'This Week' Transcript: Gov. Bob McDonnell and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Bob McDonnell and Antonio Villaraigosa are interviewed on 'This Week.

ByABC News
August 23, 2012, 6:28 PM

NEW YORK, August 26, 2012— -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to This Week.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Storms brewing. The GOP convention threatened by Tropical Storm Isaac.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Sunshine State is on high alert.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that political hurricane from Todd Akin.

AKIN: If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

RYAN: Rape is rape, period.

AKIN: I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As all eyes turn to Tampa, we debate the big convention questions. How will Mitt Romney sell himself and his plan? Will he focus the campaign on the economy and forge a personal connection with America's votes? And how can the Democrats counter? We'll ask two convention chairs, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell and Democrat Mayor Antonio Vllaraigosa.

Plus, debate and analysis on our powerhouse roundtable, with George Will, Mary Matalin, Jennifer Granholm, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, and Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. And we remember an American icon.


NEIL ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. The roundtable is standing by with their reflections on Neil Armstrong, the humble man who leapt into the history books when he stepped on the moon back in 1969. Hundreds of millions watched. We all remember where we were.

But we begin now with the latest on Tropical Storm Isaac and the Republican Convention. The storm is expected to become a hurricane later today, and it could strengthen to a category two by tomorrow before hitting land late Tuesday along the Gulf Coast.

The track varies right now. It could land anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to New Orleans. It should pass a good 200 miles west of Tampa. but Republican officials are taking no chances. They have postponed the first night of convention activities, and for more on that, let's go to ABC's Jon Karl in the convention hall. And, Jon, when they made this announcement last night, the officials said they can get everything they need to get done in three days.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Yes. It's not going to be easy. The speeches will be shorter. A few people may miss their mark. But, George, they said that had absolutely no choice. Even with that hurricane passing to the west, they think we could see winds of 70 miles an hour here, torrential rain, possible flooding.

The big issue here is some of the delegates are staying an hour away on the coast. They were concerned about loading them up on buses, bringing them here. They thought that it might have been too much of an issue, safety issue. It may be, George, like one of those school days, where they call a snow day, and the storm ended up not being as much. But they really didn't think they had a choice.

One other thing, George, every delegate gets one of these red umbrellas. The official Republican umbrella. One concern is though, technically right now, they're not allowed in the convention hall. But we got ours in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good thing you got in. I guess the other concern though is going to be that even if things get started again on Tuesday, all the coverage of the hurricane will overwhelm their effort to get their message out.

KARL: That's exactly right. This is the one time when the Republican party has a chance to have the attention of the entire nation to their message. Right now, they'll be competing with a hurricane for that attention. And as you remember, the exact same thing happened four years ago with Hurricane Gustav, which hit during the first day of the Republican convention four years ago.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So I know you have been talking to a lot of officials and delegates down there. What's the No. 1 thing they think they need to do to get out of this convention?

KARL: The No. 1 thing they have to do is establish Mitt Romney as the problem solver. That's what you're going to be hearing over and over again, as the person who has the ability to solve America's problems. To succeed where Barack Obama has failed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Jon Karl, thanks very much. Let's get more now from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, the chairman of the Republican Convention's platform committee, and by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chair of the Democratic Convention. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.

And, Governor McDonnell, let me begin with you. You heard Jon Karl on the weather right there. How concerned are you that this is going to really disrupt the convention?

MCDONNELL: Well, obviously these unplanned events are things that just have to be dealt with. And we're just going to have to be more productive. We'll have to do in three days what the Democrats do in four. It's a concern for the reasons that you mentioned at the top of the show, George, competing with a major weather event. But I think that the independent voters are going to start tuning in now, are going to want to see Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan speak. So I think we'll still get a fair amount of attention, and the message will be good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also got a big surprise this morning from another independent, the former Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, in the Tampa Bay Times this morning endorsing President Obama for reelection. He had some kind words for President Obama, but also some tough words for the Republican Party. I want to read some of them right now. He says, "an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion even for rape victims." Of course, he's referring to Congressman Todd Akin, your Senate candidate from Missouri right now.

You're the chair of the Platform Committee, you've called it the heart and soul of the Republican Party. So how do you respond to former Governor Crist?

MCDONNELL: I would say that Governor Crist's endorsement adds one more vote in Florida, and that's it. He is wrong on every other point. I don't think it's any surprise that the Republican Party is the party that embraces the dignity and sanctity of life. We're a pro-life party. The Democrats are pro-choice. But I'll tell you, that's so far field. He's wrong on the platform.

And really, what matters in this race, George, as everybody knows, is how we're going to get the greatest country on earth back to work and out of debt. And you look at Mitt Romney's record on reducing unemployment in Massachusetts. President Obama has increased it. Getting a budget balanced. The president can't even get a budget passed. And the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating under President Obama's watch. The credit rating of Massachusetts went up.

