next President, whoever it is, is going to have to deal with? What would be the most serious thing in your mind?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well the most serious one in the immediate future is Iran and we have to do everything we can to avoid a war, and there are ways of avoiding that war that are intelligent and constructive. But a war sets in motion unpredictable consequences. And a war with Iran will set ablaze a region of the world from which we're trying to disengage; secondly, Russia; third, China. Those are the central issues geopolitically.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What happens if the Israelis decide that their security has been threatened and they decide to attack Iran? What should we do if that happens?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, we should do something before they do it. That is to say make it very clear to them that this will be terribly damaging into the United States, which is the principal sponsor of Israel, terribly damaging to us. Because the Iranians cannot retaliate against Israel effectively, but they'll see us conniving and they'll attack us in Afghanistan, in Iraq, even in Syria, and in the northern-- in northeast oil fields of Saudi Arabia. The consequences for us will be disastrous economically and politically.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How would you grade this President on foreign policy so far?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I would say somewhere between B-plus, and A-minus. I would be higher if he had moved more decisively on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because he had a chance to do so. But admittedly, he was overwhelmed by domestic problems. But on the whole, he has set in motion a reconnection with Europe which was profoundly disillusioned with the United States. He has kept the American-Chinese relationship unfolding and in balance. He's trying intelligently to disengage from Afghanistan. And he's exploring the possibilities of a more stable relationship with Russia which in the short run under Putin probably will become much more difficult for us.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Afghanistan, what's the problem going to be there? What happens next?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: The problem is going to be whether we can create stability after we leave. That's the big challenge. And to do that we have to entice some segments of the Taliban into an accommodation and we have to get the states around Afghanistan, including Iran, as well as Pakistan and India, and in the background, Russia and China, to collaborate in creating an umbrella of stability for Afghanistan because if that doesn't happen, eventually they'll be threatened, too. But they are so conflicted with each other that it's going to be a very difficult diplomatic package to put together.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Doctor Brzezinski, it's always interesting and-- and informative to talk to you.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It's good to be with you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Thank you so much for coming by. I hope we'll do it again.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in just a minute with our political round table and it's a good one.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And back now with our panel, Michael Gerson, who worked for President George W. Bush, is now a columnist for the Washington Post. Peggy Noonan, who worked for President Reagan, now writes for the Wall Street Journal. David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones magazine has a new book out called, Showdown: The Inside Story About How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and The Tea Party. And our own political director John Dickerson, who would write a book right now but he's been so busy covering the campaign, he hasn't even had time to get home very often. John, glad to have you and glad you could come in.

Well, the campaign six months from today, we're going to have an election, and the President and first lady kind of hit the battleground states of Ohio and Virginia yesterday. And for the first time the President went directly at Mitt Romney. Here's a little of what he said.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (May 5, 2012): To borrow a line from our friend Bill Clinton, now their agenda's on steroids. This time they want even bigger tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This time they want even deeper cuts to things like education and Medicare and research and technology.

And now after a long and spiritedly primary, Republicans and Congress have found a nominee for President who has promised to rubber stamp this agenda if he gets the chance.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So there-- there you have it. Well, Peggy Noonan, you said in that column that we quoted earlier in the broadcast--the President really has no message that he was actually boring. I guess I have to ask you to follow up. Does that mean that you think Mitt Romney is not boring?

PEGGY NOONAN (Wall Street Journal): Well, I would say they are-- they are both candidates who are having interesting candidacies at the moment that perhaps can be said that great issues that must be engaged have not fully been engaged yet. However, what I thought was so interesting-- how did that do, is that okay?


PEGGY NOONAN: What I thought was so interesting about the President's appearance, the kick off of his campaign at Ohio State, so many things were interesting. One is if you compare it to 2008 when he announced, 2008 was about theme and place, Springfield, Illinois, Abe Lincoln, let's come together. This was fisticuffs. What struck me is so interesting about it is that we are only at the beginning of May, and the President is already naming and shaming his contender. Do you know what I mean? Normally it takes a while. You've got to get to the audi-- autumn before they're naming each other and punching each other. So this was sort of aggressive and-- and actually a little joyless, I thought.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Corn, how would you respond to that?

