Ed Gillespie & Terry McAuliffe | USGLC Impact 2012 Symposium

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bjbj U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Impact 2012 Symposium July 17, 2012 Campaign 2012:
The Road to November SARAH THORN: Good afternoon. I m Sarah Thorn, and I m a senior director
Bill promoted me and I ll take it but I m a senior director of the federal government
office of Wal-Mart Stores, and I am also a vice president of the USGLC. re really pleased
to be here today to join hundreds of businesses, NGOs, faith-based and military leaders, development
and national security experts, Democrats and Republicans you get there s a theme here;
we are the strange-bedfellows coalition but from all 50 states in supporting the USGLC.
We, like others in the business community, understand the importance of America s global
leadership and critical role in development and diplomacy contribute to strengthening
our own economy right here at home. So to kick up kick off our Impact 2012 Symposium,
we just had to start with a survey of the political landscape. I don t know about you,
but I cannot turn on the television, the radio, go onto my Google homepage, without seeing
something already about the election. It s saturated; it s there. But it s also complex.
And so who better to help us untangle the complicated election season than our two opening
speakers, the dueling former party chairs, Terry McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie. So let me
introduce them in case you aren t familiar with them. So Terry McAuliffe is a businessman,
entrepreneur and Democratic strategist. As former chairman of the DNC, Terry increased
grassroots outreach with supporters and invested heavily in new technologies. A star on the
campaign trail, Terry served as co-chairman of the of President Clinton s re-election
campaign and as chairman of Hillary Clinton s 2008 run. A friend of the USGLC, we re pleased
to have Jerry Terry join us today. Ed Gillespie is one of the country s top Republican communication
strategists, with a long record of success in business, politics and government. A former
chairman of the RNC, Ed became the first GOP chairman in 80 years to preside over his party
s winning the White House, the House and the Senate. He s proud, as he should be, of the
legacy of the Bush administration and saving millions of lives through the PEPFAR program.
Currently, Ed is a senior adviser to the Romney for President Campaign, and we re honored
to have him here as well. To lead our discussion is fellow USGLC Board Member Norm Ornstein.
Norm, a journalist and author, is one of the most respected political observers in Washington
today. Norm is known for his insightful views on how Washington works, or doesn t work,
as illustrated by his new book, s Even Worse Than it Looks: How the American Constitutional
System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. Lately we just have to turn on the TV to seen
Norm, with appearances on every talk show including his recent appearance on the The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart. So I ll pass this off to the professionals to get us started.
Please join me in welcoming Ed, Terry and Norm. (Applause.) NORM ORNSTEIN: Thanks so
much. Thank you all for coming. And it s a real treat to be here with Ed and Terry. One
little secret, I ve know them both since they were 18. They both look the same. They were
both students of mine at Catholic University and both very good students, although not
quite as good as Tom Donilon (laughter) but close. MR. : Well, he s national security
adviser and I m in business. MR. ORNSTEIN: That s right. (Laughs.) So we re going to
talk about the landscape in a whole host of ways. I want to start with one slightly diversionary
question which is on people s minds this week, which is the vice presidential choice, as
there are rumors or suggestions out there that Mitt Romney will choose a nominee earlier
than we ve seen forever. Now, his spokesman, Ed, said that predicted that he would pick
an incredibly boring white guy. Joe Biden said ED GILLESPIE: I missed that. I missed
that. (Chuckles.) MR. ORNSTEIN: Joe Biden said, why not? It worked for Obama. (Laughter.)
So MR. GILLESPIE: He s not always that boring. MR. ORNSTEIN: That s true. So the first question
I have for you, Ed, is why pick early, if that s going to be the case? Does it matter
at all, or is this just something that we focus on because we often get bored with everything
else that s happening? And do you think that Romney will in fact make an early choice?
MR. GILLESPIE: Well, I ll start with all the caveats that I m sure you d expect, which
is that first, anyone who would know wouldn t tell you and anyone who would tell you doesn
t know. And I ll let the audience figure out which category I fall in. (Laughs.) But the
fact is, that it s a obviously a very important decision; it always is. Governor Romney is
weighing that decision very carefully. And I can t tell you who or when, but there has
been speculation that this may be a year where, you know, the governor doesn t wait until
the convention, which is the norm. That is a possibility. It s also a possibility he
waits until the convention. But you could do it earlier this time around than in the
past for a couple of different reasons. But the speculation is, I think, driven largely
by the Washington parlor game. This is what people in Washington do, and it fills content
and we re all content providers now. (Laughs.) We ve got to meet the you know, the demand
for that. But I would I would just say that I do think it s an important decision. It
always is. And you know, but I m not at liberty the irony is, you know, when I first accepted
this I might have been at more liberty to kind of speculate on this front, but given
that I have an official role with the campaign now, I m going to have to take a pass. Sorry,
Norm. MR. ORNSTEIN: Terry, first, do you think this matters? And, second, if you were in
Ed s shoes and advising Romney, who would you pick? TERRY MCAULIFFE: Well, it certainly
matters, but I think a pick could do more harm than good. What you don t want is your
vice president actually going to hurt you. I think at the end of the day, Sarah Palin
was not helpful to John McCain. And I think that hurt him greatly in the 2008 election.