So on the things that really matter to voters, George, I think the records are stark, and I think that's why independent voters have a ten-point margin in favor of Mitt Romney right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get Mayor Villaraigosa to respond, but first you said something, you said he was wrong on the Republican platform. And I'm not sure how he is wrong. Let's put up the platform right now. It talks about asserting the sanctity of human life, affirming that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. There is no exception there in the abortion plank for rape. Even though I know that's Governor's Romney's position, did he try to include that in the platform, and why are there no exceptions in the platform?

MCDONNELL: George, you're just reading it wrong. That's been there for 30 years. There are multiple human life amendments that were introduced 20, 30 years ago. Some of them had exceptions, some of them didn't.

The real point is, we are affirming that we're a pro-life party. The details certainly are left to Congress and ultimately to the states and the people on how they ratify such an amendment, or more importantly, what they do at the state level.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is the party my for a rape exception or not?

MCDONNELL: The party didn't make any judgment on that. It's a general proposition to say we support human life. The rest of those details are up to the states and the people respectively, George, and that's simply not covered. It's something up to Congress and the states. We have laws in Virginia that have some of those exceptions. But at this point, with the U.S. Supreme Court having its say, these are not issues that are even -- even material at this point. Because, the issues are whether or not we have, like a ban on partial birth abortion. The president opposes that. Mitt Romney supports it. It's whether we have a born alive act. The president is opposed to that. Mitt Romney supports it.

So those are the issues, the policy issues, George, at this point that are really relevant. And honestly, here is the last thing. This is one more attempt by the Obama administration to take the focus off jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, debt and energy. That's what the people of America care about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot to respond to, Mayor. Take a crack.

VILLARAIGOSA: First of all, let me say that our hearts and prayers are with the people of Tampa and Florida, and the delegates at the convention, and we hope that the storm isn't going to be as difficult as it looks right now.

And with respect to the plank, I think Governor Crist said it very well, and that is that it is what it is. And maybe it's been there for 30 years. But it's time to take it out. The idea that we put in our U.S. Constitution an amendment that says that women can't get an abortion even in the case of incest and rape is way beyond the mainstream. The fact that they--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard him say it's not what it does, according to him.

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, that's what they say. You put it up there, not me. And the fact.


VILLARAIGOSA: Well, look, it's not just Mr. Akin's remarks, it's the Republican Party, whose platform, who through all the primary season focused on these kinds of issues, on the issue of contraception, which I thought had been dealt with 50 years ago. Across the board, and Governor Crist talked about Latinos as well and immigration. Whether it's the self-deportation of 11 million people -- no country has ever done that, George. Calling the DREAM Act a handout, walking around with Kris Kobach and calling the Arizona and Alabama laws a model for the nation. These are things that are just way beyond where most voters are at.

And in fact, when the governor said that the -- Mr. Romney's leading with independent voters, that's just not true.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, Mayor, the Republicans are carrying one big advantage into this convention. Americans are unhappy right now with President Obama's stewardship of the economy, and Mitt Romney does have an advantage there. And his allies are trying to capitalize with this new ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy, in my opinion, is still the same as it was four years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama said that he was going to help the middle class, and that's where I am. I'm middle class. And instead, it has hurt me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had not seen the hope and change that I believed in, in 2008.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And then we learned this week that the median family income dropped more than $4,000 since 2009. Even if that's not all President Obama's fault, as I know you're going to argue, isn't it a huge political problem for the president?

VILLARAIGOSA: Look, the economy is a challenge for all of us, and the president is trying to address the economy by reducing the deficit by $4 trillion with his Job Act that would create a million jobs, keeping teaches and firefighters and police officers on the job. Efforts to reduce, reward, rather, small businesses who are hiring.

He's put these proposals across the aisle and asked Republicans to support them, and at every turn they rejected it.

They want to make the economy the issue, and it will be an issue in this campaign, but we're going to make the future the issue as well.

We can't just look at today. We've got to look at the policies that will make sure that we're making the right investments going into the future. That means we have got to cut the deficit, but we also got to investigate in education. We have got to trim Medicare and the like, and entitlements, but we got to do that in a way that's responsible. We've got to cut, close tax loopholes, and cut tax -- raise taxes on the superrich.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Governor McDonnell, you heard what President Obama has had to say about Mitt Romney's plan. He's calling it the Romney/Ryan plan and saying it's going to raise taxes on the middle class, harm the middle class?

MCDONNELL: Well, that's just not correct. George, if we had -- if I had a record like President Obama -- listen, he's a good man, he is a good family man, he's tried hard -- but his policies have just flat failed the American people, especially the middle class. 42 months in a row over 8 percent unemployment. A crushing $16 trillion debt that's unsustainable. $5 trillion increase over the last three years. Gas prices doubling, the largest number -- the smallest number of new businesses in 30 years.

