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State of the Union

Interview with David Plouffe; Interview With Rick Santorum; Interview with Chris Van Hollen, John Barrasso

Aired June 17, 2012 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: 142 days until voters decide who gets the next four years. Today, 2013 through 2017...


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ask you the stand with me for a second term as president.


CROWLEY: What would Obama phase two look like with senior White House adviser David Plouffe.

And then...


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has been president for 3 1/2 years, and talk is cheap.


CROWLEY: Sizing up Mitt Romney with former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.

Plus, days away from a Supreme Court decision which could gut the health care law. Is there a plan b? Doctor and senator John Barrasso and Congressman Chris Van Hollen join us.

Also, the economy, immigration and the presidential race with CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin and Matt Bai of the New York Times Magazine.

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

There was a showdown of sorts this week, Romney v. Obama giving dueling economic speeches in Ohio, a campaign hotspot if ever there was one.

Amidst weakening economic growth, falling consumer confidence and tightening polls, White House advisers said that the president would use the speech to reframe his economic argument. He tied Mitt Romney tightly to George W. Bush and outlined his goals.


OBAMA: That is my vision for America: education, energy, innovation, infrastructure.


CROWLEY: Flashback, almost four years ago to the day, candidate Barack Obama.


OBAMA: It is time for a competitiveness agenda built around education and energy and innovation and infrastructure.


CROWLEY: Joining me now is White House senior adviser David Plouffe. David, thanks for being here.

Let me start with the first big question which is, is the fact that the president is saying virtually the same thing that he said four years ago when he was campaigning a recognition that he is has not been able to achieve his goals?

PLOUFFE: No, the president laid out this week a very important speech in Ohio the choices facing the country about the right things to do to grow the economy and strengthen the middle-class. And we have a lot more work the do. We have to rebuild...

CROWLEY: Is that the -- is that the economic message? We have a lot more work to do?

PLOUFFE: Well, no, Candy. The point is what direction is the country going the take? I think that we would all openly admit the economy has to strengthen, we have to e create a lot more jobs. And question is what is the best way to do it? Our approach is let's reduce the deficit in a fair and balanced way, let's have an economy where hard work is rewarded and everybody gets a fair shot. And as we reduce the deficit we have the ability to invest in things like rebuilding this country, a new energy future, make sure we continue to lead the world in innovation.

But the important thing is that there is a choice here. Governor Romney and his allies in congress, they want to go back to the same policies that created the recession. We know that won't work. And so really the American people have to decide which direction they want to go.

CROWLEY: So, those are goals. That he is setting out, but it is not a plan. What does the next four years look like? What is the big idea that people are going to vote on in November?

PLOUFFE: Well, it is a plan. It is about what is the right way to get $4 trillion in deficit reduction.

CROWLEY: But you have had four years to do that... PLOUFFE: First, we have accomplished a lot. Obviously education reform, a lot of progress on energy, health care reform. We have cut taxes for the average middle-class person $3,600. So we need to build on that. So the plan is an all of the above energy strategy to make sure we take advantage of our resources here, but doubles down on the clean energy future, make sure that we have a education system that is producing the kind of workers and innovators and entrepreneurs that we need.

CROWLEY: What makes you think that the things that you're talking about -- and I take it that there is no big idea that is different from what you are doing now, and it is stay the course, this is a stay the course message.

PLOUFFE: Well, these are all big ideas. This is the direction that the country needs to go.

CROWLEY: But these are the big ideas that he has been trying to do for the last four years, right.

PLOUFFE: Some of them we have accomplished, some we haven't, some we have more work to do.

CROWLEY: So what makes you think that you can accomplish in the next four years what haven't been able to accomplish now.

PLOUFFE: Well, listen this -- first of all some of these challenges predate the recession. This isn't just about recovering from the recession, it's about making sure we have more stability and security for the middle class. So this is going to take a long time.

CROWLEY: How do you do that? I guess is why people say, what is the plan here?

PLOUFFE: Well, how you do it is to focus on education for instance. We have engaged in a lot of reforms and a lot of Republican support. We need to make progress to bring college costs down. Energy, we should be able to come together in a bipartisan way and make sure that we're doubling down on a clean energy future as we make progress and continue the lead the world in natural gas...

