Roundtable: This Week in Politics

George Will, Rep. Donna Edwards, Mary Matalin, Jennifer Granholm, Greta Van Susteren.
3:00 | 08/26/12

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Transcript for Roundtable: This Week in Politics
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 that has befallen us. 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. When I put my hand on the bible, I will swear not only to uphold the laws of our land, I'll swear to uphold the honor of the office which I have been elected. So, help me god. Three successful republican nominees. Their speeches. Can mitt romney meet that standard? Joined by george will, donna edwards of maryland. Greta van susteren of fox news. Republican strategist mary matalin and michigan governor jennifer granholm now with current tv. Thanks for coming on. And george, I do want to get to the convention, but let's begin with this controversy on st. Louis television, congressman todd akin, in missouri, despite the wishes of the entire republican establishment, how big of a blow is this for the party? Well, it's considerable. Part of the path republican control of the senate ran through missouri. There's still a path. But it gets more difficult if he remains the nominee. But, it does complicate putting the hands of all senate gavels in republican hands. The strange thabout this, george, is abortion is an issue that judiciary took custody of it with roe v wade. Parental notification for minors. Public funding. Late-term abortions. The country is overwhelming with the republican side. Jennifer? Except that now, you've got a republican -- you had a republican party platform that embraces 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 will be exceptions for rape and incest. And yet, they chose not to, so now romney is in the position of having to distance from his own platform. The issue is, what kind of leader is he? Is he going to embrace the party? Is he going to flee from the party? Choosing ryan, I think, was his answer. George, I think akin might get out, he's dug in a couple of times, he's now down nine points to McCaskill. George, he may dug in, he's not going to have a shovel continuing digging. Because he's not going to have money. George will is right. We need to win missouri. We're going to win missouri. The party is going to get wagner in. You're just convinced that he's going to get out? We do it. We have the money to do it. We can transfer the money. But it's a good state for romney. We'll get it back. What this akin thing has done, it's not going to affect our convention. We have had that platform forever. We think that abortion is tragic for a woman. 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 the independents identify themselves as pro-life. This is not going to be social -- an exception for rape and incest and that's the issue. Is there a danger, congresswoman, democrats focusing on this, the exclusion of the economy? I think it's a broader question. I think that republicans want to pretend that akin is an aberration. It's their party platform consistent with an agenda that they have. So, I think republicans want to run away from akin. But they actually can't run away from a platform and party represented by paul ryan on top of their ticket that has not been supportive of women in any case. Greta, you have democratic senate races in other states. Yes. senator McCassill should be sending a fruit basket to akin every day. What's happened, the republican party has a horrible gender gap. And all of those women on edge, they have ammunition for the undecided women, who think, legitimate rape, what's that? You shake your head no at me. I'm shaking my head because the democratic gender gap with men as great as the gender gap with women. Greta -- after the sustained war on women, everything, from a wife cancer giver, to a felon, to a tax cheat, multimillion dollars, multistate, the gender gap has remained stable. As has obama's with men. We're doing fine with women. Excuse me, one second, liberal women, women under 30. And post-graduate. Romney wins every other woman, middle class moms, suburbans. Those are the women who are going to vote. The enthusiasm among younger in particularly, that's not enough to overcome the women that romney is going to win. This war on women is ridiculous. You don't think they don't care about women health? Ban contraception? 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 in a nonimee romney who says that -- defunding doesn't mean that you're against women. Family planning is important to women. And to families. And this is a republican ticket that actually has said in the face of its policies, it's not about its words that don't match science and biology, but in a policy agenda that actually does not support women in the kind of things that are important to them. Let's go back to so-called war on women, it was a georgetown student, a 30-year-old student, 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. I totally disagree. They have canvassed the anti-choice laws that have been introduced in the past in states from 2010, when republicans took control of many states, 40 bills passed last -- excuse me, passed this year, 92 last year. A record number, you can't say that there's not activity at the states, that allows women to say, wait a minute, you had bob McDONNELL ON, governor McDonnell who's known as the transvaginal pro-governor. How intrusive do they have to be for women -- we're at the crossover in history. We're making a big decision in this election. Do you really think that women in their duty to prosperity would secure contraception as far prosperity for the future. I think women feel more urgently about the economy. First and foremost. I think that the war on women, is the catching thing that the democrats have used. War on women is a little bit dramatic. There is a discussion about abortion rights. The supreme court has spoken on it. But the 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? Generally on the convention, democrats are saying that mitt romney needs to reinvent himself coming into this, they're saying he needs a do-over. In your view, what does he need to do? Usually, george, with most politicians, their problem is inauthenticity. He spent his formidable years in the middle west. HE'S THE CHILD OF THE 1950s. He has the resonance of someone raised by the people who were raised by the depression and the war. He has a low emotional metabolism. A that's who he is. He can't turn to the country i feel your pain, because the pain isn't his, it's other people's. But he can say, I can fix your pain. And that should be good enough. And mary matalin, he does say, he's telling the wall street journal, that he's not going to lie down. I want to show you how president clinton dealt with his personal issues. 