tv Meet the Press MSNBC April 16, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EDT
women, swing states, decide this presidential election. and the fight for their vote heated up this week when a prominent democratic strategist took on ann romney. and created a firestorm. >> his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. >> my career choice was to be a mother. i think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that women make. >> i think this was an ill-advised statement by somebody on television. >> the fight for women voters and the gender wars is what kicked off this general election campaign. we'll debate thit this morning with kirsten gillibrand and republican, former presidential candidate and congresswoman michele bachmann. plus, we'll analyze how the gender gap figures into the fall campaign with our roundtable, with us, savannah guthrie, harold ford, republican strategic mike murphy and nbc's chief courthouse correspondent and political director chuck todd. first this morning, i talk to the president's point man on the economy, treasury secretary timothy geithner about jobs,
your taxes and the fight over economic fairness in this campaign. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. the president is in south america for a trade summit this weekend. his visit has been overshadowed by some news and the news is alleged misconduct with prostitutes involving at least 11 secret service agents. the investigation is continuing this morning. we'll have more on this story and reaction as we go through the hour. back at home, tax day is tuesday and with the general election now under way, the economy is still the number one issue to voters. but some troubling numbers for the white house. six out of ten americans think the country is on the wrong track, 12.7 million people remain unemployed and 120,000 jobs were added in march, lower numbers than expected. on friday, i sat down with treasury secretary timothy geithner and asked him why the economic recovery is so sluggish? >> it's not surprising still.
it's a tough economy still. people are living with the scars of the crisis, the worst since the great depression. you can see the damage in high unemployment, housing is still weak. it's not surprising that you see that. consumer confidence is gradually getting stronger and business confidence is gradually getting stronger. the business of america is business. business sector looks really pretty strong now, high-tech is strong, manufacturing pretty strong. energy, huge boom, agriculture pretty strong, exports coming back, private investments are growing. those are encouraging signs of strength. what hurt us in 2010 and '11 is the crisis in europe, the crisis in japan and the oil price shock. as fewer of those things receded a bit, the economy has strengthened. we have a long way to go, a lot of challenges ahead. what we should be doing is working with congress to get people back to work, making the economy stronger right now. >> a lot the people look at the stock market and those jie rags
and wonder what to make of it. what does the stock market tell us, particularly the way it's gone this week? sharply down, and then back up. but we've seen a lot of down in the last two weeks. about the strength or weakness of the economy? >> again, most of the available economic evidence we see is pretty encouraging. it shows an economy gradually strengthening and the strength looks pretty broad-based. you see a lot more people coming back to work. if you look at the last six months or so, broader measures of confidence, wrooder measures of economic strength, job creation and the markets have improved steadily over that time. there are a lot of risks, a lot of work to do and challenges to do. we live with the burden and the obligation of trying to make sure we do as much as we can to make this thing stronger, this economy stronger. >> what about your own money? are you feeling safe in the financial markets. >> i think americans generally should feel much more confident about the basic strength of the economy than they've felt in the
last four, five, six years. if you look at the scale of what this president did and the speed and force of which he put out the financial fires and got growth started again and the strength of what are fundamental measures of economic health, it's very encouraging. americans should feel much more confident than they've felt in the last five or six years. >> let's talk about the political context. we have a campaign under way. in part it's about how are women doing in the country in this economy. it's something that governor romney has taken head on on the campaign trail. this is in part what he said this week. >> the real war on women has been the job losses as a result of the obama economy. if we're going to get women back to work and help women with the real issues women care about, good jobs, good wages, a bright future for themselves, their families and for their kids, we'll have to elect a president who understands how the economy works and i do.ç >> romney made the point that 92% of the job losses during this president's administration
