- Plouffe Denies Democrats Are the Problem
- Romney Spokesman Defends Candidate
- Cain: 9-9-9 Plan Will Drive Down Costs
- Plouffe: Romney Has 'No Core' on Issues
- Cain: Voters 'Genuinely Enthused' Over His Run
- Paul: Phasing Out Student Loans Won't Hurt Access to College
- Bachmann Confident on Iowa Primary
- Perry Sharply Criticial of Dec. 31 Iraq Withdrawal
- Perry 'Not Worried a Bit' Over More Obama Debates
- Perry Defends Flat-Tax Rate
3:16. Plouffe Denies Democrats Are the Problem
White House senior adviser David Plouffe talked up President Obama’s achievements in spite of a Congress that has achieved little success in creating jobs, but dismissed administration comments that Democrats are part of that problem.
“Sure, there's been times, obviously, when not everybody in the Democratic Party here in Washington has agreed with everything the President's done. But right now, you've got Democrats in the Senate, in the House, Democratic governors and mayor, who are standing in unison,” Plouffe told David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Plouffe was responding to comments White House chief of staff Bill Daley made to Politico that Democrats had played a part in making it difficult for Obama to be a “chief executive.”
“What I think Bill would tell you is in the moment we're in right now, trying to pass [the president’s jobs bill], trying to reduce the deficit in the right way, trying to do everything we can to help the middle class. It's the Republican Party here in Washington that's the problem,” Plouffe said.
Plouffe also came close to accusing Republicans of working to keep the economy in bad shape in order to unseat Obama in the 2012 elections.
“Right now, you've got a Republican Party in Washington that almost seems to think the economy—is in urgent shape,” Plouffe said. “Every independent economist who's looking at the Republican jobs plan in Washington says it wouldn't do anything to create jobs in the short term.”
Plouffe also dismissed questions on whether the president was in a “funk,” on the campaign trail last week.
“The president is saying the country's been through a tough time, obviously. And we're going to have to go out there, and we're going to have a tough election. But I think for our supporters--one of the other things he said at these events he did on the political side, was he promised change. And that's exactly what he's delivered,” Plouffe said.
-- Meghan McCarthy
2:52. Romney Spokesman Defends Candidate
A campaign spokesman for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defended the GOP presidential candidate on Sunday after White House adviser David Plouffe said on NBC's Meet the Press that Romney has "no core" on his campaign issues.
"Americans won't be fooled by false and negative attacks," said the spokesman, Ryan Williams. "They know that President Obama has failed, and they are eager to replace him with a leader like Mitt Romney who can turn around our struggling economy."
-- David Kent
12:18. Cain: 9-9-9 Plan Will Drive Down Costs
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Sunday defended his 9-9-9 flat-tax plan, saying it would lower the costs for consumers by eliminating "invisible" taxes.
The former pizza executive also said he did not change the plan earlier this month by setting the income tax rate to zero for Americans at or below the poverty line. “We’ve always had a provision,” Cain said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Cain objected to arguments that 9-9-9 would have middle- and lower-income Americans paying more in taxes, thanks to the national sales tax. Cain said the 9 percent sales tax would help eradicate “invisible embedded taxes,” and cited estimates from unnamed economists that those invisible taxes added up to 30 percent to 40 percent of the cost of goods.
“The cost of goods will actually go down … we have some educating of the public to do” on that, Cain said. “We would rather take on the task of explaining it, because it's the right thing to do.”
Cain also solidified his position on several policy fronts, after making contradictory comments over the past few weeks. He said he did not actually support building an electrified fence on the U.S.-Mexican border, but said a fence of some kind would be a vital part of dealing with the nation’s illegal immigration problem.
He also said he did not support any kind of abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger. That position puts him right of many other Republicans, including the House leadership.
“I am pro-life from conception. Period,” Cain said. The candidate also backed statement he made that the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood was actually a “planned genocide,” that aimed to keep black babies from being born.
