'This Week' Transcript: Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) on "This Week"

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. It has been a packed week in politics, and we have new results this weekend in the Republican primary fight. Five more contests yesterday. Rick Santorum won the big prize in Kansas, but Mitt Romney claimed more delegates in the territories and Wyoming, and that means he still holds a commanding lead in the delegate hunt, more than double Rick Santorum's total, four times as many as Newt Gingrich.

Our powerhouse roundtable is standing by live to analyze what's next in the GOP race and what it means for the big battle with President Obama. But first, our headliners, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Lindsey Graham.

Senators, welcome to both of you. And, Senator Graham, let me begin with the economy. We saw those strong jobs numbers come out on Friday, three months in a row of 200,000-plus job creation, and that sparked a pretty remarkable concession from Rick Santorum last night coming off his victory in Kansas. He said, "The economy may be getting better and the Republicans may lose their edge on that issue." Is he right? And what does that mean for the general election?

GRAHAM: Well, no, I don't think he's right at all. This is an anemic recovery as a pretty long recession, 37 months in a row over 8 percent unemployment for the people in the United States, the longest streak since the Great Depression. Last month in February, $229 billion monthly deficit, the highest deficit in the history of the nation. When you look at the stimulus package two years ago, they projected unemployment at 6.5 percent. Obamacare said that everybody's premiums would be lowered by $2,500; they've gone up by $2,200. And we're producing less oil on publicly held lands than any time in the nation.

So the economy is not -- is anemic at best, and the policies of the president are going to make it impossible for this country to recover. Big things haven't happened very well on his watch.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Senator Schumer, not even half -- a glass half-full from Senator Graham.

SCHUMER: Well, I think the Republican Party is on the defensive. The president was handed an awful situation, everyone knows that, greatest recession since the depression, 700,000 jobs lost the year he took office, and now it's turning around because of his steadfastness. Two hundred thousand jobs a month gained in the last three months. If that continues, there will be more jobs during this administration when it concludes at the end of this first term than when it started, and that's a real accomplishment.

In addition, George, Democrats are focused like a laser on jobs, the economy, and the middle class. Republicans, realizing that that's not their strong suit, are going off on these other things, women's issues and women's health and contraception. And as a result, we're in a stronger and stronger position.

The women's vote, latest polls show we're up by 15 percent, because they want us to focus on the economy and the middle class, and we are doing it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Schumer, let me -- let me follow up on that. Let me follow up on that, because you have -- this has clearly become a Democratic theme this year, and you -- and several Democrats made a lot of hay with the comments of Rush Limbaugh last week.

But some Republicans are seeing hypocrisy there. I want to show a bit of an ad that's being run by a group called ShePAC. It's aligned with Sarah Palin. They're saying the Democrats should be asking Bill Maher, the comedian, to turn back that $1 million he gave to Obama's super PAC because of his history of attacks on women. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Hi, Bill Maher here. Sarah Palin agreed to do commentary at Fox News, which is actually very similar to her day job, talking to a baby with Down's syndrome. Speaking of dumb (bleep) it's not because they have breasts. It's because they are boobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should Democrats give the money back?

SCHUMER: Well, no. I mean, look, the bottom line is that Rush Limbaugh's comments were just nasty and directed at a particular young woman who had a particular point of view and was expressing herself. Bill Maher is a comedian. It's much different. Rush Limbaugh has tremendous weight in the Republican Party. No one will rebut him. Bill Maher's a comedian who's on at 11 o'clock at night but has very little influence on what's happening here.

So, you know, again, they're sort of -- they're sort of in a hole, and they're always trying to look for excuses. But to focus...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you in that hole, Senator Graham?

SCHUMER: ... against women...

GRAHAM: No, America's in a hole. We -- two years since the stimulus was passed, George, they promised 8 percent unemployment by the summer of 2009. Two years later, we're at 8.3 percent. Obama health care was passed on a party-line vote. People in the country don't like it. Eighty percent of small businesses by the administration's own numbers are projected to have to give up their coverage by 2014, and it was supposed to add surpluses to our problems over 10 years, and now it's adding to the deficits.

And the president says, I'm for all-of-the-above when it comes to energy. Well, those are words coming out of his mouth. They don't come from his heart. No Keystone pipeline, no drilling in the gulf. At the end of the day, the economy is not doing well because of his politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me follow with Senator Schumer on that, because, Senator, you've been taking some heat for urging President Obama to petition Saudi Arabia to increase production. From Newt Gingrich, Congressman McCarthy and others, they say instead the focus should be, just as Senator Graham just suggested, on increasing production here at home.

SCHUMER: Well, we have to do both. And that's again -- once again, they don't have any real answers. In the short term, we know why prices are up. It's because of Iran, and Iran's threatening to cut off oil production. The Saudis have 2.8 million barrels of extra production. Total Iranian production is 2.2 million. If the Saudis were to promise that they'd replace every barrel Iran took off the market with a new barrel on the market, the price of oil would plummet, and I believe the administration's working quietly towards that.

