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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Your job, which you`ve accepted, is to win for the party. Now, here`s the question. Are these numbers indicative of where this election`s headed or are they short-term?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: Well, I think, look, it`s still, you know, just the beginning of August. So we have 97 days until the election. So I know the Obama campaign certainly isn`t counting their chickens you know, or you know, ready to throw the victory party.

We`re working very hard.

But I think those numbers in the battleground states are reflective of two things. One is that we are, you know, running a very effective, significant grass roots campaign. And I think the numbers are also reflective of the fact that President Obama has laid out one vision and one path, and Mitt Romney -- and this is what I think is starting to sink in and why the battleground states numbers are showing the way they are.

Look at the report that came out today. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center came out with a report that showed that Mitt Romney`s tax plan would actually cost the average middle class family another -- with children -- another $2,000 in additional taxes.

And that`s because they`re not going to be able to take a mortgage interest deduction. They would not be able to get the credit on their health care premiums any longer, or charitable donations. and the average millionaire in Mitt Romney`s tax plan, according to this nonpartisan study, would actually get an $87,000 tax break. So I think that that is starting to sink in.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s smart...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... politics because instead of complaining about the rich being rich, you`re complaining about how it makes the poor poorer, the middle class poorer.

Let me go to Gene Robinson on this. (INAUDIBLE) win for Obama -- or lose for Obama and win for Romney, of course, is the economy. The numbers we got show he hasn`t closed the deal with the likely voters. That`s Romney. In Florida, Romney leads Obama on the question of who would do a better job handling the economy, but only by 2 points. In Ohio, Obama`s up by a point.

And in Pennsylvania, the president actually leads.

So given this kind of the depressing -- not depressing, frustrating state of the economy -- it isn`t booming, the stock market is, but unemployment is still in the low 8s -- he`s still doing OK. If he gets a break and it drops below 8 percent before November, it looks like he can win this thing on the economy, if it happens.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I
mean, you extrapolate, you could say, if it drops below 8, maybe the election wouldn`t even be that close.

But you know, what I think these numbers are telling us are not just that Romney`s economic message hasn`t penetrated, but that the Obama campaign`s message, which has been to define Mitt Romney as this -- this
unattractive...

MATTHEWS: OK, what hurts him worse...

ROBINSON: ... selfish, rich guy...

MATTHEWS: ... that he`s a selfish rich guy or that he`s very secretive about his tax returns, which (INAUDIBLE) it`s not the crime, it`s the cover-up, that old argument?

ROBINSON: It`s all part of -- it`s all kind of part of a piece that...

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Debbie on that. Congresswoman, you know, this
thing about not releasing his tax returns -- I always argue if it`s better than it looks, they`ll tell you. Any politician, left, right or center, if their PR is bad but they got a better truth out there, they`ll tell you the truth.

Romney`s hanging fire on this damn thing. Everybody knows he seems to be hiding something. If he`s hiding one year of not paying taxes, that`s one thing. How bad does it have to be to really sting him if he does show his taxes?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Boy, it has to be pretty bad.

To not release your tax returns after you`re getting being pounded by regular folks, by the average working family that simply believes rightfully so that if you`re running for president of the United States, you should release your tax returns, because we need to get a good look, just like Mitt Romney`s father said when he ran for president, that one year of tax returns for a presidential candidate isn`t enough because, you know, it might just be for show.

He released 12 years. It`s got to be pretty bad. And we have gotten a glimpse. We know he has a Swiss bank account. Why does he have one?

Most American businessmen don`t have Swiss bank accounts, unless they`re
trying to avoid taxes in the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I love the way you get that in, Madam Chairman.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well...

MATTHEWS: I love the way you just put...

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I`m not saying he does, but we don`t know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But we know he has a Swiss bank account.

Anyway, Romney campaign is out with a new Web ad. Here`s one you will love knocking President Obama on a topic that you might find surprising, the president`s auto bailout, which is killing Romney I would think in Ohio, and Indiana and all the Midwestern industrial states. But for some reason he`s returning to the scene of the crime, Romney is. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grew up here in Lyndhurst, started 1972, selling cars.

NARRATOR: In 2009, under the Obama administration`s bailout of General Motors, Ohio dealerships were forced to close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I received a letter from General Motors. They were suspending my credit line. We have 30-some employees that were out of work.

My wife and I were the last ones there. It was like the dream that we worked for and that we worked so hard for was gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Romney blamed the president for auto industry-related job losses. According to the Treasury Department, the bailout created 115,000 jobs. That`s over 100,000 jobs, according to Treasury.

Well, regardless, the ad is only the latest in a very convoluted series of messages coming from Romney over the years when it comes to the auto bailout. He`s been very unclear on this. In 2008 he wrote an editorial for "The New York Times" under the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

Romney wrote then, "If General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won`t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."

Well, that`s really future-telling there. That was wrong of course.

And earlier this year he had a very different response. He took credit for the auto bailout. Let`s watch Romney this time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My own view, by the way, was
that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government
help. And frankly that`s finally what the president did.

I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy. And finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So I will take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry`s come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Can you translate that into English?

ROBINSON: No. But it`s not true. It`s not true that the president did what he said to do.

MATTHEWS: Managed bankruptcy.

ROBINSON: He wrote -- he didn`t just say. He wrote let Detroit go bankrupt. The president did not. The president invested our money in General Motors and it paid off. It saved the auto industry.

We`re going to make money on the deal. It`s -- look, if I were Mitt Romney`s campaign, I would never utter the words auto bailout again.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Gene, you`re so right.

This is worth arguing about, Congresswoman, because it`s not just points scoring by one part or the other. The Democratic Party largely believes in industrial policy. When you can do something to help the market do the right thing, you try to do something actively. You don`t just sit back and believe in laissez-faire. Let the chips fall.

Romney is a "let the chips fall" kind of guy. He`s a real conservative on business. And letting the chips falls would have meant the loss of our auto industry, potentially, in this case.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, letting the chips fall, also known as just leaving people out in the cold.

But that Web ad, let`s take a closer look at it. There are actually -- it doesn`t pass the straight face test on any level. The ad focuses on a dealership in Ohio. There are actually 2,200 more jobs in auto dealerships in Ohio now than there were when President Obama took office.

So to suggest that the auto bailout actually caused the demise of jobs in auto dealerships is completely wrong, absolutely not true. And we have got -- we`re talking about a state where one in eight jobs are associated with the auto industry. In 80 of 88 counties, there is an automobile facility, an automobile-related facility, in 80 of 88 counties in Ohio.

So the reason the Ohio employment rate is below the national average is because Barack Obama had the courage to rescue the automobile industry
and that`s why they have had a resurgence in their economy. They have got
a long way to go like the rest of the country.

But if left to Mitt Romney, we would have lost 1.4 million jobs in the automobile industry, including those in the supply chain, many of which would have been in Ohio. And Ohio`s economy would have been decimated.

Those are the facts.

MATTHEWS: OK. It`s so great to have you. It`s so great to have you.

See you in Charlotte pretty soon. It`s coming on.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, a few weeks.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

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