This is the record, and it's just a record of those policies not working. And so that's why they want to talk about Bain Capital and abortion and tax returns.

I think that Mitt Romney's whole message now that you hear during the convention is how do we raise up the middle class? He's laid out a significant plan on deficit reduction, on trade, on skills development, on workforce training. These are the things that Americans care about, that they talk to their kids about at the table, and that's why I think he's going to have more appeal to that independent voter. Specific solutions. Results oriented conservative. The rhetoric of hope and change just didn't work for America, George, and that's why I think Mitt Romney will be the next president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor, this is a very, very close race. Are you worried the Republicans are going to come out of this convention ahead?

VILLARAIGOSA: First of all, let me just say something about the Romney/Ryan budget. It would extend the deficit 29 years. We wouldn't solve this deficit problem, because while they do make cuts, they also cut taxes. And they don't pay for them, and that's why it will cause -- have an effect of raising taxes on the middle class.

All the economists and the experts have said that. And so the Romney/Ryan plan isn't the way to address the deficit, is not the way to address the economy. It will actually put us backward when you talk about the unemployment rate. So it's just not true.

And with respect to the convention, look, conventions give you a bit of a bump, sometimes. Sometimes, they don't. I suspect that they are not going to be able to Etch-a-Sketch their way out of this campaign. They're not going to be able to put away all the things they said in the primary and all the things they have in their platform right now. And our job will be to create the stark contrast between who we are, what we want to do for the future, and what they want to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor McDonnell, you get the last word?

MCDONNELL: Well, I think it's the vision of Mitt Romney versus the record of Barack Obama, and facts just are stubborn things. And the middle class is hurting. We're in the greatest debt that we have ever been in this country. People aren't getting back to work. 23 million people, George, unemployed or underemployed. They feel it. They know it. They're hurting as families. And I think they want results and not rhetoric. That's the message of the Mitt Romney campaign. That's what you're going to hear this week in Tampa.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Gentlemen, thank you both very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And when we come back -- our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on the GOP's big week.


JIMMY FALLON, TALK SHOW HOST: CNN plans to air a 90-minute documentary on Mitt Romney before the Republican National Convention. Yes, 90 minutes of Mitt Romney. Even red bull is like, this is out of my league, bro.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The Democrats' counteroffensive.


JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: Now reports (ph) that Joe Biden will go to the Republican convention to try and cause problems for Mitt Romney, and after that, he'll go to the Democratic Convention, where he will definitely cause problems for President Obama.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And the passing of an American legend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sitting there in Tranquility base. The eagle has landed.




REAGAN: The major issue of this campaign is the direct, political, personal and moral responsibility of Democratic Party leadership in the White House and in the Congress for this unprecedented calamity which has befallen us.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: The Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say no. And they'll push and I'll say no. And they'll push again and I'll say to them, read my lips: No new taxes.

GEORGE W. BUSH: When I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear not only to uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I had been elected, so help me God.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Three successful Republican nominees, their speeches. Can Mitt Romney meet that standard? One of the things we're going to discuss on our roundtable. Joined by George Will, Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland, Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. Republican strategist Mary Matalin who was there with George Bush back in 1988, that's right, and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, now with Current Television -- thanks for coming on -- Current TV, excuse me.

And George, I want to get to the convention, but let's begin with this whole controversy which began about a week ago on St. Louis television. Congressman Todd Akin, now the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, despite the wishes of the entire Republican establishment, how big of a blow is this for the party?

WILL: Well, it's considerable. Part of the path to Republican control of the Senate runs through Missouri. There's still a path, but it gets more difficult if he remains the nominee. I'm not convinced that that's the case when he realizes how little money he'll have. But it does complicate putting the hands of all Senate gavels, committee gavels in Republican hands.

And the strange thing about this, George, is abortion is an issue that the judiciary took custody of with Roe v Wade in '73. And on the three issues that the political system can deal with -- parental notification of abortion for minors, public funding, and late-term abortions, the country is overwhelmingly with the Republican side.


GRANHOLM: Well, except that now, you've got a Republican -- I mean, you have had a Republican Party platform that embraces this human life amendment. Post-Todd Akin, the Republicans knew that this would be an issue. They had several days to address it and to make it clear in the platform that there would be exceptions for rape and incest, and yet they chose not to. So now Romney is in a position of having to distance himself from his own platform. And it gets to the issue, the fundamental issue is, what kind of leader is he? Is he going to embrace what the Republican Party is all about, or is he going to flee from it? Choosing Ryan, I think, was his answer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He mostly wants it to go away, Mary Matalin. And we're seeing Todd Akin -- George thinks he might get out. I got that same sense while I interviewed the congressman this week, but since then he's dug in a couple of times. We have a new poll out this morning. He's now down nine points to Claire McCaskill in the Missouri race he was winning.

