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Interview with Jerry Brown; Interview with Newt Gingrich; Interview with Carlos Gutierrez, Austin Ligon

Aired September 9, 2012 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Two conventions, two visions, two months to go.

Today, Mitt Romney weekends in Virginia.


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a plan to get America working again, and I know it is going to work, because for me this is not something I studied in school, it's something I did for 25 years all right.


CROWLEY: Barack Obama pushes through Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a choice between two fundamentally different paths for America and two fundamentally different visions for our future.


CROWLEY: The consequences of tough choices with California Governor Jerry Brown.

Also post-convention advice for Romney with former presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, and revving up the economy with former commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Carmax founder Austin Ligon.

Plus, homestretch politics with Peter Baker of "The New York Times" and AB Stoddard from "The Hill."

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

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown sat out this year's convention, he was back home grappling with his massive state budget, a $16 billion deficit forced Brown to cut back what he'd rather not: pensions for public workers, aid to education, and aid to the elderly.

This fall the governor wants voters to approve a tax hike for the wealthy and an increase in the sales tax. The outcome could have implications for spending mettles in Washington and state capitals across the country.

Joining me is California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor Brown, thank you so much for joining us. Let's talk a little bit about where we are as the fall campaign begins. We just got another pretty lackluster jobs report. It was a lot lower of the job creation than folks thought it would be, can President Obama lose this election?

BROWN: Well, obviously, anybody can lose or win an election. These things are not absolutely determined, and this is a close election. But I would say that the contrast of the difference is reasonably clear. Romney almost reminds me of Thomas Dewey and I was rather young, but I remember that campaign, and he symbolized the wealthy east and then Truman was fighting more for the common man. Now I am not trying to compare Obama with Truman, but I do think he represents and he expresses more of the ordinary American and the struggles that the ordinary American is going through, and his plan of focusing on the jobs and investment and building things like roads and bridges contrasts with Romney, who if you look at his jobs plan, is essentially lower the taxes on the rich even further, despite the fact that the wealthy have doubled their share of the American income over the last 30 years...

CROWLEY: But what I wanted to talk to you about is when you looked over the course of the three days of the Democratic Convention, did you hear a compelling case for why the next four years would create a better job production, if you will, than the first four years?

BROWN: I look at this thing in a contrast and since I have been not only run for president, but have been a governor, you know, I'm now in the tenth year, finishing my tenth year, so I know about this story about jobs. Jobs are a function of many things: the world economy, monetary policies, taxation, investments -- all sorts of things.

What I heard at the Republican Party is mostly bashing the president and talking about how they are going to, you know, lower taxes which is primarily going to help the very wealthiest. Now when I heard President Clinton, with President Obama, with Michelle, a real commitment to build the stuff that makes America. We are not going to just by giving somebody a tax break that they can invest in Macao or China or the Cayman Islands, that's different than investing in more teachers and more policemen or high speed rail or the kind of things that takes government.

And yes, government does need some revenue.

So I do think in terms of the jobs that are going to put Americans to work, I heard a difference between the Democratic Convention and the Republicans.

CROWLEY: But did you hear within the Democratic Convention, is my question, within the Democratic Convention, did you hear a compelling case for why Americans should believe that the second four years will somehow produce more jobs than the first four years? BROWN: Well, maybe I know too much about this stuff, but we are in a recovery, a slow recovery, and it will keep recovering with any luck. And if the Republicans would get out of the way and let, you know, the stimulus and the investment go forward such as the Democrats have proposed, we'll be better off.

The opposite is to take -- have faith in this supply-side stuff where you lower the taxes on those doing very well. And they always say it will be on everybody, but it's always disproportionate on those who have the capital.

But I'm telling you that money where a lot of these corporate profits go now is offshore. And the biggest bang is to invest in our teachers, you know, in ordinary workers and bridges and roads, in the kind of projects that -- and I think that is the theme.

Now I'm not looking for a blueprint or some kind of a recipe, it is thematic, that's the way elections are decided both how do you feel about the two candidates and what is the theme. And I say the theme is a very honest guy who is trying to do his best after picking up a horrible mess from the last guy.

