Mitt Romney sat down for a big interview with David Gregory for NBC's Meet the Press. Rather than stick to our usual format, we're highlighting the key things he said on specific issues. Take it away, Mitt.
On Obamacare: "Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," he said. ''One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage." Romney also wants to make sure young adults can keep receiving coverage through their parents' plans. "I say we're going to replace Obamacare. And I'm replacing it with my own plan," he said. "And even in Massachusetts when I was governor, our plan there deals with pre-existing conditions and with young people."
On Clint Eastwood: "Oh, I was laughing at Clint Eastwood," he said. "Look, to have him get up and speak on my behalf was … a great thrill." Eastwood gave a rambling 12 minute speech to an invisible Obama sitting in an empty chair right before Mitt took the stage. "You don't expect to have a guy like Clint Eastwood get up and, you know, read some speech of a teleprompter like a politician," Romneey said. "You expect him to speak from the heart and that's exactly what he did."
On last summer's debt deal: "That's a big mistake," he said. "I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it." Paul Ryan, Mitt's VP, went along with it.
On the vague generalities of his tax plan: "Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy," he said. "And I've indicated as well that contrary to what the Democrats are saying I'm not going to increase the tax burden on middle income families. It would absolutely be wrong to do that." He said he would shore up the tax deductions available to high-income earners. "Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise, they'd get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high income taxpayers." Romney thinks he could balance the budget in one term, if he wanted, but that might have too strong an effect on the economy, so he's letting himself do it in two terms just to be safe. "Doing it in the first term would cause, I believe, a dramatic impact on the economy," he said. "Too dramatic. And therefore the steps I've put in place and we've put together a plan that lays out how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years."
On not mentioning the troops in his convention speech: "What I've found is that wherever I go I am speaking to tens of millions of people," he said. "Everything I say is picked up by you and by others and that's the way it ought to be. So I went to the American Legion and spoke with our veterans there and described my policy as it relates to Afghanistan and other foreign policy and our military... I've been to Afghanistan and the members of our troops know of my commitment to Afghanistan and to the effort that's going on there," he said. "I have some differences on policy with the president. I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech."
On Obama's foreign policy: "The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran," he said. "In fact, Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability than when he took office." Romney said he'd use "every option" to prevent Iran from advancing. "We need to use every resource we have to dissuade them from their nuclear path," he said. "But that doesn't mean that we would take off the table our military option. That's something which certainly every American would hope we would never have to use. But we have to maintain it on the table or Iran will, undoubtedly, continue their treacherous course."
On abortion: "I recognize there are two lives involved: the mom and the unborn child," he said. "And I believe that people of good conscience have chosen different paths in this regard. But I am pro-life and will intend, if I'm president of the United States, to encourage pro-life policies."
Watch the whole thing here:
Conservative commentator George Will had strong words for the Republican party during his appearance on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous. Stephanopolous asked him about Paul Ryan's response to the jobs report, and Will went off. "The two numbers he stressed deserve stressing again. 368,000 dropped out of the job market, which means that for every job created, four people quit looking for jobs," he said. "This means that if the work force participation rate today were what it was in June 2009, when the recovery began, we would have an unemployment rate 11.2 percent. If you add in the involuntarily unemployed, you're approaching 19 percent, which is why I should think from here on in, on the basis of these numbers, the Romney campaign slogan should be the title of Paul Krugman's book which is, End This Depression Now, because these are depression level numbers. And if the Republican Party cannot win in this environment, it has to get out of politics and find another business."
Elsewhere on This Week's roundtable, Rand Paul and Paul Krugman agreed that the Romney campaign's defense cuts attack ads are misleading. "Right now, Mitt Romney has an ad blitz where he's accusing Obama of cutting defense spending, which is actually, you know, that's not really true, but and then he says and the reason this is terrible is it because it will eliminate jobs," he said. "So the Romney campaign's position is government spending can't create jobs unless it goes to defense contractors in which case it's the lifeblood of the economy." "And that's an inconsistency. That's an inconsistency," Paul interjected. "It's pretty major," Krugman agreed.
Newt Gingrich tried to convince CNN's Candy Crowley that Clinton's DNC speech actually hurt Obama on State of the Union. The speech was "eerily anti-Obama, if you just listen to the subtext," he argued. "What it does is actually shrink Obama," he said. "I mean, you have a real president, and then you have this guy who is a pretender." "You can take his speech, spin it not very much and it’s actually a condemnation of the fact that Obama learned nothing … out of the 2010 elections," he said. Gingrich argued that if no one else noticed these subtle digs but him, and Obama gets a post-convention bounce in the polls, it's "80 percent Clinton."
Obama senior advisor David Plouffe attacked Paul Ryan for attacked the sequester he voted for on CBS's Face the Nation. "He voted for the sequester, he voted for the Budget Control Act," he said. "He was running away from them with the kind of pace I guess he ran in that fictional marathon you asked him about. They’re acting as if they had nothing to do with this. They voted for this. And this sequester, you know, the way it was dealt with which was to make sure that both defense spending as well as domestic programs were part of the sequester, it’s common," he said. "It’s been used through the years in congressional action. So this was something that was done to force action. Now, Republicans in Congress are trying to run away from their responsibility they signed up for."
Face the Nation also aired a preview of their upcoming Obama interview that's set to air on Tuesday night. Obama is apparently still down for compromising with Republicans. "There are still ways we can make (government) leaner and more efficient. I’m more than happy to work with Republicans," he said. And, hey, he could probably rework Medicare a bit if they wanted. "I’m also willing, by the way, to make some adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid that would strengthen the programs," he said.