Below are some of the notable comments made Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” The Powerhouse Roundtable included Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs and Romney campaign senior adviser Kevin Madden, ABC News’ George Will; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; Yahoo! News Washington bureau chief David Chalian, radio host and Brietbart.com contributing editor Dana Loesch, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus¸and ABC News senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl.
GIBBS: Look, Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world, and I think the world is not yet ready for Mitt Romney. I think there’s — literally to go overseas, stand in the country of our strongest ally, and on Olympics that they’ve been preparing for years for, and question whether or not they’re ready does make you wonder whether or not he’s ready to be commander-in-chief.
GIBBS: The president is the president of the United States. He understand where the buck stops. We also understand what we inherited and what we can’t go back to, which are the tried-and-tested ideas of four years ago which got us into this mess. I mean, you heard — you heard the discussion about tax cuts. This week, the Senate rightly voted to ensure that when — at the end of the year, we extend tax cuts for middle-class families. But their economic theory is we get this economy going by giving millionaires and billionaires more and more tax cuts. That’s not what’s going to get this economy moving.
GIBBS: We spent the first month of the campaign, for four weeks, running nothing but a positive ad about what President Obama’s done. But let’s be clear. Mitt Romney had a strategy during the primaries. He used negative ads to destroy Rick Perry. He used negative ads to destroy Newt Gingrich. He used negative ads to destroy Rick Santorum. We’re not going to let him play his tried-and-true role as prep school bully. We’re going to certainly respond. And, look, the ad that you mentioned on what the president said selectively edited the sentence previous to what you heard the president say is talking about infrastructure and roads and bridges.
MADDEN: Well, I think this is an election, again, that the public is viewing around big things. I don’t think that a gaffe or a YouTube moment is really going to make or break this particular election. I think it’s going to be about the direction of the country, how we rebuild the economy, how we continue to have a stronger national security posture around the globe. I think that the headlines that — that come out of London on one day are not going to be as important as the overall view that people take when it comes to our economic prosperity here at home and then our safety and security around the globe. So I think the fact that the governor has given a — he gave a very strong, robust speech about his national security policy at the Veterans of — at the VFW before he left. And I think you’re going to see some — some images that are coming out of Israel, with him standing strong with our allies there, some strong statements coming out of Israel, I think that’s going to be much more important as a judgment on this particular trip than anything that happened
MADDEN: I think words matter and I think priorities matter. I think that’s something that Governor Romney feels very strongly about, and I think that’s one of the reasons why he’s traveled — this is his fourth trip to Israel. That’s the reason he’s there now, to make sure that he sends a strong statement as a potential future president to the people of Israel, because the shared values that we have as far as national security and Israeli policy, our policy towards Israel, is sort of an American value, an American principle, of our shared values around freedom and democracy there. So I think that’s really important, a message to send. I think that there are many folks up on Capitol Hill who’ve worked with this administration that believe that and wish that the president had been stronger, that he had moved quicker, that he had done so with a much more collaborative fashion up on Capitol Hill. So I think that that’s another problem that the — that this president has had. But overall, I think that — that the president does — that Mitt Romney has sent a strong message to the folks of Israel that not only is he visiting there to send these messages now, but also that he would visit as president.
MADDEN: I think the public is reacting very negatively because the president, when he was a candidate in 2008, promised hope and change and he promised to challenge the status quo. And instead, he’s been very much a conventional politician over the last three-and-a-half years. What Governor Romney has done during this campaign is focus like a laser on the issues and the anxieties that are really driving voter sentiment right now, which is the economy, and our inability to really — the inability of the president to get it back on track. And if you look at our ads and you look at the president’s — or you look at Governor Romney’s words on the campaign trail, they’re all consistently focused on the economy. What he would do on day one as a president to help put the economy on track — back on track, whether it’s making sure that we approve the Keystone pipeline so that we have more energy resources and we can help the economy. So we’re focused like a laser on the economy.
WILL: It’s a First Amendment issue that wouldn’t last 10 seconds in court, to condition a government entitlement or privilege on the content of your political thought? Second, the head of Chick-fil-A is being excoriated by these people, by Rahm Emanuel, for example, for holding a view on marriage that the president held when he was elected in 2008. And let’s note, the gay rights isn’t driving this. The gay rights movement is far too sensible. These are pandering, third-rate politicians pandering to them.
