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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview with Newt Gingrich; Interview with Dianne Feinstein, Mike Rogers; Interview with Ted Strickland, Tom Davis

Aired May 6, 2012 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Newt leaves the field but may need practice as a team player.

Today, Newt Gingrich on the fall campaign and his tepid endorsement of Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I'm asked sometimes is Mitt Romney conservative enough, and my answer is simple, compared to Barack Obama?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Virginia.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Ohio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And battleground politics was former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis.

Then gauging the power of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Afghan government with the chairs of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Mike Rogers.

Plus the anemic recovery and the election with the national journal's Major Garrett and economist Alice Rivlin, and Douglas Holtz- Eakin.

I'm Candy Crowley and this is State of the Union.

Republican leaders and former rivals are gathering around Mitt Romney's candidacy, but the coalescing lacks a certain warm and fuzzy feature.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: Compared to Barack Obama I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.

JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He's the guy. He called. I called him back. We kind of traded some voice mails.

RICK SANTORUM, FRM. REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM PA: He's the person that is going to go up against Barack Obama. It's pretty clear. And we need to win this race.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: I am joined by the latest candidate to exit the race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Thanks for being here this morning.

GINGRICH: Good to be here.

CROWLEY: So my question is these have not been warm embraces. And it was a tough campaign, and I get that that's a tough step to take, but do you think that it's time now to try to bring those who would follow you and say, listen to me, I do embrace this guy in a whole manner, because he needs to move on, doesn't he, to get into the fall campaign?

GINGRICH: I think what he did this weekend is exactly right. He needs to draw the contrast with Barack Obama whose campaign lunch I thought was an absurdity.

CROWLEY: Why?

GINGRICH: Well, this is a president who talked about hope and change. What are the changes? More Americans lost their jobs than since the Great Depression. More Americans lost their homes than any time in history. More Americans are in poverty than any time since the Great Depression. Higher gasoline prices. And these are the changes under Barack Obama.

CROWLEY: Okay. Let me just -- you know that the president's team is going to say, listen, we have, you know, added jobs to this economy that we were hemorrhaging when he started, which is a fact. I mean, they were hemorrhages jobs when he took over from George W. Bush, and he has added jobs, not enough jobs, which they concede but he's added jobs, and people are being a little more bullish on the economy, and that's where this election is decided.

So doesn't he sit pretty well?

GINGRICH: And I think he sits very badly once the facts are out because the truth is the unemployment rate -- if he had the same number of people in the workforce that we had on the day he was sworn in, it would be over 10 percent unemployment. What Obama has succeeded in doing is actually driving people out of the workforce. So unemployment is down because there are fewer people looking for a job.

But there's a deeper part. There is no recovery since World War II that is as weak and as lacking in jobs as this recovery. Now, if he wanted to campaign in 2010 and say it was George W. Bush's fault, that's one thing, but after four years, can you imagine Ronald Reagan in 1984 saying, oh, it's all Jimmy Carter's fault?

CROWLEY: Well, but it -- I want to move on because I want to ask you about Mitt Romney, but it is true that he came into a situation that no modern U.S. president has come into.

GINGRICH: And he has made it worse.

CROWLEY: How bad the economy is.

Let me ask you, is there anything to -- that Mitt Romney could do for you that would make you support him publicly more wholesomely?

GINGRICH: Well, I thought the other day when I gave my speech suspending the campaign I was pretty clear... CROWLEY: But you said he's better than the president.

GINGRICH: But that's the first thing you want to say to people is, look, this is not some magic show. You're either going to get Barack Obama or you're going to get Mitt Romney. Now, I don't see how any conservative given that choice could end up favoring Barack Obama, and that's what it's going to come down to.

Mitt Romney has many strong things. First of all, he won. You know, I didn't win. Rick Perry didn't win. Michele Bachmann didn't win. Rick Santorum didn't win. You have to have some respect for a guy who spent six years of his life, put together a serious national campaign, made the case. In the two debates that were decisive, frankly, he beat me. I beat him in a lot of other debates but when it got to the crunch and he had to do it or die, he did it. And so I have great respect for him.

I think that the -- and I'm not quite sure what the magic words as you all in the media want out of me so let me say this. I believe that Mitt Romney will be a dramatically better president for the United States than Barack Obama. I believe that he has earned the right to represent the Republican Party and he's earned it the hard way. He has fought his way to the nomination. Nobody gave him an inch.

