'This Week' Transcript: Obama Adviser David Axelrod and Sens. Jim DeMint and Robert Menendez

DOWD: Well, the fastest rising -- the fasting rising group of voters in this country right now are independents. It's not as if the Democrats suffered and Republicans rose. Independents have risen.

ROBERTS: No, which is -- which is -- which is the same way of saying, "A pox on both your houses. You know, we don't like any of you guys." Republican -- when you ask which party do you trust more with various issues, the Republicans do worse than the Democrats. So it's not a Republican tide, but it is a "throw the bums out" tide, and that's going to be there -- I mean, Sam's right about that -- and that's going to be there as long as the economy is bad and as long as the Congress continues to act in a way that people think they're not representing them.

DONALDSON: But that's it, Cokie. It's a tide also to get things done. Last spring, the polls said people wanted health care reform. They even wanted the public option. Did the White House then press it vigorously? Did the president say, "I don't know. Herding cats is difficult. No, but I'll have to do it." No, he let the cats on Capitol Hill try to herd themselves, and they took all summer, and they took all fall, and they argued back and forth, and Ben Nelson got a little something for his state, and people turned against the process...

ROBERTS: Even people in his state, which is remarkable.

DONALDSON: ... who don't even know what's in the bill.

WILL: But surely -- surely the interesting poll about health care that we had when this whole process started showed that, A -- this was a poll, this was a fact -- 85 percent of the American had health insurance. And according to the Kaiser poll, 95 percent of that very large majority were satisfied...


WILL: ... with what they had, so there was no underlying discontent proportional to the change the president was trying to...


DONALDSON: One third of that majority is on a government health program. I'm on Medicare. People who've been in the military are on a government health program. And yet the Republicans were able the make the idea that being on a government health program is terrible.

ROBERTS: Well, that's what I can't get over, is how the Democrats...


ROBERTS: ... and the White House lost control of the message. I mean, that to me is phenomenal. After doing as well as they did in that campaign, they -- they let this public option -- nobody had ever heard of a public option. Suddenly it became the Holy Grail. You know, it's absurd. They should have just been out there day after day saying, "Thirty more million people insured, and you don't have pre-existing conditions on coverage."

MORAN: Well, let's look forward. Where does it go now? We heard David Axelrod today say the president still wants not the small plan that he seemed to suggest to George Stephanopoulos. He still wants to go big, as do Pelosi and Reid and David Plouffe, the new player there. What do you think of that?

WILL: I think it's madness for them to spend another three months at least on health care when the country wants them to turn to other matters. The president's second sentence of his State of the Union address last year said we all know that the primary question is jobs and the economy. So they spent a year on health care, and they dare not surely do that again. And their votes are simply not there for the big bill.

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