I think this election s going to come down to Ed and I would probably agree on this six
or seven states. That s it. It s going to be a basket of s going to be Florida, North
Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio. So you got to look at the analysis.
Does anybody really help you in those states? You could argue for Portman, might be able
to help you in Ohio. But you know, it s going to come down to a very small basket of states.
And I think for everyone who runs for president, they want to pick someone at the end of the
day, if something tragic were to happen, in fairness could walk in and be president of
the United States. I think that is the most overriding concern that everybody has to pick
that. And within that, I think Joe Biden was a very good pick. It helped President Obama
at the time, the issues we have with (inaudible) and all the issues that had gone on overseas.
If you believe the pundit talk back then, Tim Kaine, who is now running for the Senate
in Virginia, was the governor, was probably at the time the highest. But once those issues
overseas happened, it moved to foreign policy. Joe Biden being chairman of the foreign affairs
I think moved him to the top. So before it gets announced if some incident or something
happens, could clearly change that dynamic pretty quickly. MR. ORNSTEIN: OK, let s step
back before we come back to some of the politics more directly. There is a lot of discussion
now that we are more polarized than we ve been in our lifetimes. There s a new book
out that discusses some of that. (Laughter.) Makes a great holiday gift. MR. MCAULIFFE:
Everybody should buy that book. (Laughs.) MR. ORNSTEIN: Makes a great holiday gift.
(Laughter.) So let me ask you guys a couple of questions. First of all, since you ve been
around since you were 18, have you ever seen it this polarized whether it s ideological
or partisan? And second, what are the implications of that for an election where at least the
latest Washington Post-ABC survey suggests that 90 percent of this electorate is fixed,
the question is whether they all vote, but they re not going to be changed by anything.
The remaining 10 percent you could actually parse down to maybe 2 percent because they
re in those swing states. So we re going to be fighting over 2 percent of the voters out
there. What do you think? MR. GILLESPIE: Well, I think actually, I address this in my book,
which (laughter) which is called Winning Right: Campaign Politics and Conservative Policies.
Terry has a has a book as well. And I have to say that, Professor Ornstein, I think probably,
you know, 25 years ago if anybody had bet him that Terry or I would read a book, let
alone write one, he probably wouldn t have taken the bet. (Laughter.) But there are a
lot of dynamics MR. MCAULIFFE: We spent a lot more time in the bars than Donilon did.
And we had a lot (laughter) we had a lot more fun. MR. GILLESPIE: There s a number of things
that contributed to it. One is the fact is that the parties have aligned along more much
ideological grounds over time, as kind of conservatives Democrats in the South became
conservative Republicans in the South, liberal Republicans in the Northeast and West became
liberal Democrats in the Northeast and the West. And so there s been a more of an alignment.
You used to have some overlap in the middle of, you know, liberal Republicans and conservative
Democrats that really aren t there anymore. I think the National Journal did an analysis
of the voting patterns. And for the first time, the most liberal Republican was to the
right on the voting scale as the most conservative Democrat in the United States Senate. So there
s no overlap at all. So that contributes to it. The other thing that contributes to it
I think is redistricting. The fact is the precision with which congressional districts
are drawn make it the case where, you know, most members of Congress are would be more
concerned about the prospect of losing their seat in a primary campaign than in a general
election campaign. You know, in big year, as you know, a hundred of the 435 seats, you
know, are in play, and you might get a net gain of 60, which is a huge year, out of those
hundred. That means that, you know, three-quarters of the seats are not in play in a general
election. And that makes the you know, the primary really the place. And that pulls,
to a certain extent, both parties, you know, to the right and to the left. But I think
there s something else at play, which is that the you know, the issues have gotten very
big and the differences are very big. The differences between President Obama and Governor
Romney could not be more clear. You know, this is a big choice election and there are
big differences between the two. And that tends to polarize. And so we are at a point
where you know, when we first started in elections and campaigns and things, you know, people
would say, well, there may be 20 percent of the electorate that s kind of swing vote and
could go either way. And you re right. I think it s more you know, the Democratic nominee
starts with about 46 percent and the Republican nominee starts with about 46 percent. And
you fight over that remaining eight percent. It s a much narrower slice. So I would say,
Norm, there are, you know, a couple things. One is the shake-out in both parties of liberal
Republicans, conservative Democrats largely along regional lines, the precision with which
districts are drawn, and really the nature of the debate today as being a much a much
further distance between the two candidates and a much bigger choice. MR. ORNSTEIN: Terry,
you know, we this started in Washington. It appears to have metastasized out to the states,
in a lot of cases, and to the voters as a whole. Do you see that? MR. MCAULIFFE: You
do. And it s a national trend. And it s unfortunate because I think it s not good for democracy,
it s not good for our country at a time we re competing against nations throughout the
world and we are bogged down I mean, tying up the Congress last week on an Eric Holder
contempt citation, we re voting on health care when you know it s not going to get through
the Senate. These are gigantic wastes of time and all they re doing is pushing people further
apart. And a lot I agree with Ed I mean, I m a big believer we should go to nonpartisan
voter to draw these lines, because there s no competition left. I think the news cycle
the 24/7 constant bashing one against the other all day long I think is horrible for
the democracy. You got to get along at the end of the day, and compromise is not a bad
word. I do it in business every single day. I wish I got everything I asked for. You don
t. I mean, I had a lot of news this week most of you probably saw me, I was all over TV
this week. I went to China and bought a big automotive company and I moved the whole company
to the United States of America. I ended up negotiating and putting the plant in Mississippi.