have been among women. >> it's ridiculous and deeply misleading look at the economy. remember the recession and the crisis started at the beginning of 2008, more than a year before the president took office. and it caused a huge amount of damage. to men, to women, to families. and the damage lasted for a time. you're still seeing the scars of that. if you look at the damage early on, most the early job losses were in construction and manufacturing and disproportionately affected men. as the crisis intensified over the course of 2008, before the president came into office, the damage spread. you saw state and local governments cut back, fire a lot of teachers. a lot of women teach. you saw the composition of those job losses change over the course of the recovery. but the president's policies have been very focused on trying to ease the pain of working families, expanding access to health care, preventive care to women and families across the country, making sure we're
aiding the most vulnerable. those were very important policies at the worst moments of the crisis. the republican proposals, as you know, would cut very deeply into all those basic programs. it's good we have a debate about the path of the economy going forward but it's a ridiculous and misleading way looking at the damage caused by the recession. >> let me ask you about gas prices. we all feel high gas prices weighing down on us when we fill up our cars. do you think this gets worse before it gets better? do you see a time when the price will start to level off? >> what's happening to gas prices is driven by what's happening to oil prices. oil prices have risen quite a bit over the last six months, in part because people got more confident about growth around the world, which is a good thing. in part, concerns about iran. you've seen some encouraging signs recently, just this week, more supply coming on to global markets. that's helped calm some of the prices. that's encouraging. ultimately what happens to oil prices and gas prices as a
result depends on how strong growth is around the world in the united states, and whether our broad efforts to bring iran to the table and deter iran from pursuing ambitions are successful. >> are those two big unknowns, mr. secretary, that you'll have better than average growth around the world with everything going on and with iran. >> that's what we live with. >> it's more unstable, unpredictable, you think. >> those are inherent uncertainties. you have toing acknowledge them. if you look at overall cost of energy to the average family, even over the last five months or so, because the cost of utilities have gone down, because natural gas prices are so low, because we had a warm wint winter, the overall cost of energy to the consumer have come down, not risen very much. the payroll tax cut gave everybody a substantial additional cushion to deal with those costs. it's an uncertain world, inherently uncertain. we're in a much stronger position to deal with these things than we have been. >> i want to ask you a question
before the broader economy and what holds us back. a lot of people i talk to ask me the most basic question, what role does the debt really play? here's the fact about the debt under this administration and the prior administration. if you go back, the debt increased for the total bush presidency was about $5 trillion. which is about the increase in the debt for just this president's first term, about $5 trillion. is the debt so big that it keeps the economy from breaking through? >> no. there's no evidence and no isbas for concern that those long-term problems of fiscal sustainability are hurting the economy today. the president's policies and the design to put out the financial fires and rescue an economy in crisis caused only about 12%, a very small fraction of the increase in debt you've seen over this period of time. the vast bulk of the increase in debt is a result of the policy choices made by his predecessor to finance very expensive tax cuts by borrowing to finance two wars by borrowing, finance a big expansion of medicare by
borrowing, not cutting other spending or raising taxes. that's the bulk of the contribution. as a broad challenge we face as a country, they are mostly about how to get the economy growing, expanding opportunities for middle-class families. as part of that, over the long run we have to bring down our long-term deficits in a way that will be good for growth, opportunity and protect the safety net and retirement security for retirees. >> tom coburn just wrote a book, he said if we don't deal with the debt problems, we'll be greece in two years. >> no risk of that. >> no? >> it's true, we have a lot of challenges. but it would be ai mistake to say the only challenge facing the country and the most important challenge facing the country and the solution to all our problems are to pull forward right now all those challenges we have to face and bring down our deficit. we'll have to do that but how we it is really more important. as you know, we propose to do that in a way that provides a balanced reduction of spending,
savings and tax reforms facing us over time so this economy can heal and come out of this crisis. >> you don't see a debt crisis? >> if congress over a period of years would fail to act we woulç face a potential damage-to-growth interest rate. >> this president said we want to cut the debt in half, in the first tell of his presidency but that hasn't been accomplished. do you think the bulk of the problem is the prior administration. >> the president's policies if enacted by the congress, would reduce our deficits from about 9% of gdp today to below 3% of gdp over the next several years that would start to bring down our debt as a share of the economy. it would be better to start that process sooner but you have to do it in a way that's balanced and fair. you have to be sure you're protecting and preserving investments necessary to grow. as in education, protect the safe net for the vulnerable and protect and reserve retirement security for seniors. >> at the end of the year, the debt limit will have to be raised again, is that right? what is your message to
