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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

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CROWLEY: That probably means my guess is we will be talking to you again. Thank you so much, Congressman Ron Paul. Presidential candidate Ron Paul, we appreciate it. See you down the road.

By all appearances, the Republicans are fighting for the heart and soul of their own party. Two people whose votes are up for grabs, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, they are here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We just heard from Ron Paul, but what's the buzz on the rest of the presidential field? Joining me now to discuss what 2012 holds for the GOP, from Minneapolis, former Republican presidential candidate Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; and from Indianapolis, Republican Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who served both presidents Reagan and George W. Bush.

To you both, thank you so much for both being here this morning. I want to start out asking you about this past week where social issues have -- really have come to the forefront. And let me start with you, Governor Daniels, because I know that you said some time ago, before this race got heated up, the Republicans need to put social issues on the back burner and talk about the economy. Are you uncomfortable with the turn of this week?

DANIELS: Well, I never used the term "back Burner," but I do think as a matter of emphasis we ought to stress the largest single danger, really, non-military danger America has ever faced. And that's the debt that's piled up and is scheduled to be. And in this last week the president again went totally AWOL on this largest of subjects.

He gives a State of the Union speech, manages to talk 75 minutes, and never mention it. It would be like FDR giving his in 1942 and Japan never coming up. And then he issues a budget that is destined to be discarded, just as his last one does, because it says, in essence, come on, everybody, let's go broke.

So this is the -- I think, the most defining among many important issues. It's the one that I think a big majority of Americans could be rallied on, the economy, and the debt, and I just think that should have priority.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman, I want to ask you the same question, but I first want to play just a montage of some of your Democratic colleagues in the House and the Senate who, when a birth control panel came up to talk about health care and birth control, it was all male. And here's some of what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (R), NEW YORK: Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don't see one single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Imagine having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel. Duh.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Time and time again women have been silenced in this discussion.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: The Democratic women are here to say, enough. We are standing up today and every day to fight for women and their right to make their own basic health care decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Now, I play that montage, Congresswoman, because to show you that this always fits into the political dynamic of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This is -- and we're going to see Emily's List go up with three ads in three different states talking about an anti-women move and it's directed at Republicans. Does this sort of thing harm you all in the fall?

BACHMANN: Well, there is no anti-women move whatsoever. The Republican Party is extremely pro-women. What we saw was President Obama's signature piece of legislation, which is "Obama-care," demonstrated 3-D.

And the 3-D full court demonstration is that now "Obama-care" means that one individual, the president of the United States, has unprecedented breathtaking authority to make a decision about whatever health care service, whatever health care product, if he wants it offered or not offered, will it be free? He'll set the prices.

This is unprecedented. That's why President Obama's Achilles heel is "Obama-care." Governor Daniels mentioned during the State of the Union speech, the president failed to talk about debt. The president also failed to talk about "Obama-care."

Why? It's wildly unpopular. And I think that's what President Obama doesn't want to talk about, his signature piece of legislation and why it has to be repealed. It's killing us from debt, and it's also breathtaking in the level of power it puts in one man, the president of the United States.

CROWLEY: Governor, would you take as an issue that while that's how Republicans feel, it's not how it's coming across? We've seen poll after poll showing that people believe that contraception should be provided to all women and that you all are on -- meaning Republicans are on kind of the wrong side of this issue in terms of PR, in terms of how it looks for the party? DANIELS: I really don't know, but I think Michele just absolutely nailed the question. This isn't about birth control or contraception or morning after abortion, this is about the trampling the freedom in this country. It's just the most recent of a long string in which this administration says, you'll do what we tell you, and you'll pay for it, by the way, whether you like it or not, whether it offends your conscience or not.

That's the question. You know, before this it was, we'll tell you what light bulb to buy. Last week some government employee told a grandmother she couldn't send a turkey sandwich to school with her child.

You know, these are the questions that I think Republicans can unite on. They do have to be framed, as they really are, as the defense of individual freedom against the right now limitless power of the state.

CROWLEY: Governor, Congresswoman, I'm going to ask you to stand by. We will have more with Congresswoman Bachmann and Governor Daniels in a moment. Does an improving economy mean four more years for President Obama? We'll ask them.