CROWLEY: That is certainly was also the theme of the Democratic Convention.

Let me talk to you a little bit about tax hikes. You have put on the ballot Proposition 30 coming up where you want to increase the sales tax as well as increase the taxes for those in the upper incomes, and the very top as I understand it, California at this point is in the top three states in terms of state income tax. It has the highest state sales tax in the country, and yet there is still this deficit.

So, doesn't -- doesn't it sort of play into the Republican's argument that raising taxes does not spur the economy?

BROWN: Well, here's what it does. And this is just math now. If the people vote no, which they certainly can, then there is going to be automatically cut $5.5 billion from the schools and community colleges, that is three weeks of school, and it will take half a billion from our colleges, that's automatic.

We have cut Medi-Cal, we've cut prisons almost 20 percent. That's the only thing left.

So it's just a choice do you move money from the very top of the income bracket and put it in schools and colleges or do you really take from the schools and the colleges?

I know that we are a high tax state, but that's happened under Ronald Reagan, it's happened under father, it's happened Schwarzenegger, it's gone a long time. Remember California has created almost twice as many jobs at twice the rate of the country as a whole. So we are a real engine out here in terms of Silicon Valley and Apple and Hewlett-Packard and all the things we're doing. So it's really a choice. And that's really the wonderful thing about our initiative. At the end of the day, vox populi, vox dei, the voice of the people -- as they say the voice of god. It's take the money from those who have more than we can imagine and give it to our schools or not. And whatever it is, I will manage it, and we will make it work. One way would be better, but whatever the way the people decide is the way we will go and that is the way it should be.


Let me -- I might not be asking this precisely, so yes, California has faced deficit problems before you. It has been a money problems before you and I guess my point is if you are looking at a state that already has the highest state sales tax of any in the country, that is in the top three of the state income taxes, and you want the raise it again, isn't the fact that you have had these deficits to contend with show that you are not growing the economy with sales hikes which is essentially, sales tax hikes or income tax hikes which is what the Republicans are arguing that they are counterproductive to the economy?

BROWN: Well, no, it is the opposite, because the economy is doing better than the rest of the nation. And even states like New Jersey where they are talking about cutting taxes or some of the other states, California is actually doing better. We are getting more than 50 percent of the new venture capital investment, we are getting more than half of the investment in new renewable energy projects so we are not perfect...

CROWLEY: How come you are so in debt?

BROWN: How come we are so in debt? Because the people before I got here cut our car tax by almost $6 billion, gave a huge tax breaks to out of state corporations which is another billion and they didn't cut expenditures. I have now cut, when you talk about cuts, this is not pretty. The blind, the disable, Medi-Cal, the prisons, you name it we have reduced. It's ongoing of $15 billion a year.

Now if the people think that we need to cut even more, we will. But I am telling you as a guy who has been around for 40 years, what I am proposing on balance makes more sense.

CROWLEY: Two quick question, one is what should we make of the kind of feud that's going on between you and Governor Christie?

BROWN: Well, I wouldn't say it is a feud. He basically just was warming up -- you know, throwing some red meat to the Republicans from California. So he said I was a retread.

BROWN: And he was 14 when I was running against Jimmy Carter back in the New Jersey primary in 1976.

And ergo...

CROWLEY: Essentially saying you're...

BROWN: ... I shouldn't be here.


BROWN: Yeah, I'm old -- yeah, well I'm 74, I'll be 74 1/2 next month. And -- but here I am.

You know, there is some experience, hopefully there's some wisdom. So I've got kind of warmed in speeches, I said, OK Christie, I challenge you to a three mile race, try some chin ups, maybe some pushups.

CROWLEY: Essentially saying that he's overweight.

BROWN: No, essentially, he says this old retread could beat you any day of the week.

CROWLEY: OK. And finally, do (inaudible) governorship to run again?

BROWN: Well, I'm not slowing down, so I don't want to predict where I'll be because we have a lot of -- a lot of pitfalls potential over the next year or two but I -- I think as Obama says we're fired up and ready to go.

CROWLEY: You sound like a governor. Thank you so much for taking the time this morning, I appreciate it.

BROWN: OK, thank you.