congressional leaders about that? >> it is congress' obligation to do, as they've always done in the past. it would be good for the country if this time they did it with less drama and politics and less damage to the country than they did last summer. >> what was the damage done by last summer? >> it was terribly damaging. you see a precipitous drop in consumer confidence and business confidence at a fragile time for the global economy. those drops in confidence were like what you saw in a typical recession, very damaging, completely unnecessary and very avoidable. it would be good if they don't put the country through that again. >> i want to ask you about taxes. tax day is coming up, a dreaded day. the 1040 short form is two pages long. this is actually just the instructions. i think it's 88 pages to fill out the two pages. something's wrong here, right? >> yes. we could use a simpler system if the president said. the right strategy for the country is both for individuals and businesses to put in place reforms that would simplify the system, make it easier for
people to meet their obligation as citizens, lower rates and broaden the base. and lower the rates. >> why hasn't the president put forth a real plan, the focus this week, the buffett rule is to tax wealthier americans to ensure your vision of fairness in the tax code but you're not taking a broad-based approach to tax reform. why not? >> we have a detailed set of comprehensive rules on tax policy, both for individuals and businesses that we think will be a necessary part of any responsible solution to the long-term fiscal problems. on the business side, as you know, we propose to -- and lower rates. we're creating and building things here. on the individual side, there's lots of ways to do this but the only way to do it is by doing things that will put a modestly larger burden on the richest americans. the buffet rule you refer to is a way to make sure they can't
take too much advantage of deductions in the tax code and end up paying a smaller share of income in taxes as middle class families. >> we're still talking about $5 billion to $7 billion a year. we're not talking about a huge impact. isn't this more political argument than a real fiscal fix in the scheme of the problem? >> we proposed this as part of a comprehensive set of spending savings in tax reforms. it's in that context we laid this out for the country. now, just because republicans oppose this does not mean it's not the right thing to do and push for. remember, look at what they opposed. they fought everything we did to rescue the economy from the crisis, they fought giving millions of americans access to health care. they fought all the things we did with regard to teachers. they fought the payroll tax deduction. we'll keep pushing for the things that are important for the country, and this is one of them. >> does the emphasis this president has on fairness,
haking the rich pay their fair share, in his words, more important than economic growth? the republicans make the argument the reason you treat dvd dividends or earned income differently is because you want people to save and invest. >> let me answer this way. how did it work out for the country to have a long period where we cut taxes deeply for the richest americans? look what happened to the record of growth to the american economy and investment over a period of time. there is no basis of evidence and experience across countries that these proposals will be damaging to growth. think about it this way, david. if you're not going to ask the most fortunate americans to pay a slightly modest share of their income, additional share in taxes, who are you going to ask to bear that burden? are there americans to pay higher taxes, cut benefits of medicare? that's the tradeoff you face. when you govern you have to make those tradeoffs. it is not responsible to sit
here today and offer the american people the prospect of some path to greater economic strength by extending tax cuts for the rich we can't afford. >> i want to ask you one final question about accountability. slow economic growth, it's not a jobless recovery but it's certainly not a -- the level of job creation is not what anybody thinks it should be and certainly not helping people get back to work at the appropriate level. housing is still a big problem. what is the appropriate level of accountability for this president and his management of economic recovery which isç incredibly slow by his torqual comparisons to other recoveries from recessions? >> we all share that responsibility. the congress shares that because they have the power of the purse. they write the laws of the land that can make a difference in this case. the president shares some of that. the president's policies were remarkably effective. if you look at this recovery and this -- the effectiveness, in reen memory, dramatically effective, at a much lower cost than people expected.