CROWLEY: And do you want something from him? Are you willing to -- do you want to speak at the convention? Do you need help with your debt? Is there any kind of that negotiation going on?

GINGRICH: No, no. There's no negotiation. If they think I'm helpful speaking at the convention, I'm glad to do it. I've done lots of conventions in my career and as we're proving this morning I can get on TV fairly often with or without speaking at the convention. Obviously I'd love help with paying off the debt. I'd love help from anybody. I don't think President Obama is not going to do it, but anybody want to go to Newt.org we're grateful.

But I approach this from a very different angle, I have been active as a Republican since 1958 when I was between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. I believe the Republican Party's very important to our future. What I want Mitt Romney to do is help us to achieve a victory in the Senate, the House, and the presidency, and then I want him to give my grandchildren a better future than they're going to get under Barack Obama. That's all i ask out of him.

CROWLEY: Do you have a date set to campaign with him? GINGRICH: We're talking about several dates and several major events we're going to do together. I have said to the campaign I will be available at their convenience to do anything they want me to do because they're in charge. This is their campaign. They've got to win it. And I have got to be there as an associate, but I'm not the leader. Mitt Romney is the leader.

CROWLEY: Would you be number two?

GINGRICH: Oh, I can't imagine it. You've known me for years. Would you pick me to be number two?

CROWLEY: That's a wholly different story. Let's deal with the reality of it, would you be Mitt Romney's number two?

GINGRICH: I think Romney is going to look for somebody who is younger. I think he's got somebody like Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio. You look at a Susana Martinez, Bobby Jindal, or you look at somebody like Mitch Daniel. We have a really -- we have a big, deep bench now.

CROWLEY: You brought up the senate. And I want to ask you about a particular senate primary race that is coming in Indiana. It is the battle of Richard Mourdock, who is a Tea Party backed candidate, Senator Dick Lugar who has been in the Senate for decades. I mean, I think at least six elections. So in the Senate that's decades.

It now appears that Lugar is ten points behind. Our latest poll showing 38 percent Dick Lugar, 38 percent Richard Mourdock. Who do you like in that race?

GINGRICH: Well, I've known both of them for a long time. Mourdock is a very aggressive conservative. He has been campaigning very, very hard. And he does represent the kind of Tea Party change oriented momentum. And my hunch is that Mourdock is probably going to win. But I think it's one of those places where people want more change and they're not comfortable -- and they have a governor who has brought tremendous changes. So they have a real model of change in Mitch Daniels.

CROWLEY: Are you a supporter of Mourdock or a supporter of Lugar?

GINGRICH: I have not gotten involved in primaries.

CROWLEY: Do you think that if this means that seat in Indiana comes in play in the general election...

GINGRICH: Oh, it won't. Whoever wins will win the Republican nomination is going to win the general election in Indiana.

CROWLEY: Indiana went Democratic last time around. GINGRICH: It was a fluke. They won't Democratic this time.

CROWLEY: We'll see. I'll have to see you on that. Do you think -- I want to talk about the Tea Party in general. They have not had -- Mitt Romney certainly was not their big pick for the Republican primary race at the presidential level. It looks like Orrin Hatch in Utah is going to survive what was a much stronger showing for the Tea Party when it came to a previous senator who was unseated. Do you think the Tea Party has lost power?

We're also looking at polls showing that people have a less favorable view of the Tea Party now.

GINGRICH: I think the effort to attack the Tea Party has had an impact. My experience at the Tea Parties has been overwhelmingly, they're serious. They study the constitution, the Declaration of Independence.

I mean, I find them to be very serious citizens everywhere I go in the country. And I think the Tea Parties have added a lot, and I think you will see in certain races that they are still very, very important.

CROWLEY: They seem to have faded a bit, though, would you agree with that?

GINGRICH: But they don't have passion they had in 2010 partially I think out of frustration with having won the House and not seeing the scale of change they want. I mean, this is a very complex form of government and there are times when it takes longer to get something done than people would like.

CROWLEY: I want to -- there was an editorial in The L.A. Times today from former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. And in part he said an inclusive party would welcome the party's most conservative activists right alongside its most liberal activists. There is room for those whose views, I think, make them sound like cavemen and there is also room for us in the center with views the traditionalists probably think make us sound like progressive softies.