CROWLEY: But you haven't been able to do that so the question is what is different in the next four years?

PLOUFFE: That's not right we've gotten a lot done. This president has led a resurgence in the clean energy future, education reforms, health care reform, cut the taxes for the middle-class, cut taxes for small business. So to suggest we haven't gotten done, we have gotten a lot more done. We'd get a lot more done, by the way -- it was amazing this week, there was a story that Republican congressman openly saying we're going to basically take the rest of the year off. We're not going to do anything to help the economy, because we want to help Mitt Romney.

It is remarkable to see at a time of great need in the economy, where we can make a huge difference -- the president's job proposals, every independent economists say they would create a million jobs, but these members of congress are sitting on their hands.

So we have gotten a lot done. We need to get a lot more done. This congress is sitting in the way. And by the way, Mitt Romney is with John Boehner...

CROWLEY: Are you going to get a better congress? I just -- there is nothing that looks in the cards to me as though somehow there is going to be a big change in the mix of congress. In fact, you might have a Republican senate, so why do you think what the president has been proposing since last September has any better chance in February why isn't there some need to kind of step back and say, look, here's plan b and let's go with this in the second term.

PLOUFFE: OK, well, start with Mitt Romney's plan a. Because again this is a choice. The American people have to make a choice. He will rubber stamp the congressional Republican agenda which will take us back to the policies of the great recession, and it will do great harm to the middle class and shortchange our future.

But the president -- by the way, we have gotten a lot done with congress. We have cut taxes. We have done good things for our entrepreneurs like patent reform. We're are doing some good work here. But the president said the American people need to break the stalemate. And if we can win this election in a tough economy, I think the message that sends is OK -- you are beginning to see some compromise, potential coming out of the Republicans. You see more Republicans in the Senate in particular talking about, well maybe they'd be open to higher revenues through tax reform.

So I do think that how we reduce our deficit -- listen, you have Republicans and Democrats in both parties in both chambers now, more Democrats saying they are open to the kind of entitlement reform we need to do, more Republicans saying they're open to revenue. So we have a great deal of confidence. The American people are going to render a verdict on the direction. And we have a great deal of confidence they're going to choose the president's direction and then we're going to make progress on some of these things, building on what we've have already done.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about the immigration decision that was made Friday and read you something from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley who said the president is using executive power to do things congress has refused to do, and that does fit a disturbing pattern of expansion of executive power under President Obama. In many ways, he has fulfilled the dream of an imperial presidency that Richard Nixon strived for. This is a president who is now functioning as a super legislator. Why did you, a, wait this long to do this? And b, isn't the appropriate place to make these decisions congress which passes the laws, immigration law in particular?

PLOUFFE: Well, first, let's start with this is a decision the Department of Homeland Security made. This is, so that they have the discretion in enforcement so that we focus on criminals and those that cause or could endanger our communities and that is where the focus of our immigration enforcement efforts need to be. These kids who want to serve in our military who are going to college they're working in our businesses, they now can apply -- is not a permanent fix by the way.

CROWLEY: You went around Congress is the point. I understand the policy, and the reasons for it. PLOUFFE: If congress would act, we would be happy to sign the DREAM Act tomorrow.

CROWLEY: But there are three branches of government. You know how this works.

PLOUFEE: This is fully within our ability. This, and again, this was an enforcement discretion decision. So this is not some permanent, this is not amnesty, this is not citizenship, this gives these hardworking kids who are hear through no fault of their own who are going to staff our labs, start our businesses, serve in our military, the ability for a two year period to apply for work authorization.

We need a permanent fix. The only way to do that, we agree, is for congress to pass the DREAM Act., Sadly, by the way, Governor Romney has said he will veto the DREAM Act. So if you are looking for progress on immigration and on the DREAM Act, you are not going to find it with Governor Romney.

CROWLEY: As it currently stands. He was looking at a different one that Marco Rubio was putting up.