Well, it was shocking to everybody that the former chairman of the Republican National
Committee actually did a deal with the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
That shouldn t be shocking news. You and I grew up Tip O Neill and Bob Michel used to
fight all day. But at the end of the day they d go out and have a beer at the end of the
day. And we got to get more into that because, for the sake of our country, we re losing
it. And this ideological fighting is hurting our nation, is hurting our kids, and we got
to move forward in a positive way. And I think it s going to take a couple more election
cycles. I don t think much is going to change. I mean, Ed and I disagree on this. You know,
I was when I was chairman of the national party, you know, I used to go on Russert all
the time, Meet the Press. And they d say, now, Mr. Chairman, are you going to win this,
this? And you know, be honest with you, and I apologize maybe I wasn t always as truthful
as I probably should have been (laughter) but you know it s hard to go on national television
and Russert asks you oh, no, Tim. We re going to get our ass kicked. (Laughter.) Stay home,
don t vote. We re ruined. (Laughter.) So you I mean, you know, it is what it is. It s my
job to be positive. But you know, today if I had to bet money, I think it s highly likely
that President Obama wins re-election. I think we get closer in the Senate. I think, you
know, Angus King will probably caucus with us. I think it s hard for them to pick up
five. I think we pick up some seats in the House, but I think it s hard to get the House
back. So we could end up in the same place that we are next year that we are today. And
we better figure out a way that Democrats and Republicans work together, because it
s really hurting our nation. MR. ORNSTEIN: Ed, do you think that it s going to take more
than one cycle? Do you think that this election can reduce or ameliorate this divide? MR.
GILLESPIE: Well, I think it probably does take more than one cycle. Let me first start
by saying obviously I disagree with Terry s analysis (laughter) in terms of MR. MCAULIFFE:
I said Ed (inaudible) MR. GILLESPIE: I ll come right out. (Laughter.) I believe when
you look at the dynamics in this race, when you look at the historic indicators for a
sitting president the unemployment rate, consumer confidence, the head-to-head, the job approval
rating s very unlikely President Obama gets re-elected. So I believe we ll have a I think,
a complete changeover in Washington, essentially, because I also think when you look at the
Senate in that instance, there s a there is a good chance that we can net five seats when
you look at how many open seats the Democrats have. So that said, obviously, my take on
what happens in November is different. In terms of the nature of the cycles and will
that diminish some of this polarization, I think that there will be in order for that
to happen there has to be a market correction, there has to be a market response, and that
has to be with the voters. And I think you you know, you can see some indication that
voters are focused on, we want to get some things done; we want to see people come together.
Governor Romney, you know, did that in Massachusetts. Obviously, it s not surprising when you have
a state with 11 percent registration for Democrats (sic) and you re the Republican governor,
you need to work with Democrats to get things done to balance the budget, to get education
reforms and other things that were done. I think people want to see that; they want to
see a leader who can work across party lines and get results. And I think that would be
rewarded in the in the political process, but I think it will take another cycle for
us to see the evidence of that. MR. ORNSTEIN: Let s talk for a minute or two about money.
It s a different landscape out there now post-Citizens United. Even pre-Citizens United we were seeing
some pretty dramatic changes. And Ed, you ve had some involvement with some of these
outside groups. What role do you think money is going to play this time? We ve got a huge
sum being put into some of the Senate races, and you re going to have potentially as much
or more money raised and spent by outside groups that are, in theory, uncoordinated
with the presidential campaigns as the presidential candidates and the parties themselves will
raise. Terry, what do you think? MR. MCAULIFFE: I think one of the worst things to have in
a democracy is the Citizens United. I think we ought to have full disclosure. You know,
I hate to see all this gigantic unregulated you know, Ed and I, we re both party chair.
We were big believers that the money should go through the party because then you have
some checks and balances and we had to spread the money out. Now there s no governor on
it, and it s all out there, and you re not sure where it s going. I will say, you know,
a lot of Democrats say, oh, I worry so much that the Karl Rove and the Koch brothers and
all that. If you go to my analysis that we re coming down to six or seven states, I d
make the argument, first of all, that both sides are going to have plenty of money. We
re not going to have a problem getting the message out in six or seven of those states.
And as much as we re fretting I don t like them, but as much as everybody frets, I don
t know what the impact is going to be. We ve seen a tremendous amount of TV already
in Virginia where I live. I think we ve seen four, if not five, ads against Tim Kaine,
very negative, very you know, these outside groups, most of them Karl Rove has not moved
the numbers. Tim is still up. So I don t know if a lot of people have just tuned this stuff
out. I think a lot of people have said, I am so sick and tired of this election already,
and they ve tuned out a lot of this negative stuff. But is there too much in it? Sure.