MATALIN: George, he may dug in, but he's not going to have a shovel to continuing digging. Because he's not going to have any money. George Will is right. We need to win Missouri. We're going to win Missouri. Ann Wagner is going to end up being our candidate. The party is going to get Ann Wagner in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're just convinced that he's going to get out?

MATALIN: Or we'll run a third party, we'll run a write-in. We can do it. We have the money to do it. We are going to transfer the money. It's not as easy as -- but it's a good state for Romney. And we'll get it back.

What this Akin thing has done is turned -- it's not going to affect our convention. Romney -- we had that platform forever. We think that abortion is a tragedy for the woman. We revere the sanctity of life. But we -- they have turned their convention into an anti-Akin thing, which should be concerning to you, since a third of your members identify themselves as pro-life. And half of independents identify themselves as pro-life. 50 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life. This is not going to be a social --

GRANHOLM: But 70 percent would like to see an exception for rape, or incest. And that's the issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there a danger, though, Congresswoman, in the Democrats seeming to focus on this to the exclusion of the economy?

EDWARDS: Well, I think it's actually a broader question. Republicans want to pretend that Todd Akin is an aberration. But in fat, it's their party platform, that's consistent with an agenda that they have had, that's actually not been supportive of women, whether you're talking about abortion or contraception, family planning, or a woman's health. And so, I think Republicans want to run away from Akin, but they actually can't run away from a platform and a party represented by Paul Ryan on -- at the top of their ticket that has not been supportive of women in any case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Greta, one of the things we're seeing is you have Democratic Senate candidates in other states, like Elizabeth Warner in Massachusetts, running ads about Akin.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. And of course, Senator McCaskill should be sending a fruit basket to Congressman Akin every single day--

STEPHANOPOULOS: She wanted him in the race, there is no question about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: She wants him in the race, and what's happened is, they have had -- the Republican Party has had a horrible gender gap, and all those women were sort of on the edge. Now the Democratic Party has incredible ammunition against Republicans for those undecided women, who think, wait, legitimate rape, what's that? That's the danger, is that gender gap. And you shake your head no at me.

MATALIN: You know why I'm shaking my head? Because the Democratic gender gap with men is as great as the gender gap with women.


MATALIN: -- sustained war on women, that Romney -- everything from a dog abuser to a wife cancer giver, to a felon, to a tax cheat, multimillion dollars, multi-faceted, multistate, the gender gap has remained stable. And as has Obama's with men. We're doing fine with women. What's driving the gender gap for Obama -- excuse me, one second -- is liberal women, women under 30.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mostly unmarried.

MATALIN: And post-graduate women. Romney wins every other woman -- middle class, moms, suburbans. Those are the women who are going to vote.

The enthusiasm among younger people in particularly -- I don't know about post-graduate -- that's not enough to overcome the women that Romney is going to win.

And this war on women is ridiculous. Do you really think that Republicans who are married and have daughters and have sisters don't care about women's health or are going to ban contraception?


EDWARDS: There's been a pretty consistent agenda both with Republicans in Congress and with this ticket that is not supportive of women. All you have to do is look at proposals to defund Planned Parenthood and a nominee, in Mitt Romney, who says--

VAN SUSTEREN: Defunding doesn't mean that you're against women.


EDWARDS: -- women's family planning, which is really important to women, and to families. And this is a Republican ticket that actually has said in the face of its policies -- it isn't just about its words that don't match science and don't match biology, but in a policy agenda that actually does not support women and the kinds of things that are important to them.

WILL: Let's go back to the genesis of the so-called war on women. It was Sandra Fluke--

STEPHANOPOULOS: A Georgetown University student.

WILL: Georgetown University student, a 30-year-old university student, that is someone halfway almost to being eligible for Social Security at age 62, whose complaint was that a Catholic university wasn't being compelled to pay for her contraception. That's the entire contraception issue in this campaign. And the genesis of this so-called war on women.

GRANHOLM: I totally disagree. The Guttmacher Institute had canvassed the number of anti-choice laws that had been introduced in past in states since 2010, when the Tea Party and the Republicans took control of many states. Forty bills passed last -- excuse me, passed this year, 92 last year. A record number. You cannot say that there's not activity at the states that has bubbled up that allows women to say, whoa, whoa, wait a minute -- I mean, you had Bob McDonnell on there, Governor McDonnell, who's also known as the transvaginal probe governor. How intrusive do the states have to be against women for women not to feel like they're under assault?

MATALIN: We're at the crossroads in history. We're making a decision, a big decision in this election. Progress and change (inaudible) it's not. Do we want to go on a continued path of decline, or do we want to progress? Do you really think that women in their duty to prosperity, would secure, secure contraception and abortifacient rights for themselves as opposed to progress and prosperity for the future? I don't -- I think more highly of women.