But let me move you on to another part of this and that is Governor Romney says -- actually some of your Democratic friends said, this was a political move, that you all wanted to infuse some enthusiasm into the Latino voting base.

PLOUFFE: This is not a political move. This builds on a lot of steps that we've already taken.

CROWLEY: But you could have done that last year, you could have done it the year before or the year before. You could have it the year before that, an executive decision.

PLOUFFE: We have been trying to get the DREAM Act done. We have been trying to pass immigration reform, this builds on a series of steps that the Homeland Security Department has already taken. And again, this is -- it gives our law enforcement personnel the ability to have more discretion to focus the resources where they should be focused which is on criminals, which by the way our deportation numbers amongst criminals is up 80 percent.

CROWLEY: It was not done with some political consideration.

PLOUFFE: It was not, Candy.

CROWLEY: Five months before the election?

PLOUFFE: Well, listen, who knows how the politics will turn out, but this decision was the right decision... CROWLEY: And how can you say that?

PLOUFFE: Well, we'll see. I have ceased making predictions on things, because we will see how they turn out.

CROWLEY: Well, let me ask you quick questions about some other issues.

CROWLEY: Are you confident, can you say right now that no one in the White House leaked any information about the so-called "kill list," the cyberspace attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, or the presence of an al Qaeda mole?

PLOUFFE: Yes. Well, listen, I'm not going to speak specifically about, you know, classified information. I think that the author of that book has said that, you know, any of this information didn't come from the White House. There is going to be an investigation.

CROWLEY: Do you know that though for sure?

PLOUFFE: Well, listen, I'm not conducting the investigation. There is going to be two United States attorneys who have been appointed by the attorney general, including a Bush appointee. But we're going to look at this thoroughly, as it should.

Listen, the president said he has zero tolerance for any leaks in this area. He relies on this information. He has got to have the ability, obviously, to make sure it is secure and make information. So this investigation will be thorough and obviously people need to be held accountable if they did something wrong.

CROWLEY: David Plouffe, thanks for dropping by. Happy Father's Day.

PLOUFFE: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: Rick Santorum seems to have warmed up a bit to Mitt Romney.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The concern I had, I did, I was obvious -- I was very frank about it, was that Governor Romney would track to the middle.


CROWLEY: But this immigration reform issue might complicate things.


CROWLEY: Joining me is former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Greetings. SANTORUM: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Nice to see you. SANTORUM: It's great to be here.

CROWLEY: I want to start out with the news of the week, which is immigration. You said in a written statement, in part: "President Obama blatantly ignored our Constitution, the role of Congress in making laws, and the separation of powers. These actions today are part of a disturbing and arrogant pattern where he believes that this administration knows better than those who we elect to represent us in Congress."

And now I want to play you let's listen to what Mitt Romney had to say.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think Marco Rubio said it well, when he looked at the president's action and said, look, we all agree that there has got to find -- we have got to find a solution to help those kids who came here through no fault of their own, at the same time people are looking for a long-term solution, not something that is temporary through a executive order.


CROWLEY: Just a big tonal difference here...


CROWLEY: ... between the two of you. Are you happy with his answer?

SANTORUM: Well, let me just say this, my big concern -- I mean, I think what Governor Romney was -- probably addressing more of the substance than he was the actions of the president.

CROWLEY: The process.

SANTORUM: Yes, the process. To me, the most outrageous thing was the process in which he did it. The president basically said, I'm going to selectively enforce the law in this country.

CROWLEY: Can I just -- I want to get back the Mitt Romney, but the law is always selectively enforced. There are lots of times when police overlook a violation of the law because they are looking to do something, something else.

Immigration has a huge, you know, number of things on its plate, so why is this any different?

SANTORUM: Well, there is a difference between someone who is actually out there on the street making a call as to whether to charge someone with a crime or not than have a policy at the top saying that we are going to carte blanche order people not to enforce the law.

CROWLEY: Back to Mr. Romney, do you wish he had been more forceful on that note? It seemed to me that clearly he and Marco... SANTORUM: He is trying to walk a line.

CROWLEY: Exactly.

