'This Week' Transcript: Axelrod, McConnell and Queen Rania

BRAZILE: Because I think it's been very difficult to have a narrative that tells the American people exactly what they don't want to hear, that we've spent your money, your taxpayers' money, to try to avoid a total meltdown on the economy, to invest in things that the Republicans didn't care about, and to try to put the economy back on the -- on a sane footing. That has not translated into votes, and it hasn't given Democrats a real opportunity to campaign.

DOWD: I think the real problem is, is that nothing has happened since Barack Obama's taken office that's positive in the American public's mind. Their health care costs have risen. Their premiums have risen on -- on their health care. The job situation has worsened. The deficit has worsened. Everything since January 20, 2009, has gotten worse.

AMANPOUR: But hasn't -- when you say nothing's happened, he's pushed a huge amount through Congress, unprecedented amount. Are you saying nothing's happened...

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: The public does not judge success based on passing a bill in Washington. The public judges success by whether or not their life is better, and it has not changed.

AMANPOUR: Right, but there's no depression. There's -- the recession has ended.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, but they're not seeing -- the people are not seeing tangible -- tangible gains in their life, as Matthew said. I mean, look, I think you have -- you have two things -- the public view is actually pretty nuanced, if you look at polling. I mean, you go out and you talk to people.

By and large, more Americans think that the policies of Bush than Obama certainly led to this -- taken into this cataclysm. On the other hand, they have judged that what Obama has done over the past year-and-a-half has not made things better, and that is the driving force of the election.

Now, what Democrats are trying to do in these last few weeks, by focusing on Republican policies, is basically saying, look, the issue shouldn't be about what's happened over the last 20 months. It shouldn't be a referendum. It should be a choice about alternative directions going forward. That is a very hard place to get the voters in a midterm election.

AMANPOUR: You think it will be a referendum?

WILL: Well, look at the difficulties they have. They passed a stimulus which by their own standards did not stimulate, didn't keep unemployment at 8 percent. They passed a health care bill that may not be, as Michael Barone says, the most unpopular measure legislation since the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, but it's unpopular. So then they said, well, we'll run against George W. Bush. Well, in Ohio, Mr. Portman is about to be elected senator, who was a close aide of George Bush. "Let's run against Wall Street." Well, in Ohio, Mr. Kasich is leading in the race for governor. He worked for Lehman Brothers. None of these standard lines of theirs have worked.

AMANPOUR: And we just were talking about -- you just mentioned the word "fringe." I asked Senator McConnell about some of these, you know, Tea Party candidates who may be going to the Senate. And you've just written this article, "Extreme Makeover," whose subtitle is, "The midterm elections could send to Washington the most militantly conservative class of new senators in at least the past half-century." What will that mean?

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