So it was a couple of folks that had been Republicans and couldn't stand how closed and how small they thought the tent was in the Republican Party.

Do you have a problem with being inclusive? Because most people do look at Republicans going they are a conservative bunch of white guys who want to protect Big Oil, and now you're even hearing Republicans saying it's not big enough, we haven't opened up the tent door.

GINGRICH: You know, you probably ought to get somebody like Tim Scott or Allen West to come and talk about being a bunch of white guys, since they're both African-American Congressmen, but I would just say -- or Marco Rubio or Susana Martinez.

CROWLEY: It's not as diverse as the Democratic Party. You'd concede that.

GINGRICH: Yes. It's not as -- although the Democratic Party has no room for a right-to-life speech at the national convention.

CROWLEY: Well, lest we get off topic --

GINGRICH: I'm just saying -- no, but I think it's important. Lack of diversity in the Democratic Party is ignored because they define diversity one way. The fact that the Republican Party has Rudy Giuliani, who is I think one of the most widely admired people in the Republican Party and who clearly is far more moderate on a number of issues than Mitt Romney or certainly than Rick Santorum.

I think we have very broad range of people that we're proud to have as Republicans and there's not an automatic litmus test, although we are largely a pro-life party and we're largely -- we're definitely a pro-balanced budget and pro-smaller government party.

CROWLEY: Former speaker Newt Gingrich, former presidential campaigner. Next chapter to be determined. Thank you so much for dropping by. Appreciate it.

Virginia and Ohio, two swing states on the candidates' minds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Virginians are not going to be fooled.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ohio, this election will be even closer than last.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: You are forgiven if you think the 2012 election campaign began months ago, but the Obama re-election team says it officially kicked off yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Hello, Virginia.

It is good to be back in Ohio!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Ohio and Virginia have 31 electoral votes between them, along with political and economic landscapes that make them battlegrounds. Ohio unemployment has been dropping for eight straight months. It has tracked below the national average.

But voters there say when it comes to the economy the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, would do a better job than the president. The proof of Ohio's importance in electoral strategy? The president has visited there 21 times since taking office, more than any other state that doesn't neighbor Washington.

Virginia is just a trip across the bridge for the president, and he takes that trip frequently. Mitt Romney will be a regular as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: You're going to hear it all, right here in Virginia. This may well be the state that decides who the next president is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: At the moment Romney trails Obama by seven points in Virginia. Not only is the ground game already at full tilt in both states, the air war is under way as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney stood with Big Oil for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said I don't care how long it's going to takes, we're going to find her. He set up a command center and searched through the night. The man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on battleground politics next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me is Ohio's former governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, and Republican Tom Davis, a former Virginia Congressman.

Gentlemen, thanks both.

Governor, let me start with you, and I want to put up an Ohio Quinnipiac poll recently. If the election were held today, President Obama, 44 percent; President -- sorry, Republican nominee Romney, 42 percent. It is essentially a tie in a state which has a fairly good unemployment rate at this point, about 7.5 percent.

That's not great, but it's below the national average. Why is the president having trouble there?

STRICKLAND: Well, I don't know that he's having trouble, Candy, but Ohio is a battleground, and no candidate and no party can ever take Ohio for granted. So this is going to be a very close election. But I think the president's pretty well-positioned. His saving of the auto industry is a big deal for Ohio.

CROWLEY: Sure.

STRICKLAND: There are hundreds of thousands of people working today in Ohio because of the auto industry's recovery and the president's been --

(CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: That's why I asked why it's so close. That's why I asked why it's so close, you know, because he did support --

STRICKLAND: Well, I think it's -- yes, I think it's close because of the nature of Ohio. We are a microcosm of America. The country is divided, and the electorate in Ohio is divided as well. It was close the last time. It will be close this time. It's always close in Ohio, and -- but I think the president's well-positioned because he's got a good team on the ground already that they've organized throughout the state of Ohio, and I think his message is resonating. I think it did yesterday as he talked about why he deserves a second term.

Let me -- I want to turn to Virginia and just get the lay of the land there before I get you both in a more general discussion.

CROWLEY: Would it help if Rob Portman were on the ticket with Mitt Romney, would it help him in a close race in Ohio?

STRICKLAND: I think it may help marginally, but I don't think it would guarantee that Mr. Romney would carry Ohio.

CROWLEY: Right.

