'This Week' Transcript: David Axelrod and Sen. John McCain

But we have to push forward. And Congress can help. The president has offered a series of ideas on small-business tax cuts, real small-business tax cuts on helping people refinance their mortgages, take advantage of low interest rates, on getting a surface transportation bill done. All of these will help our economy move forward, but we can't -- what we can't do is go back to doing what we were doing before the crisis, because that will result in the same disastrous outcome for our economy and the middle class.

TAPPER: And, David, when the president gave his speech yesterday, he acknowledged that people are still hurting. Let's take a listen.


OBAMA: The real question -- the question that will actually make a difference in your life and in the lives of your children is not just about how we're doing today. It's about how we'll be doing tomorrow.


TAPPER: David, it seems as though the president is acknowledging that he cannot win on the premise, are you better off than you were four years ago? Doesn't that in itself suggest failure?

AXELROD: No. As I said, Jake, we've come a long way from where we were. We're in the middle of recovering from this recession, but there's a larger project, which is, how do we rebuild this economy in the long term so the middle class is growing and not shrinking and people who work hard can get ahead, people who act responsibly are rewarded for that responsibility? That's what we're working on.

And what we can't do is what Governor Romney has suggested, which is to go back to the same formula that -- that hurt our economy and hurt so many people, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that we can't afford, cutting Wall Street loose to make its own rules. That is not a prescription for the kind of growth that we need in this country.

And by the way, I would note that in 2004, when the recovery from that recession was more laggered than what we have today, Governor Romney ran around this country saying that President Bush ought not to be blamed for that and it was just politics to blame him for that. I suggest it's just politics when you hear Governor Romney today, and he certainly wants to go back to that same disastrous formula.

TAPPER: One of the issues that you guys are going to be facing, one of the headwinds is the lack of enthusiasm, or at least less enthusiasm. When I covered you guys, your campaign in 2007, 2008, you would -- you and your staff members would excitedly regale us with the huge numbers of crowds, crowd estimates. At OSU, at Ohio State yesterday, in a stadium that seats about 18,000, there were roughly 14,000 people there. Now, granted, those 14,000 were very excited. They supported the president. But there were still more than 4,000 empty seats. Doesn't that indicate that there is a problem you're facing when it comes to fewer people who are excited about the president?

AXELROD: Jake, you should have gone along on the whole trip. In Virginia, there was an overflow crowd. And that's the way it is. But the fact is that 14,000 is 11,000 more than the largest crowd that Mitt Romney has ever drawn.

So I think there's enthusiasm for the president's candidacy. And, you know, we've got tremendous volunteer response. Just from that event, we got thousands of more volunteers in our campaign. I am certain that we are going to have an enthused volunteer core and enthused electorate out there.

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