SANTORUM: Yes, he is trying to walk the line. And, look, I understand that. My father was an immigrant to this country. I am very pro-immigration. I don't like a lot of the rhetoric and tone that I hear from some on our side with respect to immigrants and even the issue of illegal immigration.

Having said that, it is illegal.

CROWLEY: So what line is Mitt Romney walking?

SANTORUM: Well, he is trying to walk a line as not to sound like he is hostile to Latinos.

CROWLEY: Swing voters.

SANTORUM: Swing and in very important states. But at the same time, I think that you need to -- you need to hammer the president on this now habitual abuse of power, saying that he is not going to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, you know, not even going to go to the Supreme Court and try to stand up for the law that, you know, I'm charged as the chief executive to do.

So you are seeing a pattern where the president has said, I'm going to pick and choose what laws I'm going to enforce, what laws I'm going to stand up and fight for in court. That is not the job of the president.

CROWLEY: Now, I think people would say to you that George Bush and other presidents used signing ceremonies sometimes to say, I object to this law...

SANTORUM: But he did it. But he enforced the law. There is a difference between saying, I don't like the law, I wish that the law were different, but I'm the president, my job is to faithfully execute, and he is not faithfully executing.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you to the Senate race, randomly, in Utah where Senator Hatch is running against Dan Liljenquist, who is a -- tea party supported, and a Rick Santorum-supported Republican.

Here is Orrin Hatch, you served with him in the Senate, didn't raise any objections to him at the time. Why would you sort of walk into this race and side with someone trying to unseat a sitting Republican and sort of create quote, "trouble," in the race?

SANTORUM: Well, I don't know -- it is a primary. I mean, you know, it is not trouble. I mean, it is not Orrin Hatch's seat, it wasn't my seat when I was in the United States Senate. Nobody owns it. It's not -- your name is not inscribed on that seat.

And, you know, the people of Utah, just like the people of every other state have an opportunity every time to assess who is the right person at the time. And Orrin served this country well. He has been -- he is a good man. I have nothing personally against Orrin at all.

CROWLEY: But he compromised too much as far as you are concerned, conservative principles.

SANTORUM: Orrin is -- yes, you know, we need a different kind of actor in Washington, D.C. We have reached the point where we need people to say no and have the backbone to say, we are -- I am not going to do less of a bad thing anymore. We are going to start doing good things instead of compromise doing less bad.

CROWLEY: But the legislative process, and we saw the same thing play out in Indiana with Dick Lugar, a man who was known as -- he had conservative principles but he was willing to work with the other side.

SANTORUM: But what does...

CROWLEY: I'm reminded what...

SANTORUM: Hold on. What does that mean, when you say "willing to work with the other side," this is the real key that I think the tea party folks and conservatives generally have sort of had enough with.

"Willing to work with the other side" in this town means doing what the other side wants, only doing it slower, instead of doing what is necessary for this country, which is scaling back government. Instead of growing government less fast, we want government to get smaller. Now, we are willing to compromise on how quickly we do that, but the idea that we need people who just slow down this eventual growth and that is the answer, is wrong. We need people who say that is the wrong direction. We need a fundamentally new way of looking at things in Washington. And I think Dan Liljenquist can do that. And Orrin, while he did some good in slowing down bad, he has never really been able to turn it back the other way, and that is not in his constitution, in my mind.

CROWLEY: Sounds like no room for moderates. It's what Jeb Bush complained this week and saying, look, I don't want to think that there would be any room for my father or Ronald Reagan.

SANTORUM: What does moderate mean? What does moderate mean?

CROWLEY: That perhaps you would reach across the aisle and say, I get where you are coming from, and this is --

SANTORUM: No, no, no, you see, moderate in this town and moderate understanding is doing more government -- in other words, we're still going to grow government; we're just going to grow it less. We need to stop that. CROWLEY: Let me ask you two quick questions before we leave, and the first is, is there any position in a Romney administration that you would like? Attorney general? I know you have been asked the veep question, but as you look forward in your life, can you see yourself serving in a Romney administration?

