Roundtable: Fight for Michigan

George Will, Dee Dee Myers, Lou Dobbs, Clarence Page, and Jon Karl.
5:10 | 02/19/12

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Transcript for Roundtable: Fight for Michigan
I was born and raised here I -- the -- it seems right here -- of the right height like. I like seeing the like say the legs I love the lakes there's something very special here the Great Lakes but also all the little inland lakes that. That dot the the parts of Michigan. I love cars. I don't know I mean I I grew up. It's -- totally in love with -- You used to be in the fifties and sixties if you show me one square foot of almost any part of a car I can tell you what -- it was the model and so forth now. Now with all the Japanese cars -- not quite a bit at a but I still -- the American cars pretty well. And and drive it must -- I like I -- cars all of American cars. And long may they rule the world let me -- -- do well. It was Mitt Romney waxing. Poetic on Thursday about his love for the Wolverine state and of course all eyes are on Michigan this week as it takes center stage in the presidential race in here to discuss that and more I'm joined. As always by George well. Former Clinton white house Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers. Lou Dobbs of Fox Business Network Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and my friend and ABC news colleague Jonathan Karl thanks so much. For joining us mr. well. Is it possible. That mr. Romney is not gonna win in the state that he grew up in one his dad was governor -- The home -- burners ginger and all that stuff that he apparently just. I think it and those trees that are the right. Rights Begin of the fact that the midwest probably begins on the western slope of the Allegheny is which makes Pittsburgh and Santorum part of the midwest he's won Michigan at Iowa. He's run Missouri he's won Minnesota sewage runs strong -- movements. Furthermore states are often several states there's two people -- of Pennsylvania others Pittsburgh Philadelphia and Alabama in the middle. They say in Missouri -- -- -- where it's Missouri or Missouri. And Michigan has. The Detroit metropolitan area where Romney in 2008 did very well and should do well again and then there's the rest up. And over in the west particularly Europe the Dutch count -- -- and Kalamazoo and Holland and Muskegon and places like that Grand Rapids. Out there the social conservatives are strong I would expect. Santorum to carry. Non metro Detroit the question is by how much. -- what are you saying when you look at the Michigan's. Well I think it's an open question whether Romney's -- when the state where he was born and where he grew up in where he loves the trees. And -- -- but one of the things that strikes hitting -- George's point is that there is. -- social conservatism in the state and so you have a Republican primary. Being fought on. GOP wedge issues while the president -- offered Boeing on Friday talking about American manufacturing. While we're seeing increases in employment in the country -- seeing some Green shoots in the economy. -- he's looking forward he's passing of -- and some payroll tax cuts. And Republicans are talking about the presence theology the talking about whether fetus is a person they're sort of -- they're attacking each other personally talking about earmarks. And I think as this campaign season goes on the extended primary season is not really working that well for any Republican candidates and you see that in the lack of enthusiasm. Measured lot of ways including turnout in the last several states we've seen not the record numbers -- on the 2008 contested primary. But but you know a very very kind of jeans and -- rate kind of reaction -- got. What are the -- things here which is more powerful message that is to question the president's. Theology his beliefs are rather it is to align yourself very closely and carefully with the trees and -- And the lakes and the people of Michigan. I think it's a very powerful message that Romney's -- and it's nice to hear those kinds of positive thing may be somewhat. Hackneyed. They may be unnecessary they would be -- news headline he said the inverse admit I hate the tree I hate anything yeah. But but but truthfully I think this is a good thing for the Republicans on I think this is you know we're early days of -- there were a primary process. And the national -- -- -- emphasis on resolved. I say great we're supposed to be building something of a national consensus in this primary process. And I'm frankly elated the candidates. But I don't wanna play for you some of the ads that -- friends and Michigan are hearing. As that -- -- Michigan's been my home this is -- The best chance to beat Obama Rick Santorum. Santorum was voting for billions in waste including the bridge to nowhere. He's trying to -- from his new government. Use of. Rick Santorum. Takes center in Washington inside -- no fly zone. How important are these -- I've -- been more important are very important and will be and I think right now that's. Mitt Romney's biggest hole because we've seen. He has -- -- able to get his verbal message together he still. Sounds rather in disarray when he went talking -- just -- -- her body at about how much he loves Michigan. If say a remarkable. Thank alluded to -- double putting. A good optimistic spin on the disarray in the Republican Party right now I -- to -- I don't spend everybody got up I really really -- -- -- -- -- -- -- This will be good for the party in the long. It's kind of what looked like the post -- water reassessment back in the sixties that there -- that the trying to figure out but what their real messaging and and core theme is. But -- for right now. -- still haven't written off Romney in Michigan I think he's got the money you can put. The attack ads on the air I think he needs to hammer away -- -- we just saw yen. In a Santorum which is Romney could -- expected to a better job of beating Obama. And that's what Republicans are mainly