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"Face the Nation" transcripts, October 14, 2012: Sen. Graham, Rep. Issa, Rep. Cummings

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on October 14, 2012, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. A roundtable includes David Corn of Mother Jones magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation, Bay Buchanan of the Romney campaign, pollster Frank Luntz and CBS News' John Dickerson.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, what really happened in Libya? It's been more than a month since the American ambassador in Libya and three other Americans died in an attack on the diplomatic compound there. But it's become the subject of an explosive congressional hearing.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ANDREW WOOD: We felt great frustration and the fact that those demands were-- were ignored or in some cases just never met.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And it's become an issue in the campaign.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We weren't told they want-- wanted more security there. And we did not know they wanted more security there.

BOB SCHIEFFER: State Department officials had said otherwise as Mitt Romney was quick to point out.

MITT ROMNEY: Because the vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials. He-- he's doubling down on denial.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But why did it take so long for the administration to admit the attack was the work of terrorists when the president of Libya had told us five days after the attack that's what had happened.

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: This leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, determined-- predetermined.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll talk to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who has been looking into the situation. And we'll talk to California congressman Darrell Issa whose committee is investigating. We'll also get the take of Congressman Elijah Cummings, senior Democrat on the committee.

Then, we'll talk about that, the vice presidential debate, and the campaign with our political panel, David Corn of Mother Jones magazine; Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation; Romney campaign adviser Bay Buchanan; Republican pollster Frank Luntz; and our own John Dickerson. That's a lot, but this is FACE THE NATION.

ANNOUNCER: And now from CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Good morning. Senator Lindsey Graham is one of the senior Republicans on the Armed Services Committee. And he has been looking into this attack. Senator, welcome to the broadcast. I know you have been investigating this.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina/Armed Services Committee) (overlapping): Thank you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Have you reached any conclusions on why the administration waited so long to acknowledge this was the work of terrorists?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, the facts are there was never a riot. The-- the night in question, September 11th, Ambassador Stevens was being visited by the Turkish ambassador that wasn't the sole around the compound and the coordinated attack lasted for hours with al Qaeda-associated militia. My belief is that that was known by the administration within twenty-four hours and, quite frankly, Susan Rice, on your show on September 16th, the President on the 18th and the 25th, kept talking about an attack inspired by a video. They're trying to sell a narrative, quite frankly, that the Mid East, the wars are receding and al Qaeda has been dismantled, and to admit that our embassy was attacked by al Qaeda operatives and Libya leading from behind didn't work I think undercuts that narrative. They never believed that media would investigate. Congress was out of session, and this caught up with them. I think they've been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that is a very serious charge that you've just leveled, Senator Graham.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you saying that the administration deliberately misled the American people to make it look as if terrorism is-- is not as much of a threat as apparently it is?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Either they're misleading the American people or incredibly incompetent. There was no way with anybody looking at all that you could believe five days after the attack it was based on a riot that never occurred. There was no-- no riot at all. So, to say that, you're either very incompetent or you're misleading. This is the same administration that leaks every detail of classified operations that are successful. Within a week you had three stories about cyber attacks against the Iranian nuclear program, about disrupting the underwear bomber case, about every detail of bin Laden, all over The New York Times, all over the press, showing how strong and effective this administration was. So, yes, they're very political when it comes to foreign policy.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: When something goes bad, they deny, they deceive, and they delay. And the truth is we're not safer. Al Qaeda is alive. Bin Laden may be dead. Al Qaeda is alive and they're counter-attacking throughout the entire region. And the truth is that the foreign policy choices of President Obama is allowing the region to come unraveled.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Where did you get this information that led you to this conclusion? Did you talk to officials there? Did you talk to people in the CIA? Did you talk to people in the administration? How are you so convinced of-- of what you have just stated?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: The intelligence community on the ground in Libya has told Senator Corker and myself that within twenty-four hours, they communicated up to Washington that this was a terrorist attack. The president of Libya on the same date said it was a terrorist attack. The video of the compound shows that there was nobody at the Benghazi consulate. There was never a group to riot. And the evidence is overwhelming, and the idea that it was spawned by a- a video and a riot would be-- hold the administration blameless. They said it was a copycat of Cairo. It wasn't a copycat. It was a sustained attack that lasted for six or eight hours, using heavy weapons which undercuts the idea that al-- al Qaeda has been dismantled and on the run and it certainly undercuts the idea that our policy choices in Libya have not going after the militia, not helping the Libyans training the national army were good choices.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, just to help people understand this, I want to play a part of what Susan Rice, the U.N. Ambassador, said on our broadcast five days after the attack and immediately after the president of Libya said--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --that this was a work of terrorists. They-- here-- here's what she said.