SANTORUM: I want to help Mitt Romney get elected president, and I'll be happy to help him and advise him if he wants my advice as president, but my objective right now is to serve my family and provide for them. I have got two kids in college --

CROWLEY: A flat no.

SANTORUM: Yes, it is pretty much a flat no. And it is not because I don't want to help Governor Romney, I don't want to be a part of being -- him having a successful presidency. It is just for me, it's a matter of my priorities and my time of being a husband and father, and I sort of have to take care--


SANTORUM: I have to take care of them.

CROWLEY: And finally, a lot of things were said in this campaign that have been played back to you. You know, you know, things that you have said about Governor Romney, about others in the race.


SANTORUM: He doesn't have the convictions, the authenticity nor the record that is necessary to win this election.

We might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what maybe the Etch-a-Sketch candidate for the future.

We already have someone in office who is not being truthful with the American public on a variety of different things.


CROWLEY: When you talk about this race to your children and your grandchildren and you look back, is there anything you think, I went too far here, I wish I had not done that?

SANTORUM: Well, no, not really. I mean, a couple of comments, if you will, you know, where I, you know, I have said publicly already when I called the president a snob, that was -- my wife really gave it to me that day. And you know, you get carried away and you maybe say things that you wouldn't. The point that I was making I don't back away from, the point that I was making that we need to focus more attention on people who don't go to college and make sure that they have career opportunities, too, was the point I was making, that college is not the only answer. But sometimes the rhetoric might have gone over the line.

CROWLEY: Questioned (ph) his authenticity, compared him to President Obama.

SANTORUM: Yeah, I have no problem questioning authenticity, I mean, those are all things that I thought were legitimate differences between us as candidates, and the same thing with President Obama. I mean, there are differences between us. I don't back away from any of those things, but at the same time, clearly the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney is a chasm, and I have a great degree of comfort in supporting Governor Romney as the choice between the two.

CROWLEY: Former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum,. Happy Father's Day.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much. And to all fathers out there, happy Father's Day to you.

CROWLEY: The million-dollar question in Washington right now, is what will the Supreme Court decide on health care reform?


JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG: At the Supreme Court, those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know.


CROWLEY: With insights like that, we are still wondering what will happen, and how Congress will act.


CROWLEY: The president's signature legislative achievement could all come undone by the end of this month in a ruling from the Supreme Court. The official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Critics call it Obamacare. No matter what they call it, most Americans never really warmed up to it. A recent CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 51 percent of people asked opposed the law; 43 percent favored it.

The central issue before the Supreme Court is whether forcing every American to buy insurance is constitutional, and if not, whether to strike down the entire law, which contains health care reforms, or just throw out the mandate.

A group representing the health care insurance industry has warned ominously that severing the individual mandate from market reforms could have a negative impact on individuals and families.

Just suppose for a moment the court strikes down the mandate, then what? Republican Senator John Barrasso and Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen next.


CROWLEY: I'm joined by Republican senator and Dr. John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Thank you both for being here, especially on Father's Day.

I want to put up on our screen for our viewers what is currently in effect in health care. Children up to the age of 26 may stay on their parents' insurance. Children with pre-existing conditions and some adults have to have coverage. It bans insurance companies from dropping sick people from their rolls.

CROWLEY: It eliminates lifetime limits on coverage for the critically ill and it has drug rebates in it.

What happens to those particular very popular elements if the Supreme Court should say you can't have mandates, you can't force people to buy health insurance, what happens?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, let's just take, for example, the current prohibition on denying kids who have pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes, health care. If the Supreme Court were to knock down the individual mandate, that whole piece is in jeopardy just like some of these other pieces.

Now, we don't know exactly what the scope of the Supreme Court decision will be or of course what it will be, but the reality is those very important protections are at risk if the Supreme Court knocks it down.

And of course, the irony here is that people like Mitt Romney knew that, which is why RomneyCare in Massachusetts requires everybody being in the pool, because then you pool their risks and then you don't have discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, whether they are kids or adults with cancer or other diseases. That is the whole idea of getting everybody into the pool.