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. I take george's point about resonance. That details came to trust bill clinton. He was in third place going into that convention. At the time, no one knew he was the man from hope. The problem facing the country right now, what mitt romney needs to do is show that personality. And why it is, 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'll be solving these economic problems. The essence of which is our debt problem that's proven to be successful. In history. That's what he has to do. Who he is? What is a romney/ryan presidency going to look like? And why is substantially superior to what's happening now? The reason why romney is bringing in all of these mad men, the madison avenue executives, is because they want to bathe him in warmth. They want to create a human connection. I agree with you, that the pain isn't his. That's part of his problem. He can't 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? I think that the challenge for him is that, personally, he's never faced some sort of crucible that he's had to overcome. And people love that story. His wife had breast cancer, m.S. Five children. He's had lots of personal problems. Clearly, obviously, ann romney having issues like that, that's clearly a challenge. I'm sure they'll talk about that. But, overall, he hasn't to pull himself up by his boot straps. That's the crucible. They got to make him human. Governor, in a practical sense, the flip side is, president obama has had almost ur years and frankly, if you're not better off, we know his economic strategy, if you didn't work, if it didn't make your life better, you're like, okay, let's try something else. One of the things that you're seeing in a lot of the republican tone, kind of a more sorrow than an anger tone. Giving people permission, we know you like president obama, you may have voted him, but he didn't get the job done. Will it work? I think that's condescending. I think the problem that mitt romney is, the things that they know about mitt romney, they don't like it. They don't like the fact, 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 billionaires and millionaires than tax breaks who make under $250,000. The problem is, the policy agenda for romney that is saying to middle-class families, sorry, but you're on your own. People are rejecting that about mitt romney. I think that's the problem he has going into the convention. I want to stay on the general critique of president obama and the democrats. You guys seem to agree the more condescending to be sorrow or anger. Here was 2008. The case against president obama at the republican convention. We need a president who understands the lessons of SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001. THE MAN WE NEED IS john McCain. My friend, eloquence is no substitute for a record, not in these tough times for america. Not a personal attack, but a statement of fact, president obama has never led anything, nothing, nada. I guess this time, we're going the hear, because of that lack of evidence, he couldn't do what he needed to do as president. On the economy? Yeah, well, yes. 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 4.9% during the recovery, almost twice as much during the recovery as it did during the recession. Now, this is failure writ large in statistics. Jennifer granholm, the romney campaign, the theory is that voters are just waiting to see romney at the convention at the debate but with the wrong track numbers, the approval of where president obama is, everything is going to break against the president at the end. Well, I think that when people are aware of the solutions that romney is putting out, which are the same solutions that we tried under george bush, I don't know how we can continue to do this trickle-down business. That solution is not going bring the economy forward. Who's 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're not part of the solution, that I have caused the problem. Mary matalin, from the president and the democrats, right now, it's the romney/ryan plan and the word middle class. Thank god. You know, democrats are chronic ta deniers. This president has had 42 consecutive months of nongrowth. 29 months of growth. We have over 8% unemployment. Yeah, but that doesn't mean -- under him? You were governor. If you had 8% perpetual unemployment when he promised half of that, when he promised to cut the deficit, 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 economy and jobs at twice the rate. The stimulus is neither timely, targeted, effective or temporary. He had his own congress, majority, both chambers continued to get everything he wanted. He hasn't grown the economy and he has cut medicare for current seniors. And the ryan plan -- that's not true. You can't make up the facts. 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, republicans in the congress have d a barrier to this. And you can't ignore that. The fact is, on medicare, when 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, the truth matters. You want to get on medicare? Yes, everyone knows that there's a problem with medicare. Everyone knows that it's not sustainable. They want some ideas, they don't want to be told, oh, it's going to be okay. They don't want the talk. While some may worry about cuts in future, they want to know that's something is being done. There's a program out there. I don't know if paul ryan has the best program out there. But he has one on the table. For seniors, they would see immediate cuts. Not right now. 55 and up. Under the ryan plan, current seniors would see immediate cuts in their benefits. They would 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 to save $59,000 for my retirement because we turned medicare into a voucher program. That's like providing green stamps for medicare and try to make up the difference out of your pocket. I travel across the country a lot. And hear a lot of think blaming and criticizing, they would like to see some good programs on the table to consider. You know, we got all of the talk. We have heard all of the numbers. 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 this is a wise move? I do. First of all, I don't think they don't have a choice. They haven't embraced the ryan plan. The american people know that this is unsustainable. They know that paul ryan and mitt romney won't end medicare. Arithmetic will do that. 