Sunday Sound: Heard on 'This Week'

The Roundtable

Cokie Roberts (ABC News), Melody Barnes (former Obama domestic policy adviser), Paul Gigot (editorial page editor, Wall Street Journal), Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor and publisher, The Nation) and Kevin Madden (adviser to the Romney Campaign)

Secretary Geithner's Cautious Economic Outlook

7) GIGOT: Yeah, they should be [cautious], because the economy is growing. There's no question about that. But it's not growing fast enough to absorb a big shock or even really maybe a mild shock, get one from Europe, for example, if they go back into their troubles, or you get China slowing down or you get an Iranian oil shock. All of those things could really set us back. So he's right. There's a lot of -- a lot of difficulties ahead.

8) BARNES: The president has always been cautious about this in saying this is going to take some time. I started out losing 750,000 jobs a month when we walked into the White House in January of 2009, passed the stimulus bill to move the economy forward. We've seen job growth. He's got a comprehensive plan on energy, so that we are now producing at a greater rate...

9) ROBERTS: But 'It's Not as Bad as It Could Have Been' is not really a good campaign slogan.

Mitt Romney's Taxes

10) GIGOT: I would not let it fester. I would have gotten the tax returns out three or four months ago or six months ago or a year ago. I don't think you want that to be the focus of the argument.

11) MADDEN: Well, the protocol was that, when you become the nominee, you release the tax returns. President -- I'm sorry, Governor Romney has released the 2010 tax return. He's also released an estimate of his 2011 tax return. That's already on top of the exhaustive financial disclosure requirements that he has complied with for presidential candidates, thousands of documents talking about his investments and his financial situation. And I think that that type of disclosure is exactly what the American public has wanted to see and has agreed to. And I think the more important debate that we're going to have is about what we're going to be doing with the American people's tax dollars when we get to Washington, and that is where...

12) ROBERTS: I think that Romney has to find a narrative about his wealth. I mean, that's really where he is. He's -- we're not talking about his taxes. We're talking about how much money he has. And he's very, very, very rich. And he needs to find a way to talk about that so that voters don't -- aren't turned off by...

13) VANDEN HEUVEL: I think -- we're going to talk about a gender gap, but there's an empathy gap. People look at Mitt Romney and see the champion of the 1 percent, someone who, as Mike Huckabee famously said, looked like the guy who laid you off. Well, at Bain Capital, he fired you. And I think more important than disclosure of Romney's tax forms, which we should have, is the fact that his policies would, you know, help the buccaneer bankers, the corporate raiders, the private-equity gamblers, and not the middle class...

Ann Romney and the Mommy Wars Debate

14) ROBERTS: With women overall, but [President Obama] lost married women. He won unmarried women with 66 percent of the vote. So he's got that problem. Mommy wars are always a big issue, and it makes me crazy, frankly. I mean, it is true that women are working wherever they are, and the fact that they denigrate each other's choices is absurd. But the other thing that happened is it got Ann Romney out there front and center, and that's the best thing that could possibly happen to Mitt Romney. He -- you know, in our ABC poll, people see Barack Obama as much more likable than they see Mitt Romney, but Ann Romney is really likable. And she's been all over the place this week, and people have gotten to know her, and that is a big plus for him.

15) MADDEN: Well, look, I think, yes, I mean, every campaign has to seize on an opportunity like this. I think this was -- the debate sort of crystallized the differences between left and right on this particular issue, where we believe the middle is most persuadable to our -- to our opinion on this. And -- but I do think that it is a bit of a sideshow. You can never get too happy about these things when they're good for you, and you can never get too down when they're bad for you.

Melody Barnes On Bill Maher's Comments That Ann Romney 'Has Never Gotten Her A-- Out of the House to Work'

16) BARNES: Well, you know, I listened to those comments, and my grandmother's voice came in my head. I thought about the phrase, "Home training." You know, the language, the sentiment are problematic, and the campaign has -- and the president has said, look, the civility is -- it matters. The way we talk to each other matters. And they're going to have to, as you said, make a decision. I saw David Axelrod in earlier situations when comments have been made by Bill Maher say, I'm not going on your show. I'm backing away. I'm distancing myself. So it's a conversation...

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