'This Week' Transcript: Tim Pawlenty and David Axelrod

(UNKNOWN): Seen this? Mitt Romney claiming the president would end welfare's work requirements? The New York Times calls it blatantly false. The Washington Post says the Obama administration is not removing the bill's work requirements at all. In fact, Obama's getting states to move 20 percent more people from welfare to work.


STEPHANOPOULOS: They said they are just giving governors the flexibility to meet the work goals in other way under welfare, and it's exactly the kind of flexibility that you and other Republican governors were petitioning for.

PAWLENTY: Well, that's not true or accurate, George. Governors like me and other Republican governors wanted more flexibility generally, but no -- none of us wanted to waive or dismantle the work requirement within the landmark welfare reform legislation of the 1990s. And it would be very easy for the president to clear up this controversy. If he's saying he's not as part of his directive going to rescind or undermine the work requirements, then just clarify that part of it. But he refuses to do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's what they're saying. They're saying that the -- that the plans will be approved only if it increases overall the number of people going to work.

PAWLENTY: Well, what they're saying, look, we're going to take away the specific looking for work or work requirements by my order and, by the way, if down the road you happen to have some goals to increase employment overall, you know, maybe that'll be good enough. If he's saying he's not going to undermine those specific work requirements, then rescind that part of his order and make that clear.

And on this issue of ads back and forth, the president of the United States should have the basic decency and his campaign leadership should have the basic decency to step forward in the wake of these ads accusing Mitt Romney of essentially being a co-conspirator and killing this gentleman's spouse and say, you know what, that ad is out of bounds. And they refuse to even have that minimal level of decency in this discourse.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you just saw David Axelrod said he doesn't believe it.

PAWLENTY: It's very disappointing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you just saw David Axelrod...

PAWLENTY: I'm sorry?

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... said he doesn't believe that that's what -- that that's what Mitt Romney did, he doesn't agree.

PAWLENTY: Well, the -- the president himself has failed to disclaim that and his other campaign officials have been asked repeatedly, do you think the ad is fair? Should they disclaim it? The White House has punted it back to the campaign. And when you're a leader, you've got to step forward and take responsibility in key moments, so the president himself should have the basic decency to say, you know what, that ad's out of bounds. It's not what I promised in 2008 when I said we're going to have a new day in American politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the hopes is that the pick of Paul Ryan this week is actually going to change the tone of this campaign and get it off the kind of issues we saw in those ads before he was picked and much more on the substance of the plans of either side. Do you believe that's possible?

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