Mitchell Reports | October 02, 2012
>>> me from denver, with an insider's perspective, the president's debate preparations, robert gibbs , senior adviser to the obama campaign and the president's former press secretary. you have been there, done that. you know this president. you know him as a candidate. what is going on behind the scenes today?
>> well look, i know they're doing, you know, they're doing some prep, some mock debates, obviously, you know, the president's got a very busy day job that's taking him away from time to do this sort of thing and quite frankly it's been four years, you know, since he's been in this arena. so i know he's anxious and excited to get in front of the american people and talk specifics about the issues, to talk about how we continue to build this economy and strengthen it going forward over the course of the next four years.
>> and in terms of the defense that he has to play, the romney team are attacking him for not creating a budget, in three years, of course the argument the counter argument would be the republicans for three out of the four years were in charge and -- at least one house, and were blocking him in the senate. but they will come at him on the economy. what is the response going to be?
>> well look, i think the president -- the response obviously is two fold. let's talk about where we've come from, losing 800,000 jobs a month to 30 plus months of positive private sector job growth , added 5 million jobs, you know, since we hit the bottom and -- but i think what's most important and voters want to hear is what you going to do as president going forward and i think the president will be anxious to talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas and putting americans back to work, improving our educational system , recruiting and training math and science teachers to get our children prepared for those important jobs.
>> those are goals. those are goals and mitt romney has goals. but when are --
>> no, no andrea --
>> it is not a goal to end tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas and incentivize them to come back and create a million jobs in manufacturingp. we've seen the greatest increase in manufacturing jobs in more than 20 years under this president. so we have a sense of what has to happen in order to bring those businesses back and create those jobs. those aren't goals. you know, reducing our dependence on foreign oil by increasing our domestic production incentivizing clean energy to create jobs and put people back to work, those aren't goals, those are plans to continue to move this economy forward. look, i also hope that mitt romney will take some of the time paul ryan didn't want to take in his interview this weekend and try to explain the arithmetic behind their budget. paul ryan said it would take too long to explain their budget plan. the problem isn't the time and explanation. it's the math that's involved to make the statements that mitt romney and paul ryan have said line up to being anything close to the truth. and i think that governor romney will likely whether he likes it or not have an opportunity to try to explain how you pay for a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy, and not have it end up as every study has shown raising taxes on middle-class families.
>> they've come up wait new study today where they say i think with what you could call dynamic scoring, that tax reform will produce economic growth if you want to prebutt that.
>> well, you know, andrea , you and i both have been in washington a long time. and when the math doesn't add up, somebody comes up with these unique economic theories that somehow despite the fact that the numbers don't equal up, trust us , because everything will work out just fine. that's exactly what's gotten us into this mess. that's why when barack obama walked in to the oval office the first day in 2009 and we were a trillion dollars in the hole for that fiscal year. let's be clear. if you want to be straight with the american people and the american people want you to be straight with them, you owe it to the american people to explain not through, you know, mumbo jumbo or fuzzy math or voodo economics how do you get $5 trillion and not end up raising taxes on the middle class to pay for a tax cut for people like mitt romney . nothing could be more important in this race than an explanation of these economic plans, whether it's from the middle out by the president or from the top down by mitt romney .
>> now, one of the things about barack obama that you know from having worked so closely with him is that sometimes he can be a little professorial, not to put down professors, but in a debate you have to think about the clock and think about the punchy line. is it a challenge for his current team to get him to speak in sound bites ?
>> well look, i used to joke with him it takes him 30 seconds to clear his throat sometimes. and look, i think -- look there's no doubt that, you know, you've got a very small window of time and brevity is certainly important and as i said earlier, andrea , the president hasn't done these formats in four years. mitt romney has done these pretty recently as part of 20 republican debates , but look, i have no doubt that the president will be well prepared and look, i don't actually think this debate is going to be decided by some snappy zinger or snappy sound bite . i think the american people , particularly the undecided voters that you, chris and mark were talking about, are really looking for these candidates to discuss what they want to do economically and domestically going forward for the next four years. i don't think, you know, snappy slogans are what's going to win it. good, honest, discussion of the issues and the plans moving forward and i think that's going to be okay for president obama .
>> how hard is it to coach the president of the united states and tell him, no, sir, that's wrong, you've got it wrong or should try this or do that? how does he take constructive criticism ?
>> look, everybody, whether you're the president or whether you might be my 9-year-old, sometimes it's always -- it's never always easy to tell them something like that. but look, again, i think, you know, the president understands how important these are and again i think more than anything, the president really looks forward to, you know, having this really this discussion with the american people . i don't really think this is, you know, you guys were saying, i don't think this is going to be some knock down, slug fest. at least that's no, not how the president approaches these. the governor may want to be more negative on that score than we want to. we want to have that direct conversation with the american people and look, the president understands and, you know, listens to a whole lost of people and take -- host of people and takes constructive criticism whether in debates or a meeting about how to solve these problems. he's used to this.
>> now i know that this is a domestic policy debate, but the republicans have been raising a lot of questions, as have some democrats, about the libya aftermath and the fact that there wasn't enough security, arguably, and that some intelligence may have been overlooked. the president does seem to be on the defensive about this. if you were back in the white house how would you respond about the criticisms the way benghazi was hand snld.
>> nobody cares more about finding out exactly what happened and exactly what the security situation was in benghazi than the president does. we lost a remarkable public servant. we lost four americans in that awful terrorist attack . we owe it to the american people and their families to figure out what happened. i know that state department and the white house are reviewing this. thomas pickering as you know, a very respected leader in foreign policy , is heading an investigation to figure this out. nothing is more important. you know, the middle east as we know is a very, very dangerous place. and we have to keep our guard up even as we are engaged in that region of the world in bringing many of these new countries into really the democratic sphere. this is the first time they've been able to elect their leaders. i was heartened as many were to watch the demonstrations in libya that followed that terrorist ait tack, with 30,000 in the street, you know, demanding that those militias and those, you know, terrorists and islamic militias are disbanded. that gives us, you know, great hope for, you know, what can happen in a place like libya .
>> thanks so much, robert gibbs , see you in denver, be there tomorrow.