CROWLEY: Well, also the idea is it is hard to afford to have these sorts of provisions if you don't have healthy people in the pool. If all you are insuring is sick people, you can't afford to continually to not have lifetime caps and that kind of thing.

Senator, the question here is certainly we can say that the Obama administration frontloaded the great things about this, at least as far as patients are concerned. What do Republicans propose to do if the mandate is dropped and insurance companies say, sure, we will keep it, but it will cost you double or triple or what happens?

BARRASSO: Well, first of all, Candy, I believe that this is unconstitutional and I believe there is going to be a stinging rebuke of this president's centerpiece legislation when the Supreme Court rules later this month, and they should rule that this is unconstitutional. If not, the Republicans want to repeal everything that is left standing.

But you raise the interesting point, because several times you said affordable. The whole goal of health care reform was to get patients to get the care that they need from a doctor they choose at lower costs. This health care law did nothing to deal with the fundamental problem, which is the cost of care.

CROWLEY: Sure, but now we have people that are getting benefits that I think you would sign on to, that you don't throw sick people off of health insurance, that even if you had a pre-existing condition, you should be provided some sort of health insurance.

So we have these sets of rules already in place, and the Supreme Court decision, if it throws out the mandate, jeopardizes those popular provisions. Doesn't it roll back onto Republicans who have fought so hard to get this thrown out? BARRASSO: Well, the Supreme Court may rule that just the mandate falls or the Supreme Court may rule that the whole health care law falls.

CROWLEY: And then what? Then what have you got?

BARRASSO: You are not going to see coming from Republicans a 2,700-page bill that, as James Madison said --

CROWLEY: What you will see?

BARRASSO: Well, you'll see step-by-step common sense solutions, but you are not going to see a law--


BARRASSO: -- so voluminous that it cannot be read, so incoherent that it cannot be understood, and you will see Republicans coming out, saying let people buy insurance across state lines, have people --

CROWLEY: But when? Because we're throwing out something that exists for --


BARRASSO: -- is unconstitutional --


BARRASSO: -- that is going to break the bank of the United States, it continues to be very unpopular because most people, Candy, if you go to a town hall meeting in Wyoming, and ask for a show of hands, they say under this health care law, they are paying more for their care and there's either a lower quality or a less availability of care, and people don't like that. That's why this law is so unpopular today.

CROWLEY: I want to try to get to you to answer what comes afterwards (inaudible) on this --

VAN HOLLEN: And that's why there is no answer here, because the Republicans say they want to repeal it. And then in the House they said they are going get to work with their replacement.

Well, we haven't seen any replacement, because while they say they want to make sure that the kids are not denied care because of pre-existing conditions, the only way you do that is by getting everyone in the pool. Everybody needs to understand that.

With respect to the cost of the health care, John knows very well that the main provisions to bring down those costs, put people in the exchanges don't even kick in until 2014.

At that time, the Congressional Budget Office, our nonpartisan referee, has said that for a given set of benefits the costs in the individual market could go down by as much as 20 percent, so those parts of the law have not even gone into effect yet.

CROWLEY: But the painful parts have not gone into effect yet, the taxes and that kind of thing.

VAN HOLLEN: But the parts that also will allow millions of Americans who were uninsured or underinsured to get affordable health care.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, as I asked the senator, let's say this mandate goes out, what is plan B for Democrats?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, the reality is that this was our plan. I mean, this was the proposed --

CROWLEY: You don't have a contingency plan?

VAN HOLLEN: Of course, the irony is Republicans were for this plan before they were against this plan, before President Obama was for this plan. That's why it was modeled after Mitt Romney.

But, you know, Candy, look, the answer is that we put this plan in place. It makes sure that kids who have pre-existing conditions are not denied care. It allows kids up to the age of 26 to be on their parents' insurance plans.

CROWLEY: (Inaudible).

VAN HOLLEN: If they strike that down, there is no other easy answer, which is why Republicans from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney were in favor of this approach. This was their alternative to Medicare for all. This was the Republican idea.

CROWLEY: What I am hearing from the two of you in sort of response to direct questions is neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a contingency plan for if the Supreme Court strikes down really what is the funding part of this health care law.