I d like to go back to how we had it before where the parties controlled it and handed
it out and, you know, we had governance issues with our members and everything was out in
the open. MR. GILLESPIE: Well, you know, to Terry s point, when he was the Democratic
National Committee chairman I was the Republican National Committee chairman, I actually fought
the bipartisan campaign finance reform act and said that, you know, one of the effects
of it will be it s going to diminish the parties and it s going to move the money outside the
parties to these outside groups, and we re better off having, like Terry said, having
the parties, you know, be accountable for the expenditures and, you know, that we shouldn
t, you know, have this law take effect and that and filed an amicus brief with the Supreme
Court. We lost. And we went a number of cycles where, on the conservative side, we didn t
engage, and we got outspent considerably, in particular if you look at the 2008 cycle
when you had MoveOn.org and Moving America Forward, not to mention the AFL-CIO and AFSCME
and SEIU. And John McCain and his campaign were swamped by the expenditures on the other
side, but not to mention the fact that he stayed inside the public financing system,
and President Obama went outside it despite saying he would. So we were outspent, you
know, hugely and that made states, you know helped put states like North Carolina, Indiana,
even Montana was in play, if you remember (chuckles) in 2008 because of that money advantage.
And you know, I and some others came to the conclusion that we needed to stop complaining
about this and start responding to it and operate under the law as it as it is. The
way I put it was, I fought the law, and the law won, and now we need to adapt. And so
I and some others encouraged some of these groups to form to offset the effects of the
AFL-CIO and SEIU and Moving America Forward, MoveOn.org, the George Soros money and others.
And that has happened. Now, just to be clear, I was an informal adviser; I was never a consultant,
never an officer, never, you know, had a formal capacity with American Crossroads. And now,
you know, I have an official capacity with the campaign so, you know, I m fenced off
from that activity. But the fact is this was a response from the right to what the left
had been doing for years. And as to whether or not, you know, it s a good thing or a bad
thing, the fact is, you know, people are free to express themselves, free to participate
in the process. What I know it is is that it is the thing (chuckles) and it s the system
today, and we would be foolish, for those who share, you know, my point of view and
my perspective, to not participate fully in that system and cede it to the other side,
as was done for about three election cycles. MR. ORNSTEIN: OK. I think we we could have
a real debate about where we go with campaign finance policy, but we ll move beyond that.
Let me ask you about MR. MCAULIFFE: I ll say it s the second worst decision the Supreme
Court made, behind Bush v. Gore, but I ll leave it at that. (Laughter.) MR. GILLESPIE:
I might have some other decisions that come to mind recently. (Chuckles.) MR. ORNSTEIN:
This has this has been, I think even Ed would agree, not the best two weeks for Mitt Romney.
But one of the questions that s been raised is whether at this early stage re in mid-July,
and if we re talking about you know, let s parse it out: 90 percent of voters are fixed;
10 percent are swing voters. Half of them pay almost no attention to politics. If they
vote at all, they re classic referendum voters. And the other half are the ones who are in
play, but a lot of those are not going to pay attention in a serious way until the fall.
So one question is do attacks now or bad weeks now matter? Is this going to set a stage for
something? Is this because you got a lot of money and you might as well go out there,
or is the effort to define a candidate before he can define himself something we ve seen
before with John Kerry in 2004, for example, with Bob Dole even in 1976 and in 1992? Is
this something meaningful? MR. MCAULIFFE: Yeah, listen, if you want to always be if
you can be on the offense, you don t want to have play defense. I think Governor Romney
is now playing defense on the offshore accounts, you know, the tax records and all of that.
It s not a place you want to be. The benefit to Governor Romney is you re right, it s early,
and I think a lot of these independent voters are not even going to look at this. As I said
earlier, I think a lot of people are disgusted already and they re going to start looking
at it after Labor Day, and a lot of them will move probably in October. That being said,
I would rather be driving the narrative than being the subject of it. As you see in 1995
in the Clinton re-election, which I was one of the co-chairs of, we went on TV early,
the earliest it had ever been before, if you remember 1995 where a couple months earlier
they thought we were dead. By the time we got to our convention, you didn t even need
a convention. Bob Dole it was over, it was done to the point that Haley Barbour, the
chairman of the party, took all the money and put it into the House and Senate races.
So you driving that early-often narrative, I think, is very important. But I ll be the
first to tell you there are going to be ups and downs on our side, too. We had a bad month
before. You know, you re going to have your ups, you re going to have your you want to
make sure you re up and you re rolling with momentum, obviously, as we get toward Election
Day. But I caution Democrats and I ve said this for a while. In 2008 we had everything
going for us. We knew on our side whoever won the nomination was going to be historic;
it was either the first woman or the first African-American was going to be president.
As you know, President Bush left office with the highest disapproval rating of any president
in the history of our country not lowest approval, but highest disapproval. You had the economy
on the verge of going off a cliff, we were stuck in two wars that nobody liked, he picked
a VP who supposedly could see Russia out her front door; I mean, there were just a lot
of issues. We only won with 52 percent of the vote with a historic turnout 52 (percent).
