'This Week' Transcript: David Axelrod and Rick Santorum

PHOTO: Obama Campaign Senior Adviser David Axelrod on "This Week"

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president takes a pounding.

OBAMA: The truth of the matter is, the private sector is doing fine.

ROMNEY: Is he really that out of touch? To stand up and say the private sector is doing fine? It's an extraordinary miscalculation.

OBAMA: The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Obama's gaffe caps the worst week of his campaign, with new worries on the economy.

A big loss in Wisconsin.

WALKER: Together, we're going to move Wisconsin forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: His best surrogate off-message.

CLINTON: I don't think I should have to say bad things about Governor Romney personally to disagree with him politically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And new fury over national security leaks.

MCCAIN: They have to stop. These leaks have to stop.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Can Obama get his groove back? Will Romney make the most of this chance?

ROMNEY: A long way to go.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Questions for our headliners. The president's top campaign strategist, David Axelrod. Romney's runner-up, Rick Santorum, and another powerhouse roundtable with Mike Huckabee, Ed Rendell, Ann Coulter and Van Jones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. As you just heard, a rough week for the president's re-election campaign. So let's get right to his top campaign strategist, David Axelrod. Good to have you back, David.

AXELROD: Thanks, George, good to be with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's start with that press conference on Friday. The president making that statement saying the private sector is doing fine. You saw how fast Mitt Romney pounced. And this morning the campaign is out with a new video to drive the point home. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have seen layoffs, cutbacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When all is said, we're making $200 a month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been looking for a job for two years. Haven't found any.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to file my own personal bankruptcy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're saying, no, Mr. President, we're not doing fine. How big of a mistake did the president make and is it going to stick?

AXELROD: Look, George, I think the American people are smarter than that. They understand the president called the press conference to say that because of the storm clouds that are rolling in from Europe and elsewhere, we need to undergird our economy, and he called the press conference to promote several steps he thought we needed to take to strengthen job creation.

So, tax cuts for small business hiring. Helping families who are under water by cutting red tape so they can refinance under today's low interest rates. Save on the average $3,000 a family. And put the teachers and firefighters and police who have lost their jobs over the last -- we have had 4.3 million private sector jobs created over the last 27 months, but we lost almost half a million public sector jobs, and most of them are teachers. Many of them are firefighters and police. And his argument was that we ought to move on this, Congress ought to move on this.

Governor Romney chose to jump on the word, but what was most interesting is how he reacted to the spirit of the thing, because his statement was we don't need any more teachers, we don't need any more firefighters or police. The president is out of touch. Out of touch? We have lost 250,000 teachers in the last 27 -- couple of years. Every community in the country is feeling it. It's bad in the short term for our economy, because those are good middle-class jobs, and it's bad in the long term for our economy because we're not going to win and our kids aren't going to win unless we invest in education.

So I would suggest he's living on a different planet if he thinks that's a prescription for a stronger economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that debate is going to continue. But as you know, the press conference came at the end of what had been a pretty tough week as we've said. The jobs numbers coming out last Friday, the Wisconsin loss for Democrats in the recall election. We found out also that Mitt Romney outraised the president last month. And the Romney campaign really seems to be smelling blood right now. They think you've lost your footing.

I want to show something that -- from columnist Matt Dowd, who of course worked for President George W. Bush. He said, I would have thought that the Obama campaign would have prepared a single disqualifying argument and pounded it for the last five or six weeks. They have done neither.

AXELROD: Well, first of all, let me say, you've got an expert panel coming up and they can chew over whether what happened in the first week of June is going to be meaningful in October and going into the first Tuesday in November. I suspect much of this will be of little consequence.

I think the debate we just talked about will be, because Governor Romney has proposed a program that would give every millionaire a $250,000 additional tax cut but deeply cut education. And those kinds of debates are going to be important. The rest of it really won't be important, and, you know, it's the fascination of the political community. We are -- you know, we are making a case about how you grow this economy in a way that will build a strong middle class. It's not the way Governor Romney proposes. His history as a job creator is suspect. Senator Santorum is on next. He spoke to it during the Republican primary campaign. His business was not creating jobs. It was creating wealth for his partners, oftentimes at the expense of workers, and that showed in Massachusetts when he was governor, 47th in the nation in job creation, one of the worst records.

Even as he was expanding -- he expanded the government by 30 percent, public sector jobs grew at six times the rate of private sector jobs. So this is the debate that the American people are interested in. How do we grow this economy in a way that grows the middle class that is sustainable, an economy that is built to last?

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you hit on both points there, both the past and the future for Governor Romney. Which one is more important? Because Bill Clinton seemed to be suggesting last week that what your campaign should focus on is Romney's plans for the future, that's where the debate should be, and that's where you're going to win.

AXELROD: Well, that's certainly going to be where the debate is. But it's also important, since Governor Romney has offered as only his credential really his business work, he doesn't talk about Massachusetts. But his main argument is, I know -- I have the secret sauce, I know how to get the economy moving.

So it's important to look at some of that history, because his future, his view of how we build a better future is very much rooted in how he -- in the lessons that he has learned in the past. And those are not lessons that are going to translate into progress for the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask you about another issue that came up at the president's press conference on Friday, those national security leaks. We have two investigations now being ordered by the attorney general.