CROWLEY: Bill Clinton goes to bat for the president.


CLINTON: One of the main reasons we ought to reelect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation.


The man who led the opposition during Clinton's presidency, former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich is next.


CROWLEY: I am joined by former House Speaker and Republican Presidential Candidate, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, good to see you.

GINGRICH: It's great to be with you.

CROWLEY: I want to play you something from the Democratic Convention that seems to me typifies a lot of the message from -- out of there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAMPBELL: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible, but their budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible, not only for ourselves and our immediate family, rather our faith strongly affirms that we are all responsible for one another. I am my sister's keeper. I am my brother's keeper.


CROWLEY: So coming out of the conventions, the -- the Democrats were basically, we're all in this together but Mitt Romney's philosophy is you're on your own and the Republican Convention basically was, the president thinks government is the answer to everything.

Who was more effective?

GINGRICH: I think in the long run, the Romney convention will be more effective -- and you had a little bit of this with Jerry Brown this morning.

If -- if you ask the American people, do you want a bigger economy with more jobs, but a smaller government with fewer services or do you want a bigger government with more services, but a small economy and fewer jobs? It's about 70 to 16.

And I think the challenge that the president and, in fact on Friday morning, was reminded once again, his plans aren't working. Four Americans dropped out of the workforce, for every American who got a job in August.

Now at that rate, people understand in order to be your brother's keeper, you need to have a job. I mean, you have -- you have to an -- an income.

CROWLEY: But wasn't -- wasn't the governor correct in saying that elections are thematic and the theme and -- and now this is not him anymore, this is me. The -- the theme coming out of the Democratic Convention was middle class, middle class, middle class. We've got to all, you know, help one another, that's how we do it and not the rich.

And the theme coming out of the Republican Convention, again was too -- too much government.

So -- so if people vote thematically, do you think that the whole message of the middle class are all being in this together, has more power?

GINGRICH: Well, no. I -- I think first of all, if you -- the -- the Paul -- Paul Ryan's comment about the young person sitting in their bedroom looking out at the -- at the graying poster of Obama as it faded away, sort of captured it.

Doesn't want you to be grateful that you can stay on your parent's insurance until you're 26. We'd like you to get a job. So you can actually go out on your own.

The president wants you to grateful that he's extending your -- your payments for student loans.

We would like you to actually have a job so you can pay off your student loans.

This is going to come down to, and I think Tom Brokaw captured it perfectly. He said, Romney's going to say in essence, we can't afford four more years of this economy; and Obama's not going to defend the economy, he's going to say Romney would be worse.

And the country's got to make a decision. Do you really want to take four more years of the worst economy since the Great Depression or do you want to shift to the Republicans and see if they can do a better job.

CROWLEY: Let me bring in the Clinton factor here...


CROWLEY: ... which I found fascinating not just how he was at the Democratic Convention, but the Republican's reaction to it. Listen to Vice Presidential Candidate, Paul Ryan.


RYAN: Bill Clinton was a different kind of Democrat than Barak Obama. Bill Clinton gave us welfare reform. Bill Clinton worked with Republican to cut spending. Bill Clinton did not play the kinds of political games that President Obama's playing.


CROWLEY: I just want to review the '90s here, because the '90s I'm hearing described are not the '90s I remember and I was up on Capitol Hill when the President Clinton presented a budget that no Republican voted for in his first term when there were two government shutdowns because of the -- what the Republicans and the White House could not get together on spending and what a budget should look like; when there was a impeachment process.

So this was not some sort kumbaya time.

GINGRICH: No, it was very tough.

CROWLEY: And the public -- it was a very tough time to get -- Republicans are embracing Bill Clinton, why?

GINGRICH: Here -- here's the difference...


CROWLEY: -- why?

GINGRICH: Well, here's the difference, you're Paul Ryan. You did, in many ways what I did in 1990, you come up with a serious plan, you try and get to a balanced budget and you have a president who invites you to a speech where he attacks you publicly when you can't defend yourself.

Clinton and I fought a lot. As you said, the government was shut down twice, we passed welfare reform twice and it got vetoed. He only signed it on the third occasion.