My point being is this is going to be a very close election. And I d rather be where we
are today than where obviously than Governor Romney is today, but I d like to be in this
place early November, on November 5th and 6th, than today. MR. ORNSTEIN: Any legs to
this early stuff, Ed? MR. GILLESPIE: I don t think so. If you look at the advertising
that s been done since, I think, the if you look at the RealClearPolitics website people
are familiar with and the average for the presidential ballot starting in April 10,
which really was when the advertising started to in this effort to, you know, try to essentially
disqualify the governor, Governor Romney, by the by the Obama campaign and in that period
of time the Obama re-election campaign has outspent the Romney campaign by $30 million
on advertising in those key states, so it s pretty concentrated over the past three
months. And at that point when that advertising onslaught started the president enjoyed, in
that average of those head-to-head ballots, over 5 I think it was 5.2 percent advantage
in the ballot, like 48 (percent) 43 (percent), somewhere in there. Today it s 2.4 percent
advantage. So the so Governor Romney has cut the advantage in more than half while being
outspent in this onslaught. And believe me, those ads are negative ads that are running
(chuckles) in those states. And so I don t think you re seeing that. I think that the
voters are more focused on big issues. You know, President Obama said when he accepted
the Democratic nomination in Denver four years ago that when you don t have something to
run on, when you can t run on your record, you you know, you attack your opponent and
you try to make big elections about small things. And that s what we re seeing right
now. You know, we re seeing them try to make elections about small things. I think the
American people want the election to be about big things because there are big issues facing
the country today, unemployment above 8 percent for a record 41 straight months, more than
500,000 Americans who or I should say fewer Americans working today than when the president
took office. There are 23 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed,
meaning they re working part time instead of full time or they re in jobs that are not
commensurate with their skills and their education levels or have left the workforce entirely.
Millions have just left the workforce entirely. These are big issues. Debt, you know, $5 trillion
in debt racked up in a in a four-year period. That s a that s, you know, a big issue. And
the American people want to see these issues addressed, and we re going to stay focused
on those issues and on the economy. I think that and believe, when you look at the like
I say the historic indicators, that s why there s going to be a change at the top in
November. MR. ORNSTEIN: Ed, I can t resist asking you at least a little bit about the
tax returns. You know, if there s one lesson you would think would be learned by people
in public life, it s that you re going to have to disclose stuff, and you might as well
do it early instead of letting the drip, drip, drip take effect. I don t want to embarrass
you with a quote from 2004, but you know, back then you urged John Kerry to release
all of his tax returns and said the American people want transparency and openness. What
s the deal here? Why ignore what seems to have been one of the major elements of human
nature and the fact that ultimately, you re going to have to release things? MR. GILLESPIE:
Well, I don t want to embarrass you by correcting your quote of me (laughter) but the fact is
what I said at the time, if you look at the actual debate at the time, was because Teresa
Heinz Kerry had guaranteed a loan that Senator Kerry had taken out that her tax record should
be made public as well. Now, Governor Romney has made his tax records and Ann Romney s
tax records and the family s records public, obviously, and for 2010 and will make them
for 2011, which is two years. By the way, that s what Senator John McCain did, the last
Republican nominee, in 2008, so there s a there s a you know, a precedent here that
we re adhering to. And again, this is big election about small things. People, you know,
have 500 pages of Governor Romney s 2010 tax returns; they ll have all of his tax you know,
pages of his 2011 tax returns when they re completed, and they ll have lots of things
to, you know, to discuss in that. But two years was the was what the Republican nominee,
John McCain, did in 2008, and two years is what we re doing now. MR. ORNSTEIN: Terry,
if you were advising Governor Romney right now privately, would you tell him lance the
boil, let all of these returns out, or would you (inaudible)? MR. MCAULIFFE: I think there
s something to be said for getting s now part of the narrative, and the biggest problem
for Governor Romney is Republican leaders are coming out every day, like the governor
of Alabama just came out the other day, Governor Barbour came out the other day release the
taxes. So he s got to get it so that his own party is now saying there must be a problem.
There aren nobody knows anything; people are just speculating. I mean, the guesstimate
would be, I mean, you know, he s been in business, and at the time tax shelters were legal, and
maybe there s some things in there where he didn t pay taxes. He was legally entitled
not to do it, but by not putting it out there, you re letting everybody s imagination run
wild. His biggest problem are Republican governors now saying, release the documents. I would
lance it. MR. ORNSTEIN: Do you do you agree with do you agree with Ed that this is a sideshow
and basically it s going to be an election about the big issues like the economy, or
will this stuff matter? MR. MCAULIFFE: Do you agree with me? MR. ORNSTEIN: No, do you
agree with Ed? MR. MCAULIFFE: Yes. (Laughter.) I mean, clearly, the narrative is going to
be who can best help us on the economy. I mean, the benefit we have this time you know,
people thought foreign policy when then-Senator Barack Obama was running, does he have the
foreign policy credentials well, you don t even hear foreign policy anymore. He went
and got Osama bin Laden; he s taken out most of the Taliban with the drone networks; peace
is breaking out throughout the world. So the foreign affairs issues are now put to the
side, so I think it s really unless barring something happens, say, we don t know about
but it s going to be back on the economic issues. But for the independents and the people
who are out of work, can this guy relate to my life? Does he understand what it is for
me to be out of work for two or three years? That s the issue that he these are tough economic
times, but you have to always remember that Barack Obama has always been personally popular.
