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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, it's coming down to eleven states that are now basically ground zero for the candidates; Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. The nation is so polarized now that the undecided votes in these states represent about five percent and that is consistent with the rest of the country. Thirty-nine states lean so heavily to one candidate or another, both candidates are focusing their efforts now on those eleven states. So, to give us an update on what's going on out there in some of these key battlegrounds, we're joined today by two Republicans, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell; he's in Richmond. And Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, he is in Miami. On the Democratic side, former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, who has a new book out called A Nation of Wusses. And here in the studio, the former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland.

Governor McDonnell, I want to start with you, because I think both sides in this campaign, strategists for both of these campaigns have told me that Virginia may well be the closest of all. It may turn out to be the one that decides who's going to win this election. So, let me just ask you, where do you think the race is now in Virginia?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL (R-Virginia): Bob, I think it's probably a dead heat right now, but that's a long way Mitt Romney has come in the last four months when he was down by eight points. But since he captured the nomination and the grassroots has organized on the ground, the enthusiasm gap clearly on the Republican side. But I think most importantly while it's a dead heat right now, the momentum is going to continue to go for-- for Mitt Romney because people are realizing this is a very serious election. It's about jobs and the economy. It's about debt and deficits. It's about who's got the vision and the leadership for the future of America. And when your unemployment rate is four point-- or 8.8 percent for no more than forty-two months and you're added five trillion to the national debt, and you have no plan on energy, that doesn't work well for the independent voters in Virginia. And I think Virginia goes for Romney. I think it will be close and competitive but Mitt Romney has got the best ideas for the citizens of Virginia.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I think as a matter of fact the-- the unemployment now is 8.2, if I'm correct, in the latest numbers that are out. But--

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: Well its--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah but, let me--

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL:--it's 8.3 but it's been over eight for forty-one months is my point. That's not good enough.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I got you. Okay. Let me go to you, Governor Strickland. You have been pounding Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns and you have repeated what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been saying that Mitt Romney may have paid no taxes in all of-- in some of those years. You know this morning Reince Priebus, who is the chairman of the Republican Party, said I think over on Fox, that-- that Harry Reid is a dirty liar. And I have to say he has shown nothing, no evidence to substantiate that charge. He just says he heard it from somebody. Do you have any proof that-- that Mitt Romney paid no taxes in some years?

FORMER GOVERNOR TED STRICKLAND (D-Ohio): No, but Mister Romney could give us the proof that-- that he has paid taxes consistently. The fact is, Bob, Mitt Romney wants the American people to trust him with the presidency, but he won't trust us with his tax returns. All he has to do is release his tax returns. The question that I think is this: why is Mitt Romney refusing to give us his tax return?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, I-- I take your point, Governor, but isn't this kind of like Joe McCarthy back in era when he said, "I have here in my hand the names of four hundred people in the State Department who are communist." It turned out he didn't and he was saying the way to prove that they're not is for them to come forward here. I mean asking somebody to come forward to-- to just because there's been an unsubstantiated charge, that-- that-- that's a little thin to me.

FORMER GOVERNOR TED STRICKLAND: That's not the reason, Bob. He should come forth with his tax returns, not because there's been a charge but because the American people deserve to know what is in his tax returns. His father, as we all know--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): So-- so you're saying maybe that's not true that he hadn't paid any taxes but you have said maybe he didn't.

FORMER GOVERNOR TED STRICKLAND: I'm not accusing-- I'm not accusing him of anything, except what he is doing invites speculation, quite frankly. The people want to know why he has his tac-- tax returns. Bob, he gave them to John McCain for I think twenty-three years. Why is he now, since he's seeking the presidency, saying to the American people, "you don't deserve to see my tax returns? That's a legitimate question in the minds of the American people.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let-- let me just go back to Governor McDonnell-- Governor McDonnell. Do you think he could end this all by just putting his returns out, Governor?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: You know this is a reckless and slanderous charge by Harry Reid. This is a guy who hasn't released his own returns and for three years can't get a budget passed in the United States Senate. You know, Bob, people don't care about Mitt Romney's tax returns. They care about their own tax returns and the taxes that are going to be increased under President Barack Obama where nearly a million small business people are getting a whopping tax increase. That's the issue in this race. This is a more "change the situation," "hide the ball," where they don't want to focus on jobs and the economy and spending and debt and deficit and energy because their record is so bad, and, of course, they're trying to change the subject to tax returns? You know what we know about his returns. He has paid his taxes. He's a very generous man, and he's made a lot of money because he's been successful. Why don't we start talking about the things that are important that people are going to vote about and that's jobs and spending.

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BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let-- let me just ask the Governor McDonnell about that. Because, you know, some people within the Republican Party are saying that maybe Governor Romney made a mistake by not running more positive ads in the beginning and sort of telling voters who he was because he faced this onslaught of negative ads during the Republican primary, and then again when-- when the primaries were over, he got it from the-- from the Obama people. Do you think he should have kind of given people an idea to get to know him better with a series of more positive ads in the beginning because there's no question, this month, polls show that his positives are going down, and his negatives are going up?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: Well, Bob, this is a serious election. It's not about personality. It's not about rhetoric. It's about-- it's about results. And Mitt Romney isn't interested necessarily in being most popular. He wants to be the most effective President. You know today is the one-year anniversary since the credit of the United States of America was downgraded by Standard & Poor's. Gas prices doubled. Unemployment over-- over eight percent. The largest increase in debt in American history and we're concerned about who's the most popular. This is--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor--

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: --you know the larger the issues get for America, the smaller this President gets.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --Governor, excuse me, Governor, can you get elected without being the most popular?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: But it's not about personalities and that's what--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Oh, okay.

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: --the President is trying to make this about. You know, that message of hope and change and all that popularity four years ago, it's now a record and a campaign of fear and division. And Mario is exactly right, avoiding the issues. We're in serious trouble in America.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.

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GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: We're in great debt, we have no energy plan, and this President is talking about tax returns and health care. He just doesn't get. That's why I came to Virginia and told people that they didn't build it, that somebody else made it happen so it's a ridiculous vision of America.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Oh, we got to-- we're going to talk about that some more. We'll talk about that some more. We've got to take a break for a commercial here. In a minute we'll be back.

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BOB SCHIEFFER: So we're back with our panel and let's talk about who Mitt Romney's going to pick to be his running mate. Government-- Governor McDonnell, you are one of those that people keep saying are on the short list. Are you actually--

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: Really? You're kidding?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you being vetted?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: You know I'm not talking about it. That's up to Mitt Romney. He's going to make that announcement soon. But I'll tell you what vice presidents don't win elections. Presidents and their candidates and their vision do; and Mitt Romney's vision for the middle class that he outlined this week on jobs and deficit reduction and small business promotion and energy is the way to go. I'll-- I'll wait to hear and as soon as I find out, I'll let you know, Bob.

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REPRESENTATIVE MARIO DIAZ-BALART: -- I think from the Governor. All they're seeing from President is negative, nasty campaigns.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah, Governor McDonnell?

GOVERNER BOB MCDONNELL: Well, I really think there's broad agreement that we need more civility in politics. We need strong leadership to bring people together, to unify and not divide people along class-- class lines, which I think the President has-- has done. I think he had a remarkable opportunity a couple years of ago and has largely blown it. And I think this is the bottom line in the campaign is President is a good man. He's a good family man but his policies just haven't worked and now it's time for a change. It's time for a new, strong leader, somebody with the Reagny-- Reagan-Romney optimism about the future of America that celebrates success and gets everybody involved with the restoration of--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay.

GOVERNER BOB MCDONNELL: -- the American dream. I think Romney is the guy to people together.

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