VAN SUSTEREN: I think women feel more urgently about the economy. First and foremost. And I think that the sort of war on women has been sort of the catchy them the Democrats have used, that there is assault on women. But a lot of women don't feel like the Republicans are out there trying to kill them. That war on women is a little bit dramatic. There is a discussion about abortion rights. The Supreme Court has spoken on it. And there's going to be continued discussion forever, but this sort of war on women is a little bit more dramatic. The more urgent issue is the economy and do you have a job, can you make a living--


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me broaden out the conversation a little bit. Generally on the convention, Democrats are saying, George Will, that Mitt Romney needs to reinvent himself coming into this. They're saying he needs a do over. What in your view, what do you think he does need to do? What does he need to fix? He is coming under water on personal favorability in this convention.

WILL: Usually, George, with most politicians the problem is their inauthenticity. He problem is that he is authentically what he is. He spent his formative years in the middle west in the middle of the last century. He's a child of the 1950s. I speak as one myself from both places in time and geography. He has the reticence of someone raised by the people who were raised by the depression and the war. He has a low emotional metabolism. That's who he is.

He can't turn to the country and say I feel your pain, because the pain isn't his, it's other people's. What he can say is I can fix your pain. And that should be good enough unless we're electing a talk show host.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mary Matalin, he does say, Mitt Romney is telling the Wall Street Journal he's not going to lie down and let it all out. He's not going to have a version of this is your life. But how much of that does he need to do? And I want to show a little bit of how President Clinton dealt with his personal issues back in the 1992 campaign.


BILL CLINTON: I never met my father. He was killed in a car wreck on a rainy road three months before I was born.

After that, my mother had to support us. So, we lived with my grandparents.

She endured that pain because she knew her sacrifice was the only way that she could support me and give me a better life.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I take George's point about reticence, but it was those details that actually helped voters come to trust Bill Clinton, put -- even some of the names he's thought about him in context.

MATALIN: He's in third place going into that convention. And your polling showed at the time that nobody knew who the man from Hope, that's what he was doing there. The problem facing the country today is not Mitt Romney's personality, it's the problems facing the country today.

What Mitt Romney needs to do is do -- show that personality and why it is and what informed him, but talk about his remarkable private sector and political career. He's been nothing but a success. He's a problem solver. And with the combination of Ryan on the ticket, they will be solving these economic problems, the essence of which is our debt problem that's been proved to be successful in history. That's what he has to do.

Who he is? What is a presidency -- a Romney/Ryan presidency going to look like? And why is it substantially superior to what's happening to now?

GRANHOLM: The reason why Romney is bringing in all of these Mad Men, the Madison Avenue executives, is because they do want to bath him in warmth and sort of create a human connection.

But I completely agree with you, that the pain is not his. And that's part of his problem is that he can not relate to what real people out there are facing.

Yes, he can claim to be a problem solver. And the question is, does he have the solutions or is he part of the problem?

What wait a second, just one second.

I think that the challenge for him is that personally, he has never faced some sort of crucible that he's had to overcome. And people love that story, that story that Bill Clinton...

MATALIN: Really? His wife has breast cancer with MS with five kids a problem child? He's had lots of personal problems, governor.

GRANHOLM: I don't know about the problem child -- but clearly, obviously, Ann Romney having issues like that -- that clearly is a challenge and I'm sure that they're going to talk about that.

But overall, he hasn't to pull himself up by his boot straps. That sort of crucible. And they got to make him human.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, in a very sort of practical sense is that the way -- the flip side is, President Obama has now had almost four years. And frankly, if you aren't better off -- we know his economic strategy. And if you don't think it worked, if it didn't make your life better -- it doesn't matter whether you find someone sort of warm and fuzzy that you like, you're like, OK, well let's try something else.


STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things that you're seeing in a lot of the Republican tone -- I think you'll see more of it more of it this week, kind of a more sorrow than an anger tone, giving people permission -- we know you like President Obama, you may have voted for him, but he didn't get the job done.

GRANHOLM: See, I think that's condescending. He is a nice -- he's a nice guy. He means well, he just doesn't know what he's doing. So pat him on the head.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But will it work?

GRANHOLM: I think that's condescending.

EDWARDS: I think that's condescending too. But I think the problem that Mitt Romney has is that people actually -- the things that people know about Mitt Romney, they don't like. They don't like the fact that on a policy level, not whether they like him personally, on a policy level he's going to cut Medicare benefits. On a policy level, he's a person who doesn't understand people's lives and would rather provide tax breaks for millionaire and billionaire then tax breaks for people make under $250,000 and middle income Americans.

The problem is the policy agenda for Mitt Romney that is saying to middle-class families, sorry, but you're on your own.

People are rejecting that about Mitt Romney. And I think that's the problem he has is finding himself...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to stay on the general critique of President Obama and the Democrats. You guys seem to agree that's it's condescending to do the more sorrow than anger.

I want to show, first...