But the difference was...

CROWLEY: I think that cost him the election.

GINGRICH: Yes. The difference was when the Democrats lost in 1994, Bill and Hillary Clinton brought in Dick Morris and they said, you know, if we don't learn something from this experience, we are going to get beat in '96.

I actually thought parts of the Clinton speech were eerily anti- Obama if you just listened to the subtext. I mean, here is Clinton saying, I reformed welfare because I worked with the Republicans, you didn't, Mr. Obama. He didn't say it that way, but think about it.

I had the longest period of economic growth in history, you didn't, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans, you didn't, Mr. Obama. You can take his speech, spin it not very much, and it's actually a condemnation of the fact that Obama learned nothing.

And Bob Woodward's new book indicates he learned nothing out of the 2010 election.

CROWLEY: Do you think Bill Clinton can move votes for President Obama?

GINGRICH: I think he can temporarily move votes. I would say the bounce Obama is getting coming out of the convention is 80 percent Bill Clinton. Now Clinton is a popular figure for a very practical reason, the economy worked.

People had jobs. We reduced children in poverty by 25 percent through welfare reform. We actually balanced the budget for four years. You know, you look back on that and you think, I think what it does is it actually shrinks Obama.

I mean, you have a real president and then you have this guy who is a pretender.

CROWLEY: Why isn't Mitt Romney at this point we -- you talked about the unemployment figures that came out. You talked about the worst recovery since the great recession blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Why isn't Romney running away with this?

GINGRICH: I think this is about where Reagan was -- slightly better than where Reagan was at this point in 1980. I think people find it very hard to fire a president. The president is in the home every night, and this particular president has a nice family, you know, there is a sense of gee...

CROWLEY: But none of that is going to change.

GINGRICH: No, the swing vote is going to be disappointed, not angry. The angry vote is already there. Romney is getting all of the angry vote. But the swing vote is going to be the person -- (INAUDIBLE) the election, will be the person who says, you know, I'd like to try, but I can't stand the cost of four more years. If that person comes down and says, I can't stand the cost of four more years, then I think Obama is gone.

If they come down and say, gee, I'm not sure about these Republicans, then Obama could survive. There is a new movie out called "The Hope and the Change" which actually has 40 former Obama voters each explaining why they are now against Obama.

And all of them have this sense of sadness, not anger, but disappointment. They wished it had worked. They wished he had been able to govern. But they are not going to vote for him again.

CROWLEY: And we saw the convention sort of speak to those disappointed voters. Let me ask you, finally, the president said in an interview with our Jessica Yellin that was in the documentary that he thinks the next four years will be different because Republicans will be more willing to work with him after he wins...


CROWLEY: And you are laughing, so, no, you don't believe that?

GINGRICH: It is perfectly Obama. He didn't say, I'd be willing to work with the Republicans.

CROWLEY: Well, he did say he would be a little better -- he would try to make more of -- everybody had to make more of an effort. But the question is, do you think that Republicans will be significantly different in terms of how they approach the president?

GINGRICH: I don't contemplate a second Obama term, so I can't answer the question. My entire commitment is to help Mitt Romney win. CROWLEY: Well, then we will ask you that after the election.


CROWLEY: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

GINGRICH: By the way, you could ask the Democratic House and Senate, are they willing to work with Governor Romney if he wins?

CROWLEY: It is a deal. I will. Thank you so much. Good to see you.


CROWLEY: Democrats try to tap in to middle class outrage, saying Mitt Romney puts profits over people. Does that make Democrats continue to look anti-business? And later, the real people strategy employed at both conventions.


CROWLEY: On this much, they agree. A $16 trillion debt is too much. A jobless rate at or near 8 percent for four years is too high. A nation where the percentage of the population and the labor force is at its lowest level since 1981 is too low. And this election is about jobs.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports. And if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unlike the president, i have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.


CROWLEY: Not even they could argue with one another's goals, what they argue about, what the election is about is who can make it happen with what plan?

Obama supporter and CarMax founder Austin Ligon and Romney supporter former Bush Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez are next to hash it out.