>> in terms of the president's stewardship of the economy, this is a success story? >> the president ininherited, again, as you know, a crisis caused by a shock larger than the great depression. he did the politically hard things to get growth started again. he's done everything he could to convince a reluctant opposition to join him in doing things toic ma the economy stronger. we're going to keep doing that even if they're against it, even if they don't like it. >> you call it a success story? >> absolutely. this president's policies were extremely successful. if you look at the record of what we did and what other countries did, history will judge what he did as remarkably effective crisis management at a deeply dark time for the world economy. >> nice to see yew. thank you. coming up here, the fight for women voters in this campaign. it got off to a contentious start this week. a debate over fallout coming up, joining me, democratic senator
from new york, kirsten gillibrand and former republican presidential candidate, minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann. later, part of my press pass interview with bill cosby on the president's performance in office. . >> they have no idea what he inher inherited. it's as if he had the surplus. when he moved into office. and this is -- this is sad. [ jennifer garner ] there's a lot of beautiful makeup out there. but one is so clever that your skin looks better even after you take it off. neutrogena® healthy skin liquid makeup. 98% saw improved skin. does your makeup do that? neutrogena® cosmetics.
my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues. when i listen to my wife, that's what i'm hearing. guess what? his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. she's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing. >> yeah, that was the sound bite this week from hilary rosen,
democratic strategist close to the white house. it got all of this started this week. hilary rosen was supposed to be a guest with me this morning but declined to appear, canceled her appearance on friday. wanted to avoid some of the firestorm over this. that was the conversation about mitt romney trying to close the gender gap. ann romney responded on twitter saying i made a choice to stay home and raise five boys, believe me, it was hard work. the debate about the gender gap got a lot more personal. it's not just political science and poll numbers. the real debate is out there. joining me now, two working moms. one a key voice in women's issues in the democratic party, new york senator kirsten gillibrand and the other, former republican presidential candidate minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann. welcome to both of you. >> thank you. >> we have a slight delay, congresswoman. i'll be careful about that. i want to start with you and ask you your thoughts after you heard all of this on both sides this week? >> i thought it was shocking and insulting. i'm a mother of five. i've been at home full time with our children. i've also worked full time as a federal tax litigation attorney. the one thing i know, when women are home full time, they probably have a better pulse on the economy than even their husbands have, because they're
the ones who are directly impacted by the price of groceries, by the price of gasoline, by the price of dealing with banking and with all the other factors of running a home. ann romney certainly understood the economy. i think women all across the country were highly insulted, and they should be, because women have borne the brunt of the failed economic policies under barack obama. just one example, women are paying $2,000 a year more for gasoline than the day they did when barack obama came into office. that's just one example. 92% of the women -- 92% of the people under barack obama's failed economic policies are women who have lost jobs. that's an unbelievably shocking number. 'cause 858,000 women have lost their jobs under barack obama. that's direct opportunity that's lost for them. and especially your previous guest, secretary geithner, he continued to blame george bush
for the current economic woes, for the current debt woes. but at the same time, barack obama has to take responsibility. and there's no question, his economic policies have had a disproportionate negative impact on women. and that's why i think women are going to be very upset with this current administration. >> senator, was there a broader context to hilary rosen's remarks that got overshadowed by her saying that ann romney never worked a day in her life? >> hilary apologized for her remarks. they were inappropriate. as a mom, i know one of the toughest jobs in the world are being a parent. this election is not going to be about ann romney or hilary's remarks. what this election is going to be about is which candidate fights for america's women? which candidate actually cares about economic opportunities? it's been a very tough economy. it's barack obama, whose first
bill he signed, was lily ledbetter fair pay act which allows women to fight for equal pay for equal work. women are still making only 78 cents on the dollar. mitt romney, his hero is the governor from wisconsin who got rid of the equal pay laws there. this president has focused on women's economic opportunity. one of the biggest challenges for women-owned businesses is access to capital, president obama has focused on increasing access to capital. women start their businesses with eight times less capital than men. president obama is also focused on education. pell grants are often used by women. he's increased the number of pell grants for women, over 2 million. it's an enormous investment in women's future and potential. when you look at the health care debate, overwhelmingly it affects women. if you look at medicare and medicaid, both disproportionately used by women. mitt romney would like to privatize medicare and medicaid. that's not going to help women. >> david, david -- >> let me finish. and then last, under president obama, being a woman is no obama, being a woman is no
longer going to be a pre-existing condition. >> if i could get in. >> go ahead. >> these are patently false statements being made about mitt romney. he has not come out and said he is going to do what the senator is saying. in fact, just the opposite. i think that one thing women are seeing is that mitt romney is an extremely smart guy. he's been successful in creating jobs in the private economy and that's something that barack obama has not been able to do. mitt romney also understands how to turn around companies. the united states government needs to have a turnaround person who knows how to be successful. not only has mitt romney proved how smart he is on job creation, he has a very optimistic message also. that's why i think women are trusting him when he speaks. one thing that the senator had mentioned is that women start jobs. that's true. women start two-thirds of all small businesses. but the problem is under the dodd/frank bill, there's a denial of access to credit. the other thing, under health care, president obama promised us that our health insurance premiums would drop $2,500 per year.
