Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss the 2012 presidential race and what must President Obama do in the next debate.
This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC; Angela Rye, executive director and general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus; Armstrong Williams, political commentator and host of “The Right Side”; and Dr. Julianne Malveaux, an economist and founder and Thought Leader at Last Word Productions.
MR. MARTIN: All right, folks. Welcome back. Let’s go back to our roundtable.
Julianne, make your point.
DR. MALVEAUX: You know, Mr. Romney said that the middle class was people who earned more than $200,000 a year. Well, only 6 percent of our nation earns more than $200,000 a year. Only 1.3 percent of African-Americans earn more than $200,000 a year.
I don’t know what “middle class” he’s talking about. So, as Armstrong and others talk about these points that Ryan and Romney have made, let’s be clear who he’s talking about. He’s talking about less than 1 in 20 Americans, and for African-Americans, 1 in 100.
MR. WILLIAMS: But you kn- —
MS. RYE: I want to go back to the Ryan request for ARRA funds, though, because I think the most important thing is the Vice President recalled two letters. Then Ryan admitted to writing two letters, but he actually wrote four. And I think the most important thing is that, in Wisconsin, they needed funds. They needed support. They needed help. And when you’re in a crisis, you do the best possible thing you can in a crisis to rescue an economy. You come togedder [sic – phonetic] – together in a bipartisan fashion and make sure that you save jobs, that preserve economic strength. And that’s exactly what they did, and he supported –
MR. WILLIAMS: You know –
MS. RYE: — ARRA.
MR. WILLIAMS: — I just want to say this. Okay. The issue is – you can talk about Ryan and Romney, but it’s the President who refuses to run on his failed record and his failed policies for the American people. The reason why Romney is even in this race is because of a failed president who’s unable to deliver the “hope and change.”
Now, while you can –
MR. MARTIN: Actually –
MS. RYE: Sorry. I –
MR. MARTIN: — [crosstalk]- —
MR. WILLIAMS: It’s the reason why!
MR. MARTIN: — no, actually –
MS. RYE: — no, I –
MR. MARTIN: — but –
MS. RYE: — no –
MR. MARTIN: — no, hold on.
MR. WILLIAMS: It’s be- —
MR. MARTIN: One second. One second.
MR. WILLIAMS: — what has –
MR. MARTIN: First of all –
MR. WILLIAMS: — what does the President have to run on –
MR. MARTIN: — okay, but – [crosstalk] –
MR. WILLIAMS: — that he’s delivered?
MR. MARTIN: — first of all, let’s – let’s examine this race. Okay? A- — and w- —
MS. RYE: — [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: — and w- —
OFF CAMERA: Very.
MR. MARTIN: — well, let’s examine this race. First of all, if you look at 2012, it was looking just like 2004. 2004, President George W. Bush wins Ohio by 110,000 votes. He wins the presidency. That was a very tight race as well. Anybody knows when you are an incumbent, and when you’re still in a tough economy, it is going to be a difficult time.
When you look at the existing polling data, even in the battleground states, the map is still very difficult for Mitt Romney. So, the question actually is, “Why isn’t Mitt Romney in a ha-” – why doesn’t he have a much larger lead if, as you describe, things are so bad, Armstrong?
So, maybe it’s not just the President. Maybe Mitt Romney has an issue, and maybe people also recognize that the President has been making inroads. Because if you look at 31 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, you can com- — you can –
MR. WILLIAMS: Let me ask you –
MR. MARTIN: — complain about it, but –
MR. WILLIAMS: — a question.
MR. MARTIN: — it’s also a fact.
DR. MALVEAUX: Here’s the deal. It ain’t –
MR. MARTIN: Rodell, go –
DR. MALVEAUX: — over –
MR. MARTIN: — ahead.
MR. MOLLINEAU: [Crosstalk] –
DR. MALVEAUX: — no –
MR. MOLLINEAU: — I think that Mitt Romney does have a problem, which was why he moderated himself in that first debate. I’d never seen that Mitt Romney before! That was a moderate Republican. For the last 18 months, Mitt Romney’s been talking about his conservative tax plan and what he was going to do, and then he pretty much got up there and said, “I’m all for the middle class. I’m going to do this, this” –
MR. MARTIN: And he –
MR. MOLLINEAU: — “and this.”
MR. MARTIN: — did shift to the center there, Armstrong.
MR. MOLLINEAU: [Chuckles.]
MR. WILLIAMS: I just want to –
DR. MALVEAUX: Well, you know, this –
MS. RYE: That’s –
MR. WILLIAMS: — disagree with one point.
MS. RYE: — but that’s –
DR. MALVEAUX: — is called “The” –
MS. RYE: — not new!
DR. MALVEAUX: — “Revenge of the” –
MS. RYE: That was –
DR. MALVEAUX: — “Body Snatchers.”
MS. RYE: — Massachusetts –
DR. MALVEAUX: This was “The” –
MS. RYE: — governor back[?].
DR. MALVEAUX: — “Revenge of the Body Snatchers.” The body snatchers –
MR. MOLLINEAU: [Chuckles.]
DR. MALVEAUX: — took Mitt Romney and turned him into a quasi-reasonable human being. The body snatchers took President Obama and turned him into some listless human being.
But here’s the deal. Mitt Romney does not tell the truth, and I would love to get him in a small room with The Truth and say, “Mitt Romney, meet The Truth.”