CROWLEY: Joining me is Former Bush Commerce Secretary and Romney supporter, Carlos Gutierrez and CarMax Co-Founder and Obama supporter, Austin Ligon now retired.

Thank you both for joining us.

I want to talk first about this whole idea that the Obama Administration has been anti-business. We certainly see them with their dollars, much fewer dollars in the Obama Campaign from Wall Street and some big businesses in their work to begin with.

I want to play you something that Elizabeth Warren, now a candidate for the Senate, Massachusetts said at the convention.


WARREN: The system is rigged. Look around, oil companies guzzle down billions in profits; billionaires pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. And Wall Street CEO's, the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them.


CROWLEY: So let me start with you. Do you understand why businesses think that the Obama Administration has been anti- businesses?

LIGON: Yeah, I -- I think first thing you need to do is differentiate between Wall Street and the investment community and real businesses.

Wall Street and the investment community obviously are concerned that we're going to get appropriate regulation put back in place. They caused, essentially the financial collapse and we really don't have a regulatory system that's solvent yet. So in -- in -- in enormous numbers, the finance industry has been against the president this time because it's in their interest.

I think broader businesses actually much more evenly spread and...

CROWLEY: And yet, we hear all the time that businesses don't -- or there's all this uncertainty and that businesses aren't hiring because they don't really know they feel over regulated, they feel like they don't know what's going to happen when Obama Care kicks in fully, that's not so?

LIGON: I -- I -- I don't think you hear that from a lot go CEOs of operating companies. You hear that from a lot of political pundits and from a lot of Wall Street buys.

The -- the reality is...

LIGON: So not true.

LIGON: The reality is I've -- I've worked under George Bush, under Bill Clinton or under George W. Bush and now under Obama and these -- the -- the U.S. is still the best place in the world to business and people on -- on the -- on the board of seven startup companies. We don't spend any time talking about this. It's never a conversation.

CROWLEY: So businesses --


GUTIERREZ: -- different country. I -- I talk to business people every single day and their terrified of, so what this is going to do with a second term.

You know, you take for example oil exploration, we have been focused on wind and solar, it's about this big. The president's talked about green jobs, he has not given permits to -- to -- to oil companies to drill. We can be the Saudi Arabia...

CROWLEY: Production is the highest it's been.

GUTIERREZ: Ah, that's very good, the production's been high on private lands and that's what the president uses to sort of brag about his energy policy, on federal lands, no permits in -- in over 300 days.

CROWLEY: But if oil production is -- is at its highest, why do we need to do more in federal lands.

GUTIERREZ: Oh, because we want to be independent. Governor Romney has set a goal of being energy dependent North America 2020, we can be, Candy, the Saudi Arabia of natural gas in ten years. But we haven't done anything. We -- we -- we just hear these abstract notions of millions of green jobs, where are they?

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about another -- this is all on the -- on the same subject.

This came from a man who worked at an Indiana company that Bain acquired but eventually the company went out of business. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHNSON: I don't think Mitt Romney is a bad man. I don't fault him for the fact that some companies win and some companies lose. That's a fact of life.

What I fault him for is making money without a moral compass. I fault him for putting profits before people like me.


CROWLEY: Don't businesses, by definition, go into business for profit? They're not -- they're not about helping people's lives; it's wonderful if they do.

But -- but do you think this Bain criticism...

LIGON: So, I'll -- I'll make this comment.

I've -- I've worked at large people employing companies, Marriott Corporation, Circuit City, CarMax, the answer is you have to do both. A great CEO has to be a profit person and a people person because without great people, you won't have a great company, but you have to be profitable or you won't be able to sustain yourself. So you have to be able to do both.

Actually, my criticism of -- of Mitt Romney wouldn't be so much as moral turpitude, I -- I wouldn't make that comment, I -- in fact, I think he's a fine family man, he's probably a good person at heart.

The reality is, the biggest companies every run had 400 people. They're all Harvard MBA and elite college graduates. I really question, does he fundamentally have the qualifications for this job. He's never run a really big business with a diverse employment base.

CROWLEY: Neither did -- neither did President Obama.