And the president said that he was offended by any suggestion that these leaks were for political purposes by his White House aides. Michele Bachmann responded to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course the White House leaked it and of course they did it, to make Obama look like he was tough on terror. I am offended that he lied to the American people this afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I see you smiling in response to Michele Bachmann. And I take the president's point that this was not for political…

AXELROD: As I often do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That this was not for political purposes. But if you look at these articles that were in The New York Times, on both the Stuxnet worm that went after the Iranian nuclear program, and the president's going over this so-called "kill list" for drones, in both cases they quote members of the president's national security team who were in the room.

So somebody who was in the room with the president was giving out some of this information or at least discussing classified information.

AXELROD: George, I think the authors of all of this work have said that the White House was not the source of this information. I can't say that there weren't leaks. There were obvious leaks, but they weren't from the White House.

Let me tell you something, I sat with the president for two years when I was in the White House. And you know, I don't think there was anything that weighed on him more heavily than these life or death decisions. He understands that when he commits people to missions that their lives are at stake, and the safety of Americans are at stake.

And the last thing that he would countenance or anybody around him would countenance are leaks that would jeopardize the security of Americans on these secret missions, and the success of those missions. So, you know, I think when he said on Friday that he said offended about it, he was speaking from that place.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're confident that this investigation is not going to show White House involvement?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes. The White House is opposed to -- and I think you know this, George, we have come under attack because we have been tougher on leaks than any administration in recent history. And we have been criticized for that.

But it's the right thing to do because of the very issue that has been raised. We want to make sure that the people we assign to these very difficult tasks are safe, or as safe as they can be. And we want to make sure that these missions are successful.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. David Axelrod, thanks very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in Senator Rick Santorum right now. You heard David Axelrod talking about him. Two months ago he left this presidential campaign.

Great to have you back on THIS WEEK. And I just wanted to get…

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: … your response, first of all, with that argument that David Axelrod was making, he said the real debate is going to be about the plans each candidate has for the future, and Mitt Romney is just wrong when he says that we should continue the policies that we've seen in many states of laying off teachers, firefighters, and the like.

SANTORUM: Oh, I hope it is a debate about the plans for the future, because I think Governor Romney's plan is far superior. Governor Romney's plan is about, you know, lowering taxes and getting this economy going in the private sector, which has been dragging, and causing the high rates of unemployment that we have seen, the low rates of growth, and reducing the regulatory burden.

This administration has done more than to crush business than anyone in history. I can't tell you the number of people I ran into along the campaign trail who just said, you know, I lived through Bill Clinton, and, you know, I really didn't think he was that bad, I mean, you know, it was a little bit more regulation, certainly less under Bush.

But Obama is a whole new scale of regulation that we have never seen that is just crushing the free enterprise system in this country. And so I'm hopeful that Mitt Romney's plan out there, and what he is going to do to get this economy going, lower regulation, reduce taxes, get this private sector ginned up, against Barack Obama's plan, which is to grow the private sector, create more -- excuse me, grow the public sector, and create more public sector jobs, it's a great contrast.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this argument about president -- I mean Governor Romney's business background. In some ways, the Democrats are arguing some of the arguments you made back in the campaign. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States? You think that's the kind of experience we need, someone who's going to take and look after, as he did, his friends on Wall Street and bail them out at the expense of Main Street America?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that still a weakness for Mitt Romney? Has he taken steps to correct it?

SANTORUM: Well, I think he has taken steps to correct it. But look you know, both President Obama and Governor Romney supported those bailouts. So that to me was an issue we took off the table.

But the issue that's on the table is what the plans are going forward. And I think you saw very clearly President Obama's plans for going forward is to amp up the public sector. Is to provide more support -- you know, teachers are great, we love teachers, but if anybody believes that hiring more teachers as we did over the many, many years in this country, under President Clinton, even President Bush and under the early part of President Obama's administration, if that's dramatically improved the quality of education, you got to show me the numbers because it's not. This is a false choice, that somehow or another pumping more money into an educational system that's already spending an enormous amount of money is going to solve the problem.

What we need to do is have education reform, not throw more money at teachers. And Mitt Romney understands that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It would lower unemployment, wouldn't? It would lower unemployment, wouldn't it?

SANTORUM: Actually, it doesn't. I mean, there are several studies out there, George, that shows for every 100,000 increase in public sector employment, there's 150,000 decrease in private sector employment. That money that you're paying teachers, this money that you're paying public sector employees comes from somewhere, and it comes out of the private sector, and it tends to hurt job creation there, and actually the net effect is less jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about your plans for the future. You just set up a PAC called Patriot Voices. You want to help Mitt Romney get elected. You also want to help conservatives get elected across the country. You also said that you want the delegates that you won to go to Tampa and have influence over the platform in the Republican convention. What specifically are looking for in the platform?

SANTORUM: Well, I like the platform that we have right now. I'm concerned that Ron Paul and some of his supporters out there are looking for a platform fight. And I want to make sure that we have strong, principled conservatives there who stood with me in our primary fight to go there and counterbalance the effect of the Paul folks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, one other question. I know you have poo-poohed this in the past, but I just want to get this on the record. Has Mitt Romney asked you for any of your background information to be considered for vice president? What would you say if he does?

SANTORUM: Well, no one has asked me for anything right now. We have focused on patriotvoices.com. We're focused on trying to do what we can to help Governor Romney, help candidates all across this country by rallying conservatives, getting them excited about this race and the importance of it. And that's really all I'm focused on right now. And I wish Governor Romney the best, and I'll do whatever I can to be helpful to him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if he calls you, you do want to be considered, correct?