SUSAN RICE (FACE THE NATION): We did not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, again, what about this, Senator Graham? I mean do you-- I mean should there be questions now to Susan Rice? I mean--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, it's not just Susan Rice. The President of the United States said that it was the result of a video on David Letterman two days later. And the facts are very clear. There was never a riot. There was never a group of people around the embassy. It was a coordinated terrorist attack that took hours. Patrick Kennedy from the State Department briefed congressional staffers the day after the attack saying it was a terrorist attack. The next day after she was on your show, the-- the counterterrorism deputy said it was a terrorist attack and the President after that went on national TV The View and David Letterman talking about we're not sure if this was inspired by a video, a hateful video. The reason they're trying to sell this, if it is true it was an al Qaeda-inspired attack that was coordinated involving heavy weapons that lasted six-to-eight hours and our embassy consulate was so exposed and they had denied numerous requests to reinforce it, is Exhibit A of a failed foreign policy. I have seen this movie before. I went to Iraq in 2004 and everybody told me things are going fine. This is just a few dead-enders. Iraq was falling apart and you couldn't get the truth from the Bush administration. The Mid East is falling apart, and they're trying to spin what happened in Libya because the truth of the matter is al Qaeda is alive and well and counter-attacking.

Iraq, they have been doubling of al Qaeda operatives in Iraq since we left, twenty-five hundred. Iran is flying over Iraqi air space to deliver weapons to Syria. Syria's becoming thirty thousand people dead and foreign fighters moving into Syria. The Iranians have quadrupled the amount of enriched uranium they have to build bombs, as the Obama administration talks to them. This whole region is about to explode, al Qaeda is on the march. Northern Mali is now under the control of radical Islamists that make the Taliban look like choir boys. So they're trying to sell something, (INDISTINCT) the facts on the ground will not justify. When John Kerry said at the Democratic National Convention ask bin Laden is he better off. They're trying to spike the ball after killing bin Laden create a false narrative about the true state of al Qaeda and it all caught up with them in Libya.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, Senator Graham, I want to thank you for some very sobering words this morning. Thank you very much.

We want to go now to San Diego where the house Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa who held hearings on this last week joins us. Congressman, do you agree with what you just heard Senator Graham say based on what you found out at these hearings?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (Government Reform & Oversight Committee Chairman): Much of what Senator Graham says has been confirmed repeatedly. Our hearing was not really about the fact that long after. They should have been saying this was a terrorist attack they were still sticking to this story that it somehow was a video and a demonstration. What we did the hearing on, Elijah Cummings will be on in a few minutes and myself-- was the fact that if security professionals are giving the warning that they need more security, that they need to change how we do business diplomatically in the region, and that's not being heard, then it isn't just Ambassador Stevens who is now dead. It's everybody who works throughout the Middle East is at risk if we cannot get the security level right. And that's why we held the hearing and held it when we did is if they're not being listened to and Charlene Lamb was very clear-- she thought she didn't make a mistake, even after the ambassador was dead. She stuck by she made the right decision to strip him of much of the security that would have given that extra precious time to evacuate him. So do we have two problems, the one that the senator is speaking of? Absolutely. We need to get the truth. We need to get it real time, and we need to quit having people say something is true when long afterwards they know it isn't. But I think in the case of our committee, we're-- we're recognizing that there was 2.2 billion dollars in a discretionary fund that could have been used for security, still could be used for security enhancements throughout the region. Plus, the DOD, the military, if we need these things to keep our diplomats safe in these countries, we need to start spending that money and not claim that we don't have enough money. Well, in fact, Charlene Lamb said money was not a consideration. She just thought they didn't need the security. And quite frankly, we-- we believe they didn't want the appearance of needing the security. And we want to put real security ahead of the appearance of not needing security.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I mean, Congressman, I do take your point. But let me also ask you about this. Did not House Republicans try to cut a half billion dollars from embassy security budgets over the past two years? If we need the security why were your party members saying let's-- let's cut these budgets? It sounds like they didn't-- they didn't think you needed it, either.

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: We've increased. We have more than doubled over the last five years, the State Department budgets up a hundred and fifteen percent. So there's no question at all we have been adding more money and we continue to add more money. There is a lot of talk and Congressman Cummings--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Congressman. I'm not sure-- are you saying that House Republicans did not try to cut a half billion dollars from embassy security over the past two years?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: Okay. What the Democrats are saying and Mister Cummings will say in a minute is that we quote, "Cut three hundred million." The vote that reduced what the President had asked for, which would have been an increase was a hundred and forty-nine Democrats to a hundred and forty-seven Republicans, and quite frankly, it was, in fact, sufficient. We've been told that. You can't always look to money when there is money sitting there. There's 2.2 billion in discretionary reprogrammable money that wasn't used. The fact is they are making a decision not to put security in because they don't want the presence of security. In our hearing, and in testimony, we were told they removed their diplomatic plates because they wanted to be invisible. They didn't put any markings on this building that was attacked because they didn't want to have people know they were. That is not how you do security. After there was a twelve-foot hole blown in the wall of this compound, all they did was rebuild the wall, no new reinforcement, no kind of capability to protect somebody inside. Now, it happened to be an ambassador that was killed, along with three others. It could have been any federal employee, any contract employee that was killed. And it still would have been the warning signs were there, and they weren't heeded.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): What do you--

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: The money was there-- yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think the reason for all this was when you come down to it? Was it simply incompetence?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: This is not very Republican, if you will, but when President George W. Bush went aboard an aircraft carrier and said, "mission accomplished" I listened rightfully so to people saying, look, but there's still problems, and they're still dying, and quite frankly, things got worse in many ways after that famous statement.


REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: We're going through a mission accomplished moment. Eleven years after September 11th, Americans were attacked on September 11th by terrorists who preplanned to kill Americans. That happened and we can't be in denial. Particularly, when there are-- there are compounds all over the Middle East that need to be legitimately protected at a level that security professionals ask for it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you plan to do next on the committee? Are you going to call U.N. Secretary Rice, Ambassador Rice?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: Well, Mister Cummings has asked for that? I joined with him in asking for it. We want to have some additional classified briefings on what did they know and when did they know it. After the election I plan to lead a (INDISTINCT) to go and meet with the security officials in country, country by country in many of these areas to hear what they're-- they-- they feel they need. And if there needs to be supplemental money, of course, Congress would respond. Congress has always responded to specific requests for security for our personnel. But when you simply-- when you have a general accountability study showing that, for example, in Iraq there was over two hundred million dollars that shouldn't have been spent that was wasted.


REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: You-- you have to say we give you a certain amount of money. Give us specific requests. And in this case, the money was there. They chose not to have those security personnel on the ground in Libya.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, Congressman, thank you so much for coming on this morning.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We're going to be back in one minute to hear from a top Democrat on that same committee about this investigation.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We want to go now to Baltimore, the home of Congressman Elijah Cummings. He's the ranking Democrat on the House Committee investigating the Libya attack. We asked the administration to provide someone from the administration to give their take on this story. The administration declined. So, Congressman, we appreciate you coming on this morning to talk to us. I want to ask you, don't you think there are some genuine questions to be asked about this and how it happened?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Bob, first of all, what happened to Ambassador Stevens and the other three public servants was indeed a horrible tragedy. We will search their killers down and bring them to justice. The one thing we must not do, though, Bob, is make this out to be a-- and treated like a political football, and I think that's basically what's happening. We have a situation where we rushed to a hearing. We don't have substantial evidence, yet. We're still gathering evidence, coming to conclusions, and looking in search of facts and this is what has happened. But, again, we-- there's a lot to be answered. And I think you asked the right questions. Yeah, there are a lot of things that we need to address. But this is not the way to do. We have an FBI hearing going on, investigation going on, and Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, has appointed an accountability review board to look at this. And we will get the answers. But the way we're doing it, I think, is basically based on a campaign schedule, trying to give Romney some talking points. But I don't think that our men who were killed deserve this. I don't think our diplomatic corps deserves this. We can do better.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this, Congressman, and I say this with all respect--


BOB SCHIEFFER:--if there were a car wreck here on M. Street outside my office and I looked out the window and saw a car wreck out there, I wouldn't have to wait till the cops came to know it was a car wreck. I mean it was a car wreck. There were two dozen people in that compound there. They had windows. They could look out the window. They could see that there was no demonstration going on. And, yet, it was not until last week that the administration admitted that this was a preplanned terrorist attack and not a spontaneous demonstration.

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: What certainly--from what I understand, Secretary Rice was given information by the intelligence folks. And the intelligence folks said themselves that they initially got some information indicating that there may have been some type of mob activity outside of this place. As a matter of fact, Ambassador Kennedy-- under Secretary Kennedy, State Department came before our committee-- and by the way he's one of the same people that Lindsey Graham cited-- he came before our committee and made it clear that if-- and by the way, this is somebody who served every President since President Nixon in the State Department-- but he came and said if he had the information that-- he had the same information that Secretary Rice had and it's still an evolving situation and he said he would have said the same thing.


REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: But, Bob, Bob, you know, I just listened to that interview, both of those interviews, and-- and this conspiracy stuff is kind of ridiculous, to be honest with you. And I'm kind of surprised that they've gone to these lengths, but you know, that's what they do. But one of the things I am hoping is that they did admit-- Issa did admit that we do have a-- that they did try to cut the budget-- they did, in fact, cut the budget for security, and I'm hoping that they are going to join me-- in that hearing I've requested that he join me in getting an emergency supplemental for our embassies so that could protect our people.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this, this question then, did this ambassador and three other Americans die because of incompetence at the State Department?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: You know, I don't-- I really don't think so. I think because I've listened to the witnesses that we did hear from-- I think people were making their best judgment. And that's why we need to have a hearing so that we can ferret out off all of this. Keep in mind we have not heard from anybody who was actually in Libya the night of the event. We've heard nobody that was in Benghazi therefore, in the night of the event. We have not had a-- our committee has not had a briefing-- a classified briefing yet. So, I mean it seems a bit early to be coming to certain conclusions. But one thing is for sure, as Issa just admitted, they have basically tried to strip the-- reduce the budget, and they have for security, and Romney and Ryan, of course, in their budget, they will take away four hundred billion dollars-- four hundred million dollars in 2014, and billions of dollars over the next ten years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I have to just get a short answer. But do you think this was simply a witch hunt?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I think that it-- I think it's turning into a witch-hunt? And we can do better. We really can.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Congressman, thank you so much for joining thus morning. As we say, we asked the administration for a spokesman. They declined to send one. We will be back in a moment. I'll have some personal thoughts on a very sad day in the nation's capital.