instead, this last year, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed the highest that they have in the last ten years. on every measure, women's lives are worse under president obama than they would be under a mitt romney as president of the united states. that's the difference. do women want to pay $2 or $2.50 a gallon for gasoline or do women want to pay $5 or $6 a gallon for gasoline? do they want to pay lower prices for groceries or higher prices for groceries? do they want to pay less for health insurance premiums or more for health insurance premiums? that's the difference they're looking at when they go into the voting booth. their lives will be far more improved with a proven, smart, successful businessman like mitt romney than someone like barack obama who can only blame his predecessor for his current economic poor choices. >> i want to ask you both, because i think what you both are talking about is so
important in terms of all voters' perceptions of the economy, and particularly women. that's what really is so important about the conversation. there's an aspect of this, senator, too, which is, i guess the cultural element, some of the gender wars, very difficult subjects for women, working in home, pursuing a career. and as i talk to women this week, one of things i heard is, you know, it's just like democratic women heard the debate about contraception and said, really? are we turning the clock back to something that seems settled? and in this case, you had a similar reaction, perhaps among a lot of women, republican and democrat, particularly republicans who think are we now turning back the clock for 20 years? it was reminiscent of 1992, on the campaign trail, hillary clinton saying this. >> you know, i suppose i could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what i decided to do was fulfill my profession, which i entered before my husband was in public life.
>> is this the conversation that we're going to have again in the course of this campaign? >> i don't think so. but i think women's voices are going to be so important in this election. this is an election where i believe that women have to be heard. and you know, one of the reasons i started my campaign off the sideline is to ask america's women to participate. younger women aren't voting. we want to make sure they vote, making sure women are heard on issues they care about. making sure women are holding electable leaders responsible. in politics today, women don't have a strong enough voice. we only have 17% women in congress. we only have six governors. i like to joke with my friends, if we have 51% of women in congress, do you think we'd be debating contraception? i don't think so. i think we'd be talking about the economy, about the best way to get more women into small businesses and other small businesses. the best way to increase our manufacturing, increase entrepreneurialism and innovation. i think women's voices are very fundamental to this election. >> let's remember the backdrop
of this as well, congresswoman bachmann. here are the latest polling numbers. the president has a big advantage on the numbers. but i want to ask you this question, because frankly, to me, it often seems condescending to say, well, what is the conversation that women care about? what are the issues that women care about? and yet, there are issues that women are particularly listening for. what kind of conversation would you like to see ensue in this campaign? >> well, certainly not the kind of conversation that you just rolled the tape from with hillary clinton, where they're insulting women who make the choices to stay at home and care for their children. i think we need to lift up women who take on the most difficult job in the world. but the women who stay home and care for their children, the women who choose to go to work, both have a common area that they're concerned about. that's the cost of living. and that's what has happened under barack obama, that life has gotten increasingly difficult. so women are really caring a lot right now about the price they're paying at the pump.