SANTORUM: If he calls me, I'll answer the phone call. But I'm not anxious to get back involved in the fray right now. I've got to take responsibility for my seven kids, and Karen and I have a lot of work to do. And we do want to be active and involved with our supporters and other folks who share our vision, those voices who frankly don't feel like they're being heard out there. We want to be that voice for them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator, you do look well-rested and chipper coming off that campaign. Thanks a lot for coming in this morning.

SANTORUM: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And as our roundtable takes their seats, a look at some of those other moments each candidate would prefer to forget.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's not surprising then that they get bitter and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them.

ROMNEY: It also means that if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.

OBAMA: This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And with that, let's bring in our roundtable. Joined this morning by former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, now the host of "Huckabee" on the Fox News Channel, "Huckabee Report" on syndicated radio. Also, former governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. Got a great new book out called -- I guess I can say this on television, "Nation of Wusses." Made a lot of waves with that. Ann Coulter, syndicated columnist. Van Jones, former Obama adviser, now the head of Rebuild the Dream.

Welcome to all of you. And Governor Huckabee, let me begin with you. You heard David Axelrod there saying no one is going to remember this week in October. Is he right?

HUCKABEE: No, because the Republicans and the Romney campaign will make sure they remember this week. That's part of what a campaign is all about.

And Obama's statement was so -- just crystal clear, the private sector is fine. I can see that on a loop in a commercial, the private sector is fine, the private sector is fine. And then showing pictures of closed factories and people standing in unemployment lines.

If the economy is still this bad in October, you'll hear that statement over and over.

JONES: Well, I mean, unfortunately, we have Romney who said stuff like that and much worse. Romney I think had four or five statements just like that.

RENDELL: Eight or nine.

JONES: Eight or nine. So if you want to play that game, we can play that game for a very long time. I mean, this has been a tough week, but I'm glad that the alarm bells are ringing in June and not in November. I think a lot of Democrats, who were looking at the Republican primary, kind of looked like the three stooges, they said, we are going to take these guys out, seriously. People are wide awake now. Post-Wisconsin, people say, well, these guys are serious. They know how to fight. They can raise a bunch of money. And I think what you're going to see now is a big wake-up call for progressives and people are going to get in this fight.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And then the Romney campaign did show some skill this week. And they certainly raised a lot of money in May.

COULTER: Yes, they did. And contra the governor, I don't think Romney had made as big a blooper as this. I mean, the ones you just played -- for example him saying I like being able to fire people who work for me. He's talking about--

RENDELL: You don't think that's a blooper?

COULTER: No, (inaudible) hotels through Expedia if you think that's not a blooper. You want to be the one holding the credit card for someone providing a service for you, because otherwise it's a ripoff. Your money gets taken and you have no recourse. But as for, you know, Van's point about how all this will go away and the economy could pick up, no, the economy can't pick up because of what David Axelrod said in answer to you. Instantly, he goes back to the public sector workers, and that's who we need to be bucking up here? Did they not notice what just happened in Wisconsin? The country is enraged at public sector workers. And he's talking about how we need to buck up the public school teachers.

RENDELL: Well, I think he should have talked about the entire Obama jobs plan, because it's a good plan. Infrastructure. Everyone knows, even Republicans tell me after this election is over, we'll do something.

Right. Infrastructure produces 25,000 jobs for every $1 billion of spending. They are American jobs. They are well paid. We ought to have an infrastructure program. We ought to had it in October when the president proposed it. He's proposing tax cuts for small businesses who hire. These are Republican ideas, and they won't do it because they're interested in winning the election, they are not interested in making this--

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: Why didn't Obama do it his first year?

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: He's not talking about jobs for infrastructure. He's talking about jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers.

RENDELL: No, Axelrod said the president made infrastructure his No. 1 --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on one second. I'll ask the governor about this. What is wrong with jobs for teachers, firemen and police officers?

HUCKABEE: I can tell you. There's nothing wrong with it. My dad was a fireman. I love firemen jobs. But here's what you need. You need enough firemen to put out the fires. You don't arbitrarily go, hire firemen, policemen or teachers unless you have more kids in school. And what we need to be talking about is not hiring more teachers, but hiring better teachers and getting rid of the ones that don't teach. When 50 percent of the kids in Chicago, where Obama's campaign headquarters are located aren't even graduating, we need to be talking about improving graduation, not just increasing the number of public employees who in Chicago get $100,000 a year in salary and benefits.

JONES: Look, look, first of all, maybe I was raised wrong. I never heard of this threat to America called public employees. In my neighborhood, we called them teachers, we called them firefighters, we called them cops, we called them nurses, and we were taught to look up to them and to respect them. And for them now to be a punching bag, people like my father and my mother, who were public school teachers, who did not make $100,000 a year or whatever you just said and nothing near it, for them to become a punching bag is wrong.

Furthermore, I think we need to take a big step back here. When you have the amount of pain that's happening in the country, the Republican Party has not only been missing in action, they won't pass their own bills to help Americans right now. They won't pass their own ideas to help small businesses right now. Why? Because their gain will come when America has more pain. It's like having a life guard trying to help you--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say they're rooting for failure?