BARRASSO: Well, it is a (inaudible) step approach, let people buy across state lines, deal with junk lawsuits that drive up the costs of care because of all the unnecessary testing that is being done.

CROWLEY: When? But when do you that? Are you ready for it? Are you ready to throw it on the floor? BARRASSO: Well, (inaudible) the Supreme Court does. The court of public opinion is going to be right there the next day, This will be part of the campaign debates going into the election --

CROWLEY: After the election though.

BARRASSO: This will be a big part of it. You continue to use -- and Chris talks about Medicare for all; it's Medicaid for all, which is the program that right now half of the doctors in the country won't see people on Medicaid, because the reimbursement is so low, but that is the answer to the health care law, throw 17 million more people on Medicaid, which is why 26 states have sued the federal government, saying don't make us do this, we can't afford it. It takes money away from the education and a lot of things.


CROWLEY: In the minute that I have left, I need to know if there is any thought inside the Democratic Party of saying, whoa, we have got to figure out a way to save at least these benefits that are already in existence. Has there -- have you talked to the White House? Is there a plan B?

VAN HOLLEN: We don't know what the Supreme Court is going to do --

CROWLEY: Well, I know, but --

VAN HOLLEN: (Inaudible) our plan, Candy.


VAN HOLLEN: The Republicans have been against it. They have said that if the court strikes down even a part of it, they want to repeal the remainder. The answer to your question about what the Republicans would propose was what we saw between 2000 and 2006.

They did nothing; premiums from the major insurance companies doubled, it was the status quo, it was unacceptable and the American people rejected it. They want to go back to the status quo. We have got our plan.

BARRASSO: The president promised if you pass this health care insurance, rates would drop $2,500 per family. Families have seen the rates go up higher than that.

CROWLEY: In fairness, it has not all kicked in. But I have to call a time-out here simply because I want you to come back, because this argument does not go away. Senator Barrasso, Congressman van Hollen, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We will see you after the Supreme Court rules.


CROWLEY: Ahead, a check of the morning news. And later, an unexpected legacy of Watergate. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. Voters in Greece are at the polls for an election that could decide the fate of the euro and have an impact on the U.S. economy. If the anti-bailout candidate wins, that could push Greece out of the EuroZone.

Another closely watched election is under way in Egypt. Voters are deciding a presidential run off race between a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and the last prime minister to serve under former President Hosni Mubarak. Earlier this week, an Egyptian court invalidated the country's parliament and its constitution.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he will retire from politics when his second term ends next year. In an interview with a German newspaper, Ahmadinejad said that eight years is enough.

A wildfire in northern Colorado has destroyed nearly 200 homes and burned 55,000 acres. High temperatures and strong winds are not helping firefighters. The blaze has forced thousands of evacuations and left one person dead.

Next up, President Obama and Mitt Romney spar over the economy in a battleground state. Did either candidate land a knockout punch?


ROMNEY: He has not delivered a recovery for the economy.

OBAMA: If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney.



CROWLEY: Well, this is one way to spend Father's Day: Mitt Romney, father of five boys is in Brunswick, Ohio. He is on part of a six-day, five-day bus tour making three stops in Ohio, which we all know is like the state this year getting all of the attention. He is with congressman -- sorry, Senator Rob Portman, often thought to be on the top of the list for number two's for Mitt Romney. It's rainy day. Happy father's day. All of those folks still out there working. And to you, as well.

Matt Bai, thank you so much for joining us this morning. New York Times Magazine political reporter. Our own Jessica -- I started to say Jessica Simpson, I'm so sorry -- our own Jessica Yellin -- somehow that.


CROWLEY: Our chief White House...

YELLIN: I like it

CROWLEY: ...correspondent, thank you. My brain was someplace else.

OK, can we start with the who won the week? I'm very confused about this week. They both gave those dueling Ohio political speeches and everybody panned both of them. I thought, well, this is loser week for both.

YELLIN: I think that President Obama had a more worse week if you will.

CROWLEY: Worser.

