On this Sunday’s Meet the Press, David Gregory hosted Newt Gingrich and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley to discuss the state of the 2012 campaign, especially the raging debate over Mitt Romney’s private-equity experience.
He also offered a remarkably positive assessment of Romney’s chances, saying that “given this economy, this level of deficits, this level of debt,” he is confident that Romney could “pull away” this fall. He asserted that Romney is “a very good organizer; he can raise money on a scale that could match Obama, [which] I couldn’t.” Newt also noted that he considers Romney “a quick study. When I beat him in South Carolina, he figured out what to do.”
O’Malley offered a dramatically different assessment, arguing that Romney “has two things to recommend himself to the office” of president, neither of which works: his work at Bain, where his goal was to “return profits as quickly as possible to a very narrow few rather than create long-term jobs for the many,” and his “public-sector record” in Massachusetts, suggesting several times that Romney’s gubernatorial ecord on job creation and debt management was weak.
On Bain, Newt countered that Obama, regardless, “has no model of effective job creation” and “no alternative to private capital.” Gingrich, despite his one-time attacks on Governor Romney about the private-equity business, argued that Obama’s attacks won’t work now. He explained that it “doesn’t work because people look at it in balance and they say, ‘Yeah, you can pick a couple companies that lost. You can pick a lot of companies that succeeded.’”
#more#The Maryland Democrat, on the other hand, suggested that Romney’s wealth-creation experience is irrelevant to the model of economic growth that Obama envisions, in which creating jobs in a “modern economy” requires the government to “innovate, invest in education, invest in infrastructure. You can’t do less.” Gregory quickly questioned him whether that means “in Obama’s second term, government spends more because it has to.” O’Malley rejected this, claiming that Obama’s job-creation record is a result of his “leadership,” and that Romney’s proposal is “a return to the days of George W. Bush” (which, one should note, involved lavish spending on education, etc.).
David Gregory pointed out, in response to the governor’s assertion that Romney’s private-sector experience does not qualify him for “job creation” as president, that President Obama has put private-equity executives on his jobs council, and that O’Malley has tapped other private-equity tycoons for Maryland economic-development positions. O’Malley admitted that “of course [PE executives] know what they’re talking about,” but the role of the president is somehow “different.”
When asked about his own possible presidential ambitions in 2016, O’Malley quickly pivoted to emphasizing his role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, which involves pushing for the election of Tom Barrett in Wisconsin’s recall. O’Malley rattled off several talking points about the Badger State battle, claiming that “the polls are dramatically narrowing” in favor of Barrett, and noting that Wisconsin is “50th out of 50 states in job creation” and that Republican Scott Walker is “the only sitting governor with a legal defense fund.”
Finally, when Gregory asked Gingrich what advice he might give to O’Malley about running for president, the former candidate was direct: “Raise a lot of money.” On the question of his own chances at the vice presidency, Gingrich was dismissive, telling Gregory, “I find it as implausible as you find it.”
Later in the program, the discussion panel returned to the question of whether Romney’s Bain Capital experience qualifies him for the presidency. Carly Fiorina, former Senate candidate and former CEO of Hewlett Packard, launched into a cutting critique of this debate: She argued, “[Obama] is a man who went to the American people and said, ‘I’m a community organizer, an untenured law professor, and a junior senator,’ and presented himself as qualified. Meanwhile, his campaign suggests that “Mitt Romney, governor of a major state, with 25 years in private sector, isn’t qualified? I don’t think it’s going to work.”