In the long run, we have to do many different things. And, you know, our colleagues forget, oil production is up. It's higher than it's been in eight years. We are producing more natural gas and oil here in America. But at the same time, we have to do alternatives. Our Republican colleagues, for instance, are blocking tax breaks for wind and solar power, which is not the whole answer, but part of the answer. We are looking to produce energy here in America in every way.

And one other thing that's happening, conservation is having a huge effect. The CAFE standards, the mileage standards on cars, are going to reduce the amount of imports we have to bring in by 1.1 million additional barrels. Right now, we only import 45 percent of our oil needs. It was 60 percent. So we're making progress...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring that...

SCHUMER: ... in the long run, but we've got to do something about the short run, too, and Saudi Arabia's one answer. An investigation into why the refineries are not at full production is a second short-term answer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring that issue of Iran to Senator Graham, because, Senator Graham, you've written a congressional resolution saying that the U.S. must prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, opposing any policy of so-called containment. Last Sunday, President Obama in his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee seemed to agree. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you and the president now in sync? The Republican candidates have been quite critical of his policy on Iran.

GRAHAM: Well, I -- I am very glad to hear that from the president. Senator Schumer and I and others have a resolution from the Senate that says containment of a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. So, yes, I was very glad to hear the president say that we would not have containment.

The problem is that during the three years in question, we've talked to Iran, they keep enriching. We've imposed sanctions, they keep enriching. They have enough low-grade uranium now to make one-and-a-half bombs, and our engagement with Iran is simply not working, and the Iranians have to believe that he will use force to stop them. Certainly, Israel is in a bad spot here.

But back to energy production, what this -- started this debate, President Obama has reduced energy production on publicly held lands, 14 percent oil, 17 percent for -- for natural gas. We're not producing oil on the lands that the -- and gas on lands that the United States owns. And all above is just a phrase.

So I'll try to help the president where I can when it comes to Iran. I'm glad to hear him say that containment is not a good strategy, because it'd be a disaster.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Schumer, let me turn that to you. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, later this week said that it's -- possible strike against Iran is not a matter of days or weeks away, but it's not years, either. Are you worried that Israel might strike during an election year? And what must Iran do to prevent it?

SCHUMER: Well, you know, George, the U.S. and Israel are really tight on this issue. This was a very good week. Not only did the president say that he wouldn't be for containment, which, of course, is a bad idea, second, he said -- excuse me -- second, he said he would use military force, no ands, ifs or buts, that Iran can't have a nuclear weapon, and if the sanctions fail, that military force would have to be used.

The sanctions are working. The president's done an amazingly good job here at trying to corral all the nations of the world who have different interests into squeezing Iran. As we speak, there are four Iranian tankers traveling around the globe looking for a place to drop off their oil, and countries don't want to deal with them because of the sanctions and the currency restrictions.

So we're making real progress. And everyone agrees, Israel and the United States, best way, sanctions. If they can work -- and the Iranian people, you know, are a secular people, they want economic advancement, they're in a real economic hole, that could put huge pressure on this administration to stop. But as the president said in the Atlantic magazine article, if sanctions don't work, we will have to use military force.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Graham, let me ask you about Afghanistan, some news breaking this morning. An American soldier reports that he went -- went rogue and essentially killed at least 15 Afghan civilians. Everyone is bracing now for another backlash, similar to what we saw after the burning of the Korans.

You've raised some serious questions about the mission, even though you do support it. Are you getting worried that it's not sustainable?

GRAHAM: No, I believe, one, this is tragic and will be investigated, and that soldier will be held accountable for his actions under the military justice system. Unfortunately, these things happen in war. You had an Israeli soldier kill worshippers by the Dome of the Rock mosque. You just have to push through these things.

My recommendation to the public is, listen to General Allen, who comes back in two weeks. The surge of forces has really put the Taliban on the defensive. The Afghan army is better trained and better equipped than ever. The goal is to withdraw our forces by 2014, put Afghans in the lead, and I hope a strategic partnership agreement, George, between the United States and Afghanistan will stop the narrative we're leaving, that there will be a follow-on force post-2014 with air bases and special forces units to make sure the Taliban never come back, and at NATO we'll stay past 2014.

We can win this thing. We can get it right. I will support the president when he does the right thing. Pulling the surge forces out that General Allen needed in 2012 by September, I think, was the big mistake. Leaving Iraq unattended was a big mistake. And it puts doubts in Iran's mind that this president really is committed to seeing things through. That's the problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree, Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: Yeah, look, I think the president has a good plan. Obviously, it's a very difficult situation because we have real terrorism that emanated from Afghanistan. The president doesn't get enough credit. He's done an amazing job with the drones and Al Qaida, not just in getting rid of bin Laden, but unlike President Bush, he said the drones could go across the border in Pakistan and Al Qaida's weakened.