JONES: I say they're rooting for failure. It's like having a life guard, Obama is a life guard trying to help people drowning. These guys are sitting back on the rocks hoping more people drown. That's wrong. It's morally wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL: Ask any resident of any city in America whether they have enough police. Ask the question. If you're cutting police, then you're endangering safety in the streets. Ask anybody --

JONES: 42 kids in a class room.

RENDELL: -- who lives in that neighborhood where that fire house is closing whether there are too many firemen.

COULTER: First of all, this is not what the Obama administration wants to do. All of this infrastructure, why didn't they do it when they had $1 trillion jobs bill the first year? We kept hearing about bridges being built.

RENDELL: We did, we got $1 billion in Pennsylvania, Ann.

COULTER: Then it all goes to the public school teachers and other public sector workers. The problem with government workers is, it's not creating a job, I mean it's worse than creating no jobs, because the taxpayer is paying for it. They're jobs you don't want done. They're being paid more than the taxpayers who are paying their salaries with better benefits.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: We want to be able to fire bad teachers and we want them to teach more.

I mean, this idea -- it's always less work for the public school teachers.

RENDELL: Do you think we should have less policemen and less firemen?

COULTER: It's always firemen first, and then somehow we end up with 17, you know, diversity coordinators at the public school.

RENDELL: So you want less firemen and less...

HUCKABEE: Is it the federal government's responsibility to provide the firemen, the policemen and the teachers? I thought that was a state and city function, last time I checked.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're going to be hearing that debate for the next few months. I want to get on to one other point...

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: ... firemen retiring when it's 90 percent pensions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president has also taken a lot of heat for this focus on Bain, Mitt Romney's background and Bain. But his allies are insisting that this argument is working. They're citing focus group and polling advice, and his PAC(inaudible) Priorities USA is putting out a new ad today. I want you to take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Romney and Bain Capital shut this place down. They shut down entire livelihoods. This was a booming place and Romney and Bain Capital turned it into a junkyard, just making money and leaving.

They don't live in this neighborhood. They don't live in this part of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now Governor Rendell, you've had some -- you have some differences with the Obama campaign over this emphasis, but doesn't that argument work in your state, Pennsylvania?

RENDELL: Yeah, there's nothing wrong with that commercial. The first commercial where someone called Governor Romney a vampire, I disagree strongly with that. I think that's the type of rhetoric we've got to get out of politics if we're going to survive as a country and be in a position to ever get anything done.

But, yes, Bain Capital is fair game. Governor Romney has said his experience at Bain is why he's going to be able to create jobs. It is worthy of a thorough examination.

Did Bain, on balance, create net jobs? Governor Romney's been all over the place. When he ran against Ted Kennedy, he said 10,000 jobs; when he ran against Rick Santorum, 100,000 jobs; now, this campaign, tens of thousands of jobs.

Let's take a look at that and let's see.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you made similar arguments against Governor Romney four years ago?

HUCKABEE: Well, no, I never attacked his record at Bain Capital and I wouldn't do it now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Didn't you say he reminded people of the guy that fired their dad?

HUCKABEE: I never said Mitt Romney. I was just talking about sometimes an opponent...

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: I'd like to tell you what I would say. Here's the thing. In every case, it was that he created jobs.

But you know what I think we forget. It is not the purpose of a business to, quote, "create a job." It's the purpose of a business to make a profit, and out of the profits that jobs are created.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But don't they say you can't...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: ... that Bain invested. They made jobs and created wealth for people and they made it possible for people to go to work.

(UNKNOWN): And for somebody who wants to help people make more wealth. That's great, but...

HUCKABEE: ... the creation of a job for people who are working at a staples store or who work at, you know, any type of the industries that Bain Capital invested in.

You know, you talked about the life preserver. I think Obama is throwing concrete blocks out there to the people who are drowning by creating a business environment where people can't survive.

RENDELL: Will Bain agree to open up all its records...

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL: ... so we can see how many jobs...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: ... leaked that stuff to the New York Times.

COULTER: It's not just that I was magnificent at Bain and I should be president; it's that Romney has had a Midas touch with everything he's done.

RENDELL: Massachusetts?

COULTER: Hang on. You keep interpreting me. This is going to get through.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER: First of all, yes, as governor of Massachusetts, with an 85 percent Democratic legislature, he -- he slashed spending, which is what our federal government needs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you didn't like his health care plan in Massachusetts.

RENDELL: Great health care plan.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER: Then, at Bain -- I mean, about, what 75 percent, 80 percent of the businesses that were going to bankrupt, he does turn around. He's a green eyeshade kind of guy. He will do what no president, not even Ronald Reagan, has ever done, and that is go through the budget and cut the spending. And there's a lot to be cut.

And the Olympics, which was also going bankrupt and is an enormous business. And the Midas touch man comes in and turns around this nearly bankrupt institution. It is not just Bain. It is everything he touches.

And these ads are unfair because -- and they keep changing, to my notice.

Because, if you look at what he's actually done and who's talking here, they're always the president of the union that shut down a plant in a business that was going out of -- bankrupt.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have to take a break. Lots more to come from our roundtable, on those national security leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: This has to stop. When people say they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-MICH.: It's not just an isolated incident, and that's what has brought us together. It seems to be a pattern that is growing worse and more frequent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Was the White House polishing the president's image with classified information?

With investigations launched, how much should they be worried?