BOB SCHIEFFER: It was a week of highs and lows in Washington, and for once, we're not talking politics. Things were looking mighty good for our beloved Nats. Harper found his batting eyes, Zimmerman is back. Can this be right? Is it true? Are we having too much fun? We were leading three to zip, and it was only inning one. The innings really rolled along, we could not believe our eyes, from Morse to Beast and Harper, homers big boy size. Oh, God is great and so are we. We sing hip-hip-hurrah. At the end of the three the Nats are six, the Cardinals adds nada. It was very close to freezing but no one was there was cold World Series fever kept them warm, if the truth be told. With victory in the offing, tomorrow will be a glorious day but then the Cardinals being birds began to peck away. Their first score in inning four put no damper on our glee. Shortly then, they got two more but we still led it six to three. By inning nine, it's seven-five. We're comfortably ahead but suddenly these Cards seem risen from the dead. Our closer guy is throwing heat, but Cardinal bats got hot. We don't know how or why, but leading now we're not. We had ourselves believing we were on the way to heaven. But dreams became reality. We lost it nine to seven. In Casey's famous epitaph, the sun did still shine bright, bands still played, children sang, somewhere heart were light. Skies were blue as blue and somewhere bells were ringing, but there was no joy in Mudville when Casey went down swinging. And so it was in Washington on a cold and windy eve. Yes, baseball is our greatest game that I still believe. But, know like love it brings a risk and that's the other part, if you take it seriously it just may break your heart. Congratulations to the Cardinals, thanks to the Nats for a really great year.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now but for most of you we'll be back with a political panel to talk about the impact of this story on the campaign. Plus, what's ahead for President Obama and Governor Romney in the next twenty-three days. And we'll take a look at what some of the late-night comedy shows are saying. Stay with us.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. And joining us now on my right Romney campaign adviser Bay Buchanan. Bay, good to have you. Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, plus, CBS political director John Dickerson, and over on the left, where they're very comfortable, David Corn, who writes for Mother Jones, he's the author of a new e-book out this week called 47 Percent, uncovering the Romney video that rocked the 2012 election. David, of course, is the one who broke that story. And also with us today, Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine. I want to talk about this Libya thing and see what you all think is the political impact of that in a minute. But Frank Luntz is here, and you did some very interesting research on the vice-presidential debate. Bring us up to speed on what that was.

FRANK LUNTZ (Republican Pollster): We've now done three sessions and they all concluded the same thing, that Joe Biden did well on the substance, but they were so angry with his style and the more that you split screen the two of them where they could see Biden's interruptions and the smiling and the laughing, it's funny because I actually wrote down on my note here, don't interrupt and don't smile. They didn't want that from the vice president. And he could have gained points, but not a single person in any session switched. In the previous debate we had about a third of our group switched.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Now-- now when you say your sessions, what were these focus groups? What exactly was this? How were you-- how were you measuring this?

FRANK LUNTZ: We take undecided voters in a number of different cities in the key swing states, about thirty people, and they react second by second, using dials. And in almost every issue, Biden's style score did better than Paul Ryan's, and, yet, when you started the discussion, the first thing they said is, "Why was he interrupting, why was he seeming to go overboard? He was passionate, but he went too far."

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (The Nation): At the risk of interrupting, you know, what strikes me about this with Romney, for example, is we're not about to pick the head of a yacht club. We're electing a President, right. So in terms of substance, you have a presidential candidate who has a secret plan. He's going to cut crack-- taxes twenty percent across the board, five trillion dollars, but won't tell us how he'll pay for it. To me this is insulting to the American people. And this is not in my mind a theater performance, Bob. I mean we are sitting here. We're going to talk polls and strategy and debate performance but this isn't show business. This is about leadership and who will lead this country in the next century.