and again, we're talking a $2,000 increase per year. and if the average income is $50,000, and you've seen it spike $2,000 in the cost of gasoline, that's really pulling you back from advancing your economic well-being, especially if you've seen your price of health care increase 9%. that's hurting women. that's the point, david. here's the other thing that we can't forget to say today. your previous guest, timothy geithner, was in a hearing in the house budget committee. when the government statistic came out that effectively 15 years from now, our economy will effectively shut down because we're going to be smothered in debt, that's the story. young women need a future and a chance and a hope and they won't have it if president obama's big spending policies, big debt-accumulating policies continue. that's not going to help women. that's not going to help their children. we have to stop the big spending ways.
and barack obama hasn't put forward one plan and harry reid hasn't put forth one budget to solve the out-of-control spending or the problem with medicare because medicare will also collapse. >> okay. >> president obama told us that his future under medicare is obama care. senior citizens will no longer have medicare. they'll be on obama care. senior citizen women don't want obama care. they want medicare. >> i want to get you both on another news matter here. >> i'd like to respond. >> yes. before you respond, this question of do you think ann romney has any inability to connect to working class women in the country because she's wealthy and has stayed at home? >> not at all. i think ann romney's voice should be part of this campaign, as all women's voices should be part of this campaign. but i just want to comment on one thing michele said. what's insulting to women is the republican party and the house of representatives made it part of their agenda that they want bosses to tell women what medicines they're eligible to take.
nothing could be more insulting. 99% of the american women take birth control in their lifetime. this is a debate that's long been settled. this congress, starting with hr-1, has made an effort -- >> that's a false portrayal of where the house of representatives -- that's a false portrayal. what we want is women to be able to make their own choices. and there's constantly been -- >> that's not what the bill says. >> we want women to make choices. that's why on health care. >> not when your boss tells you you can't. >> we want a health savings accounts and the ability to be able to make their own choices in health care. you see, that's the lie that happens under obama care. the president of the united states effectively becomes a health care dictator. women don't need anyone to tell them what to do on health care. we want women to have their own choices, their own money. that way they can make their own choices for the future on their own body.
>> can i just get in here one second, because i'm running out of time. congressman bachmann, are you fully behind mitt romney for president at this point? >> well, i'm very seriously looking into an endorsement of mitt romney. as you know, rick santorum just got out of the race this week. i think we're seeing a uniting and a pulling together around our eventual nominee. and i have said that i want my voice to be one of uniting our party, the independence, the mainstream, conservatives, evangelicals, the tea party movement, i want to unite our party. i'm waiting for our party to come together and help in that process. >> and to both of you, you first, senator, on this secret service story coming out of south america and the president's trip, misconduct apparently involving prostitutes, what is your next question about where this goes? >> well, obviously, we need a very full investigation. and i understand the secret service responded quickly and sent those alleged to do the improper behavior home immediately. these are serious issues. and we can't tolerate them. it needs a full and complete investigation. >> congresswoman? >> well, americans should be outraged.
the secret service has a wonderful reputation. this is outrageous. it can't go on. there's even stories that this has been spread into the military. and i think the white house clearly was embarrassed by this. this is not good. we have to make sure this never happens again. >> all right. i'm going to leave it there. both of you, thank you very much. >> thanks, david. >> appreciate it. >> thank you. and coming up here, we'll have the latest on the allegations of misconduct involving prostitutes and at least 11 secret service agents involving th [ male announcer ] we did an experiment for febreze fabric refresher. [ experimenter 2 ] what do you smell? light floral, lilac. wispy white curtains. [ experimenter 1 ] okay take your blindfolds off. ♪ hello? [ male announcer ] febreze fabric refresher. breathe happy, guaranteed.
we are back with our roundtable. and joining me now is nbc's savannah guthrie as well as nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd. this is the reunion of the old daily rundown. republican strategist and columnist for "time" magazine mike murphy and harold ford. welcome to all of you. mike murphy, let's take this gender gap debate and put it into the course of the campaign. how does it translate? how long does it live? >> i think it lives as long as either campaign gives the media any conflict they love, identity con flicks. out in the real world, they want to see the economy work.
