'This Week' Transcript: Robert Gibbs and Kevin Madden

MADDEN: Well, I think words matter and I think priorities matter. I think that's something that Governor Romney feels very strongly about, and I think that's one of the reasons why he's traveled -- this is his fourth trip to Israel. That's the reason he's there now, to make sure that he sends a strong statement as a potential future president to the people of Israel, because the shared values that we have as far as national security and Israeli policy, our policy towards Israel, is sort of an American value, an American principle, of our shared values around freedom and democracy there.

So I think that's really important, a message to send. I think that there are many folks up on Capitol Hill who've worked with this administration that believe that and wish that the president had been stronger, that he had moved quicker, that he had done so with a much more collaborative fashion up on Capitol Hill. So I think that that's another problem that the -- that this president has had.

But overall, I think that -- that the president does -- that Mitt Romney has sent a strong message to the folks of Israel that not only is he visiting there to send these messages now, but also that he would visit as president.

GIBBS: Let me just respond to that, Matthew, because I do think...


DOWD: And I want to turn to the economy, because I think that's where this election stands.

GIBBS: I have no doubt that that's the most important issue, but let me be clear about several things. I walked in Israel four years ago with Barack Obama -- with Barack Obama when he went to Israel. We went to a city in Israel, Sderot, that was being bombarded by rockets from Gaza.

On that trip began the formulation of the policy that is now in place called the Iron Dome, which protects the citizens not just of that city, but throughout Israel, because this president has had the strongest commitment of any U.S. president to Israel's security.

DOWD: So we'll go to -- let's switch now to the economy. And the president got into a little hot water over his comments about you didn't build it that he made, and that many people think a gaffe is really a politician accidentally telling the truth, which (inaudible) but I also want to focus, Robert, on the 1.5 percent GDP number that came out on Friday. Many people think that is an extremely anemic number, that that's not the kind of growth that we need. do you think the president...

GIBBS: Including the president.

DOWD: Well, the president's now responsible. Is this the president's economy? Does he own this economy? And should he be held accountable for whatever happens in this economy?

GIBBS: Well, look, Matthew, the president is the president of the United States. He understand where the buck stops. We also understand what we inherited and what we can't go back to, which are the tried-and-tested ideas of four years ago which got us into this mess.

I mean, you heard -- you heard the discussion about tax cuts. This week, the Senate rightly voted to ensure that when -- at the end of the year, we extend tax cuts for middle-class families. But their economic theory is we get this economy going by giving millionaires and billionaires more and more tax cuts. That's not what's going to get this economy moving.

DOWD: Robert, I have a question, though. Is -- is this -- is your campaign about vote for us because all the great stuff we did on the economy? Or is it vote for us because he'll make the economy worse?

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