motivated by that's the one thing that unites the party these -- is beating Obama. -- -- must win state for Mitt Romney it's it's Michigan the -- the central. Argument of his candidacy is that he is the candidate who can beat Brock Obama he is the one that is electable. If you can't convince. Republicans. In. In your home state. To vote for you how are you gonna convince anybody else and done you've had a fascinating conversation with a Republican senator who shall remain nameless. About the Republican race -- about is a prominent Republican senator somebody we all know well this table has not endorsed anybody. Who told me that if Romney can not win in Michigan that he firmly believes the party has to find another candidate. And this this candidate this senator by the way doesn't think -- Santorum has the answers we think Newt Gingrich is the answer. And you know gets brings us back to this perpetual -- -- a contested. Primary you even have prominent Republicans in this town. Looking out. The -- the states that still have places where you can -- -- -- on the out -- ten laughed and some big ones including California but this is a fantasy but the point is -- Top Republicans are saying that if Romney can't win Michigan he is so damaged that even if he -- then somehow go on and win the nomination. He's not going to be when. And Michigan will be another test. As we test in various places the utility of money. We generally -- that money equals X outcome not always Meg Whitman spent 130 million dollars and did not become governor of California when you -- An electorate makes up its mind about someone. No amount of money can drive that decision. -- -- think that the attacks that Romney is -- are waging against. Santorum. Voting. To raise the debt ceiling proposed voting for earmarks I think at the margin their effective I think negative answer and overwhelmingly. A part of this campaign you're starting with usage -- be. Less and less effective. I think that the country right now looking for inspiration. An aspiration leader here would be welcome our and that could be the president it could be one of the Republicans seeking to replace them whom ever. Amongst these learns that. I considered via counselor obvious truth and executes the strategy accordingly I think has a -- chance of winning the presidency or. We re electing. Getting this president elect and wanted it when they things that goes on campaigns of course -- you have supporters you have circuits and sometimes they go a little bit off message. Rick Santorum has a supporter named -- -- He went on Andrea Mitchell show the other day here is Foster freeze and Rick Santorum being asked to account for has come. This contraceptive -- my gosh it's so it's such an expense -- -- back in my days. They used their aspirin for contraceptives and -- put -- between their knees and wasn't that costly. This is the same gotcha politics that you get from from the media and I'm just soccer played again I'm not responsible for any comment that anybody who supports me make. And my record stands for itself. -- -- -- Days later weeks later after this contraception thing and they're still it's still being discussed -- maybe it's the media -- discussing it but you think this is little a winning issue for Democrats. I do think it's a winning issue for Democrats -- -- -- every -- contraception. Publisher of the democratic yeah. Exactly and and it's not just contraception somehow the public is being on the mad men side of the argument -- taking it back you know fifty years to a time when that wasn't necessarily case. And I think that it is if you doubt that if you look at what happened over the last week where a lot of energy around this issue on Thursday we saw. The house oversight committee with a panel of all men talking about contraception when its role should be and there was -- You know a furious reaction by when all the women's groups raising a ton of money on this now groups like analyst Lester actually on the air with the -- Com reminding people that this is the perspective of Latin from the Ethiopian it is not -- work well for. Lou you disagree and I do disagree -- -- hadn't heard that that if you McCullough joked that I was in junior high school. It has an improvement yeah. The fact is -- with this. Render a movie -- would get our rating of that joke were included in that. Is there anything that was said by Foster freeze that is worse than any thing that our children mostly in prime time television this country. -- where have we. Are worth noticing that is seeing purity by identifying. The -- -- about it. I'll do what he had -- mindset. It's about a mindset that suggest that somehow that's -- point of view and the reason it's damaging to Santorum is not because he's accountable responsible for everything wanted to support assessment because it. It's a little too close to what people think he actually -- It's also about being out of touch you know alluded -- right if we pull that joke it wouldn't matter -- when we're not running for office but. Boston freeze if in the middle of the Santorum campaign right now and we -- a political campaign and if but he walked right into liquid and right don't you think it takes a lot of hard work -- All of us in the national media to make that into what it is beat column I -- yeah. I think look like him or -- Democrat or Republican this kind of comment but I'll reflect badly on the candidate in the campaign that's what -- -- -- -- -- -- Which is cannot -- -- each candidate of the far right social conservatives that might work in Iowa you know he gets the support the family leader -- can -- can market in the Iowa Caucuses. But his appeal right now -- the reason why you're seeing him surging in the polls. In Michigan and Ohio and several other states is it comes across as the regular guy he's the -- that connects he's the believes the Vatican connect to up to to blue collar Republicans. He is not surging because he is Rick santorum's hopefuls so it's sort of each candidate. This is