VAN SUSTEREN: No, no. To pat him on the head and say, well, you mean well...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're a good guy, right.

VAN SUSTEREN: You can't do your job, but you means well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here was 2008, the case against President Obama at the Republican convention.


GEORGE W. BUSH: We need a president who understands the lessons of September 11th, 2001. The man we need is John McCain.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) CT: My friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record, not in these tough times for America.

RUDY GIULIANI, FRM. MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Not a personal attack, a statement of fact, Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And I guess George Will, this time we're going to hear because of that lack of experience he couldn't do what he needed to do as president.

WILL: On the economy?


WILL: Well, yes. Whatever you can say -- whatever reason he didn't. In July, George, in 44 of the 50 states, the unemployment rate went up. Just the other day we were told that median household income has declined 4.8 percent during the recovery. It has declined almost twice as much during the recovery as it did during the recession.

Now, this is failure writ large in statistics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And with those kind of numbers Jennifer Granholm, is it possible, you know, the theory of the Republican -- Romney campaign is that, you know, voters are just waiting to see Mitt Romney at the convention, at the debates, but with the wrong track numbers where they are, with the approval of President Obama where it is, everything is going to break against the president at the end.

GRANHOLM: Well, I think that when people are aware of the solutions that Mitt Romney is putting out, which are the same solutions we tried under George Bush, I don't know how we can continue to do this trickle-down business and expect it's going to provide different results. That solution is not what's going to bring the economy forward. And the fact is that the president has put solutions on the table in front of a congress where members have signed pledges essentially not to cooperate with him.

So who is to blame for that? Mitt Romney has put a guy in congress who's been in charge of the obstruction of congress. So the president can point to them and say, they are the solution, they have caused the problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There are two things you always here Mary Matalin, from the president and the Democrats right now, it's the Romney/Ryan plan and the word middle class.

MATALIN: Thank god. You know, Democrats are chronic data deniers. George Bush had 52 consecutive months of growth. This president has had 42 consecutive months of no growth.

GRANHOLM: 29 months of growth.

MATALIN: We have over 8 percent unemployment.

GRANHOLM: Yeah, but that doesn't mean...


MATALIN: You were governor. If you had 8 percent -- perpetual 8 percent unemployment when he promised 14 -- when he promised half of that -- when he promised to cut the deficit in half. We've had four consecutive years of over $1 trillion deficits.

And let me just -- it's not his experience or lack thereof, it's his policies. In the 17 states that Republicans were elected in the midterm, those states are growing their economies and growing jobs at twice the rate this president's economy is. The stimulus is neither timely, targeted, effective, or temporary. The cap and trade went no where. He had his own congress, the majority, both chambers for two years to get everything he wanted. He has not grown the economy. He has not expanded any growth. And he has cut Medicare for current seniors and the Ryan plan...


MATALIN: That's not true.

EDWARDS: You can't make up the facts. I mean, we have had 29 straight months of consecutive job growth in the private sector. The president has stabilized the economy. The president has put on the table $2 trillion worth of cuts to our deficit. Meanwhile, the Republicans in the congress has actually posed a barrier to this president and you can't ignore that.

And the fact is that on Medicare, I mean, the president added benefits, closed the doughnut loophole and also cut waste and fraud in the Medicare system. Republicans just aren't telling the truth. And the fact is, that the truth matter.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You wanted to get in on Medicare.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone knows that there is a problem with Medicare. Every single person knows that it's just not sustainable. And the one thing is what I think the American people want if I can be so bold as to speak to the American people is they want some ideas, they don't want to be told, oh, it's going to be OK. They don't want the talk.

And I think while some may worry about cuts in the future, at least they want to see something is being done, a start -- a program out there.

I don't know if Paul Ryan has the best program out there, but he has got one on the table.


GRANHOLM: Well, he doesn't have a good program for seniors. For seniors he would see immediate cuts in their...

VAN SUSTEREN: Not right now. 55 and up.

GRANHOLM: Under the Ryan plan, current seniors would see immediate cuts in their benefits, that doughnut hold, would be paying out of their pocket for prescription drugs again. People like me, I'm 54 years old, I would be on a pathway to try and save $59,000 for my retirement because we turned Medicare into a voucher program. That's not providing green stamps for Medicare and then say make up the difference with $6,300 out of your pocket.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think people -- I think people -- I travel across the country a lot. And they hear a lot of those blaming and criticizing, they would just like to see some good programs on the table to consider. And that's what I think that they're not feeling. It's like, you know, we got all of the talk. We have heard it. We've heard all of the numbers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean, that's maybe what a lot of independent voters are going for.

But, George, I have been struck by how the Romney campaign has been going on the offense on Medicare coming into this convention, do you think that's a wise move?

WILL: I do. First of all, I don't think they have any choice having embraced the Ryan plan. Second, the American people know that this is unsustainable. They know that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney won't end Medicare as we know it, arithmetic is going to do that.

