Roundtable: Battleground Michigan

George Will, Cokie Roberts, Jennifer Granholm, and John Engler.
3:21 | 02/26/12

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Transcript for Roundtable: Battleground Michigan
If they had sixteen. -- it closed -- today the whole nominating process then. -- -- -- That somebody else might give you. If this became a brokered convention Tampa would you be interested in stepping into the Green I really would not be this summer probably asking me. Still. To think about getting back this is true yes. But everything else -- say physical we've said before what I suspect that is -- support Mitt Romney. It's really just want dial brokered convention and talk about that today along with a lot of other politics on our roundtable and joined as always by George Will. Former governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm now the anchor of the war room on current TV another former governor. Amiss in John Engler now the president. The business roundtable and Cokie Roberts. And Jordan for two weeks now all focus it's not all focused on the state of Michigan showed me what I showed. Rick Santorum those polls he came in with a real head of steam and -- in. To the -- East -- Well. Romney however is an unenviable position of if he wins peoples and of course he wanted to his home state of yesterday's several times together you referred to -- -- -- Massachusetts we have total. Confused about his. Provenance there but and if he loses -- it's a terrible thing but what's really should be alarming Republicans as the collateral damage of this campaign so far. There's a poll out -- the purple poll of twelve swing states mother -- another red. In -- and those twelve states. His unfavorable are. 57%. And his favorable rating and it around a 7%. He's he's being damaged by -- the damage he's doing to others. And buy it it. It's not just. Recent -- didn't just run into the Romney steamroller he ran into Rick santorum's own words and as we just saw on the program earlier today. It doesn't work to talk about people not going to college. Doesn't work to say that -- church and state should not be separate in America that's not where the voters -- And -- And he says things that of getting him into trouble with the voters and that does. Make the purple state situation much much worse for the Republican Party is -- coloring is -- where a lot of primary voters in the state. Of Michigan. -- -- of the Michigan Republican primary voters are. Conservative generally they're very pro life. But Mitt Romney's on message in the state I think he has. Sort of righted himself and is. Edging ahead you can't say that these surged ahead -- he still vulnerable that who shows up Michigan's woes open primary states it. The thing that I think governor Romney has going for him is the long haul I still think he's the only one is prepared to go. The long long distance I think there's eleven. 144 delegates needed her and Europe to do more than a hundred have been awarded. Michigan only can award half its delegates -- -- it's getting a penalty for going -- so there's about thirty delegates at stake in this. That's a long way to go Elena Kagan that's exactly Democrats are open for. There's really been an amazing and amazing period of time for Democrats for. Political talk show -- that's really been something you know one of the thing -- interesting I think about Michigan on Tuesday. Is that it doesn't it's not a winner take all states so you spoke to Rick Santorum. Way -- in the upper peninsula that's the first congressional district that's a district that's likely to go his direction. That delegates in Michigan are all broken down by congressional district -- district fourteen. -- -- district so it's. Gonna be even broader view is he's gonna pick exactly he's gonna pick up and so applicants mimic the Democrats on this this is its mind boggling but in a bit climbing four years ago in Michigan. Did win the Catholic vote and ambient and see if that happens again with Santorum in Vietnam -- Michigan house had a history in these primaries -- Taking on the front runner front from the -- from. Trying to write a it George Bush lost to John McCain and John McCain -- -- a firewall here. Well. And there's -- politically and -- in the UAW has letters in communications out urging members to go vote. Some of appalling that Mitchell almost recent I think had a 7%. Democratic. Participation. But if that goes in -- and -- that's coming into voting for -- I would assume I don't think they're coming to help Mitt Romney who's been there they're looking yet November 2 it in Michigan. With Mitt Romney on the ticket is very much in play in November. Man has his hand four years ago and is tied to Michigan. Was something that the voters said was very important to them and then exit polls we used -- -- -- in play that led to. Play at the two possibilities coming out on Tuesday night one Mitt Romney wins even if it's close is still goes -- For quite a long time if he loses. What does that it doesn't do we see -- kind of eruption. Here among Republicans in Washington steps in saying we have to find someone else even -- apparently no news no one else wants to get. And why would you you can't beat something but nothing Santorum in something. And there's no one else Kristy Daniels all the rest that say we're not giving him. I think some of them by now Gibson went -- and -- but given -- -- towards every. Team that goes to spring training and -- knows it's gonna win sixty games it's gonna lose sixty to -- the whole season over the middle 42 games. -- 42 games are analogous to the swing voters in this country. The question is how -- are the Republicans after they go through three more months of this. Trying to outbid one another and -- lecture in the country on the purpose of sex and other things how how competitive that they going to be with that she would not vote. Not to mention what they've done in terms of Hispanics and immigrant while I was just concede that in those swing states the Hispanic vote is