not a good thing. -- talk comes across as a happy -- Except when he's very -- said Wednesday it. Except when he sells them he picks up on the news this week -- -- more than half the children born to women in this country of all ethnicities races. Under thirty are born out of wedlock. Now we know the social pathologies that flow from us he's right to talk about it. But when he died as he begins to depict an America where is he seven -- speeches you'll be afraid to go out of. Doors that the quantity issues here with the contraception debate. Which I'm just framing it as by calling -- the contraception debate and calling it the religious liberty debate is the frame. And whether or not it becomes a debate about religious liberty in what religious groups have to do or whether or not this is about contraception. I wonder George if you're concerned. Rick Santorum who in some cases you can be seen as the Republican front. If he. Falls into the trap of making this about contraception which is not necessarily a winning issue for Republicans as opposed to making it a debate about religious look -- -- Is no contraceptive debate in the sense that no one running for president wants to -- contraception no wider forum Hillary does not. Public financing of the -- from it in his heart of hearts he has said he doesn't like contraception and -- doesn't want to let you know. All these best player that he personally and individually believes that it is wrong correct but and public policy choices he's always condemned -- -- making it possible for everyone else. Think he says is that he thinks it's bad for the country. And that he's counseling that they ought not to use it -- you know what most women don't want Rick santorum's advice about whether or not they should use birth control and just hearkens back to a time. -- which we thought was in the past but not so much now that. People like who had very little to do when his life to making decisions about their how this is say an issue around women's health it is part of they've for the president's health care plan that says that preventive health services should be available and paid for. For women this is something women strongly supported by the -- The president won with a huge margins in the women's -- and this is on this -- help -- do that again he won ten million more votes from women and from ten million more and 70%. Of unmarried women voted for. Point 9% voted for running headlines now from his 2008. Performance and appalling weather is gonna he's doing the same thing dramatically among independence. These -- these are choices that are going to be made individually by voters. And it's awfully nice of the national media and the Democratic Party to help everyone understand the dangers of bricks and tore. But the Republican primary process will make that evaluation respectively of our assistance genuine or manufacture the models don't have an -- and -- And let's move on to something having to do with economic matters and and the general election which is that the president both. Introduced a budget in the last week and also got something of a victory with the payroll tax cut extension. You you're -- impressed with the budget also much and I drawn very large majority and and that response there is nothing about this. Budget that makes it meaningful. There is not a single element but that will be voted upon in the senate and the senate majority leader of the principal ally of this president on Capitol Hill was that there will be no vote. So what is the point of the people can describe as a political document a campaign document. It is nothing. -- doesn't cover Capitol Hill for us why. Has the senate not voted on a budget in more than a thousand days why. If it is pretty astounding and and it's become such a talking point for the Republicans that people have gotten kind of sick of bringing up every -- -- commence a 1021. No -- no democratic budget but it is astounding that sense. You know President Obama was sworn in we haven't seen the Democrats actually put forth their own. And -- -- -- governing documents. Difficult choices nobody wants to make peace with the payroll tax deal today. I mean look at this we finally -- -- we've got a bipartisan agreement when retail by completely ignoring all the difficult choices that need to be. By just saying we're gonna give away Tom Harkin called it the doubles deal right talk about what gives I don't know it was double steal put it completely. Avoided difficult choices 100 billion dollars taken right out of Social Security given away in the family of a payroll tax cut. No effort to do anything in the way of any kind of spending -- We're I have difficult choices during. Economic hard times. -- the best time where we've been like back back and in the nineties when you have budget surpluses but it was a it was a Catholic going to the surplus is going on everybody wants to enjoy the surplus. Have a problem with them that -- -- is this a long range choices. And direct terms of the culture of Washington is not geared toward long range problems with your report immediate problem upon his unemployment and that's why the payroll tax cut. I mean for the -- short order triggers secretary Geithner rather delicately so that we faced some demographic challenges yes. Today as happened on Saturday -- will happen tomorrow Monday. 