STRICKLAND: Rob Portman I described as a very conservative guy with wonderfully good manners, but I don't think he has the kind of standing throughout Ohio that would guarantee that he would carry the day for Mitt Romney.

CROWLEY: Enough standing anyway to make him the sitting senator, but we'll get back to that.

I want to show some Virginia polls here for you, congressman. If the election were held today, President Obama, 51 percent, Mitt Romney, 44 percent.

Virginia up until the last presidential election was a conservative place. What's happened?

DAVIS: Well, a couple things. First of all, President Obama skewed the turnout level by just bringing African-American voters out in droves driving it from about 14 percent of the electorate to 18, 19 percent. And the college town turnout across Virginia, even traditional Republican towns like Radford and Harrisonburg, both came out in droves for President Obama.

CROWLEY: So it got more Democratic, basically. I mean -- you know, more people came out to vote.

DAVIS: Absolutely. Now of course all those college students are gone and they got to reregister them. You don't have the same level of enthusiasm. I think the African-American turnout will be there for him. And then in Northern Virginia he ran overwhelmingly last time carrying it 233,000 votes, that's part of the wealthiest part of the country. He's not going to do as well there this next time, but it's going to be a battleground.

Virginia is going to be a genuine battleground at this point, and Northern Virginia is going to be key for Governor Romney. But, remember, this is part of the wealthiest part of the country. When you start putting a bull's-eye on people making over $100,000, $250,000 a year, that's where they live and I think it's going to be some problems for the president moving down the line. CROWLEY: The March unemployment rate in Virginia was 5.8 which, you know, compared to a lot of other states is great. I'm assuming that may help President Obama in the state.

I want to...

DAVIS: Well, it does. I think it's a credit to our governor, you know, who has brought a lot of jobs in, and the fact that the federal government continues to spend money and in the Northern Virginia suburbs, that's where the economy is, it's with government.

CROWLEY: And I want to read you something from our James Carville. As you know, he's a Democratic strategist. He told the Richmond Times Dispatch, "we," meaning Democrats, "can lose Virginia and still win. But if we win Virginia, we win the presidency. It is a must-win swing state for Republicans. If Obama wins Virginia, call the dogs in and pee on the fire because it's over."

Just a little colorful James Carville there for you all. Do you agree that Virginia is a linchpin without which the Romney campaign collapses?

DAVIS: I don't. But I think -- as I said -- I think Governor Romney will carry Virginia. I think you just have to take a look at the demographics and the voter turnout model that the president brings out in Virginia driving up particularly African-American and minority turnout that in a presidential year Democrats do much better there.

It's contrary to Ohio and Colorado and some of these other states at this point.

It's going to be a battle ground, though. And I think Governor Romney is going to carry it at the end of the day.

CROWLEY: Governor Strickland, I want to read you back something you hold "The Huffington Post" a couple years ago at the end of 2010. "I think there is a hesitancy" -- you're talking about the Democrats at this point -- "I think there is a hesitancy to talk using populist language. I think it has to do with a sort of intellectual elitism that considers that kind of talk is somehow lacking in sophistication. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I think it's there. There's an unwillingness to draw a line in the sand."

I just want to remind our viewers that you lost your election in Ohio as did I think five U.S. Democratic congressmen who lost their races in Ohio in a Republican sweep.

Has the party changed vis-a-vis its language?

STRICKLAND: Oh, the president's message is right on target right now as far as I'm concerned. He's talking about women. He's talking about students. He's talking about a fair tax code. And as I said, you know, he's talking about manufacturing, and he saved the auto industry. So the president's message is resonating right now I think not only in Ohio, but across the country. I think when the voters see the comparison between Mr. Romney's agenda, which is basically going back to the bush era approach to the economy and President Obama's active approach in moving us forward.

I think the president's got a good message right now. He's strong, he's confident. And, quite frankly, I think people are responding to that.

CROWLEY: And finally, congressman, to you. You spoke to News Channel 8 here in Washington recently in early March, and you had this to say about your nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS: He may not shall able to feel your pain and empathize with people but do you want that or do you want somebody who is out to accomplish some things and is going to take tough decisions, which the country needs. I think that's the narrative of who he is and who he has to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So congressman, you also said if there were -- if he had a fire side chat, he'd put the fire out. The problem here, you are a smart politician, you know that understanding and feeling the pain of voters and showing, I get it, I'll do something, is just almost as key as the policies. How can he possibly win voters in Virginia or anywhere else if he is that aloof of a person as you describe.