The great weakness in Afghanistan is Karzai. Nobody seems to trust him or like him. And the idea of turning it over to the Afghan forces is the right way to go, but that's a major question mark, Karzai.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Senator Graham, one more political question. The Romney campaign says it's going to take an act of God for the others in the race to beat him. Are they right? And is this race getting to the point where Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum should drop out for the sake of party unity?

GRAHAM: Well, good question. I wouldn't trade places with Mitt if I were in the race. He has almost a third of the delegates he needs. Mathematically, Rick would have to win 75 percent of what remains. He's done an outstanding job, Rick has, of starting with almost nothing and being a real contender, and Newt's come back from the dead two or three times. But mathematically, this thing is about over, but emotionally it's not. I think everybody believes, if I could just get a one-on-one with Romney, I could win this thing, but if Romney does well, wins either Mississippi or Alabama and wins Illinois, then I think it's virtually impossible for this thing to continue much beyond early May.

But there's a ways to go yet. It's Romney's to lose. And, quite frankly, every time he had his back against the wall, he's performed. And I like his chances, but the other two candidates have got to make that decision themselves.

We will win in November because of the three-and-a-half years of opportunity this president's had to turn things around, and, quite frankly, he's made it worse. Just go to the gas pumps and you'll realize how worse it is on his watch.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, you -- you got that last plug in. Senators, thank you both...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm sorry. I've got to go, Senator, we're out of time, but thank you both very much.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in the roundtable now. And as they take their seats, take a look at the GOP candidates courting and being courted by the South and to those primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I'm learning to y'all, and I -- I like grits. And things are -- strange things are happening to me.

Morning, y'all. Good to be with you. I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits, I'll tell you. Delicious. Hilton Garden Inn knows just what to serve me in the morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in the roundtable now. And as they take their seats, take a look at the GOP candidates courting and being courted by the South and to those primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I'm learning to y'all, and I -- I like grits. And things are -- strange things are happening to me.

Morning, y'all. Good to be with you. I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits, I'll tell you. Delicious. Hilton Garden Inn knows just what to serve me in the morning.

THE SANTORUM GIRLS (singing): ... hope for our nation again, maybe the first time since we had Ronald Reagan. There will be justice for the unborn, factories back on our shores, where the Constitution rules our land. Yes, I believe Rick Santorum is our man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: They call themselves the Santorum girls. Everyone's in place right now. George Will off today, but we're happy to welcome Republican strategist Mary Matalin, Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, but, Eliot and Mary, you also host "Both Sides Now," a new radio show. Glad to have you here today. We also have Nicolle Wallace, Republican strategist, veteran of the Bush White House, McCain campaign, Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, and our own White House correspondent, Jake Tapper.

Welcome to all of you. And, Mary, let me begin where Lindsey Graham left off in this delegate hunt in the Republican primary. Let me show the board right now. You see 454 delegates for Mitt Romney, more than double what Rick Santorum has right now. Is Romney right, is the campaign right when they say it's going to take an act of God? Lindsey Graham seemed to pretty much say so, yes.

MATALIN: I wouldn't throw God into this equation at this point, given what's happened. But Mitt Romney's won the most states, he has the most delegates, he has the best organization, he has the most money. He's -- he's getting it done where he needs to get it done. He's the only candidate that's broke 40 percent. I mean, he's just getting better. He's closing better.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How does this end?

MATALIN: It just -- well, let me say this, that it goes on is not a bad thing. That is a big myth, that 90 -- the last campaign of y'alls, the liberal campaign, they went into June and Hillary was screaming at Obama for being an elitist, for talking about bitter clingers, and saying shame on you, Barack, so, you know, that went into June, they did fine. The short campaign is not necessarily a good campaign. McCain and Kerry were the last nominees from a short campaign. So I think it goes on. I don't think that's bad.

SPITZER: But there's a fundamental difference, and that is the passion and energy in the campaign, which is totally lacking behind Mitt Romney, and the reason for that is there's three Republican parties. There's the theological party. There is the libertarian party, obviously, theological party being led by Rick Santorum right now, Paul leading the libertarian party. Mitt Romney has what remains of the sort of corporate party, but the three don't go together very well. And Mitt Romney -- and I agree, he'll probably be the nominee -- but when he emerges, there won't be any energy and passion behind him. Hillary and Barack, there was energy that you have never seen before.

WALLACE: That romanticized 2008, you know, to a point where -- where...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Well, I mean, the major animating force in 2008 was their anger at the Bush legacy and the Bush years. It was not passion, love, and affection for Hillary and Obama. So this -- the romanticizing of that election has to stop.

I think what -- what Mitt Romney has going for him is people want him to do well almost with as much intensity as -- as -- as anything else. So people are pulling for him, and people are desperate for him to look stronger, to do better, and to put this away. So inasmuch as I think -- I accept that -- the fact that it goes on and on may fortify him for the general election. People want to see him stronger. They want to see him win races. And they want to see him look like our nominee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And he has picked up points in week by week from traditional Republicans. Let me bring this to you, Austan Goolsbee, this idea of romanticizing 2008. One thing you saw coming out of the long fight in 2008 was a lot of talk about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton getting together on the ticket, and that brings me to the question of what Rick Santorum is going to be able to demand if he continues to pick up delegates every single week.

