Transcript for Roundtable II: Politics of Foreign Policy
each very lucky to have someone who's a comforting presence without whom we wouldn't be able to go through the day. I have my beautiful wife ann. He has bill clinton. Sometimes it feels like this race has dragged on forever. But paul ryan reminds me that we have only been running for 2:50-something. I feel really well rested after the nice, long nap I had in the first debate. A little comic relief from the tuesday-night tension. We're back here with the roundtable. Of course, the other big debate coming up tomorrow night, foreign policy is the focus. I would expect that tomorrow night, we'll see a little less ferocity. They're going to be sitting at a table. There could be another flash point on the issue of benghazi. It created a moment between president obama and romney tuesday night. You said in the rose garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. Please proceed, governor. I want to make sure we get that for the record. It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in benghazi a terror act. Get the transcript. He did in fact -- greta van susteren. Candy crowley stepping in to help the president. I think she helped romney. I actually think she helped governor romney, because, 15, 16 topics they discussed that night, governor romney's job was to put the spotlight on libya. And how the president's administration has been clumsy at best giving the information. What happened because candy crowley was clumsy in how she handled it, the entire dicussion right now is about libya. Candy, in an unusual, bizarre way put the total spotlight, that's all the media talked about. You agree with her? Absolutely not. I think that benghazi discussion and libya discussion was the president's best moment of the debate and mitt romney's worst moment in the debate. What candy crowley did was laudable. What happens in this whole thing is that the truth becomes a casualty. We're supposed to make accusations back and forth to each other and nobody's supposed to correct. What candy crowley did, in the course of this, mitt romney doesn't want to be talking about libya, mitt romney wants to be talking about the economy. If you take a look at all of the polls on libya and foreign policy, going into this debate, the president has a big advantage. Governor romney's campaign doesn't seem to agree with this. They keep pushing this. The reality is, he'll talk about the economy I'm quite confident on monday night. I mean, I know -- even though it's a foreign policy debate? Yes. Because we know the reason why is because we know from ronald reagan winning the cold war without firing a shot, with partners like pope john paul ii and margaret thatcher and others, what made that possible was a strong u.S. Economy, the creation of 23 million jobs, the creation of $16 trillion in assets in the private sector is what enabled us to fund the defense buildup. There's no way to predict u.S. Power without strengthening this economy. Isn't this benghazi a winning issue for governor romney? I agree with matthew that it's not going to decide the election. If you look at the keys that decide incumbent elections, you got gdp growth flat, high unemployment. Low consumer confidence. One of the things that trips a incumbent's feet is a foreign policy crisis or war. Where I would agree with ralph, republicans are certainly trying to make it appere's foreign policy crisis. With a drum beat toward war. One thing that's also clear what mitt romney has doing is continuing his dukes of hazzard tour around the world in terms of foreign policy. The first thing that he did, before we even knew that our ambassador was killed, he tried to politicize the attack. Instead of closing ranks, come together as a country, make sure that we focus like president obama made sure we did, getting to the bottom through an investigation of what happened, making sure we bring the attackers to justice -- as president obama did with bringing osama bin laden to justice. Let me press you on one issue, what the president didn't answer on tuesday night was, why the request for additional security was rejected. afterwards. Well, look, we have a focus on libya right now, which we've got to get to the bottom of that investigation, that's what the investigation is for. You know what was really troubling, george, more politicalization from the republicans in congress, darrell issa released 166 pages of sensitive department of state documents that exposed the libyan officials that we were working with -- george. Let me finish. To try to get the bottom of how this happened. The lead surrogate for romney co-signed that later. The republans are just relishing the opportunity to politicize an attack on the united states that we know that the president deemed a terror attack the next day and that we need to be focused on pulling together. I don't think we should be unfair to the state department, though, and this whole idea of why security wasn't given. I have no doubt in my mind that the state department wanted to protect every single citizen in all of these embassies. It's a lot easier in a hindsight, we should have answered it differently. The thing that I don't understand, why won't the prest just be straight? Tell us what's going on. Instead of this bizarre thing over two weeks where he wouldn't tell us -- I want to bring this to van jones, hasn't the white house been relatively transparent? Not at all. Let me finish. The talking points that susan rice received -- the president could easily address the nation. To sort this all out. The president has the information. The president hasn't done this. All of these narratives they're not telling. The president should speak out. Look, over the weekend, it came out that susan rice was actually on -- using information that was given to her by intelligence. This is a fluid situation. But let me tell you why the republicans keep attacking on this, president obama is a towering figure on foreign policy, you got somebody with a nobel peace prize and he killed osama bin laden. To be a towering figure, his policy on iran, look at his policy -- three ways to go after iran. Number one, you can have the weak strategy go on your way, number two, reckless strategy or number three, get the whole world on your side, romney has doubled-down -- let me finish. Romney has double-downed on weak and reckless. Obama has pulled the world together. They're taking the death of an american hero, I knew ambassador stevens, okay, and he's a hero to a lot of people. His approach brought the best out in the libyan people. Even when he did, when he did the libyan people -- is the is the is wait, van. Let me finish. The libyan people came out and brought the best in him. They said that