FRANK LUNTZ: Allow me one point on this, though, which is that if you can't cooperate in a debate setting with your opponent, how can you cooperate with Congress? How can you work with the other side? And that's what they pointed out. It wasn't his performance that bothered them. They feel that Barack Obama can't work with Congress, and so if you vote for him again, you're going to get four more years of the same thing.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But you did-- you did some independent survey after the Biden-Ryan debate.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And one of the things you found was that people liked what Ryan said about the ability of Romney to work with the Democratic legislature in Massachusetts.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, kudos to the eighty-seven percent of the Democrats in that state legislature who were willing to work with an opponent in service of a country and a state which we haven't seen from the Republicans who have been so obstructionist these last few years.

BAY BUCHANAN (Romney Senior Adviser): You know, basically what we learned from the first debate, and I think, well, the second debate just-- is going to reinforce that message. So we learn that there's a huge, soft underbelly of-- of any kind of support for Barack Obama, that we could take a-- that a woman's gap-- the ladies' gap of eighteen points and close it in ninety minutes, close it and to move to a twelve-point swing. So it tells me Americans are looking for something. They-- they are now decided that if there is something better, they're going to go there. And they saw Mitt Romney and they saw somebody who is a serious, thoughtful, very, very well prepared, knowledgeable, somebody who can lead and has a plan. And he said it all out there, and the people responded. And where I think Biden was-- made his mistake is they may have said, okay, he's knowledgeable, but-- but what did Mitt-- what did Ryan say? Ryan said I am another thoughtful, very, very knowledgeable and someone determined to turn things around. And he sent that same message of leadership that can make a difference in this country.

DAVID CORN (Mother Jones): The-- the Romney-Ryan ticket has a built-in advantage. The economy is not going as well as anybody wants. And they still have been struggling for months and months. They put things on their website, they put up position papers, but one reason I think Romney did so well in the first debate was he ran away from almost any specific that he himself has put out. He won't talk as Katrina mentioned about how you really do this tax plan. When he does a foreign policy speech, all he says is, "I'll be tougher than Barack Obama without saying any way in which he will and actually endorses most of Barack Obama-- Barack Obama's foreign policy. So what we're getting a lot from your campaign. You guys are really good at this. And I don't work for a campaign. So it's not kind of an even fight here. But from your campaign a lot of great top-- what I call top-line rhetoric. I'm strong, he's weak. I can make the economy better. He can't, without either filling in the specifics or running-- specifics matter--

BAY BUCHANAN: The specifics, David, are there.

DAVID CORN: They're all--

BAY BUCHANAN: They are there.

DAVID CORN: Go back to the one thing--

BAY BUCHANAN: How do you create jobs?

DAVID CORN: Going back to the one big issue, the big tax cut plan. He will not say they-- how they-- how they'll pay for it. In fact, they say over and over again, we don't want to give that away yet. It's like--

(Cross talking)


DAVID CORN: It's like Nix-- and remember, Nixon's secret plan--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: It's very clear. It's tricky Dixon. Tricky Dick Romney.

DAVID CORN: Let me just finish. You remember Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War?


DAVID CORN: It didn't exist. He just said he had one, and we see the same thing.

BAY BUCHANAN: Well, we do know one thing.

DAVID CORN: You guys are so smart. If Paul Ryan is such a smart guy, he should be able to explain this.

BAY BUCHANAN: Listen, we do know one thing, that Barack Obama has no defense of his record and no plan whatsoever for the future.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: We don't know that.

BAY BUCHANAN: And, two, well--

(Cross talking)

DAVID CORN: You may don't like it. He's put the legislation--

BAY BUCHANAN: No, no, no, no. That is not true, but Mitt Romney has laid it all out there. He said it's the loopholes. He's given different ideas, different possibilities. And he said he's going to work with Democrats to come up with the answers. But the bottom line, just as in Massachusetts, he is going to put this country in a-- on a balanced budget and he's going to be a neutral.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm going to ring the bell here, go back to your corners, and I'm going to go to referee John Dickerson here. John--

DAVID CORN: Voice a reason.

JOHN DICKERSON: Context. What was happening in this debate, this vice-presidential debate, when we got there, Democrats were feeling dispirited. They wanted to see the kind of passion from Joe Biden and that we are seeing from David Corn about these issues because they feel like they're getting mugged by the Romney campaign. So the response was from Biden to mug to the camera because they wanted to send kind of this message of can you believe this guy, at least to reset the Democratic Party. Now, what about the swing voters? I think they're going to make the decision on the top of the ticket, which leaves a huge question for what's the President going to do? Is he going to take this behavior of Biden's and put some reasoning behind it? Is he going to say, you know, well, he is my kind of-- spouse is a little overheated, but here is the actual reasoning behind it. And that's the-- the job for the President. Otherwise, you just have this unfocused, kind of sputtering, and that's not going to work.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me-- let me ask you again--


(Cross talking)

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask John one more question here. We-- there's no question and the polls reflect that-- that Romney helped himself in his debate. You heard what Frank Luntz just said about that kind of instant poll that he ran. But are you seeing any polling yet that suggests that the vice-presidential debate made any difference in the race, not on who won or lost in the race?