GOOLSBEE: I think that's a good point. I mean, the -- the -- the conundrum, the puzzle of this race compared to 2008 -- and I think it's right. We shouldn't over-romanticize. But if you looked at the numbers, it wasn't like this. It wasn't debilitating the candidates. Their favorability wasn't plunging among independents as it continued.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but Hillary was upside-down around this point in 2008.

GOOLSBEE: Yes, but it wasn't getting worse. What's happening in the Republican primary is that as it's gone on, it still remains interesting, but they're -- it's just chewing them up, and it's not clear whether that's because what they're proposing...

MATALIN: Well, I don't know what data you all are looking at. The enthusiasm among Republicans is greater than among Democrats, and it's greater than it was in '08.

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: No, the data is independent voters.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: ... that that which makes you weak in a primary strengthens you in a general.

GOOLSBEE: No, but independent voters...

SPITZER: Independents, exactly.

GOOLSBEE: ... are turning very heavily against all the Republican candidates in a way that did not happen in the Democratic primary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that leads to the question of -- because Mitt Romney is facing that especially, he's -- his favorability among independents is -- he's got a real deficit right there, so how does he fix it going into these next several weeks?

TAPPER: Well, he needs to win, and he needs to win strong. But that's probably not going to happen, at least in the next contests, in Alabama. And...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Although if he won in Mississippi or Alabama, that could end this rather quickly.

TAPPER: It could, but I don't see any indication that Santorum or Gingrich are going to drop out any time soon. And they -- both their campaigns make the case, look, the path might be difficult for us -- I think they have to win 60 percent or 70 percent of all the remaining delegates, but Romney has to win 50 percent of all the remaining delegates.

The Romney people will acknowledge that the campaign as it goes forward today could deny him the key number of delegates, 1,144. And if you talk to the Gingrich people, they are already talking about how Gingrich is going to go to Tampa. They're the only ones who have...

STEPHANOPOULOS: He says no matter what.

TAPPER: No matter what. And they say, Gingrich is the only one who has ever run a whip operation, when he was the House majority whip. He -- he is -- or the minority whip. And that says to me that they are actually literally preparing for a floor fight.

SPITZER: And that's the critical point, because Austan raised the critical issue. The question is, how do independent voters view these candidates? Winning the nomination isn't the objective here; it's winning in November. Independent voters will determine that. And the narrative over the next few weeks will be determined by both Gingrich and Santorum, which means the theological vote, which is driving independent voters away, will domestically.

MATALIN: Can I just -- reality zone. Reality zone. There's never been the numbers that this -- in March, nine months before the election, that were predictive of the head to head.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill Clinton was in third at this point.

MATALIN: Thank you.

WALLACE: And independents aren't even paying attention yet. I mean, they tune in late, and they change their minds.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... let me pose it to both you, Mary and Nicolle. How does -- and, Nicolle, you go first -- how does Mitt Romney manage to continue to try to get conservatives over to his side while reaching out to independents?

WALLACE: I think the trouble that he's having in bringing along -- really, the hard-core elements of our base will serve him well in the general. It was a little bit similar to what John McCain faced, where he had supported comprehensive immigration reform, it was a huge burden in the Republican primary, but it didn't -- some of the more difficult things to swallow for women voters who make up the majority of independents made it easier for him to make his case to those same voters in the general election. And I think that...

TAPPER: McCain did not do well with Latino voters, though.

WALLACE: Well, women, though. Women.

TAPPER: Oh, OK.

WALLACE: I mean, some of these issues that feel hard or harsh turn off women voters, and I think that Romney will have -- have an easier time. I think some of the social issues and some of the debates we've had don't attach themselves to Romney.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does he -- does he have the freedom at this point to do what a lot of people are recommending, find a place to pick a fight, show some distance from the base of the party?

MATALIN: That's a ridiculous kind of pundit strategy, OK? What -- I don't care what -- you can look at any poll, and by three to one, four to one, I don't care what kind of conservative you are, you care about the economy. I don't care what kind of independent you are, you care about the economy.

The very last thing voters say they care about are social issues. And he's not -- he is going to be running against Barack Obama, whose numbers as an incumbent closely resemble Bush I and Carter. They do not resemble LBJ's or Clintons. So this canard about it's -- this is a Goldwater or a Dole analogy is just...

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: Mary, I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATALIN: Opine (ph) on the Republican Party, about which you know so much.