BRAZILE: Well, look, I don’t believe the president was wrong in saying something that has been said over and over again by so many, including Elizabeth Warren, who said it better, and it went viral. But, I mean, there’s — we cannot change Republican spin or Republican narrative. What we can do is talk about what the president’s doing to help small businesses compete, what the president is doing to help small businesses grow and hire people. That’s what we can talk about. We’re not anti-small business. We’re trying to help small businesses compete.
BRAZILE: A weak economy hurts the incumbent. But on the other hand, we’re not sitting around on our hands, you know, looking for things to get worse before, you know, we try to help people. Yes, the economy is tough for President Obama, but I do believe that he has a lot of credibility that he can out there and talk about the things that — the steps he’s taken, the steps that he would like to take, and the steps that the Republicans will continue to oppose, because simply they’ve decided there’s one mission in life, and that is to defeat Barack Obama. But, you know, back in 1980, when we had a Democratic president during hard times, Ronald Reagan had some credibility in going out there and talking to blue-collar voters, because he came from a union household, he was president of a union, he talked about his father getting laid off during Christmas. He had the narrative. Mitt Romney? He talks about firing people.
CHALIAN: Talking to both campaigns, they think it’s going to remain close all the way through. In fact, they also think that it is a more limited universe of persuadable, truly swing voters than in recent presidential elections. Right now, this is a two- to four-point race, maybe the slightest edge to the president at the moment. Neither campaign believes the NBC-Wall Street Journal horserace number that shows it is a six-point race. They think that’s too wide. I think what we’ve seen, now looking forward to the next 100 days, and what we’ve seen up to now, a lot of this campaign has been about the definition of Mitt Romney so far, and that’s largely due to sort of a gamble, right, that the president’s campaign team made by spending more money than they were bringing in — that’s never an easy decision to do — to go heavy right now negatively on Romney, try to frame him, and muddle this — this one major credential that he has brought into the race of his business record. The Romney campaign has allowed that to happen to some degree, and I think what you heard from Kevin in that interview and what I think you’re going to see going forward in the next 100 days, largely due to sort of the calendar and the events demand it. At the convention, they’re going to start filling in a different story of Mitt Romney that right now the American people don’t really have to discuss at the kitchen table.
CHALIAN: Well, I think — because of how tight this election is going to be, I think there’s a recognition that whoever wins the presidency is probably going to win it by a more narrow margin than it was won the last time. The margins for the majority parties in both chambers are probably going to be more narrow after this. So I don’t — I don’t hear anyone on either side thinking that this election is going to somehow transform us and move us as a country to more — a better place with better discourse. It seems to me that we’re going to be actually further into this rut after this election.
LOESCH: I think — we need to stop trying redefine gaffe, because it’s not a gaffe when you go and repeat towards the British prime minister or the London mayor what’s actually been in British headlines for the past several weeks. I mean, Piers Morgan even said, well, he told the truth. So what of it? London’s mayor obviously does not see eye to eye with Romney on politics. He’s not of that political ideology. I just think that this was a gotcha moment. I can’t even believe that a big deal was made about this. If they’re angry at Romney for repeating what the headlines are, then they should be angry at their own British press.
LOESCH: You know, I support — you know, I’m a Christian. I go to church on Sundays. I believe in traditional marriage, but I eat Oreos. I don’t care that Oreo came out with a rainbow Oreo. Why didn’t they do it sooner? Because it’s like quadruple stuffed. I would have loved to have ate that. I order from Amazon. I use Apple computers, because I don’t want to segregate an ideology and encourage mediocrity.
MARCUS: I think that there’s red flags on both sides. You could look at the red flag of what happened to the 2008 mandate and say, if you look at this lousy economy, the astonishing thing is that Mitt Romney is not further ahead of the president and that, instead, we’re stuck in this dead-even race. So what do we know? Mitt Romney is not the most adroit candidate in the world. Barack Obama is suffering from a lousy economy that doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon enough to help him. And this is an election that, unlike 2008, is not going to be about hope and change. It’s going to be about fear and loathing.
KARL: I believe that most people looking at this have been underestimating the chance that Paul Ryan could be the pick. You know, the Ryan budget will be attacked immediately by Democrats, of course, but the attitude up in Boston — and I am told within Romney’s inner circle — is they believe that they’re going to get attacked for that anyway and that Paul Ryan is the person who could best fight against those attacks. Romney really likes Ryan. I think there’s a good chance he’s the pick.