They like him. Now, they may not like some of the policies, but they like him. And his
lowest job approval, you know, has been 40 (percent), where at one point Bush was at
28 (percent), Jimmy Carter was at 29 (percent), Ronald Reagan was 34 (percent), Bill Clinton
was at 34 (percent). President Obama has only gotten down to 40 (percent), because they
like him personally. So the issue for Romney is do people say, yeah, this guy can fix it
for me? If they think he s got offshore bank accounts and that he s hiding all this tax
money, he didn t pay his taxes, then it s hard to relate, to say this guy is going to
engineer the comeback for my job. That s the problem. MR. ORNSTEIN: Let me just explore
briefly one other area before we get some questions from the audience. And there are
microphones on the on the sides there. And you raised it, which is foreign policy. Governor
Romney is taking a trip abroad, which is a pretty traditional thing for a candidate to
do in the middle of a campaign. Being commander in chief is a critical element of it. How
important do you think foreign policy will be? Is this all about the economy? Is leadership
abroad going to be something that s raised but not really a particular focal point of
Americans? What do you think, Ed? MR. GILLESPIE: Foreign policy and national security are always
important components of a of a presidential election. And you re right, we re going to
address those here at the end of this month when the governor does ll be speaking to the
Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, where he ll talk about national security, and then
he ll have a trip abroad, including a trip to Israel, which is obviously a very important
foreign affairs issue, our relationship with Israel. And voters do take that into account.
That said, it is not the most vote-determinative issue, obviously, in this in this election.
And you know, we have clear differences; Governor Romney has clear differences with President
Obama when it comes to our national security and foreign policy. We ll highlight those
during the you know, as we re talking about well, actually, you know, what we ll do is
talk about what Governor Romney is in favor of when it comes to how America, you know,
should be interacting with the world and the leadership role we should play in a new American
century. And but to your point, Norm, I you know, the fact is most voters, all things
being equal or you know, if you could anticipate, you know, 120 days from now, whatever it is,
what they re likely to be thinking about without something else intervening, they re likely
to be thinking about who is going to be the best person in the White House as president
when it comes to jobs and economic security and household income fallen average household
income has fallen $4,300 since the president has taken office. Who is going to help turn
that around? Who is going to help get this economy moving again? I think that s the most
vote-determinative issue. But foreign affairs and national security issues are always an
important component of a presidential campaign. MR. ORNSTEIN: Terry MR. MCAULIFFE: Be smart
for Romney to do it. You ve got to check the box, so it I think it s smart for them to
go over and get it out of the way. MR. ORNSTEIN: And just one last question to you. And Terry,
let me ask you this. You you ve got an audience here of people who are committed to U.S. global
engagement, a meaningful role for America abroad, the use of smart power to advance
our interests and keep us from having to get into debilitating wars. Now, that involves
a lot of different components; it s not just foreign policy; it s also budgets at a time
when we re facing a terrible squeeze. Do you think that the outlook is reasonably good,
whichever candidate wins? Are we going to face tough times because of both the budget
squeeze and the desire on a part of a significant number of Americans to pull back from our
commitments? MR. MCAULIFFE: Let me say it s going to be until we get through with what
we know is going to happen at the beginning of next year with sequestration, with the
hundreds of billions of dollars out of defense and out of the domestic programs, nobody can
answer that question till I mean, I doubt we get to the sequestration. I think Congress
will figure something out. But there s going to be big cuts. I happen to be personally
and I clearly know our secretary of state is a huge advocate of the work that you re
doing there and the different projects going on all over the world. I travel extensively
around the world. I just took my I have my children travel the world in programs. I have
one right now that just went to Nablus, Palestine, to work in a refugee camp. I think it s important
that you have your children out there to understand what we need to do to help people help themselves.
Having a lot of poverty and having children not being able to be fed and all the issues
about education comes back to hurt the people of the United States America. We ve got to
not only strive here but around the world to make sure that people are getting a quality
education, they have a good frame of reference about America, the things we re doing. So
the more we can do to show the flag and to help them help themselves I went over last
year to Middle East for another one of my child and project we re working on over there
is we ought to be doing more to create, let it be clearly in the Middle East with a tremendous
amount of sun, building solar panels farms everywhere over there, wind turbines and things
like that. We ve got to create economic activity for people to help themselves, because if
they don t have it, then they re stuck in poverty and bad results happen from that.
So I would say to all of you, thank you for the tremendous work that you re doing. And
this is something obviously, as you know, Hillary has advocated for a long time changing
our mix a little bit of how we deal with these nations around the world. It s a different
type of diplomacy and it s the right way to do it. As you know, she started all these
very aggressive new programs. I know Ann (sp) and others are here who work on these things.
Very important. MR. LANE: You know, and look, it is important. I worked for President Bush,
who clearly, I think, made a strong mark when it came to soft power and helping to promote
American values abroad. And Governor Romney too wants to make sure that we are have an
international policy that fosters democracies, that encourages trade between countries, which
I think is an important element, as well as government programs. I think we can be more
efficient in our government programs, and especially how we maybe square up. Different
government programs have greater coordination of some of those resources. But you know,
we are facing very difficult budgetary times, obviously, and a lot of that is driven by
our weak economy. And I do think we talked about economic policy, and there is a direct
correlation between having a strong economy and the ability to do the kinds of things
that are not just good for people in other countries and helpful to people in other countries
that are but that are good for America and help in terms of how people perceive us rightly
as a generous nation and helps with our diplomacy and our relationships international relationships.