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: Well, you know, I've run against them and beaten them, but here's what -- here's what I would say. You're right. The economy will be dispositive, and that story line will increasingly come back to the White House and be favorable for them. But on the subsidiary issues by your term of immigration, women's rights, civil rights, critical issues to get the Latino and female voters who determine that centrist middle, the Republican Party is losing and going the wrong way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that gives us a perfect stopping point, because we have a lot more to come, and I want to talk about the general election and that fight ahead. That's coming up, the economy, Iran, and the election. Also, Kony 2012, you might have heard of it, but after the hype, can social media make a social difference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): It's obvious that Kony should be stopped. The problem is, 99 percent of the planet doesn't know who he is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And "Game Change," art, documentary or propaganda?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOORE: The women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Here's the good news. Over the past two years, our businesses have added nearly 4 million new jobs.

ROMNEY: To the millions of Americans who look around and can only see jobs they can't get and bills that they -- that they can't pay, I have a message: You have not failed. You have a president that's failed you, and that's going to change.

OBAMA: Day by day, we're creating new jobs, but we can't stop there, not until everybody who's out there pounding the pavement, sending out their resumes has a chance to land one of those jobs.

ROMNEY: My friends, the truth is 8 percent unemployment is not the best America can do. It's just the best that this administration can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the economic debate, back up from David Bowie. Let's talk about it on our roundtable, Mary Matalin, Eliot Spitzer, Nicolle Wallace, Austan Goolsbee, Jake Tapper.

And, Austan, you were the chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. And you saw him talking about that nice string of good news, three months in a row of 200,000-plus jobs. But when you dig into the numbers, what worries you?

GOOLSBEE: I think the main thing that ought to worry anybody is that the growth rate's probably not as sustainable as at high a rate as it's been, so the pace of expansion, which for six months has been pretty impressive, it may just slow down a bit. I don't think it's double dip, but it's just not as good as that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The warm weather this winter may be borrowing growth from the spring and the summer?

GOOLSBEE: Yeah, there may be some component of that. But it's been pretty broad-based. If -- if it were just coming from weather, you would have thought that the jobs would primarily concentrated in weather-related industries. It wasn't just that. You've got -- over six months, we're running at kind of a 2.5 million jobs a year pace. That's a really -- that would be a pretty decent year, even in an expansion.

I think the fear would be we just slowed down a little bit, instead of growing 2.5 percent or 3 percent, we grow 1.5 percent or 2 percent. And then as the economy's improving, you're also going to see, as you have the last couple of months, a whole lot of people coming out of the labor force, back into the job market...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So the unemployment rate...

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: ... so the unemployment rate might actually go back up...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Nicolle, a lot of Republicans look at these numbers -- and I was struck by what Rick Santorum said last night, conceding the Democrats might have the edge on the economy going forward.

WALLACE: Well, look, what's happened in this recession? Women have become a larger and more important and more vibrant part of the workforce, and what do women do? They -- they do it all, right? So they're the ones in charge of the family budget.

And I think this issue of a government that is spending more than it has, that still hasn't turned it around to the voters' satisfaction, becomes incredibly potent, and I think that Mitt Romney is not a candidate who's going to root against the economy. You can feel how much he is rooting for good news on the economic front. He understands how vitally important that is to American families, so I think with Mitt Romney as our nominee, you have someone that's cheered by the good news, but who also understands how important it is to voters...

GOOLSBEE: I don't know if I 100 percent agree with that.

SPITZER: I think Rick Santorum said that, by the way, because he wants to refocus on the theological issues. He's basically saying, Mitt Romney won't win arguing about the economy. I, Rick Santorum, can win talking about social issues, so I think that's a tactical issue. But I think Austan's right. If the workforce participation rate begins to go back up, and that really long term is the most important measure of our success as an economy, it actually would drive down -- drive back up, also, the unemployment rate momentarily, and that visually could look bad.

TAPPER: The jobs being created are an issue for anybody, as I'm sure Austan would acknowledge. The idea that we're creating jobs is great. But these are not the jobs of the future, for the most part. These are a lot of service jobs, food and drink, lot of health care jobs, orderlies. These are not -- not all of them, obviously, but a lot of these jobs are temp workers, people trying to get by.

GOOLSBEE: I don't think that -- for some time, that was true, but the last several months, it's been pretty broad-based. Manufacturing job growth, for example, is about the best it's been in 15 years. I think it's -- it's been a particularly strong period. And the question really is, can that be sustained?

Now, I think, on the deficit, the Republican primary that we were talking about before has kind of tempted these candidates into a bad space. I think personally that's why independents are reacting badly is the deficit's been a significant issue since we had the worst downturn since the depression. And you've seen each of the Republican candidates propose tax plans that would explode the deficit $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is the coming debate, Mary.

MATALIN: Let me go to the reality zone. People who are voting do not measure their economic stability or sustainability on the employment numbers, on the labor force participation, on the Dow or the Nasdaq. They measure it by the pump, filling up their car.

Women are -- you fill up your SUV, your Suburban, $96 to fill up my car, or your groceries, your energy, or your health care premiums, all of which -- those issues they blame on Obama. Independent voters do not blame him necessarily for this, but they think the economy, they think his policies have made it worse or they're -- they're ineffective.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Jake, the president did seem to concede that this week when he got that question about gas prices, and he sort of said, well, what president would ever want higher gas prices running for re-election? But picking up on -- on Austan's point, it does seem like some of this debate is going to shift to the plans of each -- of each candidate even more than the record, at least that's where the White House wants to take it right now, and they're going to focus on this tax plan for Mitt Romney.