JOHN DICKERSON: No. Not-- not really. I think we see, you know, this-- the-- the race overall now in the national polls you see the average of them Romney's up by a point or two. He was behind by three points or so before that Denver debate. Now in the battleground states some have turned Colorado; Florida is looking better; Ohio is a little tighter, the President is still up there. But that's all because of Denver.

I don't think we've seen anything in this. The debate feels like it went into the automatic sorting machine of this election we've already had, where the right took from it what they wanted, the left took what they wanted, swing voters are-- may have been a little offended actually by Biden but they are not going to make their decision based on--

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm going to ring the bell for round two. Back to Katrina.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: You know what I'd like to hear-- I mean Bay brought up women and the gender gap which I think is going to be critical to the outcome of this election. And what I'd like to hear in the next debate we haven't heard it from the presidential or vice-presidential debate so far is, women in the context of economic security and their health. Take a page from the playbook of Elizabeth Warren, who has made that link and speak-- President Obama needs to speak to how Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, work for women. Work for women to control their economic security and destiny in a very volatile, difficult, eco-- economy. And I hope we hear from that because we haven't heard from women's voices and I think in the shrinking democracy we live in, meaning we only have nine swing states and in each of those swing states how many are we competing for his voters. I think you need to speak to those women, particularly, the non-college-educated white woman who are going to be key in Ohio and those key states.

BAY BUCHANAN: You know to that point I think that's where the vice president really hurt his ticket is because as women looked at that debate there is nothing that is more offensive to us than to see a man just constantly interrupt and be offensive and boorish in his behavior and have no respect for somebody who's trying to have a-- a legitimate debate. I-- I haven't talked to a woman who has looked at that debate and not just responded and said that was just awful and obnoxious. And-- and so, you know, when you say, I don't know who want a--

DAVID CORN: Bay, I talked to a lot of women who didn't have that reaction, including my mom. So let's not be over the top. You're drawing out what you want to draw out to make your point.

BAY BUCHANAN: Well, I-- I've talk to a lot of women who are apolitical, who are just making that same-- you can, you know-- I just know that women do not like that. But the second point, I agree that the debate itself, whoever won or lost that, is not going to change the vote. But what remains in their mind is who is the serious ticket here? Who are the two candidates that are really going to address the issues? And I think the two debates have shown without question it's Romney and Ryan.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Frank-- let's let Frank talk.

FRANK LUNTZ: You've got this ideological chasm right here at this table, and that's not what these last four, five percent want. And they actually don't want the yelling back and forth, with all due respect to-- to all of us here. That they're not voting based on philosophy because if they were, they would have made up their minds already. The two of them don't agree on much. They're voting on character. They're voting on which person they think understands them and-- and feels for them. And I'll show you. Barack Obama understands and empathizes, but he can't solve their problems. Mitt Romney, they perceive, can solve their problems but they are not yet convinced whether he understands them. If Romney can prove empathy, he wins. If Obama can prove problem solving, he wins. The case is actually easier at this point for Romney than it is for Obama.

DAVID CORN: I-- well, I-- I kind of agree with you. Because I think what we're playing at this point in the game, everybody feels strongly as Katrina and myself or Bay knows yourself who they're going to vote for, who they want to vote for. We're playing like between the forty-eight-yard lines in a-- in a football game, a little-- a little margin here, a little margin there. And I do think that's why the forty-seven-percent tape, which I'll take some credit for it, really showed a lot. And I think that's why Biden came back to it and I do think in the debate ahead talking to people in the Obama camp, Obama is going to try to remind people that there is a gap between what Romney said in the debate and what he-- he has or hasn't said previously. So when he says, yeah, I'm for preexisting conditions, too, which is to get to the empathy issue that you're talking about. Actually he's not for that. When he says trying to be more moderate, more empathetic, yeah, I'm not going to do anything to threaten abortion and then his campaign, people have to rush out.

FRANK LUNTZ: In this coming debate--

DAVID CORN: So-- I think-- I think that's where Obama sees an opportunity--

FRANK LUNTZ: In the town hall-- in the town hall--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Could I, Frank, could I just--

FRANK LUNTZ: In the town hall debates, if that's the strategy that Barack Obama takes--


FRANK LUNTZ: --he will lose that debate and this is why. Romney will then say, "You were asked a question about where you stand and you turn and attack me, and that's all that you do."

DAVID CORN: I don't think he'd get involved.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But I don't think he will do that.

DAVID CORN: I don't think--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think he needs to be-- but I-- I would disagree with Frank on one thing. You describe us as ideological. I would argue common sense. We are talking about returning tax rates to where they were-- you know, where they were under the Clinton era. We're talking about tax rates that Reagan would have supported. We're talking about economic security that millions of people believe in in terms of the support for Medicare and Social Security--


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: --and what Franklin Delano Roosevelt built in this country. The Republican Party today wants to repeal and roll back the new deal and the civilizing advances of the twentieth century.