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 ryan plan, you have a choice, if you love medicare, stay with it. George, u the romney/ryan plan, now that the medicare cuts part of the health care plan, will be reinstated. That's where they get part of the argument that costs will go up for seniors right away. Because of putting that money back into the hospitals. The obama administration extended the life of medicare sustainability by eight years. Romney said that he's going to take that money away would actually shorten the life of medicare. One of the plans, and I think you're right about solutions, greta, but one of the things that the obama administration is doing is rewarding providers for outcomes. Rather than paying for fee per 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. One of the arguments that he has to worry about, if his numbers are so good there, why didn't his stimulus number idea work so well? That's one of the problems that she has. In order to sell us on some big change economically, he has to have a production record, that stimulus bill, we all hoped that we all wanted the economy to go up. Unfortunately, too much of the stimulus was put into tax cuts that people didn't see. That's his job. 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. Truly, 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. It was a huge drag on the economy. It took money out of the private sector and put money in the public sector. Give me one second. Did you support president clinton? You probably did. Yeah. The essence of the ryan radical plan, it's hardly radical. -- the ultimate irony, the back-door way to begin the mean testing entitlement programs to make the rich play more. Making it more progressive. Lot of talk here about paul ryan, he'll probably be the second most watched speech of this convention. Lot of questions. 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. I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was your average hockey mom. 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. George, I expect we're going to see something of a different kind of speech from paul ryan. But, what does he have to do? Some questions about whether he looks and feels too young. Clearly, a lot of discussion about his plan. He's 28 years younger than joe biden, he's the same age dan quayle was. Two years older than richard nixon was. He is young. He ought to talk to young people. The pew foundation said that 25% of young people between 18 and 34 have moved back in with their parents. Unemployment in july among 18 to 29 years old was 12.4%. That's above nevada. The worst of the 50 states. This is a cohort that obama carried by 24 points last time. And he won't do it again this time. If romney/ryan ticket makes the case that they're suffering -- I'm not sure the young people will flip. But there's no question, that congresswoman, young people are staying home. We always have the 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 part of the plan this time to make sure that young people do vote. There's a lot at stake for the young people in the election. It's true, a lot has moved back in with their parents. And they're also under college loan debt. President obama has put forward a plan for college students not to drown under that debt. Not having to pay the excessive interest rates that they were paying, to continue to receive pell grants to go to college. Lot at stake for young people in this election. You young people, all five of them, you don't have one of these yet,s medicare card. Which I got six years ago. I showed it to your doctor, he said that's wonderful, george, now, we'll send the bills to your children. Now, a that's a funny way to run the state. Is that the case that paul ryan makes? Yes. Let me tell you about paul ryan, he has the enthusiasm and the vigor of a young person, buhe has, as my mother said, an old soul. He's had to grow up fast. He does project maturity. He is the only one with ideas on the table. He has done half the job that romney would have to do at the convention. To unite the party. They're ecstatic. Being from the state of wisconsin, president obama is from illinois, chicago bears, he won wisconsin by 14 points in '08. All paul ryan has to do is say I'm a green bay packers, I'm a shareholder. He will carry the state. One word on paul ryan. I would say that the young vote is incredibly important. The fact that many states are taking steps to curve the ability at the poll, making i.D. Required, not allowing college i.D. To have access to ballot. That's a smart move by republicans. George, we have to move on. Just a couple of minutes left. A word about neil armstrong. Well, another midwestern. Another renaissance man. Who stepped on to moon and said, that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. He was a representative of america that felt different. Let's go to the moon by the end of the decade. We went to the moon by the end of the decade. A country that was capable of doing big things and wants to feel that way again. I read this morning, jennifer granholm, the idea from his former wife he felt guilty that he got all of that attention because over an effort that was tens of thousands of people. It shows you what a humble man he was. He was also a huge advocate for thinking big. Even though he felt that he was a small part of something big. I think thinking big requires big vision and the ability to pool our collective will and resources that will allow us to invest in space exploration. Or to be inspired by yourself. Because what he did to a generation including girls, he gave you the sense that in america that, if you had the drive and the dream, you could be anything you wanted to be. I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. 30 seconds. It was so exciting. Everybody wanted to do it. They wanted to get to the moon. It was so exciting. We all in on it. Then speaker gingrich said something about going to the moon and everybody laughed and he got belittled. What happened to the fun attitude? Everyone is screaming at me for supporting newt gingrich on this. Inspiration is really fun. Froil armstrong to newt gingrich, that's the last word for today. Thank you all very much. The conversation continues online. Jennifer granholm will answer your questions on twitter. And now, three moments from this week in history.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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