“I still stand by that,” Cain said. “Seventy-five percent of those facilities were built in the black community,” Cain claimed.
On foreign policy, Cain echoed a similar theme from Republican candidates on the announced withdrawal of American troops from Iraq on Dec. 31.
“A responsible commander in chief would go to the commanders on the ground and ask: ‘Should we continue with this or should we modify it?’” Cain said. “I’m not convinced the commanders on the ground agree with that strategy.”
-- Meghan McCarthy
11:51. Plouffe: Romney Has 'No Core' on Issues
White House senior adviser David Plouffe on Sunday said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has “no core” when it comes to taking a firm stance on difficult issues.
“Issue after issue after issue, he’s moved all over the place,” Plouffe said on NBC’s Meet the Press, citing the former Massachusetts governor’s shifts to the right on climate change, gay marriage, and abortion.
“What you need in that office is conviction, you need to have a true compass, and you’ve got to be willing to make tough calls,” Plouffe said. “You get the sense that if he had to say the sky was green and the grass was blue to win an election, he’d do it.”
Romney is in a virtual tie for the GOP lead with former pizza executive Herman Cain in a Des Moines Register poll released on Saturday.
-- David Kent
11:21. Cain: Voters 'Genuinely Enthused' Over His Run
Current Republican front-runner Herman Cain on Sunday tried to convince viewers that his top spot in the Republican field was not a fluke, but a result of genuine support from voters.
On CBS’s Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer put that question to Cain from the start: Do Republicans really like Cain, or do they just not like the other leader for the Republican nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney?
“I don’t think that’s the driving force,” Cain told Schieffer. “They are genuinely enthused about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. Americans want to feel proud again, and they don’t feel proud right now.”
Cain topped a Saturday poll from the Des Moines Register, getting 23 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 22 percent.
Schieffer took Cain to task for a bizarre Internet campaign ad that shows Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, taking a long drag of a cigarette.
“One of the themes [of the campaign] is let Herman be Herman,” Cain said. “Mark Block is a smoker. So let Mark be Mark ... I don’t have a problem if that’s his choice.”
Cain said the ad was not intended to make smoking “look cool,” after Schieffer said he objected to the ad, especially because he is a cancer survivor. Cain would not pledge to take the ad off his website—saying once it was on the Internet, it was impossible to erase it forever—but said smoking was bad.
“Young people, all people: Do not smoke. It is hazardous and it is dangerous to your health … it is not a cool thing to do,” Cain proclaimed on the show.
-- Meghan McCarthy
11:09. Paul: Phasing Out Student Loans Won't Hurt Access to College
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, on Sunday defended his proposal to gradually phase out federally-backed student loans over time as a way to get a handle on inflation if elected president.
“The problem is, college costs too much,” the presidential candidate said on CNN’s State of the Union. Putting government funding into education, he said, ultimately raises the price of education, adding that with hundreds of thousands of students graduating without jobs and in debt, student loans amount to a “failed policy.”
He denied that eliminating such a program would deny students’ access to a good education. For many years, he said, students could work way through college, but “it wasn’t so expensive.” Paul also argued that those who do never get a college education should not have to be taxed to pay for those who do.
The presidential candidate also said he had “no plans whatsoever” to run as a third-party candidate, and hedged when asked of the electability of fellow Republican candidates Michele Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
-- David Kent
10:43. Bachmann Confident on Iowa Primary
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a former leader for the Republican presidential nomination, said on Sunday she was still on target to win the Iowa primary.
Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll in August, but finished in fourth place in a Des Moines Register poll released on Saturday, with only 8 percent of the vote, far behind Herman Cain at 23 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at 22 percent.
“We’re doing exactly what we need to do,” Bachmann told Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week. “I just want to remind you I won the Iowa straw poll,” Bachmann said.
“We’re not worried about the day-to-day snapshots, we’re focused on the primary dates,” Bachmann said. “I don’t flip-flop, I stand strong on issues and I fight, and that is what we need in the White House.”