BOB SCHIEFFER: --let me put some--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: It's real common sense.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --let me put some economic news in here. We have to take a break for a commercial so we all-- so we get paid really.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in one minute with more from our panel.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We're back now with our panel. And as I sit here listening to you all, I mean as something just kind of comes to me. Why is it there are so few undecideds at this time? And-- and the undecided vote has been very small from the beginning. Why is that? And why is it we no longer have national elections to elect a President? We have elections that come down to six to nine battleground states. Why is that, John?

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the-- the partisanship is because people, you know, have passionate feelings. Those who are in the middle get turned off by conversations in the way they're--

BOB SCHIEFFER: But we've always--

JOHN DICKERSON: --adjudicate it--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --people have always in America been passionate.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, but they've-- they've moved, you know, between parties on various issues. I mean, we-- now they're passionate and they line up with a single party, and, you know, it's just the parties-- you-- you now have a situation where the-- the most liberal Republican is still more conservative than the most conservative Democrat. And so people-- if that's the party that you're sorting to, then that's where people end up having off. Any-- any politician who might be attractive who leans and goes over towards the other party and might get somebody--


JOHN DICKERSON: --some people who find them attractive--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah. I mean when I was going up--

JOHN DICKERSON: --they don't exist anymore.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --we had conservative, Democrats and liberal Republicans. And then we hae conservative Republicans--

DAVID CORN: There are still more--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --and-- and liberal democrats.

DAVID CORN: In Congress I think there are far more conservative Democrats. You have the whole blue dog coalition than there are liberal Republicans--

JOHN DICKERSON: But it's time now.

BAY BUCHANAN: Not so many anymore.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Not so much anymore.

DAVID CORN: No, no, you know, the trend line is right.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. But I think-- you know, I would argue-- and Norman--


DAVID CORN: --Ornstein and Thomas Mann wrote a whole book about this, they would argue that they think that the Republican Party has gotten more to the right than the Democratic Party has been to the left. And it's led to, you know, the inability to have bipartisan compromises.

(Cross talking)

JOHN DICKERSON: In context there is no politician for a person in the middle to go--


JOHN DICKERSON: --latch on to. There's no--


JOHN DICKERSON: --the people don't exist to go-- to go rally upon.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What's your thought, Frank?

FRANK LUNTZ: And it's also ninety-seven to ninety-eight percent of all ads are now negative.


FRANK LUNTZ: And so all you are told is why your opponent is a fool, is incompetent, or worse yet, a liar. And so how are you supposed to then function as a democracy when ninety-seven percent of it-- and it's awful and it works.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But, Bob, you-- you remember--

BAY BUCHANAN: I disagree on-- one-- one point here. I think there's no question I was in the Reagan campaign, and it was nasty.


BAY BUCHANAN: Primary was nasty. General election was nasty. I mean it couldn't be any-- any uglier description of-- of the man who eventually won. But because of his personality, he was the kind of guy that just bring you on over, bring tip over, let's have a drink, have some laughs. And he was able to bring not only the country together but Democrats and Republicans and he forced solutions. He just forced it through. And I think that that's what we need, not a-- we need a leader who will bring the country together and Barack Obama has failed, he has failed in that town.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean I-- Bob, you've lived politics for many years. Let's not get nostalgic about how ugly it's gotten. We have seen the money pour in which has amped up the ugliness of these ads. But David's right, we have one party which is essentially an extremist party. The Democratic Party remains a coalition party in many ways.

BAY BUCHANAN: Oh, my gosh.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: No. And-- and I do think President Obama and we've had our disagreements about President Obama's policies, did come to this city really intent on trying to find compromise. And what did he find Senator DeMint, Senator McConnell who said their first priority was to take them down. And it was the first major piece of social legislation Obamacare was which passed, correct me if I'm wrong, in contemporary modern history whether-- without a single opposition party vote. So I think we're looking at a re-- redistricting the flood of money posted Citizens United, demographic shifts and I would like to see a real Republican Party but we don't have one at the moment. We have an extremist Republican Party. There are-- the moderate Republicans are an extinct breed and I think that is dangerous and unhealthy for our country.

BAY BUCHANAN: Well, it's interesting that you're concerned about the Republican Party. I think that's very, very engaging of you, but you know what, this Republican Party is as strong and as energetic and as excited about guiding and directing this country as I have ever seen it in twenty years. The energy out there is-- is similar to what we had with Reagan. There is no question it's more conservative.

DAVID CORN: What? I was at the convention.

BAY BUCHANAN: I was at that convention. It was amazing.

DAVID CORN: I didn't see anything that is resembling the type of energy, grassroots?

BAY BUCHANAN: Oh, my gosh! We have a terrific-- young-- we have a bench of terrific young leaders coming up.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham who was on earlier said in a moment of honesty, that we may not have enough grumpy old white men left soon to continue this party as it is. The demographic changes in this country are so powerful--

BAY BUCHANAN: You know, but you're talking about today's party as well.