And days away from the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare, do Americans trust the court? What will its decision mean for the presidential campaign and millions of Americans?

And he's back. What is President Clinton doing and why?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Bill Clinton spoke last night at a fund-raiser for President Obama. And I was amazed at how quickly Clinton's speech was turned into a campaign ad. Take a look.

FORMER PRESIDENT WILLIAM J. CLINTON: I don't think it's important to re-elect a president...

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office, a man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.

I just regret that -- you know, my instinct though, you know me, I don't think I should have to say bad things about Governor Romney personally to disagree with him politically.

And what I think we need to do is to find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff.

MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC ANCHOR: So that does mean extending the tax cuts?

CLINTON: They will probably have to put everything off until early next year. That's probably the best thing to do.

I'm very sorry about what happened yesterday. It was -- what I thought something had to done on the fiscal cliff before the election, apparently nothing has to be done until the first of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: He might be Barack Obama's most formidable and most frustrating surrogate. Let's talk about it now on our "Roundtable." I see former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee chuckling over there.

You ran a lot of campaigns...

HUCKABEE: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... against Bill Clinton. And this is a guy it seems like you know.

HUCKABEE: I know him well. And the thought that he didn't really fully understand when those tax cuts would kick in, look, this is the smartest political mind alive today. And I have nothing but extraordinary respect for Bill Clinton. I like him personally. And I think he...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You do a pretty mean Bill Clinton imitation too.

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: I have been known to. But I'll tell you what, I think the pragmatic way in which Bill Clinton governed as president makes even Republicans want to get the bumper stickers that say "I miss Bill."

Because he understood that in governing, you do have to sit down and work out your differences. He was a governor. He was an executive. He understood the dynamics of it. I think what is really hurting Barack Obama, he simply does not understand the dynamics of being the chief executive because he has never had that position before. As a governor, a mayor, heck, not even a sheriff, he has never been in that position and it's showing.

JONES: Well -- I'm sorry, go ahead, Governor, I'll go after you, Governor. You get him first.

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL: The answer is, it's hard to expect the president to reach out when in the first year -- in the middle of the first year the Republican leader in the Senate says our number one priority is to defeat the president, not to pass legislation that's good for America.

And the Republican Party, George, that has been their mantra ever since. They don't want him to succeed. They don't want any legislation to pass. They want to defeat him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this issue of President Clinton, is he good for Barack Obama or not?

RENDELL: Sure he is. In October he will be the best spokesman, the best persuader in the country. And by saying nice things about Governor Romney now -- which are true, Governor Romney is clearly qualified to be president. By saying those things, he is setting up his credibility with those undecided voters. Watch Bill Clinton in October.

JONES: First of all, the idea that somehow Obama doesn't understand how to be president, he doesn't understand how to reach across the line, he has tried on every single issue to reach across and he has had his hand slapped on every single issue.

Now his to-do list is literally the Republican Party's to-do list. He's saying, let's give tax cuts to small businesses, they won't do that. He is saying, let's help -- let's give home-owners the tools to cut red tape and get refinancing on their homes on their own expense, the Republicans won't do that.

They won't pass their own agenda because it's Barack Obama. That is what he's up against. So the idea that somehow this guy doesn't know how to be presidential, no. The fact is, these lawmakers don't know how to be lawmakers. That's the problem.

COULTER: Well, first of all, I think it's silly to say that, oh, the Republicans want to defeat Obama. Of course they did. And you guys wanted to do defeat Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: OK. They're doing it again. I get -- (INAUDIBLE) and they both start talking.

JONES: You just don't get it. You just don't get it.

COULTER: Of course, with their different governing philosophies the parties want to defeat one another. The specific tax cuts, no, we are always against targeted tax cuts. No, we want tax cuts across the board. And you guys not picking winners and losers.

And, finally, as for...

JONES: Small business?

COULTER: As for -- no, just cut taxes. As for Clinton, I mean, what was appalling about Clinton was his entire personal life. What was attractive about Clinton was he was the rarest of political animals, an actual moderate Democrat, except for the abortion, ladies. And he signed welfare, he signed tax cuts once the Gingrich Congress came in.

He was a very moderate Democrat and that was a plan that worked. And I think he actually is frustrated with a very left-wing president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Some Republicans believe that this is deliberate on Clinton's behalf. That he is deliberately trying to undermine the Obama campaign. Bill Kristol wrote that in The Weekly Standard. You don't buy that, do you?

HUCKABEE: No, here's what I think. I think Bill Clinton can't help his candor. He's out of office. He's in a position now where he's the senior statesman, not just of the Democratic Party, but in many ways, of America.

And when he's asked a question, he says what he honestly thinks. Now and then he gets in trouble with the Obama people because he said something that actually was very true and they don't like it because the truth is hurting right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And might not he be right on the issue of extending the tax cuts at least for two or three or four months into next year, to get over that uncertainty that's going to come right after that election, or you don't think so?

RENDELL: Well, the president has leverage to get what he wants with the tax cuts. So I think if the Republicans are serious about tax reform, like Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, is, then I think there can be a deal that will take care of the debt limit, will eat away at our deficit, we can do Simpson-Bowles, and yes...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But after the Election?

RENDELL: After the Election clearly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about who might be Mitt Romney's top surrogate going forward. There were some hints this week reported in Politico that he might be looking to choose someone quite early, well before the convention, to have another fundraiser, another surrogate out there.