TAPPER: They're going to focus on the tax plan of Mitt Romney and, as you saw in their 17-minute documentary, produced by Davis Guggenheim, they're going to -- and narrated by Tom Hanks, they're going to focus on, where were we when President Obama took office? It's not just going to be where are we now. It's going to be, put it in the context of the economic crisis.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me show a little bit of that, because we do have a little bit of it teed up. Or...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Those who are suggesting or proposing or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Actually, that was not the documentary. That was the president at the press conference.

Nicolle Wallace, but this is going to be -- what you're setting up here is Republicans saying the president made things worse. He's going say he faced the toughest challenges any -- any president faced and we're making progress, and then turn to the plans for the future.

WALLACE: Yeah, elections are always, always about the future, so I hope they spend a whole lot of time talking about the past, because that will -- that will set us up in a way that will serve our party well. Elections are always about the future. People remember all too well where they were four years ago, and it was very scary for most people, and that transcends right, left, partisan bickering, and that's part of why -- we've been talking about independents all morning -- that's part of why they're so turned off.

TAPPER: The attempted pivot, though, if I could -- the attempted pivot is, remember how bad things were four years ago? That's where Mitt Romney or whomever is going to take us back to that. That will be the attempted pivot.

SPITZER: Well, I think President Obama will quote President Reagan. Are you better off now than you were four years ago? And the answer is going to be overwhelming yes. People will think back...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think people will buy the overwhelming yes?

(UNKNOWN): No.

SPITZER: Yes, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: I've spoken to a lot of folks...

MATALIN: ... not only do they not think it's better. They think -- they're really concerned about the future in ways they weren't. If Carter was malaise, this is despair. Hope has turned to hopeless.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: People think their kids have a worse shot at a bright future than they did.

GOOLSBEE: I think there is -- there is a certain irony. When George Bush ran for re-election against Kerry, if you remember, they consistently, when criticized about their jobs record (inaudible) they said, you can't blame us for the recession that we inherited, and so they tracked their job progress from the lowest point of the business cycle. If you do that now, the economy has actually added millions of jobs. It's precisely the Republicans who are saying, no, no, let's go back, let's count the first six months of the administration, which is when all the massive damage takes place, let's count all of that as if it's Obama's fault.

WALLACE: This is gobbledygook to the voters, though. Voters...

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: The question of whether you're better off than you were four years ago hinges on, what were you doing in the three months when the president came into office and we had the worst six months we ever had in the data?

SPITZER: That's exactly right.

MATALIN: Can I state a political obvious point? You know how there's a pre-9/11 and a post-9/11 security world? There is a pre-9/15 and a post-9/15, which was the collapse of Lehman brothers, economic world. The degradation to the psyche is way worse than anything that we're comparing it to. People really have a despair about the future. They don't see a way out of this. And they feel -- they're not mad at this president. I'm talking about Obama swing voters. They just think he's a weak leader. That's...

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: No, but, Mary...

MATALIN: That's the political reality.

SPITZER: I'll accept your premise that there is a Lehman Brothers moment, where there's a before and an after, but the reality is, the public understands that that crisis and the entire framework and ideology that generated it was a consequence of the Bush-Reagan era. And they -- independent voters are now looking at President Obama saying he has saved us from something that was utter failure.

WALLACE: I have never met anyone...

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: The metaphor will be the auto industry, where the crisis will be either you supported it and look what we've done, President Obama will say we saved it, and in swing states, that will be hugely important. Mitt Romney let them go bankrupt. That dichotomy is the election.

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: ... thing is, Mitt Romney has an economic plan, and it has not received a significant amount of attention in the primary because the other Republican candidates have very similar plans. But if you start looking at it, it's back to the same old "let's just deregulate everything, let's massively cut taxes for high-income people." It's not the kind of thing I think that America is going to look at and say, "Oh, yes, that'll work. It worked great the last time."

TAPPER: In fact, the thing that is heartening to Obama strategists is that Mitt Romney is not making a unique argument, that there is an opportunity for Mitt Romney to say, "The Obama model fails, the Bush model fails, here is the Romney model. It is a third alternative model." The Obama people dread Mitt Romney doing that. He has not done it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Mary, how does he deal with the issue of his wealth in a general election? How serious a problem is it?

MATALIN: You know, one thing he needs to do is quit being defensive about it. This is an aspirational country. His first calculation to be defensive about it is why he keeps getting stuck in it. When he says, "I'm an American success story, and Bain is a America success story," and he should pivot to, if we had less of a regulatory and a tax labyrinth, you could be an American success story, too, and I think he will get there, because he is -- he has the heart and soul -- and his family does -- of an -- of an average American family.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: And his wife is already there...