now, this is a big top litigation on the economy with each side trying to destroy the other's biography. they're attack romney with ads, saying he's shut down factories, he's bad on jobs. they'll attack obama saying what recovery? where are the promised jobs, legacy of failure. it's going to get rough and loud starting very soon. >> savannah guthrie, president obama wasted no time running for cover on this issue once hilary rosen made those remarks saying i know seeing michelle, the first lady, how hard it is to work at home, to be home with our children. he wanted no part of this. >> i was struck by even more than the initial shock of what hilary rosen said, i think we can all agree that stay-at-home moms are wonderful. i'm the product of one. what she said was obviously wrong. i was shocked at how quickly chicago, the obama campaign motivated themselves to outdo each other on twitter to disavow this. in some ways i think it had the equal and opposite effect.
they worked so hard to disown hilary rosen that you almost felt like they must own her, be aligned with her. in some ways it didn't betray confidence about their position with women. they weren't acting like a campaign that has a 19-point lead in the gender gap. >> that's an interesting point, actually. if you look at the numbers, just to show them again, what began all of this discussion was the fact that a tangible residual effect, chuck, of the primary campaign is that romney was hurt. rick santorum talked about contraception but you did have romney talking about defunding planned parenthood, defund title 10, supporting an amendment that had to do with contraception that went beyond even the religious exemption. they'll acknowledged, as i talked to folks inside the romney campaign, this is a tankle bit of information in the gender gap. >> once we get a chance to differentiate themselves, which i think is what we watched this week, we saw the romney campaign
desperately trying to find anything to close this gender gap, change the conversation away from this idea of access to health care, things like that, and instead, move it to something that is more comfortable turf. they found one thing and, boy, did they move to seasonally manufacture a controversy. this is not an obama surrogate. this is a paid cnn commentator, all of those things. they were pretty effective at using. we know the echo chamber that's out there. to savannah's point, she brings up a good point about this issue of the overly defensive nature of the obama campaign. this issue with suburban women, it's not just women that the gender gap matters, northern vir, denver, colorado, those women. >> they were concerned about drawing a line in the sand to say first ladies are off limits. they felt like they had to take that stand now so that in six months from now, somebody wants to say something about michelle
obama, they can say we stood up forç that when it counted. >> the voters want an economic and jobs debate. anything they can do to feed the distortion, gender identity, anything like that, is good for them. so they made a tactical error but i think they like the debate of this stuff lurching. >> one of the things you heard from congresswoman michele bachmann are the substantive points. i don't think anybody should fight about whether women work in their career or are working at home. but the economy, working women feeling the pressure of high gas prices, policies on the economy, that's the debate. >> particularly a stay at home mom, you know the price of gas better than your husband. you know the price of bread, milk and eggs better than your husband. you have a good sense of how this economy is performing.
i felt michele bachmann, who i don't often agree with, made some valid points. this issue is, people make unforced errors this issue here is more powerful in ways than some of the conversations around contraception, don't get me wrong, 99% of american women have used it. i've heard the number. nobody talks about that. people talk about their kids, women are insulted when you suggest they stay at home and not work, that something is different about them, less about them. the white house had to move quickly. hilary rosen's a good person. she made a dumb comment in trying to make a bigger point. hopefully she can get back to making those points. i think this is an opportunity for mitt romney to make big gains. >> mike, we were talking yesterday, you said this was a starter gun week for the general election campaign. look at the cover of the "economist" magazine, especially because i'm obsessed with baseball right now be, i thought it was interesting, it talked about the hardball politics
coming up. it shows how negative this is going to be, romney on the pitcher's mound with a grenade and there's the president, waiting to swing back. the president talked about the biggest contrast, the biggest difference for the vision in the country since perhaps in goldwater in '64 up against johnson. >> that was an interesting comment. it cuts both ways? who's goldwater? what you're going to see, and i wrote about it in "time," they both have enough money, this is the year of negative ads working. th the obama campaign is not going to run an obama campaign. they're going to run a romney campaign. the romney guys are going to go after obama saying what are the accomplishments? promised these jobs, they're not here. we have a health care plan that two-thirds of the country doesn't like on life support in front much the supreme court. there's no obama story. both campaigns want to make it a referendum on the other guy. >> the next three months, i would divide this up in
