'This Week' Transcript: Gov. Rick Perry and Stephen Colbert

And the Democrats continue to believe that it has more of a role than the Republicans do, particularly in this incarnation. You know, we've seen times when Republicans think that the government should have more of a role but not right now.

And Democrats are also weary about it because of the size of the deficit and the concern among voters about the deficit and the debt. And so, you know, it's going to be a nuanced debate. But still that is the fundamental debate of this...


KRUGMAN: There was an amazing Gallup result about people's concerns. Are they concerned about employment or about the deficit? And it's totally class-linked. High income people worry about deficit. Low income people worry about employment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Jon, that means right now both parties have about a third of the electorate locked up, maybe a little bit more on that precise argument. But they're going to be fighting over a sliver in the middle.

KARL: Yes, and, you know, one of Romney's problems during the primaries has been lower income. He has done very well among higher-income Republican voters. But even lower income, the populist Republicans. And this is what Gingrich has been talking.

It's not about using the language of the left. It's about using the language of Republican populism. And Romney has not connected with lower income middle class, working class Republicans.

KRUGMAN: His inability to even pretend to relate to the problems of ordinary people is quite extraordinary. You would think he would...


KARL: When he starts talking about fearing a pink slip, or how he likes to fire people, taken out of context or not, using that phrase, I promise you it will be taken out of context in the fall campaign.


STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about that. Peggy?

NOONAN: There are some counties in South Carolina that have unemployment higher than 20 percent. Of course, joblessness is a big issue. I don't imagine the 2012 campaign as being a lovely debate between Republicans and Democrats over the size of government. It should be big. It should be small.

The fact is, the American people kind of think that government often gets in the way of growth and gets in the way of job creation. It will be more like that. And if it's like that, the Republicans will have a big leg up.

But mostly people just want to see who can turn this thing around -- this economic thing around.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to switch topics now. We're also seeing this week a lot of fallout by this book about the Obamas by Jodi Kantor at The New York Times. It finally provoked a response from the first lady herself with Gayle King.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I guess it's more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman, you know, but that has been an image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I'm some angry black woman.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Cokie, the first lady said that she hadn't read the book, but clearly is irritated by what she has read about it in the last couple of days. It does show butting heads at times with the White House staff, and not always happy in the White House. But is the White House overreacting to the book?

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