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: ... million dollars in a Cayman Islands bank account. I think he's going to have a tough sell on that.

SPITZER: I actually agree with Mary about that. The prescription is never play defense. In politics, if you're playing defense, you're losing. Instead of being defensive about it, be affirmative. Say this is an affirmative story, and I'm proud of it, instead of always justifying and hemming and hawing...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But then how does he answer the question -- I think you're probably right about that. How does he answer the question, Nicolle Wallace, going to Austan's point, when the Democrats say he's given himself a massive million-dollar tax break while cutting Medicare?

WALLACE: Well, look, I don't think that the voters are going to be looking at what he's done for himself and how -- I mean, he's followed the laws of the land. He's followed the tax code. No one's suggesting that he's broken any of our current tax laws.

TAPPER: There's a winning message.

WALLACE: And what we're going to -- well, but, look, the debate isn't about whether he's followed the tax code as it currently exists. It's about whether it's fair. Is it fair to me? Is it fair to you? And that's a debate that I think Republicans welcome. We're happy to have a debate about the American tax code. And I think you've got Republicans like Tom Coburn, who've been outspoken for tax reform, and it's actually Obama who took a pass on bringing in some of the outspoken Republicans who were willing to do a tax reform deal, to close loopholes and to -- you know, so tax reform has been on the table...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's actually where the president gets most defensive, most irritated....

WALLACE: ... and Obama is vulnerable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... when people suggest that, that he took a pass on the big deal.

TAPPER: Yeah, he did, though. He did take a pass. He did take a pass on the big deal. He -- we don't have to get into the re-litigate. I think there were weaknesses on both sides. But what happened -- what happened last year was it was tough negotiating with Boehner, but then this other group of senators came out and had a different plan, and President Obama all of a sudden was put in a position where he had to readjust in order to get Democrats on bill, so he did change the stakes. But we don't have to -- the question is whether or not...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: He wasn't changing the stakes (ph). He reversed himself on tax reform.

GOOLSBEE: No, no...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: There were Republicans...

GOOLSBEE: That's not accurate.

WALLACE: ... who supported tax reform, closing the loopholes, lowering all the rates, and this will be the debate in the general election. I think Republicans are pleased -- every day in the general that we spend debating taxes is a good day for Republicans.

TAPPER: The question of what House Republicans would have voted for is a very serious question, whether John Boehner, even if he had supported any sort of plan, could have brought the Republicans with him is a very serious question. Not one House Republican supported the Bowles-Simpson commission or voted for it, not one.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to -- I want to switch gears right now, because something remarkable happened on the Internet this week, this video about Joseph Kony, warlord in central Africa, head of the Lord's Resistance Army, for the last 20 years. A group called Invisible Children does a 30-minute video about it. It has gotten close to 100 million hits across the web in the last week alone. Here's a little bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Since the government said it was impossible, we didn't know what else to do but tell everyone we could about Jacob and the invisible children, show this movie to as many people as possible in such a way that we can't be ignored. And when we did, people were shocked, and their awareness turned into action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Mary, you had a story, like so many others around the country and the world, you first heard about it from your daughter.

MATALIN: When my 13-year-old calls me, it's an emergency on the road, I presume there's a Jimmy Choo sale, OK? This -- I never expect to hear this. And she was so on it. She called me, have you watched it? Have you done anything about it? And then she says, you Republicans are having problems with the youth vote. You could really get ahead of this story. You'd get the youth vote. I said, you're 13 (inaudible) shoe fashionista.

So it really captured -- it captured them in a way that's potentially dangerous, because they don't...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why dangerous?

MATALIN: Because they don't have the capacity to -- it's just a tool, for good or ill, as we learned in -- against the asymmetrical enemy that we face when we were working in the White House, so they don't have the capacity to -- at this age to study and research the complexity, and this -- this one is complex, and a lot of critics have come out...

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: The technology -- look, there was a little criticism when "America's Most Wanted" first came out, that people said, well, it's diverting attention from other kinds of crime. Do we really want to turn this into entertainment? When they first started putting the -- the lost kids on milk cartons, there are a lot of media technologies that, as they come in, we don't know what quite to make of it.

But in the end, I think we're going to look back and say, these are pretty exciting, that -- that -- that people are moving -- that we brought down -- we saw dictatorships brought down by people on Facebook, saying, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, see, I guess that is part of the question. Is this activism or the -- the new term is slacktivism? Does hitting that button, watching the video, replace, substitute social action?

SPITZER: George, it will be both. But I'm with Austan. It is an amazing new arena where information flows so much more quickly, rapidly to diverse audiences. This has got to be good for humanity. It's like the Gutenberg press. Suddenly everybody can see and learn -- yes, you're right, some won't (inaudible) let me give you another aspect to this. It may solve campaign finance. In other words, money becomes less valuable and important when a video can go viral and hit 100 million people almost cost-free. And so I think so many issues will be affected by this, from the Arab Spring to taking down a dictator, a terrorist, to political finance. I think it's amazing.