DAVID CORN (Mother Jones): Well, I think the President has gotten to the point that he's been eager to get to since Election Day 2010. He wants a contest that is, one, about choices between visions and values, his and those of Mitt Romney's. And we live in a time where I think fisticuffs happen by the nanosecond and no one waits and he's been beaten up pretty good for the last few years. Often, I think, unfairly by the people to the right. And so his campaign wants to make sure that-- sort of this is an ebb-tide period. Republican race is over. Nothing is happening here in Washington in Congress so they do not want to give Mitt Romney any running room to redefine himself and make a move to the center after he portrayed himself as severely conservative during the campaign. So the President wants this to be about a choice between him and Mitt Romney and not about him and the economy. And right now I think the Republicans are playing into his strategy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know I would add nothing never happens here in Washington.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Now, I think there's anything--

DAVID CORN: A few things happened last year, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael Gerson, where do you think this race is right now? And you worked for George Bush. What do you think that Mitt Romney's biggest problem is going to be?

MICHAEL GERSON (Washington Post): Well, I think Mitt Romney is going to try every single day to focus on the last three years of stewardship of the U.S. economy and it's going to be hard because the President has a bully pulpit. He has some advantages. In the polling people actually trust Romney more on the management of the economy. So he should be talking about this. And he's going to do all that, and it's not going to be enough because Mitt Romney has a serious problem. He's stuck in a stereotype. He seems not just like your boss but your boss's boss. He's going to have to come out and have an agenda, an actual policy agenda, that emphasizes not just defending success, but encouraging mobility and aspiration, and then bring that-- that message to people who aren't normal parts of the Republican constituency, Hispanics and others. So he's going to have to do more than just call attention to (INDISTINCT) think the President's failures.

BOB SCHIEFFER: John, you were out in Ohio which is obviously going to be a big battleground state, where do you think this race is right now?

JOHN DICKERSON (CBS News Political Director): Well, I think it's-- it's incredibly close. And as we talked about it here and we saw the President's remarks yesterday, I mean the President is trying to lock Mitt Romney into that caricature. I mean the President talked yesterday about Mitt Romney has said that twenty-five years in the business world give him unique experience and unique understanding about the economy. The President tried to turn that into a weakness saying that twenty-five years as a boss means he doesn't understand regular people. So in Ohio, what's going to happen is he's going to make the pitch for regular people and say, I get you. This guy Romney, he doesn't understand what you're going through and he told a story in the speech yesterday about how Governor Romney kind of didn't understand this woman's woes. And so it's going to be a personal question about who kind of gets what you're going through. The big upside for Romney is though he may not have to connect with you. All he has to do is point to these jobs numbers. The unemployment rate went down, but what went up in huge numbers is the number of people who just dropped out, who aren't participating at all. And that's what you hear a lot about in Ohio.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What were you going to say, Peggy?

PEGGY NOONAN: I think there is a lot of American confusion about how the unemployment number can go down and yet people dropping out of the labor force in the hundreds of thousands really tells you that it's a worse situation than it looks. I think Americans are stopping-- they no longer believe the numbers that are coming out of Washington. I think they believe in their anecdotal evidence and their neighborhoods. But at the end of the day, I still think this is about-- you've seen the past three years of President Obama. Did you like it? If you liked it, you can vote for more. If you did not like it, you can take a look at the other guy. And if he seems credible to you, you can hire him. I don't think Americans are as sentimental and emotional about their Presidents as they used to be. I think they hire them and fire them.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, I think you make a very good point about-- about these numbers. I mean, I think if somebody didn't have a job, they know they don't have a job. If their uncle got fired--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --they know he got fired. But all this stuff of talking about deficits and these billions and trillions, people don't know what a trillion dollars is. They've never seen it. They know what five hundred dollars is. They know what a thousand dollars is. These numbers are so staggering that we can't comprehend them but the one number they do know is how much the price of gas is because--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --when you go to pump your gas-- and everybody pumps their own gas. Now they look some right-- it's right there at eye level.