And then later, why did the chicken cross the road? We are told he was heading to a Newt Gingrich rally. That and more bizarre antics when we look at the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We are back with Mitch Daniels and Michele Bachmann.

I wanted to ask the two of you some quick questions about the status of the race right now. Every time I ask someone if a long race is going to hurt the Republicans, the stock answer is no, of course not, it makes us stronger. We'll be much stronger in September if they have to fight for it, but I want to show you a couple of polls here. And the first one is -- the question is, to Republicans only, are you satisfied with the field of presidential candidates? In October, 66 percent of Republicans said yes they are satisfied. Now 55 percent say. So an 11-point drop in Republicans satisfied with this field.

We also see the president gaining in head-to-heads against everyone. He beats all of them, and I think just slightly Mitt Romney.

So is that not proof that over the course of this time Republicans have hurt themselves? Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: No, not at all. Because what you're seeing is candidates that are showing out the flaws in each other. And of course you're going to see a reduction in the numbers that these candidates will show, but President Obama also hasn't necessarily been the focus of this race. That will all change. That dynamic will change very quickly. We have an excellent field of candidates. And I think it's important that we recognize that these are highly qualified individuals who will do a eminently, far superior job to President Obama. They are right on how to handle the economy. President Obama has been a disaster. And they understand foreign policy. Probably President Obama's worst act as president has been on foreign policy. That hasn't even begun to have the level of scrutiny that it needs to have.

CROWLEY: Well, I imagine that he would point to the killing of Osama bin Laden and the ending of two wars, but let me -- before I get into foreign policy...

BACHMANN: Well, of course, that's a tactical success, but his strategic blunder is putting distance between the United States and Israel that has a far incalculable level of detriment to the United States and our safety.

CROWLEY: Before I veer off someplace I actually don't want to go, governor, can you concede that with each passing primary the hole that whoever becomes the nominee has to dig out of becomes deeper because they are losing public support -- generically Republicans are.

DANIELS: No, I don't. I think Michele said it well. Ultimately this will be a binary choice between a failed presidency and policies which could hardly have been more detrimental to job growth and investment and risk taking. They've been designed to be that way. It would be a choice between that and a future of certain decline and indebtedness and the Republican alternative.

And what we have to do as a party is...

CROWLEY: Governor, I just want to interrupt you there because I want to ask you about the economy. Because if the economy shows that it's getting better and there are signs now that it is, there is some consumer confidence that it is at least growing, what else is in the Republican arsenal?

DANIELS: Well, first, that will be in the Republican arsenal. Let me say I hope earnestly for a much stronger economy. It's the prerequisite to everything else we want in terms of national success. But let's not kid ourselves. This is the worst recovery ever from a serious recession. And history says the deeper the down the sharper the up. It should have been a very vigorous one. It hasn't been.

The percentage of people actually working in America today, Candy, is the lowest since the days of the stay-at-home mom. And so let's hope for better times, but this is a really pathetically weak economy with storm clouds in Europe, storm clouds in oil prices and I consider it very unlikely that President Obama will have anything but a big negative in terms of the biggest issues of all when the fall gets here.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman, because we're down to less than a minute here, I want to ask you a final question. Do you believe that this race in the Republican Party is now down to Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney?

BACHMANN: Well, the candidates are going up and down, but we will have an eminently better nominee than President Barack Obama will be. And I think we saw evidence of that on Thursday at the House budget committee with Chairman Paul Ryan taking on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. We saw clearly by the government's own numbers that within 15 years this economy will effectively stop and all President Obama can offer is $1.3 trillion of deficit in this next budget.

There is no future. There is no hope with President Obama having a second term. He cannot have a second term, because he will not only fail to bring our economy back to revival, we will see people's lives worsened as a result of it. And I believe whoever our nominee will be, I will stand with him, our party will unite, we will have a strong nominee and we will go on to win in 2012, because the American people need it, and they deserve, a strong pro-growth president.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, thank you both so much for joining us.

Tens and thousands of protesters packed the streets in Damascus. And Bashar al Assad's security forces meet them with gunfire and tear gas. What are the options and consequences for the United States and the world? That's straight ahead.

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