DAVIS: Well, he's a very accomplished person. He worked with a Democratic legislature in Massachusetts accomplishing some great things. People are looking for bipartisanship at that level and people solving problems, not just making speeches and charisma. And my point was this is an accomplished person turned around the Olympics, turned around Massachusetts, turned around companies. And I think people are looking for answers now as government gets so gridlocked.

And he may not be the most charismatic... CROWLEY: But you have to have some juice to campaign, don't you?

DAVIS: Yes. But what you've seen on the other side is nothing but juice and nothing but rhetoric. Four years ago they were running against Bush, against the wars, against a bad economy. Now they've had four years to govern. The narrative is completely different.

And I think Governor Romney is the right person at the right time. I mean, we'll see. And I think these primaries have been a good training ground for him. But he's hitting his stride now. It's going to be a close race.

CROWLEY: Former Congressman Tom Davis, former Governor Ted Strickland, thank you both. I think we'll be talking about Ohio and Virginia for many months to come. I hope you will come back. Thank you.

The enemy in Afghanistan emboldened by U.S. forces bad behavior?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: They concern us because our enemies will seek to turn the them -- these incidents in their favor. At the very moment that they are losing the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And President Obama's plan to get out of Afghanistan relies on Afghan forces taking over. Will they be ready? We ask the leaders of the congressional intelligence committees who met this week with Afghan President Karzai.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: I'm joined now by the heads of Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan. They are both just back from Afghanistan.

So thank you for joining us despite what may be some sleep deprivation. Let me first start with something that we talked about a little earlier, and that is I was really struck by the defense chief, Leon Panetta, instructing some troops that were about to go over to Afghanistan and saying, you know, behave yourselves.

Here is a little of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I need every one of you, every one of you, and all of your fellow service members to always display the strongest character, the greatest discipline, and the utmost integrity in everything you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: I know that Eisenhower was not defense chief, but I found this highly unusual, and it made me think that the damage done by the accidental burning of the Quran, which was not done as a men behaving badly, but then you had, you know, the urinating on the bodies of dead soldiers -- of dead Afghans, of posing with body parts.

I mean, there has just been sort of time after time of just really bad behavior. Has this taken a toll? And part of why I ask is we now have another incident apparently in Afghanistan where someone dressed in an Afghan government uniform, a military uniform, has apparently shot someone with the NATO troops, the coalition troops.

So I wonder if the damage has been so bad from these things that, A, Pentagon chief has to say, behave, and, B, we're still having some real problems over there.

FEINSTEIN: I think there's damage. There's no question to that. There's damage to our integrity. There's damage to the military. And there's damage to our mission. There's also no question that the overwhelming bulk of our military are real professionals, and I think the people there see it. We talked with General Allen, Mike, and he pointed out that he went into the area and expected the leadership to talk with them and say how upset they were. Instead, what they talked about was, we hope you'll stay, we need you, we hope you'll stay.

So I think it's a mixed bag. I think that Secretary Panetta is absolutely right in what he said. It has got to be listened to and it has got to be adhered to.

CROWLEY: Does it just strike you as unusual that we have to tell grown men and women going overseas, behave yourselves, don't do these sorts of things?

ROGERS: Well, he didn't really say, behave yourselves. He was -- as a young army officer, it's always instilled to you about integrity, the military ethos of respect and discipline and acting correctly. And I think he was reinforcing that.

And in the military, and that's what sets us apart from every other military in the world, is we pride ourselves on that good discipline, on that good order, and on our good success. And I think what you saw there was reiterating, hey, this is who we are as a military force, that's why we're so good.

Those incidents are unfortunate, but as the senator said, they are a small part of who our United States military footprint is.

CROWLEY: You were just over in Afghanistan. You did speak with President Karzai. First, I want to ask you, how does he assess the relative strength of the Taliban? I know you and the president have different visions of whether the president thinks they're weaker, you think they're stronger. I want to get your opinion and then find out what President Karzai thinks.

FEINSTEIN: Well, President Karzai believes that the Taliban will not come back. I'm not so sure. The Taliban has a shadow system of governors in many provinces. They've gone up north. They've gone to the east. Attacks are up. The number...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: So they are stronger now.