DAVID CORN: But they also-- they-- they know what-- what the sense is, whether things are getting better or close to getting better, you know, from talking to their friends-- and their-- their impressions might even be wrong sometimes, but it's those impressions that count. And I think right now Mitt Romney is in a dangerous-- I do believe it's very close. Because if the race was just a referendum on Barack Obama in the last three years, the Republicans would have a much easier go of it. But I think Barack Obama-- I think Mitt Romney, too, has contributed to this-- they've made it more of a choice between the two of them. And on those-- you cited polls earlier on those fronts Mitt Romney comes up short again and again, whether it's touch-- touching people or being in contact, and even supporting things like the Ryan budget. When you get to the policy side of Mitt Romney it's still not popular. The President spent last year talking about these policy issues--shared sacrifice, supporting the middle class. Romney, I think, is still miles behind, and having policies to connect in the way that you Republicans would want them to connect.

BOB SCHIEFFER: On this side of the table, is it really fair to say, you know, everybody you talk to knows Mitt Romney says he's-- he's a wonderful person. That he's a person of faith, I mean, you know, so forth that he is good friends like him. He's a family man and all of that. Do you think he is not connecting or is that some sort of a myth?

PEGGY NOONAN: Sure. Sure. Sure. I think it's-- it's something interesting that is maybe promising for him. Here's what it is. The President is famous and known. People have watched him for a little more than three years. They have a sense of him. Romney is famous, but unknown. You look at him, you know, he's the handsome guy. He's the rich guy. And he won the Republican nomination. Beyond that, there's a lot to be filled in that is an opportunity for Romney to tell you, not just what he thinks but why he thinks it, which is an always interesting way to make people understand I do think and I got a point of view.

MICHAEL GERSON: I think Republicans are also going to have to take seriously something that came out this week in some numbers. The President's unusual buoyancy and he has middling approval numbers, but if you look the statistics from history about what his approval numbers should be given this-- this economy, they're actually significantly higher. People seem to like the guy. They don't all blame him for the economy. You look at those numbers. So I think that it's going to be, you know, fairly heavy lift to overcome some of those advantages that the President has here--

MICHAEL GERSON: And Romney is not just going to be able to recite economic statistics. That's not going to be able to do it.


JOHN DICKERSON: Well, also another thing the President has in some of these specific states he's got a little bit better argument than he has nationally on the economy and Ohio is an interesting one. People talk about the car bailout. Ohio benefited from that. The unemployment rate there is now lower than the national average. The President has a bit of an argument he can make which is when Mitt Romney says where are the jobs? What have you done? The President in Ohio at least can point to a specific thing and that will be very interesting to watch in those Rust Belt states, which are so important to this election. The car bailout, the way it works, and the attempts on the Obama administration to say Mitt Romney was against this car bailout. He says he knows how business works. Here is a concrete instance and we got the better of it. And that will be an actual policy fight that affects the way people live their lives. It will be a big thing going forward.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Have you-- Peggy, I want to ask you because you wrote some thing about this. Do you think the Republican Party has moved too far right for its own good? I mean, when you see the situation that's happened out in-- in Indiana, where Richard Lugar, who has probably passed more significant legislation than any single member of the Senate right now, I would say-- that I-- I can think of. He might actually get beat in the primary because they think he's not conservative enough.

PEGGY NOONAN: Mm-Hm. I think it's kind of complicated. And the Republican Party has been complicated all of my adult life. When I was a kid coming up, I remember Ronald Reagan having to dance around the fact that the John Birch Society decided in 1980 that they were for him. And Reagan had to say, well, I'm glad they're for him. I'm glad everybody is for me, but that doesn't mean I'm for them. It's a dance between those on the edge of movements and both movements have edges. Those on the edge of movements and those who are more centrist I think Lugar has been a good Senator and you what my bias is it's towards stability and the adultness in Washington, DC. I happen to think, will go through tough times and need the adults. But is it a daily struggle for the Republican Party to get it right, yes. And will it have to get it right in this election, yes.