And at the CPAC Conference this week, they ran a straw poll of the conservative favorites. Marco Rubio up at the top, followed by Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, and then Rick Santorum down at 5 percent.

I'm going to ask you, Governor Huckabee, the same question I asked Rick Santorum. Have you been asked by the Romney campaign for your background information? Would you give it if they did?

HUCKABEE: I have not been asked. I think there's a greater likelihood that I'll be asked by Madonna to go on tour as her bass player...

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: ... than I'll be picked to be on the ticket.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So then who should he pick?

HUCKABEE: You know, I like -- anybody he picks I believe is going to be the result of a very thoughtful and methodical choice. The one thing I admire most about Mitt Romney is that he is not a guy that just acts out of some impetuous visceral reaction. He's very thoughtful, methodical.

He will make what would really be a very careful business decision. And whoever he selects, I believe, will be the result of a very thoughtful process. And we'll all get behind him as a Republican.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You hear the thinking out of the Romney campaign, or being reported is that they're looking for a boring, do-no-harm candidate, is that the right kind of thinking?

COULTER: Well, first of all, no, I have not been asked.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER: And I would not accept if offered. I'm holding out for HHS secretary.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER: I agree with Governor Huckabee. It will be a methodical process. And I'm always wrong at guessing these things. But no, I think absolutely the best candidate would be Chris Christie, because you need a pugilist vice president, and that is what Romney is not.

He will not attack. Christie will. You need...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if that comes to making a few mistakes along the way?

COULTER: I don't think he makes that many mistakes. I mean, it's like the alleged mistakes of Mitt Romney. It can be taken out of context, turned around, and have liberals be hysterical about it. But I don't think -- I think Christie is a very smart man and he has a very -- he has a sort of ethnic appeal and it works in the South, it works throughout the country.

And he has gone after the single biggest issue facing the country and that Republicans are all over and the tea partiers are, and that's your parents, the teachers, the public sector unions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do any of the candidates -- potential candidates scare you, do you think they would be a real addition? (INAUDIBLE) say, Marco Rubio, would really cut in to Barack Obama's advantage with Hispanics?

RENDELL: No, polls show that that's just not the case. No, look, George, I think the do-no-harm philosophy is pretty right. No one votes for vice president, never have, and never will. You just want a vice president who is an adult.

And give Governor Romney credit, he said at the beginning of when he became the putative nominee, he said most important to me is that person going to be ready to be president of the United States? I think he is going to pick an adult, I think it will be someone like Rob Portman. If he's from a state that he can get some help in...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator from Ohio, right.

RENDELL: ... even the better.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Van Jones, a couple of months ago you were on this program, you said the best pick would be Condi Rice. Pretty clear that's not going to happen. No one pro-choice, it appears, is being considered. Does anyone worry you?

JONES: No, I mean, frankly, you know, the Rubio talk I think now has definitely proven to be overrated. If -- the thing that needs to happen to get Florida away from the Republicans for Obama is to deal with the underwater home crisis there.

You've got about 90 percent of the homes that are under water there. And, once again, the Republicans won't even support the president in helping get a refinancing bill moved through.

Home-owners right now, I think, are the sleeping issue. You've got one-third of Americans whose homes are under water. You buy a house to gain wealth, to build wealth, instead people are draining wealth every time they sign that check.

I think this president has a good bill to do something about it. If you want to deal with Florida, they can try to get Rubio if they want to. I don't think it's going to move the needle for them. But the president can move Florida just like going after -- helping the under water home-owners.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let's talk about another issue that came up this week. That's that national security leak, mostly to The New York Times, although also Dan Klaidman of Newsweek.

Having to do with this Internet virus that went after the Iranian nuclear program, an article saying the president was behind that. An article talking about him going through a "kill list," what terrorists we would go after with drones.

And that created some great criticism from John McCain this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: One could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president's political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It's wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president did get angry at those charges, Governor Huckabee. Yet, as I pointed out with David Axelrod, the articles do cite people in the room talking about this program, so these investigations could pose some threat to the White House.

HUCKABEE: Well, they could. There are two issues. One is the fact that The New York Times says there were three dozen sources that are in the White House or administration, that's...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they also say that the original leaks didn't come from the White House, they built on it.

HUCKABEE: But the other factor is that the information itself was in fact classified. You can't argue that. And when you have Democrat senators who are equally alarmed about it, Senator Feinstein was, I think that's very significant.

This is not a partisan issue. This really rises above it. Do I think that personally Barack Obama was involved in that? No, I don't. I think that's absurd.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And he would be -- and he is clearly angry about it.

HUCKABEE: And I don't blame him for being angry. But the fact that people under him thought that they were doing him a favor by letting this stuff out to show that he's really tough, yes, I do believe that that would happen during an election year and probably did.

JONES: Well, I mean, obviously, you know, this is very early. We don't know what in fact is going on and what has gone on. First of all, I think this has kind of like become a grab bag of hypocrisy here.

First of all, I don't remember the Republicans complaining a lot when there was leak after leak after leak to scare the be-jeebers (ph) out of the American people under the Bush administration. I don't remember that outrage.

I'm surprised that we're talking more about the fact that there were leaks than the facts of the leaks themselves. If these stories are correct, and I hope that they're not, there's an assertion here that the president of the United States thinks he has the authority to kill people in 120 countries.