FEINSTEIN: ... of people attacking out of Miramshah have killed over 500 of our people. So there is a strength. Now let me say something about that strength because this is where Pakistan enters the equation. The Pakistani radical madrassas are fueling a new generation of fighter. So that an insurgency which one can expect will burn itself out after a period of time, will not necessarily burn out...

CROWLEY: New recruits.

FEINSTEIN: ... because there are new recruits, that's right.

So we were not able to go to Pakistan. I think that was a huge mistake for us because if we had the chance to talk to the Pakistani leader, to say, look, we want to make things better. Two, we need your help. We need your help on the IED factories. We need your help to see that the Haqqani in North Waziristan is stopped. We need your help with Miramshah. We didn't have that chance.

CROWLEY: So can I just -- do you think that comparing it to when the surge came in Afghanistan, when the president sent more troops in, is the Taliban now weaker or stronger?

FEINSTEIN: I think we'd both say that what we found is that the Taliban is stronger.

ROGERS: Yes.

CROWLEY: So how...

FEINSTEIN: Agree?

ROGERS: Yes, I do agree with you.

CROWLEY: ... are we going to ever leave -- you both agree with this. I'm assuming you both have information that I don't have, and I'm wondering, A, why the president has said they're weaker now, and, B, what that means for U.S. withdrawal?

ROGERS: Well, we have to decide, and we're going to have to have a hard conversation in America. Are we willing to leave and have a safe haven re-form in Afghanistan?

We have to remember, this is tied back...

CROWLEY: By re-form you mean re-dash-form.

ROGERS: Yes, exactly. This is a huge problem. And what we have found is maybe the policies, the announced date of withdrawal, the negotiations with the Taliban, have worked against what our endgame is here. And we ought to have a hard discussion about saying, listen, war is when one side wins and one side loses.

And if we don't get to that calculation for a strategic defeat of the Taliban, you're not going to get to the place where you can rest assured you come home and a safe haven does not re-establish itself.

And, remember, this was about U.S. citizens having to decide to burn alive in a building or jump to their death. That's why we're in Afghanistan. It is in our national security interests and we had better align or policies, and I think that's what the Senator and I both saw, we need to do a better job of aligning those policies to say, the first priority here is to deny safe haven.

And that means a strategic defeat of the Taliban and we have to also defeat the safe havens in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

FEINSTEIN: Let me just say one thing, the two good things I think we saw was, one, the professionalism of the Afghan military is increasing dramatically. CROWLEY: Will they be ready by next year so the U.S. can't stop combat?

FEINSTEIN: That is the belief and General Allen spoke to us for some time, and I was really impressed with what he had to say.

The second thing were young girls in schools. About 40 percent of the school population are young girls. And as you know, Taliban threw acid on them to prevent them from going to school. The Taliban, while we were there, tried to close schools in one province, but as you drove in, you saw young girls in their white scarves holding hands, walking down the street coming from school. That is wonderful to see.

CROWLEY: Quickly, because I have to close this off, unfortunately...

ROGERS: But we abandon those girls if we don't get this right.

FEINSTEIN: That's right.

CROWLEY: Well, that's what I meant to...

ROGERS: If Sharia Law is allowed to come back under the Taliban, these girls are at risk. And that's something we have to talk about.

CROWLEY: So at the same time that we're talking about, oh, listen, we're trying to get the Taliban in to have conversations with the government, you're telling me that the Taliban is stronger and you're worried that we will leave and they will have the strength to re-form regardless of how ready the Afghan troops, is that...

FEINSTEIN: And the Taliban has not been designated as a terrorist organization by our government.

CROWLEY: Well, because we're negotiating with them, right?

ROGERS: Well, and the Haqqanis.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, the Haqqani, I meant to say -- excuse me, I meant to say the Haqqani. And the Haqqani are attacking our troops.

ROGERS: And we both agree that the next important step here in this equation is to designate the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization and take aggressive steps to disrupt their ability.

And the senator is right, they've killed nearly 500 U.S. troops. This is -- they are based in Miramshah. They have outposts along the Pakistani border. They fuel IEDs and other activities. This is something that we've got to be very aggressive to put an end to.

CROWLEY: Congressman Mike Rogers, Senator Dianne Feinstein, both heads of their intelligence committee, come back, because this is too important. Too much has been invested in this not to get it right.