FRANK LUNTZ: Right now, Congress has a ten-- Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House, has a ten-percent job approval rating. Gaddafi had a fourteen-percent job approval rating and that was among the people who killed him. The reason-- the reason why--

BOB SCHIEFFER: I just want to go around and just kind of--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: You're not advocating.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --I want to do my own little focus group here. What-- what happens next in the campaign and what-- what does your person have to do and I'll start with Bay, go down this way and then come back this way.

BAY BUCHANAN: We got to keep the momentum. We've got enormous momentum right now across the board as is indicated in every one of these states. And what the governor has to do and what he will do is be exactly who he was at that last debate, be himself, get out there and really let them-- the American people know the kind of amazing leader, a competence who has experience and know-how to turn this country around and put Americans back to work. He'll do that in the next two debates, he'll do it out there in every single interview and he will win this election.


FRANK LUNTZ: And my person is not Romney or the Democrats. I come here as a CBS News analyst. The candidates have to address jobs and they have to address bipartisanship. They have to demonstrate that they have a specific plan because people in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in North Carolina, in Florida, are hurting, badly hurting. And they're crying in these focus groups. They are actually losing it because they're afraid of the future and they have to show that they can work together, that there is some way for them to go across the aisle, and that will determine who the next President is.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to have John go last, over to-- to David.

DAVID CORN: Okay. I don't have a person. I'm a journalist, I don't represent any campaign. I don't, Bay, you know, you do. And I think for the President after the last debate, it's pretty clear he's going to have to show some vim and vigor and I think he's going to have to find a way to puncture what I think is this eleventh-hour conversion of Mitt Romney from a guy who had very extreme, very specific ideas until a guy just says I'm great, trust me and who looks good and can play the part. And what they-- it's at the town hall debate or the debate that you're going to get to moderate down the road and with advertising and with the ground game as well he's going to have to find a way to bring Romney back to where he's been campaigning all along and show that he himself, Barack Obama, has specific ideas.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think President Obama, I would agree with Frank has to speak about jobs and the pain in this country, feel people's pain. I think he has to speak with passion and engagement. I do think he needs to lay out what he would do but at the same time in this (INDISTINCT) with politics I do think he needs to expose the extreme makeover of Mitt Romney and also point to the news of the lowest jobless rate since 2009, five hundred thousand manufacturing and auto industry jobs. And finally, I-- I think he does need to speak again to women, and economic security, in a very important way. And those-- those are the key things.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me just ask then John, what do you expect in thirty seconds?

JOHN DICKERSON: President will have to find a way to say, Mitt Romney doesn't care enough to be straight with you in the campaign. He's not going to care enough about you to be straight with you as President. Romney has to say they're tired and out of ideas. The only creativity you see from this administration is finding new people to blame. They play the video in Libya, they blame ATMs for the economy that the only creativity, they're out of ideas, the only creativity is just kind of pointing the finger of blame, that's what Romney is going to argue.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. But we'll be right back with some thoughts from some other people on what they think is going on.


BOB SCHIEFFER: The late night comics have played a larger role than ever in this campaign, and there was no better example than last week and that is our FACE THE NATION Flashback.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN: Congressman Ryan, we begin with your opening statement.

TARAN KILLAM: Thank you. First of all, I want to thank Centre College for hosting us this evening.

JASON SUDEIKIS: Oh, boy, here we go.

TARAN KILLAM: Mister Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground but I think the people would be better served if we didn't keep interrupting each other.

JASON SUDEIKIS: Oh, you don't scare me, shark eyes.

TARAN KILLAM: Mitt, it's Barack, you watching the debate?

JIMMY FALLON: No, I-- I'm watching Breaking Amish. Should I flip over?

JAY PHAROAH: We should play a drinking game where every time Biden says my friend or Paul Ryan won't give specifics about your tax plan we'll take a shot.

JIMMY FALLON: I don't know. That's an awful lot of milk to be drinking on a Thursday night. By the way did you give Biden any pre-debate advice?

JAY PHAROAH: Well, yeah, you know, I-- I just told him that if you have no idea what you're talking about and you can't think of anything to say just say the word Malarkey. Here it goes, here it goes, watch this cue.

JOE BIDEN: With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey.

JIMMY FALLON: Interesting. I-- I told the same thing to Paul Ryan, except I said, if you get confused just start making up countries.

PAUL RYAN: Still coming in to Zabul, to Takunar, to all of these areas.

JIMMY FALLON: Nailed it. Zabul, that's a good one.

JAY PHAROAH: Very nice.

(End VT)

BOB SCHIEFFER: My problem is I can't figure out which ones were the real ones. We'll be back in a minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for today. Next week FACE THE NATION will be broadcasting from Boca Raton, Florida, the site of the final presidential debate. Hope to see you then and thank you for watching.

ANNOUNCER: 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.

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