going to be critical and you've got people like Mitt Romney who are trying to outflank others. The at this -- anti immigrant anti Hispanic anti gay. Anti sex anti everything is just going to completely narrow. That field which is why I mean Democrats are hoping this lasts for a -- for the reasons that you described but I also think that even someone who came into this as. As perceived to be somewhat moderate which was Mitt Romney he's had to move so far to the right. I don't know how he wants does he get back. I think he talks about that race between. President Obama himself he talks about the choice from the American electorate mostly American -- still -- of the performance of the president on the economy. They look at this recent energy plan say that's the simply. Not substantive. They that the gas prices up a 100% they look at the deficit up. You know more than a trillion dollars a year doubled since he's been in office the performances that it -- The Obama record outcomes in the sharp focus and I think that's where the debate comes down and he said well yes all this Republican intramural it's really tough it's hurt them. But at the end of the day. It's one guy against the other guy didn't -- you get to the World Series he's got to play the game and I think it November -- of -- -- election and as it tries so I don't. It was interesting in your interview with -- two form to current governors and here we have two former governors. And and they said -- problem solvers you know it's the problem is up there on the hill and and Mitt Romney was a problem solvers a governor as governor Granholm says you have to be. And and that is that is something that is appealing. In one way but it's. It's not it's not just -- its troops I -- -- sex a little bit of a box story because one of the biggest problems according to Governor Patrick that he saw with the issue of health -- -- he can't really proclaimed. Exactly and about his signature achievement is his signature problem in this race right now because. It puts him on -- opposite those who were -- energy and Republican Party and quite energetic and -- understand that the Tea Party at this point there. Which says this is an election a referendum about limited government and Mitt Romney's on the other side. Revenues if you believe in the laboratories of democracy and you hear Governor Patrick saying it's worked and it's enormously popular across the board the business community likes it. Why wouldn't you look at a model like that and something that the entire country could. Embrace because we are competing globally when you talk all the time about our international competitors. Our international competitors provide health care at half the cost to cover everyone in the outcomes are better. Any business person looking at that would say. -- system and here's a model that works. This is why I think Romney has got a major problem in the -- I think the health care issue runs into the deficit issue that as a result sort of washes out the bottom I think. When you ask people in this country what they're worried about. Five -- what it's jobs. Even over the deficits -- see economic issues in. Michigan at the end of the day as the economic state is still up. Full percentage point unemployment above the national rate I think Romney or the Republican nominee for some out does that B Romney. As an excellent opportunity pivot that election there. That's where. Every State's an economic state is -- and every vote is an economic vote mean there's all this conversation now because of the arguments about abortion and contraception about the women's vote. Women's vote as an economic vote it's not a vote on social issues. And and the real question is -- people wake up the day before the election and say I want this guy who's in the White House and to stay there -- more used because I trust him more than the other guy to make my job situation better that's the fundamental question. I know what he's done. I mean I -- -- two term. Incumbent. And it was partly. Because I was so popular at the time but. We could make the case it Ari you've if you'd be added it is seen by now. Does that help coming members are -- heading that direction. I mean when a -- in a thirteen thousand at the value I don't know what about 8% three consecutive years I -- tonight when questioned three months of job yeah. Gentlemen and your -- and disarm them to gifts we have the January job creation rate which was -- to people if we had that. We would not still get back to full employment until 92019. The median family income in America today is lower than it was in 1999. And there are fewer Americans work into it and we're working -- -- south Georgia is on the trend that matters. I don't know I'd -- it. If I have been simply average voters can look at the numbers and say that make me feel better or -- can look at his neighbor and his uncle who are unemployed it's not -- -- But if he looks if they're interested in this economic inequality in the downward spiral of wages and they look at the plans that these and then all of these candidates put Iraq. And every analyst has looked at for example Mitt Romney's tax plan says if it creates it exacerbates. Income disparities that even the doubts about -- about it we have two and six trillion dollars he adds to the deficit so. And yeah. Analysts voters are emotional. And that's about leadership -- and they know what they've got if they like that they could vote to keep it. If they're unhappy and you take -- there's three million people it is sort of dropped out that disappeared if he threw that back yeah yeah. And that question is it a referendum on Obama in which case he loses. Or is -- a choice between Obama and -- Republican in which case he probably -- -- -- -- anyone approaching them -- on the and the point he made about how women voters have with the kind of -- yes I basically agree with that but I guess the question will be does all of this dialogue around -- social issues. Close off a certain segment. Now I don't think -- -- -- would