FEINSTEIN: Good to see you, Candy. Thank you. ROGERS: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much.

The two presidential candidates draw different conclusions from the same jobs report.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our businesses have now created more than 4.2 million new jobs over the last 26 months.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a matter of fact, only 115,000 net new jobs are created. That was well beneath what it was expected to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Cutting through the clutter with our experts, after a check of the morning news.

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CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. French voters are deciding whether President Nicolas Sarkozy will keep his job. He's in a runoff today with socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who had a small lead in pre-election polls.

Five 9/11 suspects were arraigned in a military court at Guantanamo Bay yesterday. The men refused to answer the judge's questions, causing a 13-hour courtroom session. The next hearing is in June.

A body has been found at the site of the Kentucky Derby. Louisville police say the body was discovered early this morning at a barn at Churchill Downs. The discovery comes a day after the 138th running of the Derby, which was run in the home stretch by I'll Have Another.

If you had a clear sky last night, you might have been able to see this, a supermoon. NASA says it's about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons, and the supermoon occurs just once a year.

A disappointing jobs report and the presidential race.

Then, the art of the exit.

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CROWLEY: Joining me, economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Alice Rivlin and "National Journal" correspondent -- congressional correspondent Major Garrett. Start off with the economy, new numbers this week, they weren't what they were supposed to be. Barack Obama says, oh, my goodness, these are better, we have to work harder. And Mitt Romney says they should be much higher than this. Who is right? HOLTZ-EAKIN: They should be much higher than this. These are -- this was a bad report. It's a continuation of some trends that I find very troubling. Even when we get a relatively large number of jobs -- and our goals aren't very high right now -- inside the reports we've never had uniformly strong news.

We're not seeing wages go up, we're not seeing ours go up, so we're not seeing incomes go up for those Americans who do have jobs. And so the problem is not just jobs. It's that we're not getting enough income and growth.

CROWLEY: And does that continue, that trend?

RIVLIN: Nobody knows. There's good reason to think that this was an unusually poor report. No way to make it a great report, but they did revise upward the numbers for February and March, and it's quite possible that the bad show in April was partly that we had very good weather in February and March and we did much better there than we usually do.

There's some technical things, but the economy is chugging along. It's not doing well. It depends what you expected. If you expected a roaring boom --

CROWLEY: You didn't get it.

RIVLIN: You didn't get it.

CROWLEY: Right.

RIVLIN: But no one should have expected a roaring boom after this kind of a recession, a deep and bad recession that affected housing particularly.

GARRETT: Candy, let me throw something in the conversation I wrote about last week in my column in the "National Journal," uncertainty. About 12 items that Congress could deal with right now: extending the Bush tax cuts, debt ceiling, sequestration, passing spending bills -- that it's not doing.

And the president seems to be OK with that. So Washington is putting off until the lame duck after this election about 12 huge items, and I have talked to economists, Wall Street, the White House.

If you take up the cumulative economic effect of all these 12 things -- at least 12 -- being held to a very short lame duck session of Congress, it could have three percentage points of GDP effect on this economy. Not happening now, being held until after the election.

One thing I would like to inject in this conversation is Washington intentionally injecting unwanted and harmful uncertainty into this economy.

CROWLEY: And uncertainty has been the problem for -- when you talk to businesses who hire, they say we don't really know what's going to happen. (CROSSTALK)

GARRETT: You don't know what the dividends tax rate is going to be, capital gains, the Bush tax cuts. If you're a family, marriage penalty, child tax credit, debt ceiling -- all these things are being held in abeyance. And Washington seems to be OK with that. Why?

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CROWLEY: Politics, and then move on with you all.

RIVLIN: I don't think anybody's OK with it. Washington it broken. It is gridlocked. It is dreadful. The president's not OK with it. I assume that the Republicans aren't OK with it, either. But we have gotten ourselves into a situation where the parties aren't even talking to each other. And the reason the president isn't pushing very hard on the Congress is he knows he wouldn't get anywhere, and he has other things to do, like get him re-elected.

CROWLEY: But he does -- yes, he does have other things to do, and I think there you have your answer, is that nobody wants the advantage that they think the other guy would get if they did something.

GARRETT: Well, let me ask this...

