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JUNE 14, 2012 TRANSCIRPT: CNN PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT-STEPHANIE CUTTER INTERVIEW
MORGAN: America’s Choice 2012. And as you just heard, the president’s already looking forward to a second term. We heard from the Romney campaign. Now let’s hear from the other side. Stephanie Cutter is the deputy campaign manager for President Obama. Stephanie, welcome.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Thank you, thanks for having me. MORGAN: It’s pretty clear now what the battleground is. You guys are going to say, look, we inherited the mother of all economic disasters, and we’ve done OK but could do better. So we deserve to be re-elected. And Mitt Romney’s going to say, hang on a second, nobody cares about what happened before you guys came into power. It’s actually the last 3.5 years you should be judged on. On that criteria alone, you failed.
CUTTER: Well, I guess, Piers, I would disagree slightly on a couple of things. I think the American people have a good understanding of what the economy was like when we came into office, that we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. And the president took some quick, tough action to stem the crisis, prevent the economy from falling into a depression. And we’ve been on a road to recovery.
Over the last 27 months, we have created 4.3 million private sector jobs. That’s seven times more private sector jobs than were created in the last recovery under George Bush.
MORGAN: You have, you have —
CUTTER: But that —
MORGAN: Let me just jump in on that because consumer confidence is down. Everyone accepts that. You can see if in the high streets. GDP is slowing. Just today, unemployment claims rose to 386,000, up 6,000 from the week before. So you’ve definitely hit a bit of a wall at a very difficult time for you with the campaign, haven’t you?
CUTTER: Well, Piers, what I was going to say, if I were able to finish what I was about to say, was that the president has continuously said, well, we’ve made progress. We’re not there yet. There’s a lot more that we need to do. And we need to keep our foot on the pedal, which is why he put out a jobs act. It’s been sitting in Congress for almost 10 months.
As he said today in his speech in Ohio, that’s a million jobs sitting on the table there. We could have a million more people back to work and a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy if Republicans in Congress just broke their intransigence and, you know, came together with everybody else, with the majority of the American people, and agreed that to get this stuff done, to grow our economy, to make the investments that we need to grow, then we’re going to have to ask everybody to pay their fair share.
We know what works. But we also know what doesn’t work. That’s ultimately about what — what the speech was about today.
MORGAN: Eric Fehrnstrom said earlier that if any employer was confronted with an employee that said I know I haven’t been doing great, but it’s all the fault of the guy before me 3.5 years ago, he would be laughed out of the room. What is different about politics? Do you accept that it’s been disappointing? Do you accept that the economy is still in a very bad condition?
What are the admissions that you’re prepared to make to the American public as we head towards the election?
CUTTER: Well, it’s not about whether we need to grow our economy. It’s about how we grow our economy in the right way, how we grow the economy from the middle out, instead of the top down. We know what not to do, which is the prescriptions that Republicans in Congress are putting forward, which are the prescriptions that Mitt Romney is putting forward.
You know, the fundamental difference in vision is basically Republicans and Mitt Romney think that if we just get rid of all regulations and cut taxes for the very wealthy, then the private sector will take over and we’ll do just fine. We know that doesn’t work.
MORGAN: How unhelpful is it that President Clinton has come out and basically endorsed Mitt Romney’s record at Bain as being exemplary when this was obviously going to be one of your main assault weapons, that he had been terrible.
CUTTER: Well, because you’re misunderstanding what that Bain record is all about. Mitt Romney has made grand promises that his business would turn the economy around. And our point is well, he’s made those promises before. He made those promises when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, which is a key part of his resume.
MORGAN: What am I misunderstanding?
CUTTER: It’s not about private equity. It’s not about whether private equity is good or bad. People can run their businesses how they see fit. It’s about whether or not it qualifies you to be the president of the United States. And we disagree. It doesn’t. It doesn’t qualify you to be the president of the United States because you’ve taken over companies, loaded them up with debt and bankrupted them, and left middle class workers without jobs, benefits and health care.
As the president said in describing and laying out our message on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, if you’re the president of the United States, you’re the president of everybody.
MORGAN: It’s not me that was questioning President Obama’s view of Romney’s record at Bain. It was President Clinton, who you would have expected to be supporting President Obama in his number one assault weapon, which you’ve just articulated so passionately. So how did you guys feel when President Clinton comes out and says the complete opposite?
CUTTER: I think that if you look at what Clinton said, Piers, he said there’s two different ways that you can conduct business. You can invest in companies and help them grow, or you could go in, take over companies, bankrupt them and take your profit out. Mitt Romney was engaging in the latter part of that exercise and bankrupting companies. Bill Clinton also said that ultimately this election is going to come down to two very competing visions. And the policies that Romney has laid out won’t work, and we know that. That’s what Bill Clinton said. And how did we feel about that? We agreed with him. Mitt Romney’s policies won’t work. We’ve tried them before and they failed. Why would we try them again?
They led to the crash of our financial system, deterioration of our middle class. And that’s what Bill Clinton was saying. And he continues to say that, as President Clinton and President Obama campaigned together, as President Clinton continues to put his support behind the re-election of President Obama.
MORGAN: Finally, give me a word answer tot his, do you feel more comfort now winning the election than you did, say, a month ago or less confident?
CUTTER: Neither. We knew that this was going to be a tough election. We knew that we would be in this place. We’re exactly where we knew we would be. This is going to be a very close election up until election day. And we’re not taking anything for granted.
And Piers, I think that as we move through the next five months and as the American people come to understand these two different competing visions of whether to grow the economy from the middle out or to grow the economy from the top down, as Mitt Romney wants to do, or moving forward in rebuilding an economy that’s really meant to last, or going back to the policies that crashed our economy and deteriorated the middle class, that this election is going to come down to that fundamental choice.
It’s not about two different candidates or two different parties. It’s about that choice, about which direction the American people want to go.
MORGAN: OK. Stephanie Cutter, thank you very much.
CUTTER: Thank you, Piers.