But when you you know, if you re 41 straight months of 8.2 percent unemployment and you
ve got, you know, four years in a row of more than a trillion-dollar deficit, that makes
it harder for us to be able to do those things, and so there is a correlation between our
economic strength and our ability to for soft diplomacy programs abroad. MR. ORNSTEIN: Well,
let s turn to the audience and if you have a question and please identify yourself. Q:
OK. My name is McKenzie Rodcliff (ph). I work at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies,
but more importantly for this question, I m a Mainer. And I m incredibly proud of our
political pedigree, both sides of the aisle, the old-school politicians like Senator Snowe
and Collins and Bill Cohen and George Mitchell. So I heard you mention Angus King, so I can
t resist asking what you think of his candidacy and whether his intention of decreasing partisanship
has any chance of succeeding, being an independent. And perhaps, do you see are there any senators
left that are more of that conciliatory style that might join him in his efforts to decrease
partisanship? MR. MCAULIFFE: Well, I would say, you know (inaudible) was a very activist
governor and, you know, he s running, as you know, as an independent, and I think most
people would say it s most likely. He said he s not going to make a decision which party
he caucuses with till he gets here. But if you asked me to bet my mortgage, I think he
will caucus on the Democratic side, but we will see. Just as you know, we have two independents
already we have 51 Democrats and 47; the two independents caucus with us. I would say this.
For most of the senators and I talked to them I mean, it s not like it s a fun place for
them either anymore. I mean, most of the people who go in the Senate, a lot of them Mark Warner
from Virginia, very successful governor and successful businessperson you know, it s not
a lot of fun for people like Mark who have been successful in business to go up there
and to get nothing done day in and day out. So I think if we don t fix it up, I think
he will find a lot of partners when he gets down, because people have really had it. You
had the Gang of Six, the sort of bipartisan try to get together on the budget. But I think
it s to the point now that if we don t solve it, we re going to see very good qualified
people saying, I m going to leave it. I m just not going to do this anymore because
it s not worth it if he can t get things done. It s the greatest deliberative body in the
world, the United States Senate, but it s not deliberating on anything anymore and it
s not getting anything done. And it s bipartisan problems. I mean, we have our issues on our
side; Republicans have theirs. We have got and I make this point over and over we have
got to come m in global business today. I m doing electric cars, I m doing wood pellets.
I compete in Europe and I compete in Asia. I know what these other nations are doing.
As we re sitting here bickering over nothing, they are moving ahead of us at warp speed.
And we ve got to get in this game. MR. GILLESPIE: I think there are people on both sides (applause)
obviously people on both sides of the aisle who are able to work across the aisle to get
things done. Like I said, I think that they you know, that what you have to watch for:
Is there a market response here that puts a premium on that? And by the way, I don I
think you can be, you know, a person of principled conservative conviction, principled liberal
conviction and find things to work on with common ground. I don t think there has to
be re not going to have a nonpartisan Senate. We re going to have bipartisanship in the
House and Senate on issues that are that are important, need to be addressed. And so I
guess my bottom line is, I think there are people in both parties that serve as that
bridge, even though there s not the overlap like there used to be like we like we talked
about earlier. MR. MCAULIFFE: You know, there s nothing wrong with the word compromise.
This idea that I ve got to get a hundred percent or I m not going to be with you I mean, I
wish I got a hundred percent. My wife, my five kid(s), my two dogs don t agree with
me. I mean, it is what it is. You don t have everybody agree with you all the time, but
you want to move the ball forward, so I ve got to give and take. I ve got to give up
stuff every day. We just lost that. Somehow compromise is a bad word. It s not a bad word.
I m not losing my ideals and my principles. I m moving the ball forward. Q: Hi, I m Chuck
Floyd (sp). I m from Virginia. I m on Ed s side of the party. My question to Terry is,
why does Barack Obama and the Democrats keep asking for Romney s records when Barack Obama
won t show his own records? Why doesn t he show his tax returns before he came Barack
Hussein Obama, before you know, why won t he release his records from college and why
he lost his law license, all these other things? MR. MCAULIFFE: I m not sure I got all of it,
but I think he s released all his tax returns, I believe. I mean, he s even released his
birth certificate several times. (Chuckles.) But I think he s put all his I mean, there
s no question that I mean, oh, Donald Trump wants to see what his grades were, I think,
in heck, I mean, I don t want our grades out either, back in high school. I m sorry. But
honestly, sir, I don t mean to make light of it. I think he s put everything out. I
think there s some skepticism this whole ridiculous birther issue which, going to my point: We
think this is helpful for the United States of America to have this continually ridiculous
argument? But the president has put all his tax returns out. I mean, as you know, for
those on the other side like to say, he was a community organizer. I don t think there
was a lot of money there for a long time. He wrote a book and put that up. And I think
he s put all his taxes out, I believe. MR. GILLESPIE: There is I think there are there
is there are transparency issues here. I mean, the fact is we have this president at the
time, ironically, and his campaign calling for you know, for all of the governor s tax
returns, and yet they won t give to Congress you know, they re hiding behind executive
privilege on the Fast and Furious issue, which is a very important issue. Meeting with lobbyists,
who are the lobbyists they met with off campus after they said there would be a transparent
White House, there s a lot of hypocrisy on the transparency front. The bottom line, though,
at the end of the day is, again, I think these issues, what the American people want to know
is: What s your plan for getting the economy moving again? And we ve yet to hear from President
Obama what his plan is. We know after the last jobs report last Friday he, you know,
had two policy proposals. One was to raise taxes again, particularly on small-business
owners. He said yesterday that if you own a small business, you didn t build that; other
people did that for you. I don t think that s how most small-business owners feel, but
that is s revealing in that that s why he wouldn t mind raising taxes on small-business
owners, because he thinks they didn t build those businesses. And then the second thing
was, he gutted the bipartisan welfare reform work requirements that Bill Clinton signed
and a Republican Congress had passed. So you know, I think policies are what matter. But
we don t know none neither of those things will actually help us create jobs. Mitt Romney
has a plan for job creation that we re talking about, and that s what most people want to
hear about, and that s where the focus ought to be, in my estimation; that s where we re
going to keep it. MR. ORNSTEIN: OK. (Laughter.) We ve got a question down here. Q: Hi, my
name is Paul Thorn (sp). I m also a Virginian. My question is mainly to you, Mr. Gillespie.