DAVID CORN: The problem is that edge that you speak about is now controlling the Republican Party, at least in the House. That's the one reason why President Obama was not able to get the grand bargain with-- with John Boehner and the others because, you know, they were pulled too far to-- to the right. I think this is-- you know, on the issue of adultness, I think the President has worked very hard the past year to show that he will even go against some in his own party to cut deals and compromises and try to move past these contentious financial issues and you're going to see this again with the automatic budget cuts that were negotiated-- that he negotiated last year with the Republicans. And it's the Republicans now who are running away from the deal. So-- again and again, I think this edge that--


DAVID CORN: --you speak about in such, you know, chagrined tones is not just an edge anymore, it's the center of the party. And that's why Mitt Romney had such a hard time in the primaries.

PEGGY NOONAN: David, Republican suburbanites would be shocked to know that the edge, quote, unquote is "controlling how they think and how they vote." This is a big, broad, interesting party. Second thing is, you mentioned Obama--read Robert Caro's later book, when a President wants to make something happen, he can make it happen and he can't sit back and say, "Oh, they wouldn't talk. They wouldn't do this. I'm so sorry."

DAVID CORN: Oh, come on. It's a Republic--

PEGGY NOONAN: --you make it happen if you are President.

JOHN DICKERSON: Clearly-- clearly the edge is what the President is trying to staple to Mitt Romney and we saw it in that clip.


JOHN DICKERSON: He's saying these Republicans you don't like in Washington. Well, they elected Mitt Romney. He made it sound almost as if the election was just by the House Republicans not by the entire Republican Party.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We have to end it there. It's a lot of fun. I wish we could talk all afternoon.

We'll be back in a moment with our FACE THE NATION Flashback.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Finally, with Mitt Romney all but certain to be the Republican nominee, we bid a wistful farewell to the Republican primary and all who took part. That is our FACE THE NATION Flashback.

RICK PERRY: It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone, commerce, education, and the-- what's the third one there? Let's see.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Who is Michele Bachmann, and why does she want to be President.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Thank you for coming.

BOB SCHIEFFER: It's very odd to me that someone would run up a half million dollars' bill at a jewelry store.

NEWT GINGRICH: Go-- go talk to Tiffany's. All I'm telling you is we are-- we are very frugal.

CROWD (in unison): Nine, nine, nine.

HERMAN CAIN: That's what I'm talking about.

And when they ask me who is the President of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I'm going to say, you know, I don't know. Do you know?

NEWT GINGRICH: Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney. The fact is, you ran in '94 and lost. That's why you weren't serving in the Senate with Rick Santorum.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Have you ever thought of just saying to young people, don't smoke. Four hundred thousand people in America die every year of--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --smoking-related diseases.

HERMAN CAIN: --I will have no problem saying that. As a matter of fact--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, say it right now.

HERMAN CAIN: --young people of America, all people, do not smoke.

FOSTER FRIESS: A conservative, a liberal, and a moderate walked into the bar. The bartender says, "Hi, Mitt."

RICK PERRY: Commerce, education, and the-- uh, uh.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?


MITT ROMNEY: --of the fruited plain. Morning y'all. I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits. I'll tell you.

RICK SANTORUM: President Obama once said-- said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.

JON STEWART: And so the names of the fallen sound out: Bachmann, Perry, Cain, perhaps Ron Paul will now get his shot as the media front-runner.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Don't look now but it happened.

RON PAUL: The good news is we're doing very, very well in getting delegates.

RICK PERRY: The third agency of government I would-- I would do away with the education, uh, the-- uh-- I can't-- commerce. And, let's see-- I can't. The third one I can't. Sorry. Oops.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we didn't even get around to Mitt Romney and his dog. But so be it. A campaign like no other, our FACE THE NATION Flashback.

We'll be right back.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And that's it for today. We want to thank you for watching FACE THE NATION. We'll see you here next week. Bye.

This broadcast was produced by CBS News which is solely responsible for the selection of today's guests and topics. It originated in Washington, DC.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.