101000 more Americans retiring baby -- become eligible for social security and Medicare. This is demographically driven it is utterly predictable. And no one wants to talk about how much we're going to subsidize the last twenty years -- Americans lives no matter how healthy no matter how wealthy they are. And that's the subject everyone runs for -- you say they don't do it and in hard times in good times they say well times are good in the revenues are coming and we need to think it's as whenever -- time to do. This president do you think this was a good week for the president in terms of his economic message I do I think that they sort of the third acting in the economic playing first base on the -- jobs bill. Proposal and we had state of the union and that we had the budget and he's on a consistent theme which is we're gonna build an economy that's built to last. That won't make sure the people who work hard and play by the rules have the opportunity to succeed its opportunity and responsibility where we heard -- -- -- are what is the embassy move the pronoun we when you're gonna build this it's that government. That's his constant message is we in Washington know best. We know how much manufacturing there ought to be we know how much of this probably were gonna pick the winners and losers the record at this. I think it's it's it's it's it's different than that actually Georgia be shot to now I think it's saying that. Know what that some didn't inequities built into the system why isn't that the rich keep getting -- -- the -- -- do have seen their income and their wealth grow by. Unprecedented amounts that only a couple explanations -- -- idea of the rich people are really lots more than the rest of us and I don't think. And it was a that they would stipulate -- or there might be something in the rules -- -- and the government actually can't do something about that to try to level the playing fields that ordinary folks can get ahead again. One of the reasons we're seeing. The reactions that we're seeing in countries with people feel like the rules -- -- But put them the Plainfield is no longer longer level and if you work hard and you play by the rules he can no longer be sure that you're gonna do well. We have a budget if you look at the president's budget that within five years you're gonna see -- spending more on interest on the national debt and we're spending on Medicare. I mean it's absolutely unsustainable and there's nobody here is seriously document. I wanna this time -- -- -- the public that the budget -- here today imports -- -- wanna bring onto a couple other matters of of interest in in popular culture. One of them has to do with the fact that Whitney Houston was late arrest this weekend in New Jersey. And has been a big debate about whether or not the celebration -- was too much given that the flags were put at half staff in New Jersey. I -- read this quote from a woman and -- Adelson she's a gold star mother. Her son specialist Stephen mace was killed at combat outpost Keating in Afghanistan and 2009 -- -- America has the flag code the government's use and care of the United States like following the -- preserves the integrity of the nation in mourning distinction in symbolic value of that honor. While Whitney Houston had a public inspiring talent she gave up -- gift but it by the conduct of her personal life. She in no way is someone worthy of being honored by nation in mourning the self inflicted France and are for personal life should only be viewed as an example -- -- American should not live their life. On the other hand here is Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie. I'm disturbed by people who believe that because. Her ultimate demise and we don't know what was the cause for death but because -- history. Of substance abuse that somehow she's forfeited. The good things that she -- her life. I just reject that a human level. Clarence you don't think that the Whitney Houston funeral. Or the flags being put announcement should be another front in the culture. -- -- -- then the first of -- the the flag is. And strong part of American culture I've -- people put more. A meaning in the flag in this country than most. At the same time I saw -- a similar argument when Elvis died there were people who said that but let them know we're going to foreign. Honoring our guy who died under drug related circumstances. On the fact -- -- -- complicated questions about. -- somebody who we know. Had a drug problem Whitney Houston had a problem but helping special overshadowed the things she did it any more than than boy holidays -- -- over shuttle -- the governor got the right idea there managers. Your New Jersey anyone away and you bet I think of christianity exactly right and to focus on that flag and being at hand stamp from Whitney Houston. Let people celebrate her life and her contributions as they will. But I also agree with that that mother -- her son in 2009. It shameless that another. Person responsible for government in the tristate area. Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not permit a parade for returning. Are returning service members from Iraq we've got to find proportion and we've got to find consistency we've got to understand that those we -- due to reflect on. Spanish I -- his name was -- that's you can say in this place that this to honor him. Four let's bring on one more topic and that is a little more happy topic and that is Jeremy -- Who -- we have one minute for the so quick go around your thoughts you have insanity you're a baseball fan but the prevalence and. Number it's great to see you -- Television. Emigrants excelling of the most pure American sport it was invented in December. That's -- 1891 and Springfield Massachusetts. It's nice to see Harvard produce someone who's not and that's subtraction from public good and I would also note. I would also note that the last time the -- won the -- the NBA championship. From -- and them -- starting front of -- And that's that was an officer got rid of difference we have thirty seconds I want to remind people that turbulent -- the next bubble host the Dallas Mavericks today at 1 PM eastern. 10 AM Pacific here on ABC your thoughts on Wednesday and it. I think it's fantastic he's not only elevated his game he's element of the teens -- he's ultimately team player and I think he's overcome so much to get -- -- everybody's written. Ten seconds -- and -- Rick Reilly he sort of basked this is like a -- winning the Kentucky Derby being from Harvard. That's all the time we have we'll have more in the Green room.

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

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