We should be concerned about that, because, first of all...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't think he has the authority?

JONES: Well, I think that -- the underlying question here around what is best for our national security, is a broader question than just who leaks what to who? And so part of what -- my big concern at this point is that we're about to go through another silly season of -- you know, now we've got the argument, should we have a special prosecutor, this, that, the other thing.

The more important question for me is if, in fact, we're moving into any direction where the president of the United States, without oversight, has a "kill list," that's concerning. And I think we should have that conversation, not have the conversation about the sort of "I Spy" stuff.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you mean without oversight? What the administration would argue is that there is due process throughout the administration, that this is not just an arbitrary decision the president makes. This is only when they have probable cause that someone is about to commit a terrorist act.

JONES: There is a question that has to be asked and answered. And this is not my area of expertise. But there's a question that has to be asked and answered here: Is this the right way for us to be doing our national security? Is this the best way? Does it meet the constitutional standards?

Those kinds of questions, I think, need to be a part of this discussion. What we're going to do is we're going to skate past that and it's going to become this whole thing of kind of political gotcha to figure out, well, you know, is this something that is being done, engineered by the president, by not the president? There are deeper issues here.

RENDELL: I agree with Mike and I slightly disagree with Van. Mike is right that this is clearly an issue that we ought to get to the bottom of. It's serious and it should be bipartisan. Two, I guarantee you President Obama didn't know anything about it. He cares very deeply about protecting the men and women who are out there fighting this war against terror for us.

I disagree with Van to the extent that we're at war with al Qaeda, there's no question about it. We were and have been for the last 10 years. And if we can kill the people who are trying to kill us, that is a tough, but appropriate use of presidential power.

COULTER: First of all, just to lure him into interrupting me again, I don't think it is so clear that Obama has nothing to do with this. I mean, all of these articles are absolute love letters to him. They show him being tough on terrorism and, I might add, both our intelligence and our military were very upset after Osama bin Laden was killed, that Obama came out and said it was SEAL Team 6.

And two weeks later, SEAL Team 6...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's when the president...

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: ... is shot...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... but that the information came out, they were angry about it the next day.

COULTER: He said it in his own words, in the speech, bragging about the killing of Osama bin Laden. And that was not good for intelligence. It was not good for SEAL Team 6. So I don't think it's so obvious. I'm not saying that he is involved. But it's so obvious.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: And as for your point that they are not actually -- and Van's point, they are not limiting it to someone who is about to attack. They're known terrorists and there are civilians being killed. And I don't necessarily disagree with you that we're at war with al Qaeda and they ought to be killed.

But I -- where were you people when Bush was just detaining them? Oh no, you're all hysterical about that. Obama is ordering them dead. And, well, we're at war.

JONES: Well, listen, I am a progressive Democrat. And I take human rights seriously. I take the Constitution seriously. And I agree with you, we can make some news today, I agree with you that we need to have a consistent standard about human rights in this country. That's all I'm saying.

We are at war with al Qaeda. But we also have a Constitution and we shouldn't be at war with our principles and our values. We've got to be able to have a balancing act here.

And I will say this. For ordinary people who are sitting at home trying to figure out what's going on here, I do think it's inappropriate for people to accuse the president of having engineered this. This is not this president. This is not a president who is going to go and engineer this kind of stuff himself.

Frankly, he's -- if anything, he's going to be a lot closer to the letter of the law on any of these questions.

COULTER: But he's signing off on the "kill list."

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: And you are being consistent. It's these two who are saying...

RENDELL: Ann, he's saying that there's no evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL: There's not one scintilla of evidence the president has leaked anything.

JONES: And nobody should ever say that.

COULTER: OK. You're back to the leak, I'm back to the corpus of the crime. And you're being consistent, the two of you are saying the "kill list" is OK because we're at war with al Qaeda. Why weren't were you rushing out there denouncing Democrats who were attacking Guantanamo?

JONES: Look, I have the same concern with Guantanamo under Bush as I have -- I'm going to be consistent about that kind of stuff. But here's the other thing I'm consistent about, we have now entered this weird situation in American politics where you have to agree with every single thing your guy does or you're in trouble.

And that has got to stop. I mean, we've got maybe...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you feel that from the Obama campaign?

JONES: Oh, no, I don't feel that from the Obama campaign.

RENDELL: You think?

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Both parties. Both parties.

COULTER: We have never been like that.

JONES: But listen, the worst thing that you can do in democracy now is you -- everybody has to agree with every single thing that your guy has ever done, said, or thought, or you're somehow off the campaign trail. We've got to get beyond that.

COULTER: We got a president to withdraw a Supreme Court nominee. We do not (INAUDIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... be my last topic, I want to get to one more topic before we run out of time, and that is the Supreme Court, and about come down with a decision on the president's health care plan, probably in the -- will be in the next couple of weeks before they go home.

And I want to show an interesting poll that came out of The New York Times this week about the views of the court, interesting. Only 44 percent of the American public now approves of the Supreme Court. That's a significant drop from recent years. Sixty percent oppose -- now oppose life tenure. And 76 percent believe that personal opinions of the justices influence their decisions.

And, Governor Huckabee, this is interesting, you know, as the Supreme Court is about to make this huge decision, they are at a low ebb in public opinion.

HUCKABEE: But the American people are a high ebb of their disapproval of "Obama-care." That's about a -- almost a 70 percent margin of people who want it to be overturned.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They want the mandate struck down, right.