Amanpour pressed Bachmann on her foreign-policy claims, particularly that an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States was an act of war.
“I wouldn’t take my eye off the fundamental problem in the Middle East, which is Iran seeking to gain a nuclear weapon,” like President Obama has.
Bachmann also defended her opposition to American involvement in Libya, even after the death of ex-Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi.
“Clearly this was a about regime change, that was the focus of the president and now we have a mess in Libya,” Bachmann said. “There’s tremendous uncertainty and chaos … that’s when you see trouble and extremist elements.”
-- Meghan McCarthy
10:22. Perry Sharply Criticial of Dec. 31 Iraq Withdrawal
Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged an assertion by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that a Perry campaign ad pledge to create 2.5 million jobs would be “terrible” because it set the bar too low to stay even with population growth.
“I don’t believe that for a minute, that is absolutely false on its face,” Perry said in the Sunday morning interview. He said that if he had promised to create 10.5 million jobs, Wallace would be calling his plan unrealistic. Once Americans know they can pay their taxes on a postcard—a key feature of Perry’s 20 percent flat-tax plan, highlighting how easy it would be to calculate a tax bill—jobs would return to America, Perry said.
“I know what happens, in Texas we’ve seen it, and Americans are dying for a president who understands,” Perry said.
Perry also criticized President Obama’s announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year.
“The idea of a commander in chief signaling to the enemy when you are pulling out is irresponsible,” Perry said in the interview. “He has lost his standing,” among generals on the ground, Perry said, and has no idea “what’s going on in those theaters.”
Perry emphasized his “consistent” conservative principles in comparison to front-runner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but said he’s changed his mind since a 2008 effort to get federal funds for a nuclear plant in Texas, and believes the federal government should have no role in funding the energy industry.
“We were asking at that particular time for the federal government to support the nuclear industry in Texas,” Perry said. “But from a general standpoint, any type of federal dollars flowing into these industries is bad public policy.”
-- Meghan McCarthy
9:55. Perry 'Not Worried a Bit' Over More Obama Debates
On Fox News Sunday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry acknowledged his poor performance at Republican presidential debates, and said the 18 debates scheduled through the end of the year was overkill.
“I think its way too many debates, frankly. It takes an incredible amount of time and preparation and what have you,” he said.
“We’ve got a great debater—a smooth politician—in the White House right now,” and that has not worked well for the country, Perry said.
When pushed if he could stand up to President Obama in a general debate, Perry was confident he could hold his own.
“I’m not worried a bit that I’ll be able to stand on the stage with Barack Obama and draw a very bright line,” Perry said. “He’s an individual who lost 2.5 million jobs for this country … his experiment with the American economy turned it into an absolutely Frankenstein experience,” Perry said.
-- Meghan McCarthy
9:49. Perry Defends Flat-Tax Rate
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the former front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, took to the airwaves on Sunday morning in an effort to save his faltering campaign.
Perry entered the race showing high poll numbers in August, but two months and several poor debate performances later, Perry is lagging behind other candidates like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. In a Saturday poll from the Des Moines Register, Perry lagged Cain, who took 23 percent, and Romney, who took 22 percent, with only 7 percent of the vote.
“In the last two weeks, they’ve actually got to put the meat on the bone,” Perry told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and said his 20 percent flat-tax plan would do just that.
“Americans will say, ‘Not only is this a great plan … this fella’s got the record of doing it. That’s what we need in the White House,’ ” Perry said.
Perry defended his ability to balance the budget by 2020, even as his 20 percent flat-tax plan would bring in $4.7 trillion less in revenue, saying it would take a president with the “courage” to cut nearly $1 trillion from the budget each year of his first administration.
He suggested combining elementary and secondary education programs within the Education Department and delegating more responsibilities to states to as a place to save $25 billion, but could not name other specific cuts after that to reach $1 trillion in cuts.
Perry also praised a budget-slashing plan from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and urged viewers to look it up online.
-- Meghan McCarthy