this is wrong. George, this is what I think is wrong in this system that we have today in which there is no pause button and no time for thoughtfulness on both sides. Somebody says something, we automatically throw everything at them. They have bad intentions or they're evil. They're no point in time where we can sit back and calmly say, on both sides of the aisle, one thing to put this benghazi thing in context -- I worked for president bush, we had a president and an administration for years made an argument about weapons of mass destruction. For years. This is not -- this wasn't two weeks, this was months and months of a conversation where we never got the right answer to this. And still today, nobody in the administration -- and the point is our intelligence gathering is bad. These are the factses. This compound, this consulate was attacked in april, it was attacked again in june. The cables make it clear that there was a security vacuum that al qaeda and other islamic extremist groups were moving in. The british had closed their consulate. The red cross pulled out. The state department pulled out two security units in august and then denied additional security when it was requested. And in terms of him being a towering figure, syria is in flames. There are 30,000 innocent who are dead and dying every day as we lead from behind. Iran according to -- let me finish. Iran, according to one independent estimate, are four months away from having enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. This is unbelievable. The romney campaign and the republicans' reckless chest thumping has to stop. We have already been through shredding our diplomatic reputation across the globe. We had a go it alone strategy. Let me finish, please. A go it alone strategy. Go it alone with 32 allies. Go into a war with iraq with faulty intelligence. And president obama said that he would bring our troops home and he did. When it comes to mitt romney's foreign policy, whether it's talking about his policy in iran, if he thinks that we should go to war with iran, he should say so. We got to make sure that diplomacy -- the president is the first diplomat in chief. But diplomacy. We have to be practical. Diplomacy cost money. We give money -- that's why I think that the discussion tomorrow should be on the economy from governor romney's perspective. We pay countries around the world billions and billions of dollars. We still have to be able to afford it. Diplomacy -- I represent people from south florida, when I go home, they're not telling me, please, push president obama to attack iran. Theyglad -- l's get something straight. I'm not advocating war. I'm not advocating that we should do anything -- what I'm saying is that we can talk about war and diplomacy all we want, but we still need to be able to afford it. I want to get to one more discussion before -- how his own policy would be different. I'm calling a halt to this right now. I want to get to one more issue. This is such a confusing political issue. The polls are all over the place. Matthew dowd, you were the first I think to write back in june that this is set up to perhaps a situation where mitt romney wins the popular vote but loses the electoral college we're back to 2000 all over again. The possibility and the probability of that has risen each day and each year. What's developed in this country, used to have an electoral advantage that the republicans had. Today, if mitt romney could win this race by 1 million votes and loses the electoral college, because states like ohio, virginia, nevada, colorado, have moved toward -- I have said, this isn't necessarily good for the country. But very possible. You mentioned the battleground states there. The more you look at it, the more ohio appears to be the key. I want to show a couple of electoral maps that bear that out. Obama's checkmate map. If he wins those three upper midwest states, if romney sweeps the board of all of the other battleground states, president obama ekes out a four-point win, which is why you see governor romney spending so much time on that state of wisconsin. Look at what happens when you flip wisconsin. If you flip it around, even if it then president obama is able to hold on to one of the battleground likes nevada, governor romney's able to win 271-267. When you look at it, though, ralph reed, ohio becomes the path to the presidency. He's further behind in wisconsin. No republican has been elected president without carrying the state of ohio since the republican party was founded in 1852. I would say that constitutes a pattern. And the reality is, even though it's arithmetically possible for him to win without it -- it's hard. It's arithmetically possible. The truth is, what's happening in ohio, my view is, that the in-state polls are kind of a lagging indicator. Today, in the real clear politics, obama is ahead of two. Give or two. Well within the margin of error. But in the three most recent polls, it's effectively tied. Let me tell where you where we're heading, we're going back to the way campaigns used to be run, it's who knocks on the most doors, rings the most doorbells. George, a lot of these states not just one or two, will be decided 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 votes. And that's why president obama campaign invested from day one, hasn't left these battleground states from the 2008 campaign. In tens of thousands of door knocks, phone calls and social media outreach. What our advantage will be, is because president obama rescued the american automobile industry. 850,000 jobs in ohio tied to the automobile industry. On trade, mitt romney said, no, we shouldn't -- we shouldn't actually sanction china for dumping tires. President obama said yes, we should and did. But the polls are tightening in ohio. Yes, they are. I agree with mr. Reed on this point. People need to take that very seriously. But the other thing is, the manufacturing jobs are beginning to grow again in america for the first time and ohio has benefited from that. One of the reasons, not just automobile manufacturing, there are 125,000 clean-energy jobs. 125,000 jobs right there in ohio and mitt romney wants to get rid of them. I think what you're going to see is that you'll pay a cost for having been on the wrong side of the auto bailout jobs that are growing. going to see there -- it will be tight. It will be even tighter than 2004. Are you prepared for recounts? I hope I get south florida again this time. We can all be in columbus. Cincinnati. I'm going to tell you what's going to happen, that band of 28 counties that re-elected bush in 2004, heavily evangelical, heavily catholic, they'll come out in the biggest numbers that
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