like. On abortion we have lots of data. Now what about 4% of the people vote on abortion is an issue men and women vote exactly the same on the subject of abortion and the pro lifers are slightly more. Likely to vote -- the pro choice. Contraception has not been an issue -- it is -- somewhat interesting to have come and pick up. But. I I think you can see people just -- -- -- the debate this this week nobody wants to touch. I think -- of course correction in Virginia for example I think that -- his little. Well that it. Obviously governor McDonnell had supported some of these very you know -- especially the -- ultrasound and transnational. Ultrasound usually have benefited. -- hugely intrusive. There is no if that had -- standards that sort of became a rallying cry and somewhere I think it would have been extremely damaging the exact job that somebody says. The state as they did and that debate the state shouldn't be making health decisions for people will talk about the state making health decisions of people that's more bullying and its and the -- -- walk this back. County depends in part on events -- the get some help from Greece and Europe and other things that make the economy unavoidable as an issue that will. But right now they think they're gonna float and on high gas prices something like that just preposterous. This preposterous to think blaming the president for high gas crisis is like blaming Rudy Giuliani for 9/11. It's totally leading west from South Florida Republican. -- -- this week to the coast and seventy dollars to fill his car he drives a Hummer. Gingrich and the American people have a right to demand a two dollar and fifty cent and have a right -- and lobsters grow on trees. -- this is economic nonsense. Also it's interesting how he makes all these claims about when he was speaker Bill Clinton was president how all these things were great. And now a Barack Obama as president he doesn't point out -- a Republican speaker. And that these these things are not so great that governor even if even if gas prices are not the president's -- they are his problem. Oh absolutely and and and I think the Republican nominee is perfectly. Able -- that under Bill Clinton as president twice as many leases were let out as they were under the about administration. He goes to Florida and talks about you know support -- all of the above energy strategy. But that's because places like North Dakota on private plans that's because the state lands are being opened up. That -- production is now on federal lands production is down. He says 85% of potential oil and gas is opened up but that's 85%. Of the fifteen or so percent that -- opening up. The Atlantic seaboard the east the West Coast much of Alaska the eastern part of the golf has -- all put -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Focus on that -- and -- -- -- sit there and say oh wait they're not drilling in Alaska they gonna say my guess I think is important significant problem ten blocks from here at the Federal Reserve building as long as loyalists traded in dollars. As long as -- -- mr. slick printing dollars from the value of the dollars going to and the price of oil and the price of gasoline is going to go up. -- blame the Federal Reserve wander are -- and also I'm an Australian Meredith have been affiliated. Well -- and he you know all true perhaps but I -- I do think that there is a if you relented if you're gonna run on an economic agenda which at Eddie George your point earlier if it isn't an economic campaign. The Republican candidates in serious trouble if they if they if they don't have a referendum. I'm the guy. Aren't necessary but if if everything is moving are beginning to move in the right direction economically -- -- -- -- some kind of a crisis in -- Iran. Or Greece and you've got governors like Rick -- Michigan talking about a comeback Chris Christie talking about a New Jersey come back how does the Republican nominee maneuver through that. Well I think again you you look at that at the top line numbers and I think that yes it is -- Then as bad as it's been. But it still remains. -- see -- percent unemployment rate. You know you've got sort of present famously saying it would be below where -- -- three consecutive years above. And know. None of it isn't close below does that do at home. All I think -- be very helpful I think we have. Guided it point three -- in the ballpark he wasn't the one who said that by the -- is -- Alan -- -- who projected that that that would happen but I. You know it can I just say one other thing about the gas issue because I think it's -- really important issue and I do think the Republicans are gonna hammer this. If according to the energy information agency -- -- opened up every single potential. Drilling opportunity. In the United States it would have the effect of lowering gas prices three cents may be. And that's because of course oil is traded on -- global market and -- and that happened when a woman president did open. Reserve reserves and yes -- gas -- is -- budged. Well it just but it's real simple -- -- gas prices have gone up under certain basically during the from the inauguration day to present and it's not the only issue but it's a marker you lay down a number of these markers I can't have academic content to let light into a direction and and I think it. -- our people feeling good according to the data. It and in Jordan an important point about there's only certain states that it really matters to be what California thinks doesn't really matter very much -- up. Presidential election but these swing states it does. Overall nationally most people don't listen economic policy -- -- out of her. Storm you know you could get around doing something terrifying. Europe and not just Greece but Italy. Going down the tubes and we saw this weekend horror and Afghanistan and it's still basically dead heat right now before all the -- look at perfect --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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