LIGON: The -- the difference is president -- he's not running against President Obama four years ago. President Obama's been president of the United States for the last four years and I think the best training to be president of the United States is to successfully be president of the United States, which he has been.

CROWLEY: Then we should just sort of always just do away with the second term. Right? And you say let's just go on for eight years.

But -- but do you agree that fundamentally...

GUTIERREZ: No, no not at all. We -- we wouldn't have the numbers we have today. I mean this unemployment numbers, it's not 42 months. Three hundred, sixty thousand people gave up. If they stayed in the workforce, we'd have 8.4 percent unemployment. Forty seven million people on food stamps. We're -- we're heading towards the largest rate of poverty in the last 50 years. Household income is down $4,000. How can anyone say that we're better off?

And by the way, the number that's not talked about enough is our deficit is 7.6 percent. That is equal to Greece. We have a deficit the same as Greece.

CROWLEY: So taking that deficit number, let me put some -- some other figures up for our audience.

In -- in this economy right now, gas prices are high. We're at $16 trillion in debt. There is -- there are 43 months of unemployment over 8 percent.

How do you sell that?

LIGON: So look, I think the first thing you do is you remind people. What Republicans would like you to believe is that the world started on the 20th of January 2009, but it didn't.

When Barack Obama took office, what he had was a president who had inherited a 2 percent surplus, left behind the 2 percent structural deficit that then exploded as the economy collapsed.

When Barack Obama took office, the economy wasn't bottomed out, it was plummeting. People would go to bed at night, we were losing 800,00 jobs a month and you didn't know in the morning anywhere in America if you'd have a job the next day.

My sister-in-law sold what she thought was a high risk technology stock. She went out and invested in AIG. Now, you didn't know there was no security left. Within nine months, Barack Obama not only stabilized that, but he restructured, not bailed out, the largest industry in the United States, the automobile industry, 20 percent of retail sales that was on the verge of collapse and that Republicans like Mitt Romney were saying, let go. He restructured that business.

CROWLEY: I'm going to give you a chance, actually, to defend Mitt Romney.

First of all, Mitt Romney did not say let's liquidate the auto industry, he said let's have a structured bankruptcy that will then, they would, you know, get rid of, you know, the overhead, make themselves smaller, which is exactly what happened.

GUTIERREZ: That's exactly what happened.

CROWLEY: But -- and yes, this has become such a huge talking... LIGON: So -- so let me make one comment on that.

Somebody has to be in charge of that and putting a bankruptcy -- I -- I can tell you the auto industry is such an integrated business, people were terrified. The reason that Ford, Toyota and Nissan were coming forward and saying, you can't let this go unmanaged as they did not believe that a bankruptcy court judge could -- could deal with it.

You had to have stronger leadership than that because the first thing you had to do was you had to fire management. It was incompetent management at General Motors and at Chrysler.

CROWLEY: Do you want the president of the United States to be firing (inaudible).

LIGON: We -- we -- well look, once every -- once every eighty years when you have near collapse of the -- of the largest industry in the United States, you have to take unusual measures. He had the courage to do it; sales are up 60 percent since that time. Both companies are profitable and he saved the entire industry.

CROWLEY: Carlos, let me -- give -- give me 20 seconds on that because I have a real quick question at the end I want to ask you on -- on the auto industry.

Also the Bush Administration actually...

GUTIERREZ: Well he actually started it.

CROWLEY: ... originally...

GUTIERREZ: We -- we...

CROWLEY: ... said, here's 11 -- how much money was it -- you gave a...

GUTIERREZ: I was sort of a...

CROWLEY: ... then a sort of bridge loan actually.

GUTIERREZ: That's right a bridge loan (inaudible) and what we didn't want is -- was a disorderly bankruptcy because that's where they were headed. So we actually started the plan and the president made the decision that we are going to help them get through and orderly bankruptcy, a managed bankruptcy by President Bush.

So it was just -- this is -- was something that was inherited that isn't talked about very often.

LIGON: No, I -- I -- I think President Bush, the last six months were his best. He helped start -- the difference is that the decision he wasn't willing to make is the management was not competent in those companies and had to be removed.