HOLTZ-EAKIN: This is a big problem. I mean, the numbers are what -- what Major said, and it is a moment when you can acknowledge that the election is important, but the larger leadership goal should be to say, OK, let's take the current policies, extend them for six months so that we don't have this hanging over everyone's head at the end of December, and then whoever wins the election rightfully gets to -- to pick their path (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Let me ask you. It seems to me that we always go back to that Ronald Reagan question, are you better off -- in an election, are you better off now than you were four years ago? Maybe this year, we say, should we be better off now than we are? Now, which one of those questions rules this election?

GARRETT: We haven't decided that yet. That's going to be up to the voters. The president wants you to look at that question in a larger context. If you look at his seven-minute video this week, "Forward" -- now, Candy, I used to be in television. I pay a lot of attention to how you time out things in a video. The first 38 seconds of that seven-minute campaign video are about what President Obama inherited. So "Forward" starts in reverse, looking backward at what he inherited. That's the frame for the campaign. You may not be satisfied, but you could be a lot more dissatisfied. I faced an enormous problem. Mitt Romney's sense is, look, things are bad, you're in charge, and you're to blame for the badness. Pick me.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you another question that just interests me, because whenever I talk to people that say watch what happens overseas, because that's going to affect us, we now have this election going on in France. It looks as though the socialist, who has promised a 75 percent rate on anyone making -- tax rate on anyone making $1.3 million or over, and they say the marginal rate actually is closer to 90 percent, and who wants to put back in place the cuts in government service, if that should happen, and if he should win, what does that do, if anything, to the U.S. economy?

RIVLIN: Well, in the first place, you've got two elections. You've got another one in Greece next week, and it seems likely that both of them are a referendum on austerity, on the bad things that have been imposed on the economies of both countries, but especially Greece, in getting out of this dilemma. And the voters are not happy with having austerity.

Economists shouldn't be happy with it, either, and it ought to be a lesson for us. If you cut spending drastically, it's not going to be good for your economy.

CROWLEY: I've got -- I've got to know, bad or good for the U.S. economy, quickly?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: If Europe melts down, it's bad for the U.S. economy, but drawing the wrong lesson is worse. We do need to fix our entitlement programs. We do need to fix our tax code. There's a difference between austerity and reform.

CROWLEY: Got to go. Right, I've got to go. I'm so sorry, because I'd have you all stay here forever. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Alice Rivlin, Major Garrett, thank you.

Only one candidate can win a presidential primary. The others follow a tried and true outline of the exit speech. We'll break it down on the campaign trail.

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KENNEDY: I am confident that the Democratic Party will reunite.

REAGAN: We must go forth from here united.

CLINTON: ... for the vision of progress we share and for the country we love.

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CROWLEY: In the campaign game, it's important to know not just when to fold 'em, but how. The Gingrich withdrawal from the presidential race this week was 23 minutes of pure Newt, but followed a well-worn template of political exits. First, lighten the mood, theirs and yours.

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GINGRICH: My wife has pointed out to me approximately 219 times, give or take three, that moon colony was probably not my most clever comment in this campaign.

FORBES: As my father once said, when he lost a governor's race in New Jersey, we were nosed out by a landslide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Next, remember, it wasn't just your campaign.

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GINGRICH: I also want to thank Callista's mother.

EDWARDS: I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard.

SANTORUM: Thank you all very much. God bless you.

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CROWLEY: Then, make it official. Cut the cord.

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GINGRICH: Today, I'm suspending the campaign.

TSONGAS: I will suspend my candidacy for president of the United States.

DEAN: I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency.

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CROWLEY: Then, grit your teeth and say something nice.

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GINGRICH: If you look at Romney's pledge to cut spending, creating private-sector jobs, something I would suggest Governor Romney knows about 60,000 times more than does President Obama.

GIULIANI: I have tremendous regard for John, have always had tremendous regard for John.

KENNEDY: I congratulate President Carter on his victory here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Now, reset. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: Callista and I pledge to create new solutions, new opportunities so that the 21st century will be the third century of freedom and American exceptionalism.

BACHMANN: I will continue fighting to defeat the president's agenda of socialism.

CLINTON: I will continue to stand strong with you every time, every place, and every way that I can.

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CROWLEY: In politics, it is often easy come, but not so easy go. Thank you for watching "State of the Union." I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Find today's interviews, some analysis, and web exclusives at our website, cnn.com/sotu. Fareed Zakaria "GPS" is next for our viewers here in the United States.