'This Week' Transcript: Tim Pawlenty and David Axelrod

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it say about a president's character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman's death for political gain? What does it say about a president's character when he had his campaign raise money for the ad, then stood by as his top aides were caught lying about it? Doesn't America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundly criticized as crossing the line. Does the president stand behind that ad? Does he agree with what was in that ad?

AXELROD: I don't think anybody – anybody believes that Mr. Soptic's wife, that Governor Romney can be blamed for the death of Mr. Soptic's wife, and frankly, I don't think the ad says that either.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It suggests.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: The irony of all this, the irony of all this, George, is that this ad is running at the very same time that Governor Romney's campaign is running an ad that he paid for – it's not running, by the way, the ad hasn't been on the air – but he's running ads, millions of dollars of ads, saying that the president wants to end the work requirement in welfare. Every single person who's looked at it said it's false. He continues to run it. He says I approve this message, and then he attacks others for ads that we didn't approve and that we didn't produce? I think he's the one who needs to explain—

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I'll ask Tim Pawlenty about that, but does the president think that this kind of an ad was appropriate?

AXELROD: Look, as I said, I don't think Governor Romney can be blamed for that woman's death. What he can be blamed for is taking that steel company to bankruptcy, walking away with millions of dollars and leaving workers without pensions, without the health coverage they were promised. That's a real issue. He has run on his business experience, and his business experience is things like the GST Steel story, where he took – where they loaded the companies with debt, profited from it to the tune of millions of dollars, and then left the workers and creditors holding the bag. That is a relevant issue in this campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got Governor Pawlenty coming up. You thought he was going to be Mitt Romney's pick, that he would be the best pick.

AXELROD: Well, you know, I think Governor Pawlenty is a – is an able candidate, and you know, I really didn't think that Governor Romney would go so far to satisfy the most strident voices in his party, that he would pick someone who is so demonstrably a right-wing ideologue, but you know, I was wrong about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, David Axelrod, thanks a lot for your time this morning.

Let's bring in Governor Tim Pawlenty right now, former governor of Minnesota. Governor Pawlenty, thanks for joining us again this morning.

And you know, so much to talk to you about. I just have to get, though, first your personal reaction. I admire you for keeping your commitment to come on the program. This is kind of the second time around you've been runner-up in these vice presidential stakes. I know you were called by Governor Romney on Monday, but it's got to hurt a little bit, huh?

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