'This Week' Transcript: Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Kelly Ayotte

And the question is, who -- what president in that Oval Office will hear the voices, the concerns, and the interests of the middle class or hear the other interests, the ones that actually have checking accounts in the Bahamas, can use what goes on in the Cayman Islands, can use the loopholes that allow you to move money to Switzerland, and only pay 14 percent, while you're making millions of dollars? And that is the question that will sit in the Oval Office. And which president behind that desk will hear the voices and the interests of the middle class or discard them and actually think about the Cayman Islands and Bahamas?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's put that question to the Romney campaign right now...

EMANUEL: And that is a fundamental question to this campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... we have -- thanks very much, Mr. Mayor. We have Senator Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican from New Hampshire, representing Mitt Romney this morning. Thanks for joining us, Senator.

AYOTTE: Good morning, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you just heard Rahm Emanuel. He says this is a -- these questions about the tax returns and Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital have to be cleared up because they go right to the heart of what a president is going to deal with in the next four years. Your response?

AYOTTE: Well, Mitt Romney's addressed these attacks. They're false and misleading. But, George, what's most disappointing about this is the president, who ran as an inspirational leader, look where we are with him right now. Unfortunately, with these attacks, it shows that he's just a small politician and running on small-ball politics at a time when our country is facing grave, grave challenges.

And no ad is going to decide this election, whether the president likes it or not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But...

AYOTTE: The economy and jobs are going to decide this election, and his record on that is abysmal. We've had over 40 straight months of over 8 percent unemployment, dismal jobs reports, and his policies have been a failure when it comes to turning our economy around.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the questions aren't just coming from the president and his campaign, as you know. Just yesterday, the Republican governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, came out and said he believes that Mitt Romney ought to release more tax returns. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENTLEY: The best thing to do is just get everything out in the open and just say, "Hey, I have nothing to hide, and I'm going to release my tax returns."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Haley Barbour and other top Republicans have said exactly the same things. Wouldn't that help put these questions to rest?

AYOTTE: Well, George, he's disclosed what he has to under federal law, but he's also gone beyond that. He's released his 2010 tax returns. He's going to release his 2011 tax returns. But that's not what the American people are focusing on. They're worried about their own tax returns, whether they can find jobs.

Small businesses, he wants to increase taxes on small businesses. I've heard from them. They're worried about their tax returns. Rising health care costs under the president's health care plan, that's the focus of this election. And that's what the American people are going to decide this election on.

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