'This Week' Transcript: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

AMANPOUR: I guess for the last year or more, the whole conversation in this country has been about budget cuts and cutting spending, et cetera. But with Occupy Wall Street and those movements, it's sort of shifted to the income disparity, to the inequality, to the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. And now, though, you're seeing police departments all over the country really trying to move them off the streets. How much longer do you think that this movement can last? And do you embrace their ideals and what they're standing for?

EMANUEL: Well, look, in -- as mayor in Chicago, I firmly believe in protecting people's First Amendment right. That will never be encroached upon. I also have a responsibility to enforce the law. And that also will happen. And I don't think First Amendment rights and law enforcement are opposite.

But you cannot be in public life and be callous to the angst that the middle class have in this country. Remember, in the last decade, for the first time during a period of, quote, unquote, "economic expansion," the middle class lost ground economically. They had their standard of living decline. That's never happened before.

Second, even before they got their feet underneath -- underneath them, they were hit again by a recession. They got the double whammy. You cannot be callous to homeowners, families trying to send their kids to college, people trying to hang on to their jobs and grow their income, and not see what happened to them in the last decade.

AMANPOUR: Mayor Emanuel, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

EMANUEL: Thank you. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Rahm Emanuel making the case for four more years. So let's now bring in our roundtable, George Will, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, former George W. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, and Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Thank you all for being here. So you saw in the speech that Rahm Emanuel delivered last night that this was not just a defense of Obama, of course, but taking on Romney. Is this the strategy that's going to work? I mean, is this really what they think now, that it is going to be Romney, the -- the candidate?

WILL: I think they do. It's hard to see Romney not coming out of this point as the answer to William Buckley's principle, which is you vote the most conservative person who is electable, and that -- as the current...

AMANPOUR: Do you feel that now?

WILL: So far. But, again, let's wait until we've hear from some actual voters.

AMANPOUR: So how is the Rahm Emanuel sort of method going to play out? I mean, is it really something sustainable now just to go after Romney? Because he's not just saying he's a flip-flopper. He's saying, look at the principles he did stand for.

NOONAN: Look, I think what Rahm Emanuel was showing in that interview is that 2012 is about this. Here is the re-elect strategy, no matter who the Republican is. If the subject is Barack Obama, that's bad for Obama. If the subject of the 2012 election is, oh, that Republican nominee is so awful, then Obama has a chance. This is going to be a demolition derby on the part of the Democrats, in which they simply try to tear the other guy on -- the other guy down.

Rahm clearly was thinking the guy right now and still is Romney. But whoever it is, it'll be the same kind of attack.

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