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MSNBC "Meet The Press" - Transcript


Location: Unknown

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA, Majority Leader): Good morning, David.

GREGORY: I want to start on the impact of Hurricane Sandy, what we've been talking about here. Our numbers this morning shows 68 percent approval for the president's handling of the impact of that storm. Governor Christie, of course, Republican of New Jersey, a key surrogate for-- for Governor Romney, leading the praise in effect for the president. Last night on Saturday Night Live sometimes satire can be stinging, this is how they-- they show it, and I want to have you react to it.
(Videotape, Saturday Night Live)

MAN: Also I would like to give a sincere thanks to President Obama for how he handled the situation. On Election Day, I'm voting for Mitt Romney. But if I had to pick one guy to have my back in a crisis, it would be Barack Obama. He's been amazing, you know, so kind, such a leader, a true inspiration. Again, I'll be a good soldier. I'll vote for Romney. But I'm going to hate it. Do you hear me? I will hate it.
(End videotape)

GREGORY: It gets a laugh leader. But my question is, do you think in real life Governor Christie overdid it and gave an advantage to the president in this critical-- critical final week?

REP. CANTOR: Listen, Governor Christie was doing what he had to do, and he still has a challenge ahead of him. And, you know, my hat is off to him, to Mayor Booker, who is there with you, in dealing with the tragedy that has occurred. I mean, we're seeing the reports down here in Virginia just as the same as everyone across the country. Our hearts go out to the people who do not have lights, some do not have shelter, do not have fuel to drive their car or-- or to carry on their lives. I think this goes really beyond politics right now. And this is an issue of human compassion. I know that we've got thousands of folks here in Virginia who have not only donated, I know our power company here has sent up many, many crews to help those in New York, New Jersey area get back on track. And I think, David, that's really what this is about, America coming together.

GREGORY: The other issue, of course, that will be perhaps decisive in battleground Virginia is the economy. Here was, after the latest job numbers came out and unemployment ticking up to 7.9 percent, a headline from the Los Angeles Times that caught my eye that seems to be a direct challenge to Governor Romney. And this is it. The jobs report arouses new optimism. October data shows solid growth and suggest a smoother road for whoever wins the presidency. The economy seems to be moving in the right direction, is the suggestion there. Does that hurt Governor Romney's case?

REP. CANTOR: Look, David, the-- the reality is this, 7.-- if 7.9 percent unemployment, if 12 million or so people out of work and eight million more either underemployed or working part time, if that is satisfactory to you, then this is acceptable, this Obama administration's performance. What I will tell you from the folks that I meet, it is totally unacceptable. This is not good enough for us in America. I just ran into a gentleman the other day in an airport. He is a home builder. He told me, Congressman, please do something about this economy. He said I had to take a position as a chef in an airport diner because I couldn't find a-- a position that matched my skills. Well, you know what? We can do better by him and the millions of other Americans right now who are in that situation or even some worse that don't have a job. That's what this-- that's what this election is about. It is about providing some hope so people can figure out how to make their life work again, and this administration, this president, has no track record to run on that he can provide any solution to this vexing problem for so many millions of Americans. That's why Mitt Romney is going to win this election, David.

GREGORY: But the economy is improving. More jobs are being created. Is that not a fact now?

REP. CANTOR: The-- the fact is you need approximately a hundred and twenty five thousand new jobs created every month just to keep up with population increases. And-- and again, all we hear from the president is negative attacks and no solutions. This is the difference. Mitt Romney has provided a-- actual plan of how to get jobs growing again in America. That's the difference. If folks want to see a better future with more jobs, Mitt Romney's got a plan. And that's why I see here on the ground, David, in Virginia, there is a lot of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. I was with Paul yesterday here in Richmond. We're going to win this state, and I think we're going to win it a lot bigger than most people are predicting. Yes for Mitt Romney and yes for George Allen.

GREGORY: Leader, you're talking about the plan that Mitt Romney has. Well, the president, as he is making his final argument, took on the sort of change that Governor Romney is offering. He was speaking last night in your state.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We know what change looks like and-- and what Governor Romney is selling ain't it. Giving more power to the biggest banks isn't change. Another five trillion dollars tax cut for the wealthy, that's not change. Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies until after the election, that's definitely not change.
(End Videotape)

GREGORY: How do you respond to that?

REP. CANTOR: What I respond-- did you hear anything that has to do with the solution to a problem in the president's short remarks there? No. That's the difference. Mitt Romney is offering solutions is an answer to folks that are asking-- the millions of Virginians and Americans that are asking right now how are we going to turn this thing around? How can I make my life work again? Mitt Romney has a plan. The president doesn't. The president is full of negativity, character assassinations and attacks. I think America is a much more optimasic-- optimistic place. People are aspirational here. They want to see things get better. They want to know how. Mitt Romney is providing that plan. That's why we're going to win, and I think going to win big on Tuesday night.

GREGORY: But it's striking. Ohio is such an important state here in the battleground map, Leader Cantor, and yet this is a radio ad that the Obama-- the Romney campaign is running in that critical state about the auto bailout and about Jeep. I want you to listen to it.
(Videotape, political ad)

MAN: Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio or China? There now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in--you guessed it--China. Mitt Romney, he'll stand up for the auto industry, in Ohio, not China.
(End videotape)

GREGORY: The head of Chrysler said that that is deceptive, that they are opening production facilities to service to Chinese market while they're also expanding production in Ohio. This from a business leader, Governor Romney, who apparently thinks its good business to outsource in order to make companies more competitive. Is this the hopeful specific agenda that Governor Romney has for the state of Ohio and the country?

REP. CANTOR: You know, I-- I think the point of-- of that ad is the fact we need a president who's actually going to focus on increasing the competitiveness of America so that we can see plants openings here and we really need a president who's going to focus on making things in America, so we can sell them abroad. And I think that's why you have seen former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca endorse Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency. Again, we need somebody with some solutions. We need somebody with the demonstrated ability to work with all parties, all sides…

GREGORY: I understood, leader, you…

REP. CANTOR: …bringing them together with…

GREGORY: …don't think that's a deceptive ad?

REP CANTOR: …the single focus of getting this economy back on track. David, I've not seen the ad. I just heard it. Now, I've not seen the ad. They're apparently not running it in Virginia. So I've not seen the ad. But I do think the point is Mitt Romney has demonstrated the ability of-- of building jobs, of-- of making it so that we can have more investment, more economic activity in America. He has a demonstrated track record and has provided an actual plan whereas all you're getting from the president in these closing days of his campaign is more negativity, more attacks, and I just think that, again, Americans are looking to see how they can make their lives work again. Barack Obama is not providing any answers, and if you like the way things are now with nearly eight percent unemployment, that's what you're going to get if you re-elect the president.

GREGORY: Majority Leader Cantor, thank you very much.

REP. CANTOR: Thank you.

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