"Face the Nation" transcripts, August 19, 2012: Giuliani, Durbin, Norquist, Tanden

RUDY GIULIANI: Well, you know, I think Sarah Palin actually is operating-- operating at a level quite a bit above Joe Biden. I mean Joe-- this is-- this is one joke after another. And you can't escape that. I mean last week a wrong state; last week, wrong century; last week, that was an absolutely blatant appeal to racism. It was-- it was they're going to put you back in chains, emphasized the word back and it was on a teleprompter. Now that's disgusting, and somebody in the Democratic Party in addition to Governor Wilder who had the guts to do it should be able to stand up and say, Joe, I'm not going too far, Joe Biden is going too far.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Durbin--

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: If I could say--if I could a word here--


SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I would like to say a word here. There isn't a racist bone in Joe Biden's body and to suggest that is I think over the edge. The fact is that Joe Biden throughout his career has fought for equality and opportunity and to suggest something else, it may have been a misuse of words, but to take it to that extreme is just too much, Mister Mayor.

RUDY GIULIANI: Well, then, how about apologizing for it instead of the White House backing him up on it. Make believe Southern accent, y'all, y'all, Joe talks like y'all in Delaware? Y'all going to be put back in chains. Okay, maybe he didn't mean it. I-- I'll give him that, but how about the vice president of the United States now apologizing for at least what appears to be some kind of vicious pandering that I-- I would accept that.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (overlapping): Well--

RUDY GIULIANI: --I think most people would.


SENATOR DICK DURBIN (overlapping): I'm-- I'm not going to dig-- I'm not going to dignify those remarks because I think people know Joe Biden, they know his service to this country. They know what he's done in America when it comes to the violence against Women Act, the Criminal Justice Act. This man has been an extraordinary leader in the Senate and in the United States. If he made some misstep in his statement so be it, don't we all, Mayor Giuliani. If you had a problem like that in the past, I have.


BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. You know, I think we probably--

RUDY GIULIANI: I have and I have. And I-- I have and I have apologized for it and the real issue here is they're pretending everything is okay with it, and it's not.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, let's-- let's just kind of move on if we could little bit here. Senator Durbin, because what I want to ask you about is Senator Harry Reid who has insisted and keeps insisting that he has heard that Mitt Romney over the past decade didn't pay any taxes during some of those years. He has offered no proof whatsoever. There-- there's nobody who can add any proof to this. And yet he keeps insisting that it is true. Isn't it time for him to basically put up or shut up on that?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I'd say it's time for Mitt Romney to put up or shut up. When Mayor Giuliani was running for mayor he disclosed his income tax returns and he disclosed them every year when he was in office as mayor. I've done the same thing as a member of the House and the Senate. And now Mitt Romney can put aside all of these criticisms and all of these questions in five minutes. All he has to do is live up to the standard his father established, twelve years disclosure of income tax, just like President Obama, twelve years. Instead, what he has given is-- is tantalize people. We now know he's the first presidential candidate in history to run for office with a Swiss bank account. We also know that he has disclosed these tax shelters and tax havens in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. And we just have tantalizing little tidbits--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But--

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: --that have forced him to go back and amend his financial disclosure returns. Let him make a full disclosure as every major presidential candidate has for the last thirty-six years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yes, Sir, I-- I take your point on that, but saying he ought to disclose his income taxes is just one thing. Saying that he didn't pay any income taxes when you have absolutely no proof of that, that's-- that's something entirely different, I mean, that-- well, I mean, it's irresponsible. We wouldn't print a story like that or any major newspaper in this country. CBS News wouldn't print a story because we said we heard it. We would try to check it out. Isn't he obligated to check this out and tell us where he got the information?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I-- I-- you're going to have to direct that question to Harry Reid as to-- as to his source of information, but what I have to say is basic, even before Harry Reid's statement, why is Mitt Romney failing to disclose the most basic information about income taxes that Mayor Giuliani did, which I have done, which other candidates for President have done. What is in there that he doesn't want the American people to see?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mayor Giuliani, would you like to say something about that?

RUDY GIULIANI: Sure. I-- I mean, I-- I believe that the reality is that the Romneys have explained this. They-- they've laid out a-- a year of taxes. They're going to put out another year of taxes. That's precisely what John Kerry did. It's precisely what-- what Senator McCain did. People do follow different practices here. It was acceptable in the case of McCain and Kerry, no one raised the issue, oh, my God, they didn't pay any taxes because they didn't put out their tax returns. Both-- both of them, Kerry and McCain are reasonably rich men and good men and-- and we accepted that. And I think the-- I think the-- the concern is, you put out ten, twenty years of taxes. That's all we're going to be doing for the next two months. It's going to become a total distraction. Any-- any-- any person who has reasonable amount of money is going to have complicated taxes. There's nothing wrong with Governor Romney's taxes. I was a prosecutor. I prosecuted tax evasion cases. I've defended tax evasion cases. No one-- no one in all these years has accused him of a crime. The IRS has never brought a proceeding against him. You can be sure with the kind of money that he made and the enormous charitable contributions that he appears to have made, maybe fifteen, twenty percent to charity. This-- this guy has been audited up and down, backwards and forwards.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you just--

RUDY GIULIANI (overlapping): --so I've been pretty comfortable that his taxes are in order.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And let me ask you this, Mayor Giuliani, do you think it was a good thing for the Romney campaign just from the standpoint of politics to shift this campaign away from unemployment and the ec-- economy to talking about Medicare? That's always been kind of the third rail of American politics, like Social Security. And, yet, that seems to be what Mitt Romney wants to talk about.

RUDY GIULIANI: Well, you know, Bob, we're going to find that out when the election's over. It's either going to be one of the great political decisions or one of the political mistakes, but I think it's a gutsy one, and I think it gives us some hope we can get above all the name calling because by picking Paul Ryan, he decided-- Governor Romney did-- we're going to have the debate on the issues. Let's have a debate on how do we reduce the deficit? What do we do about Medicare to save it? I mean the idea that Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare is just a-- a total lie. What he wants to do is straighten it out. He wants to save it because it's going to go bankrupt if we don't save it. So, let's have a debate about it. And I think the President wants to save Medicare. They have two different ways of doing it. Let's have a debate about that. That's far better than they're calling us names and our calling them names. So, I hope it's the right decision. My instincts tell me it is. We're not going to know until the end if it was but I think it's a good decision for the campaign and I think whoever gets elected if we can get it down to the merits, it's at least going to have a-- a mandate to do something.

RUDY GIULIANI: My instincts tell me it is. We're not going to know until the end, if it was. But I think it's a good decision for the campaign, and I think whoever gets elected, if we can get it down to the merits is at least going to have a mandate to do something.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Durbin?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I can just tell you that we are anxious to make Medicare the issue if that's what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to speak to. We know the record. Paul Ryan initiated the debate to privatize Social Security, and when the stock market cratered during the recession he stopped talking about it. Then he started the effort to privatize Medicare with his voucher system under his budget approach. Now, that might work for a senior who is healthy and wealthy. But if you're not, you're going to face a five-hundred-dollar-a-month increase in Medicare premiums and many of these private insurance companies will just turn seniors away. He raises the retirement age for Medicare, the eligibility age, to sixty-seven, but then he would abolish the insurance exchanges which would provide any coverage for seniors under those circumstances. That really dramatically changes Medicare. It ends it as we know it. And I think if they want to debate that, we're ready. Medicare is a critically important program. The President has breathed eight years more life into Medicare with his-- his changes, and what we see on the other side with Romney and Ryan, unfortunately, is the death of Medicare as we know it.