And therefore they have to communicate certain elementary facts that I don't think have permeated this panel completely. One is, the Ryan plan goes into effect in 2023. You'll be, what, 64, 65?

Second, it only affects those above 55. And those above 55, under the new Ryan plan, which he changed in consultation with Senator Wyden of Oregon, you have a choice. If you love Medicare, stay with it.

CROWLEY: Well, but, George, under the Romney/Ryan plan, now that the $700 billion in Medicare cuts that were part of President Obama's health care plan, are going to be, according to Governor Romney, reinstated. That's where they get part of the argument, Jennifer Granholm, that costs will go up for seniors right away because of putting that money back into the hospitals.

GRANHOLM: The Obama administration extended the life of Medicare sustainability by eight years. Romney is saying he's going to take that money away, would actually shorten the life of Medicare.

And one of the things -- one of the plans, and I think you're right, Greta, about solutions, and I think you're right that people know things are not sustainable. But one of that the Obama administration is doing is rewarding providers for outcomes rather than paying on a fee-for-service basis.

That is going to be a change in the program that doesn't deny benefits, that takes away excessive payments from insurance providers.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the things, though -- one of the arguments that he has to worry about is that, you know, if his numbers are so good there, why didn't his stimulus number idea work so well? I mean, that's one of the problems that he has.

In order to sell us on some big change economically, he has got to at least have a little bit of production record. And that stimulus bill, we all hoped that it would be like -- you know, we all wanted the economy to go well, it just didn't quite work out that way.

GRANHOLM: Yes, unfortunately, too much of the stimulus was put into tax cuts that people did not see...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... that's his job.

GRANHOLM: No, no -- I mean, it was part of the compromise that he worked out with Congress in order to get a couple of Republican votes. That was an expensive buy. But that's what happened.

But truly -- and the difficult thing for the Obama administration is arguing a negative. If there were no stimulus, what would the economy look like? We were losing 750,000 jobs a month.

MATALIN: It was a huge drag on the economy, because every -- it took money out of the private sector and put it in the public sector, which was the only sector that didn't do as poorly as the rest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A third of it was tax cuts that went into the private sector.

MATALIN: Give me one second. Did you support President Clinton? I think you probably did, and you probably did too.


MATALIN: The essence of the radical Ryan Medicare reform is premium support, which was an Alice Rivlin/Bill Clinton, Obama-supported Erskine Bowles debt commission idea. It's hardly radical.


WILL: The ultimate irony of premium support is, it's a back-door, surreptitious way to begin the means testing entitlement programs, that is, to make the rich play more, is making it more progressive.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of talk here about Paul Ryan. He is going to be probably the second most-watched speech of this convention. And a lot of questions about what he needs to do. So far hasn't seemed to make much difference to the ticket, at least in the polling I've seen so far.

But I want to take a look at four years ago again and watch what Sarah Palin, who really had a breakout moment at the convention, talked about.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR, 2008 VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA. I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, lipstick.



STEPHANOPOULOS: George, I expect we're going to see something of a different kind of speech from Paul Ryan.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But what does he have to do? There have been some questions about, does he look and feel too young? Clearly, a lot of discussion about his plan. He has got to defend that, but also has to become Mitt Romney's chief character witness.

WILL: Well, he's 28 years younger than Joe Biden. He's the same age Dan Quayle was. He's two years older than Richard Nixon was when picked in '52. He is young. And he ought to talk to young people.

The Pew Foundation says that 25 percent of young people between 18 and 34 have moved back in with their parents. Unemployment in July among 18 to 29 years old was 12.7 percent. That's above Nevada, which is the worst of the 50 states.

This is a cohort that Obama carried by 34 points last time. And he won't do it again this time. If Romney/Ryan ticket makes the case that they are suffering disproportionately...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not sure the young people will flip. But there's no question, Congresswoman, that the young people right now say they are staying home.

EDWARDS: Well, I think we always have a challenge of getting that cohort actually out to vote. And the president did a good job of that in 2008. And I think it's, you know, part of the plan this time to make sure that young people do vote.

And there's a lot at stake for young people in this election. It's true, many of them have moved back home with their parents. But they're also drowning under a sea college loan debt. And they see that President Obama has actually been the one to put forward a plan for college students not to have to drown under that debt, not to continue to pay the excessive interest rates that they were paying, to continue to receive Pell grants, student loans, and those sorts of things to go to college.

There's a lot at stake for young people in this election. And I think that President Obama can make the appeal to them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: George, what were you pulling out...



WILL: You young people, all five of you, don't have one of these yet. This is a Medicare card, which I got six years ago. I showed it to my doctor, he said, that's wonderful, George, now, we'll send the bills to your children. Now that's a funny way to run the state.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that the case that Paul Ryan makes?