You said that you disagreed with Mr. McAuliffe s outlook of President Obama s re-election
chances based on previous trends for a sitting president. MR. GILLESPIE: I m sorry, you said
I disagreed with those. Q: You disagreed with Mr. McAuliffe s outlook. MR. GILLESPIE: Yes,
right. Yeah Q: But most economists would tell you that previous performance previous performance
is not a good basis for future outcomes. What would you say to that? MR. GILLESPIE: Well,
I would say we re not selling a mutual fund here. We (laughter) re looking at historical
norms. And the fact is, since the Great Depression, when the unemployment rate has been above
7 percent set aside 8 percent, but above 7 percent as it was for George H.W. Bush seeking
re-election, President Bush 41, as it was for Jimmy Carter seeking re-election and as
it was for Gerald Ford seeking election, not re-election in his instance, but a sitting
president running for re-election and they lost when it was above 7 percent. The exception
to the rule was Ronald Reagan, and unemployment was 7.4 percent, I think it was, when he was
re-elected. But remember and you might not, but you know, his campaign was morning in
America. It was a right direction campaign, because the unemployment rate had come down
a full percentage point in the past 12 months, I think, going into that election. So people
thought it s getting better. And so he was the exception to that rule. I don there s
no way, in my estimation m not an economist, but I would be very surprised if the unemployment
rate comes down a full percentage point between now and November, and so I don t think that
s going to be the case for President Obama and for the you know, where it s likely to
be, I think it s going to be more consistent with President Bush 41, with Gerald Ford and
with Jimmy Carter. MR. ORNSTEIN: Terry, you get the last word here. MR. MCAULIFFE: Let
me give you one statistic yeah, one statistic. In the last hundred years, when a president
has taken over from the other party and then has run for re-election, only once in a hundred
years has that president not won re-election. It was 1980, Jimmy Carter. The only time.
And for those of us in the audience who are old enough to remember that election, it was
actually tied the Friday before the election and then overnight collapsed with one of the
a new hostage deal. Every and I m not one who goes back and say the economy was this
and that. I think every election is very unique, and I think this is going to be a very unique
one. I think most people would say that President Obama inherited a horrible economy, the worst
we ve had since the depression. Bush had lost 750,000 jobs per month. And we can go back,
but going back and doing that isn t moving the ball forward. People want to see who s
going to really get us out of this. I think the biggest problem for the Republican Party
is that they re really not all that excited about their nominee. Now Ed s got to disagree,
and I understand that. MR. GILLESPIE: I do disagree. MR. MCAULIFFE: But they re not jacked
up. They had a I would say a horrible primary season. I think probably their best candidates
didn t run. But you had 25 debates of this constant gnawing on each other. And it got
ludicrous. Remember Rick Perry say, you come to Texas we ll kill you, and everybody, yeah,
kill em all? (Laughter.) And you had Newt Gingrich talking about building lunar colonies
and the party of family values and the children of Newt s first wife out defending the wife
the third wife against attacks from the second. (Laughter.) You know, I m just saying it got
to be bizarre. And Ron Paul talking about forget Iran and who cares about Osama bin
Laden. And then finally on, you know, the fastest-growing population in America, the
Hispanic community fast fastest-growing, it s not a welcoming message for the debaters
on the stage to say who s going to build the biggest wall and who can get the most electricity
through it. It s not a good message to (laughter) to welcome people into your party. So they
come out of that primary season, and you ve got all these issues going on. And at the
end day, who is it do you think going s to best the economy? I d (rather ?) President
Obama. They like him personally. They re not sure they like Mitt Romney. They don t know
enough about him. And he s making it sort of hidden and secret by not releasing his
data, which I think hurts the likability issue. MR. ORNSTEIN: I want to thank you both. And
I want to focus (laughter) I want to end by focusing MR. GILLESPIE: Let me just say, there
should be some penalty for throwing a punch after the bell has rung, but go ahead. (Laughter.)
MR. ORNSTEIN: But I want to focus on what you both agreed on, which is the importance
of American global engagement abroad. And that s one place where bipartisanship rules.
Thank you. (Applause.) (END) PAGE \* MERGEFORMAT hJ4( hWCg gdWCg gdd7 gdg8 h1^I h1^I h1^I gdd7
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