CROWLEY: I need a yes or no, the Federal Reserve Board is meeting this week. CROWLEY: Should they do something to stimulate the economy or leave it alone?

LIGON: Personally I think they probably should. It's not policy. But I will leave it Ben Bernanke.

GUTIERREZ: There is nowhere to go anymore with monetary policy. It has to be fixed fiscally by the White House and the congress.

CROWLEY: Carlos Gutierrez, Austin Ligon, thank you so much for joining us.

From the convention to the campaign trail next.


CROWLEY: Time for a check of the today's top stories. Attacks against Iraq's military and police today have left at least 39 people dead. The bombings are the latest in a series of attacks targeting security officials. More than 70 Iraqi security officials were killed in August.

Mexican authorities say they've arrested a suspect wanted this the killing of U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry. Terry's death led to a congressional investigation into the botched gun smuggling sting known as Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department is set to release a report on Fast and Furious at a congressional hearing Tuesday.

A teacher strike looming in Chicago. The head of the city's teachers union says progress has been made on contract talks, but a walk-out date is still set for tomorrow. A strike would affect 400,000 students and nearly 700 schools in the country's third largest public school system.

Those are the top stories. We are back in 90 seconds to discuss how the candidates will turn rhetoric into actual votes. That's next with The Hill's A.B. Stoddard and The New York Times' Peter Baker


CROWLEY: Here with me to talk politics New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker and A.B. Stoddard, associate editor for "The Hill" newspaper. Thank you all for being here. Just set the template for me for fall, because basically this is now the fall campaign. Where are we? Are we any different than the dead heat race?

PETER BAKER, NEW YORK TIMES: We're well a little bit different. We come out of the convention with Obama opening up a small, but noticeable lead. And that's after months of a very, very static race where nobody was moving much at all. He's up about four points in the latest Gallup poll. Not that meaningful in the context of presidential races where you've seen huge double digit swings.

But this year alone where we expect a very tight race, that gives him a slight advantage.

CROWLEY: Were there any themes that came out of either of these conventions that you can see playing well and moving that, that is still within the margin of error, right?

BAKER: Yes, close enough.

CROWLEY: You know, moving this race?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I agree with Peter. I mean, I think it's always going to be a 46, 47 race until the end. Debates will be very consequential, more than the conventions. But I don't think anyone can open up a huge lead.

Obama is happy with his four points. He is doing well in battleground states, the ones where he needs to win on the margins and that really for such an unpopular president I think actually that is really good news for him.

The themes that you mentioned from the convention, I thought the Republicans, you know, embraced are you better off than you are four years ago? They will continue to do that. But what's interesting about the Democratic convention was that former President Clinton was able to say, it doesn't matter if you're better off, no president, not me, not any of my predecessors ever could have gotten out of this mess in just four years. And so you have to stay on this path.

And Vice President Biden said don't let them tell you on the path of decline and doubt, don't let them tell you that. You are bringing this economy back.

And so you have this -- these two different opinions about where we should be and how to get out of it.

CROWLEY: And they garbled it at the beginning. We had some spokesman for the president going, well, you know that's not the question, really, whether we're better off. And the answer came back from the convention, yes we are because here's what we did.

My question about Bill Clinton, who probably gave -- I thought Michelle was probably the most effective, but nonetheless the former president gave saying a terrific speech, but does that translate? Can he be helpful and bring votes to Obama? BAKER: Well, one speech won't do it obviously. Two months from now, nobody is going to be even talking about the conventions as they go into the polling booths. Although, you do have early voting. So this stuff does matter on the margins.

If people I Bill Clinton gets out there and day in, day out is campaigning for the fall that's a different thing. You may see the Bill and Barack show a little bit more.

Broadly, I think the other themes coming out of this convention which were really interesting, was that Mitt Romney and the Republicans trying to say to disaffected Obama voters it's OK that you're disappointed. It's OK that you like him, the fading poster, but you can go out -- and Obama is kind of responding and Clinton especially responding, no, you know, you still have to believe in him.

Michelle Obama, I still love him, she said over and over again. The message being, you should still love him, too.