MATALIN: Absolutely. It's intergenerational -- let me tell you about Paul Ryan. He has the earnestness and the enthusiasm and the vigor of a young person, but he has -- my mother, Midwesterners used to say, an old soul, which means you're wise and responsible. His daddy died in high school. He had to grow up fast. He has always been a wise old soul.

So he does project maturity. He is an intellectual at the center of the House. He is the only one with ideas on the table. And he has done a lot for the ticket. He has done half the job that Romney would have to do at the convention, which is unite and enthuse the base. They are ecstatic.

VAN SUSTEREN: And let me flip, as hailing from the state of Wisconsin, is President Obama is from Illinois, the Chicago Bears. And he won Wisconsin by 14 points in '08. All that Paul Ryan needs to do is say, I'm a Green Bay Packer fan, I'm a shareholder. And he carries Wisconsin.


STEPHANOPOULOS: One word about Paul Ryan, and then I want to turn to...


GRANHOLM: Yes, I was just going to say, the young vote is incredibly important. But the fact that many states are taking steps now to curb the ability of people to show up at the polls, making ID required, not allowing, you know, college ID to be able to have access to a ballot, that makes it more difficult.

It's a very smart, shrewd move on the part of Republicans to carve out the types of people who you think are going to vote for the other side. But it certainly makes an organizing issue for Democrats.

STEPHANOPOULOS: George, we have to move on. Just a couple of minutes left. A word about Neil Armstrong.

WILL: Well, another Midwesterner, another reticent man who stepped on the moon and said one small step for mankind -- or one large step for mankind. Again, he was a representative of an America that felt different in the sense that Jack Kennedy could say, let's go to the moon by the end of the decade.

And we went to the moon by the end of the decade. A country that was -- felt capable of doing big things and wants to feel that way again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the most fascinating things I read this morning, Jennifer Granholm, was the idea from his former wife that he felt guilty that he got all of that attention because over an effort that was tens of thousands people were part of.

GRANHOLM: Well, it shows you what a humble man he was. And that humble man also was a huge advocate for thinking big, even though he felt that he was a small part of something big. And I think thinking big requires big vision and the ability to pool our collective will and resources to invest in the things that will allow us to invest in NASA, to invest in space exploration, to invest in the things that make us great.

MATALIN: Or to be inspired by yourself. Because what he did to a generation, including girls, he was an early feminist, he gave you the sense that in America, if you had the drive and the dream, you could be anything you wanted to be. I grew up wanting to be an astronaut as a girl. That's the difference between conservatives and liberals, we think we can do it.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thirty seconds, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: It was so exciting. Everybody wanted to do it. Everybody was in the game to get to the moon, it was so exciting, we were all in on it. The media was in on it. Then Speaker Gingrich says something about going to the moon, which is -- and everybody laughed and everyone thought it was ridiculous and he got belittled.

What happened to the fun attitude of let's sort of try it? I know everyone is going to scream at me for supporting Newt Gingrich on this issue, but inspiration is really fun.

STEPHANOPOULOS: From Neil Armstrong to Newt Gingrich, that is going to have to be the last word today. Thank you all very much.

And the conversation continues online. Governor Granholm is going to answer your questions today on Twitter, @JenniferGranholm, just use the hashtag #ThisWeek.

And now, three moments from this week in history. What year was it?


DAVID BRINKLEY, FORMER HOST OF "THIS WEEK": When South Africa's votes are all cast and all counted and a new government comes into being, then comes the hard part.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Nelson Mandela elected president of South Africa.


BRINKLEY: Kenneth Starr, the new independent counsel working on Whitewater, says he will be fair and objective.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Ken Starr began the investigation that ended in impeachment.


BRINKLEY: Police believe they have located O.J. Simpson, wanted on two counts of murder.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And O.J. Simpson's arrest kicked off the trial of the century.


BRINKLEY: Two murders-


STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what year was it when was it? When was O.J. Simpson arrested and Nelson Mandela elected? 18 years ago, 1994.

And now, we honor those Americans who served and sacrificed. This week, the Pentagon released the names of 13 service members killed in Afghanistan.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And in Your Voice this week a personal note, farewell and thanks to my partner and friend, This Week's executive producer, John Banner, Most of you don't know John, but you know his work. He showed this rookie the ropes when I first anchored This Week back in 2002, went on to produce World News Tonight for Peter Jennings, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer before returning to run all of our politics coverage this year.

Through it all, John has pursued the news with tenacity, fire and a deep sense of fairness. The same passions that drove him from the day he started at ABC News 23 years ago answering the phones at World News Tonight.

John is probably going to cut off my sound now, so I'm going to quickly wish him good luck on his next adventure. We had a lot of fun, John, and I'll miss you.

And we'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That's all for us. Thank for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight. And tune in all week on air and online for our live coverage from the Republican convention in Tampa.

I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.

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