HUCKABEE: Exactly. So if the Supreme Court wants to improve their standing, if they see this poll, they will overturn "Obama-care" first on the basis of the law and the Constitution, which is the primary reason they ought to do it, and then because they, in fact, realize that it's just bad policy.

RENDELL: I think this is bigger than "Obama-care." The Supreme Court has always been the bastion that the American people believe was non-political. When Earl Warren, he knew he had the votes to do Brown versus Board of Education, but he knew that that was going to be a jarring, land-breaking (ph) decision -- landmark decision, he worked hard to get a nine-zero vote.

If we keep getting five-four votes on political questions, the court's standing with American people is going to continue to erode.

COULTER: Well, I think it's not just five-four, it's whether the opinion is based on something that's written in the Constitution, that's really what the problem is.

RENDELL: Gore v. Bush?

JONES: Well, listen...

COULTER: Well, yes, all nine justices agreed in the end that...

RENDELL: The states' rights justices took it away from the Florida Supreme Court?

COULTER: No, no, no, no, on the basis of the later media count, all nine justices said Bush was president.

RENDELL: What?

COULTER: So you get -- you ended up nine-zero, but no, they were not -- four of them...

RENDELL: But these were states' rights judges who took it away from...

COULTER: Some of them were not reading the Constitution.

RENDELL: ... the Florida Supreme Court.

COULTER: No, no, no, no, no. Wait a second. Hang on. The Constitution of the United States, which I'm suggesting Supreme Court justices read, specifically gives to the state legislature the right to choose the next president. They don't even have to have an election in the state, according to our Constitution.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they also said in that -- they said in that decision, don't pay any attention to this. This has no precedential value.

COULTER: Not the good justices, uh-uh, not Thomas and not Scalia. If you read the Constitution, there's only one...

JONES: Let's not re-litigate the year 2000.

COULTER: ... answer.

JONES: We've got the year 2012 right here.

COULTER: Politicians should read it, too.

JONES: Now we are talking about something I know a little bit about as an attorney. It is absolutely settled that the government can have people be forced to pay for universal health care. It's called...

RENDELL: Car insurance.

JONES: ... Medicare. This -- you know, the thing is, is it a tax; is it a mandate? We have the authority to do this. But now here's the problem that I have, and I said this last time I was on the show. This is the conservative answer. This is the market -- the individual mandate is the market-based conservative answer that the Heritage Foundation came up with.

Liberals and progressives like myself said let's do single-payer. Let's do the public option. They said no. Obama, trying to be bipartisan, says we're going to go to with the Heritage Foundation proposal. And now the Republican Party has become the pro-moocher caucus.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's not the Republican Party. It's the public opinion now has completely turned against.

JONES: Well, partly because I think the Republican Party has taken the position that somehow their ideas, because Obama endorses them, are now socialism, and that they would rather have people to have no responsibility, dive-bomb themselves into the emergency room and have the government pay for it. That's the Republican position now.

RENDELL: You're talking about the Heritage Foundation. You forgot the Republican campaign for president was in favor and enacted a mandate.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: There's nothing unconstitutional about that. Because you think the Constitution doesn't matter. It does matter.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: I'm citing the Constitution. He's citing Great Society programs.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: ... our founding fathers.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I am going to have to stop this all. We are out of...

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We are out of time.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: "Your Voice This Week" is coming right up, but first...

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice over): A trip into our video vault. Three moments from "This Week" history. What year was it?

SAM DONALDSON, FORMER HOST, "THIS WEEK": We know something about what happened in Central Park.

STEPHANOPOULOS: An attack on a Central Park jogger drew headlines around the world and prompted a soul-searching debate on our roundtable.

FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN LEE ATWATER: I'm delighted. I think he's done a good job.

STEPHANOPOULOS: RNC Chair Lee Atwater told David Brinkley he was thrilled that President Bush wouldn't dump Dan Quayle.

And check out Dick Cheney stopped dead in his tracks by Sam Donaldson.

DONALDSON: Did he know before you made your public statement what you were going to do about the budget cuts?

FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DICK CHENEY: Yes. I briefed him several weeks ago.

DONALDSON: Why did he say last Saturday that he didn't contemplate defense cuts?

CHENEY: Now, Sam, I'm -- as far as I'm concerned, the president and I are very much in accord.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Was it 1989, 1990 or 1991? We'll be right back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll be right back with the question you wanted answered this week, but first we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week the Pentagon released the names of seven soldiers and Marines killed in Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what year was it?

Sam Donaldson went toe to toe with Dick Cheney; President Bush stood by Dan Quayle; and the Central Park jogger case all took place 23 years ago, 1989.

And in "Your Voice This Week," today's question comes from Jeff Montgomery. "Does history show if the party that wins the white house will win or retain the House?"

The short answer is no. In modern times, winning the White House rarely guarantees winning or holding the House or even if the president's party will pick up seats in the House. One big exception: Eisenhower, who swept in a Republican House in 1952, only to lose it two years later. And George W. Bush held onto a Republican House in both 2000 and 2004.

But when presidents win a second term, their party almost always picks up seats in the House. The only exception to that rule since FDR, Eisenhower again in 1956, when Republicans lost two seats.

That's all for us today. Check out "World News" with David Muir tonight. And thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."

END

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