three-month chunks. you have your preconvention chunk here. this time it was this issue. there will be more, mark my words. but once the convention comes, going to mike's point, the resetting the biographies, trying to make the sale, the actual issue debate will take place into that 60-day spread in the fall. but to watch -- when we were talking about that cover, this is going to be the most negative campaign i think we've seen in presidential politics, maybe more so than '04. and '04 was pretty nasty. maybe more so than '96 and '96 was nasty. by the way, it will lead to a lower turnout. >> as we head to the president, if you're the president's team, you've made this case about 1%, 99% about taxing rich people. if you're romney, i'm not advising mitt romney but you have to say, his team may be looking announce that you're for
raising capital gains tax on people who earn more than $2 million or $1 million a year in investment income. president obama paid 21% in federal income taxes, 26% one year. even he's not up to 36%. why? because the tax code needs to be fixed. president obama is making this about whether or not you tax rich people. i'm a democrat. i'm not crazy about that approach. it may work a bit to frame it. there is a debate, americans want the country to do better, be more prosperous. until you get to the big issues or when the president finally gets to the big issues is when he pulls away. for that matter, whichever candidate gets to the big issues first will have the advantage. >> there's also personality, savannah, maureen dowd, reading her "new york times" in the this morning, our own network, nbc, "saturday night live" has asked mitt romney to host "saturday night live." then senator obama went on as
part of the halloween program back in 2008. this could be a great opportunity for romney. >> this is a great opportunity. he can show his personality. any time you can be self-deprecating it can work. sarah palin was effective in 2008 when she appeared on the show. i think he should be looking for some opportunity to do something that he stands up to people in his own party, does something that's against -- so people can feel they get the measure of the man and he's willing to show political courage and back grounded. >> it's not anç organic thing where romney shows up one week and says, hey, every puny per n person -- funny person shows up. i think romney ought to do the show, but in his own way. [ female announcer ] introducing a match made in skin heaven. new venus & olay.
we're back now with our roundtable. we want to preview our press pass conversation. i sat down with the legendary bill cosby and dr. bernard d demchuk. this theater was known for the hosting of great performances of our time. after closing its doors in 1980 and after many failed attempts at a comeback, the hollywood theater is back in action and looks as great as ever. today i sat down with the two of them, charges were filed against george zimmerman in the case of the tragic death of trayvon martin in florida. here now part of the initer view, i asked cosby his thoughts on the events surrounding martin's death. >> a woman from the "washington times" interviewed me. and then later we were talking about the howard theater. i just want to know, is this, she said, over the phone, she asked, is this about race?
is it, is? and i said it's about the gun. it's about this gun. guns in our country. and i know that when you have a gun, you may not realize it but you put it on your person and you mean to pull this and kill somebody. that's what you mean to do. >> what this president represents in this whole process, an explosion of african-american history, an appreciation that you're talking about around the country, what does his leadership represent in confronting real challenges that african-american encounter, including in the trayvon martin case, here he was at the white house saying if i had a son, he would look like trayvon.
that's a powerful statement from our first african-american president. >> i seen obama as cisophous in the first four years. nobody would speak about the size of the rock 0 the elevation of the hill. all you hear people talk about is what he didn't do. to come from to come from what he has asked to take over, and do in the time to behave as an american, to put up with those who were, in my estimation, acting very un-american, to get rid of those
people, it took longer than patience should allow. but he tried to bring us together. even to argue with radio hosts, and people who have nothing to do with anything. it's important that this man has had to fight. similar to battle of a black person, in a position in america. hundreds of thousands of millions of people still behind him, but, people who are very quietly acting like they have no idea what he inherited. it's as if that he had the surplus when he moved into office. and this is -- this is sad. and it's sad about them. because they know that they have
misbehaved. they know that they have taken america and slowed down the progress. and there are statements that are very clear in saying as much. i don't want this man to succeed. well, why, said the brown fly? >> and on that note, bill cosby. again you can watch the entire interview on our "meet the press" website as our roundtable. thank you all very much for being here. we're back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." heartache