MR. MARTIN: Panel –
DR. MALVEAUX: “Do you all have” –
MR. WILLIAMS: I just wa- —
DR. MALVEAUX: — “any” –
MR. WILLIAMS: — I – I just want to make one –
MR. MARTIN: Go ahead.
MR. WILLIAMS: — quick point.
MR. MARTIN: And then we’re going to –
MR. WILLIAMS: The reason –
MR. MARTIN: — [crosstalk] –
MR. WILLIAMS: — why –
MR. MARTIN: — because we[’ve] got to get to the question of what happened –
MR. WILLIAMS: — is that these –
MR. MARTIN: — on Tuesday.
MR. WILLIAMS: — attack –
MR. MARTIN: Go ahead.
MR. WILLIAMS: — ads and the media had created a Mitt Romney that most Americans believed that’s exactly who he was – until he really introduced himself to the American –
MR. WILLIAMS: — people –
MS. RYE:Re-introduced –
MR. WILLIAMS: — during that debate!
MS. RYE: — himself –
MR. MARTIN: — I – now, Arms- —
MS. RYE: — re-introduced –
MR. MARTIN: — I – I – I can’t –
MS. RYE: — himself.
MR. MARTIN: — Armstrong –
MR. WILLIAMS: You may –
DR. MALVEAUX: [Crosstalk] –
MR. WILLIAMS: — not like it.
MS. RYE: No, we don’t like it. And you –
DR. MALVEAUX: — Armstrong –
MS. RYE: — also aren’t –
MR. WILLIAMS: Yeah.
DR. MALVEAUX: — [crosstalk] –
MS. RYE: — paying attention –
DR. MALVEAUX: — [crosstalk] – about that.
MS. RYE: — to the fact that there also is a Congress that it takes to run this country. And in that Congress, there’s a 7 percent approval rating. Why? Because they’ve gotten nothing done under – with the President. They won’t work in a bipartisan fashion.
MR. WILLIAMS: Yeah, Democrats –
MS. RYE: They’ve only – wait!
MR. WILLIAMS: — for the first two –
MS. RYE: They’ve only just –
MR. WILLIAMS: — years.
MS. RYE: — got –
MR. WILLIAMS: What happened with the – [crosstalk] –
MS. RYE: — and there was a lot –
MR. WILLIAMS: — [crosstalk]?
MS. RYE: — done! Do you know how many –
MR. WILLIAMS: What was done?
MS. RYE: — bills got passed?
MR. MARTIN: — I go- — I got –
MS. RYE:Several bills.
MR. MARTIN: — I –
MS. RYE: The Affordable Care –
DR. MALVEAUX: The American –
MS. RYE: — Act that you – [crosstalk] –
DR. MALVEAUX: — Jobs Act –
MR. WILLIAMS: You’re hallucinating!
DR. MALVEAUX: — American Jobs –
MS. RYE: I’m not hallucinating!
DR. MALVEAUX: — Act, which would –
MS. RYE: I worked there!
DR. MALVEAUX: — change –
MR. MARTIN: One second.
DR. MALVEAUX: — the terms and conditions –
MR. MARTIN: One second. I[’ve] got 90 –
DR. MALVEAUX: — has not been passed.
MR. MARTIN: — seconds. What – what should take place on Tuesday? Obviously, Vice President Biden – the base is very – very pleased with his performance. What must the President do on Tuesday? What must Mitt Romney do on Tuesday?
MR. MOLLINEAU: I said this before the first debate. Big football fan. If you play prevent defense, you’re preventing yourself from winning. I think that’s what the President did. He laid back.
I think he has to bring the fight to – to Mr. Romney. That’s –
MR. MARTIN: Town hall-style –
MR. MOLLINEAU: — what he needs to do.
MR. MARTIN: — format. It’ll be a different format.
Angela, what must happen on Tuesday?
MS. RYE: I think that the campaign is probably going to spend a lot of time over the course of the next few days really examining what worked well for Mr. Biden and what didn’t. And I think after that, he just needs to “bring it,” as you would say. [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: Armstrong?
MR. WILLIAMS: The President needs to tell the American people why they should give him another four-year investment, how he’s going to create jobs, turn the economy around, deal with that disastrous situation in Libya, and forget about Romney. Talk about why he’s deserving of more trust. That’s the real issue.
MR. MARTIN: Julianne?
DR. MALVEAUX: 7.8 percent unemployment rate. First time it’s gone beho- — below 8 percent. I don’t think the President has to justify himself around the economy, but what I think he has to do to capture the American people is to be engaged, to be involved and to smack Romney down the same way Romney attempted to smack him down.
MR. MARTIN: I – I –
MR. WILLIAMS: Achieved it.
MR. MARTIN: — I believe –
MR. MARTIN: — I believe – first of all, I believe –
MR. MARTIN: — that – I believe the Vice President, by – by him going so hard, allows the President –
MS. RYE: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — not to have to go there. And I think what happens on Tuesday – I do think he’ll be a lot firmer. He’ll be a lot clearer.
But the format also will be different, because you’ll be actually talking to a voter, talking to a constituent, as opposed to dealing with a debate moderator. That’s going to change it a bit there. And so, again, I think we’ll see a lot better debate.
Mitt Romney also likely will be challenged on the shifting position – that he’s changed from that first debate to who he is now. So, we’ll see what happens.
Rodell, Angela, Armstrong, Julianne, we appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.