CROWLEY: In fact, it's -- I still believe that this is more of a turnout election, though they all are to a certain extent. But people talk about how these two different roads -- and I'm thinking, no, they both spoke to their base primarily within -- there were these messages to the middle class and to swing voters. But primarily, aren't they out there now just pounding the bushes for every vote that's naturally theirs?

STODDARD: Yes. I mean, what you see is Romney doing a general message, a General Election, national message. Look, you guys, we're not better off, we gave him a chance, it's OK to dump him, we've got to do this to save the economy and the country.

Obama is going around and doing targeted messages, much more of a micro-effort to get those numbers on the margins in the states that matter. So it's students and Latinos, women and some veterans. And he's going to try to move those numbers...


STODDARD: And seniors. And I think President Bill Clinton going to Miami and Orlando, going to these certain places, where he actually said it a nice way, but he actually said, you cannot let the Republicans be stewards of this economy again, not at this moment.

And I think he's going to say it in the same terms over and over again.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about third parties on this ticket, particularly you've got Virgil Goode in Virginia, and you have Gary Johnson, libertarian, who is on the ballot in some of these states. Factor, not a factor?

BAKER: Of course it's a factor, I mean, you think, you know, 1 percent doesn't matter. Talk to Florida 12 years ago, Ralph Nader obviously...

CROWLEY: And a bad factor for Romney.

BAKER: And a bad factor for Romney. And Virgil Goode is a very conservative former congressman in Virginia. If he takes 1 percent, 2 percent in a state that Romney really needs to win, that's important.

Gary Johnson kind of cuts both ways. I mean, you see strategists saying that he could cut from Obama in places like Oregon and other places. He could cut from Romney -- hard to factor in exactly. But they're paying a lot of attention. They tried to get him off the ballot in a number of these states.

CROWLEY: A.B., last question. On election eve, do you think we'll still be sitting here wondering who's going to win? STODDARD: Probably not. But it is -- it is possible. It is possible. Maybe the debates open up a kind of a lead that makes things more clear. But we could be looking at 46-47...


BAKER: Especially the second debate is going to be vital.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

STODDARD: That's right. That's right.

CROWLEY: October 16th, right?

STODDARD: That's right. We'll be watching you.


CROWLEY: A.B. Stoddard, Peter Baker, thank you for being here.

STODDARD: Thank you.

BAKER: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Mitt Romney and President Obama try to solve two different problems with the same solution. That's next.


CROWLEY: And finally this Sunday, ever since conventions became less about nominating a candidate and more about staging a party infomercial, politicians have filled their big show with cameos from what Washington calls "real people," meaning people who aren't politicians, people other people might believe. Bonus points for casting middle class real people.

The Democrats' production used a procession of real people to portray a president who often seems aloof as an advocate and protector of the aforementioned middle class. They were called as eyewitnesses to Obama policy.

Take for example the student. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's just no way I would be able to pay for school without the Pell grant funding President Obama doubled.


CROWLEY: The Iraq War veteran.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama did the right thing by ending "don't ask, don't tell."

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: The small business owner.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may not have ever gotten to yes if it wasn't for President Obama and the SBA loan program that he started.


CROWLEY: The mother.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Obama-care" provides my family security and relief.


CROWLEY: And the Vietnam veteran.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supporting our effort is President Obama's actions, increasing the VA budget to $140 billion in 2013.


CROWLEY: For Mitt Romney, the goal was to give life to a candidate rivals have portrayed as a bloodless corporate raider and to humanize his sometimes robotic personality. They served as character witnesses, many of them from his church.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt provided food and housing, rides to the doctor, and companions to sit with those who were ill. He shoveled snow and raked leaves for the elderly. He took down tables and swept floors at church dinners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1979, a tragedy struck our family when our youngest son, David, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was when our daughter, Kate, was born three-and-half months early, however, that I fully came to appreciate what a great treasure of friendship we had in Mitt. And I will never forget how when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out and gently stroked her tiny back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: The conventions are a wrap, and the witnesses have stepped down. The jury is out. Fifty-eight days until the verdict comes in.

Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Head to for analysis and extras. And if you missed any part of today's show, find us on iTunes. Just search "State of the Union."

"FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS" is next for our viewers here in the United States.