WALLACE: Well, I'm reminded of the video of Neda in Iran, when the -- in 2009...

STEPHANOPOULOS: The girl who was shot.

WALLACE: ... which was an image that broke hearts all around the world, but no action followed. We didn't press our government to get involved. So it has -- it has to connect the two. And Bush speechwriter Mike Gerson wrote the most spot-on comment about this, that empathy is not a zero-sum game. You know, obviously, there are atrocities talking place in Syria, that, you know...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But increasing the awareness is a good thing.

WALLACE: But increasing awareness is a good thing.

TAPPER: Awareness is a good thing. As somebody who -- who tried and failed to get stories on air and to get the public interested when Obama sent 100 special forces to Central Africa...

STEPHANOPOULOS: To take on Joseph Kony.

TAPPER: ... to take on Joseph Kony, as somebody who asked President Obama about this last October, and there was very little interest in getting that question and answer out there for the public, very little interest or awareness by the public, bravo to them. But the question is, to what end? There are things in that video that are not factually accurate. He's not in Uganda, Joseph Kony. A lot of this -- there are not 30,000 child soldiers. It's probably between 150 and 300.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he is going to be probably one of the most famous men in the world on April 20th. We only have a couple minutes left, but before we go, Nicolle Wallace, in honor of you, you served in the McCain campaign, so you have -- Sarah Paulson played you in the movie "Game Change" last night on HBO. And we're going to show a little bit of the clip here, talking about the infamous interview with Katie Couric.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOORE: You call that interview fair?

PAULSON: Yes, Governor, I do.

MOORE: I certainly don't. She was out to get me from the get-go.

PAULSON: No, she wasn't. The interview sucked because you didn't try.

MOORE: Well, what do you mean I didn't try?

PAULSON: You just gave up.

MOORE: Nicolle, it wasn't my fault. I wasn't properly prepped.

PAULSON: You weren't properly prepped because you wouldn't listen to us.

MOORE: I am not your puppet!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the Palin campaign didn't like it. How true to life?

WALLACE: Well, true enough to make me squirm. But, you know, look, this isn't a movie about campaign staff, and this isn't even really a movie about McCain and Palin. This is a movie about the vast gray area in which 99 percent of our politics actually takes place. And I think that what gets boiled down or sometimes the fights or the instant analysis or the black and white, who's up and who's down.

But the truth is -- and I think everyone around this table has had some experience in their political careers -- where you're just feeling your way through a very gray area and you're doing your best. And this campaign was certainly one of those instances for me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question. And, you know, there has been a bit of a backlash, Mary, but there are a lot of points in that movie that's very sympathetic to Sarah Palin.

MATALIN: Mark Halperin, who's the co-author of the book, but -- came down to teach James' class in Tulane and said it was not in total, but large sympathetic. The movie is not that. A lifelong Democrat called me and said "Game Change" is a channel change for me. So it's not RJ Cutler, Pennebaker, "The War Room" or "A Perfect Candidate." It's just a fictional movie. And to that end, it's meaningless, other than I like your hair in the movie, Nicolle.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to -- that's all we have time for. Thanks a lot, guys. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: It has been exactly one year since that earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. And this morning, there were moments of silence to remember the dead, but the rebuilding has also begun, and there is new life in the tsunami zone.

Nineteen thousand people died in the tragedy, 325,000 remain homeless. But the rebuilding has begun, and the decade-long rebuilding effort is expected to cost more than $300 billion.

I'll be back to answer some of the questions you had for us this week. But first, we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Finally today, "Your Voice This Week," where you get to ask the questions. I take a shot at answering them.

And the first one comes from Rosemary Ryan. Will the Republican candidate name a woman as vice presidential candidate to temper the rhetoric and perception of the war on women?

I think there's a good shot at that, no question about it. Keep an eye on two new GOP governors, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, also Susana Martinez of New Mexico. That is a key battleground state, and Governor Martinez could help with the Hispanic vote. Of course, coming off that experience four years ago with Sarah Palin, another new governor, you can expect any vice presidential candidate to get a complete and thorough background check.

The next question comes from Paula Keim. "George, I sense the Supreme Court is making an effort to influence the presidential election with the timing of some of the cases this summer. Is this unprecedented or fairly common?"

You must be talking about cases on affirmative action and, of course, President Obama's health care law, but I have to say, I don't agree. I think this is being determined by the fact that the cases are bubbling up through the lower courts. I don't think the Supreme Court has the intent of influencing the election, but there's no question that their decision, especially on Obamacare, could really shape the playing field for November.

And finally, davewill2000 would like to know, who do you like for baseball this year?

The same team I always like, the same team I have liked ever since 1969 and the Miracle Mets. I'm not sure the Mets can pull off a miracle this year, but I'll be rooting for them.

If you've got a question for me, send it in on Facebook, Twitter at #askgeorge, or anytime on abcnews.com and Yahoo.

That's all for us today. "World News" with David Muir has the latest headlines tonight. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."

END

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