YELLIN: Worser, up through Thursday night, up until his immigration announcement, because -- only because he set the expectations for that Thursday speech. He was the one who said I am going to frame my message and on that Thursday economic speech, and then he gave this meandering speech where this is a man known for sharp messages and it just didn't cut through. And so it was a loss for him.

And then the immigration story really turned things and I know we will get to that, so I will put it on pause, maybe you have a different take, but I thought that the speech for the president was not his finest moment.

CROWLEY: A of people sort of felt that way, but Mitt Romney also got some flack, because basically what I took away from both of those speeches was, please don't elect the other guy.

BAI: Well, no this is -- that is it, Candy. I mean, what you saw was a pretty decent framing up of the argument they want to be having right now in the early stage right. One side is going to say too much government has throttled free enterprise and the president is saying not enough government traditionally has allowed free enterprise to run amok.

The problem is, it's like 100 year old argument basically. And I think most Americans... CROWLEY: It is a classic argument. It's a classic Republican/Democratic argument.

BAI: And I think most American voters will tell you, or at least if they are not going to tell you, believe that both institutions, public and private have basically failed -- ill served the society and failed to keep pace with change. And I think Barack Obama understood that and embodied that in 2008 and to this point, neither candidate seems to be, you know, seems to be on that more future-oriented plane.

YELLIN: Neither candidate is also saying, look, we could be in for a long slog. And this is, you know, a re-election or election of this guy might not change that.

CROWLEY: Right. And one of the things that earlier in the week, there was some discussion certainly at CNN, and I know elsewhere of what -- what would they do, what would either one of these guys do to change the economy? I mean, there are a couple of realities here. Presidents don't change the economy. I think it was Taft or somebody who said everybody thinks presidents can make the grass greener and the sky bluer and it just doesn't happen. So there's that.

CROWLEY: And, B, neither one of them seems to be saying, my plan to make the middle class stronger is the following. It's all just these kind of basic overarching issues.

BAI: Yes. I think it becomes quite difficult because I think Mitt Romney is running a classic referendum campaign. He doesn't want to get boxed in between his base and these independent voters. He wants this to be all about, has the president -- are you better off than you were four years ago?

CROWLEY: Has he done -- right.

BAI: Right. And the president has found a lot of what he wants to do is politically unpalatable in the first four years to begin with. I mean, look at what he has tried to do on the budget in terms of striking a grand bargain, dealing with both his own base and Republican voters, taxes.

I think, you know, they, like all first-term presidents, tell themselves that in a second term it will be much easier to do all that kind of stuff.

CROWLEY: Well, in fact, David Plouffe, I kept saying, what makes you think you can pass in February what you haven't been able to pass since last September? He said, well, the Republicans are showing signs of coming around, and they may go for some tax increases.

YELLIN: Well, the president at a fundraiser last week, I think it was -- the time morphs so I think it was last week, said, their fever will break. He believes that if he's reelected the Republicans quote...

CROWLEY: The light will go on.

YELLIN: ... "fever" will break because they won't be fighting to keep him a one-term president anymore, to paraphrase what Mitch McConnell said.

And then he will have a chance to work with them, and, you know, maybe bipartisanship at last will happen.

BAI: The problem is you get about eight months to solidify your legacy before the midterms kick in. And then past the midterms you're a lame duck and nobody in your party wants to...

(CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: Pays any attention to you.

YELLIN: New campaign.

BAI: This is Shangri-la, this idea that somewhere out there over the horizon is the moment where you can do tough things and pay the price for them and people will follow you into the abyss. It never really comes due.

YELLIN: Plus they have the debt ceiling to deal with again and the fiscal cliff, and all sorts...

CROWLEY: And Social Security, taxes, and all that kind of stuff.

BAI: There's no easy time to make tough decisions. There never -- it never materializes.


YELLIN: You sound like a candidate.


CROWLEY: That's right. Let me show you a Gallup poll recently. It was asking folks, who do you blame a great deal or a moderate amount for the economy? Fifty-two percent said Barack Obama, 68 percent said George W. Bush.

And I want to play you something that Newt Gingrich had to say when he was talking to the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He campaigned in 2008 on the slogan, "yes, we can." He's running this fall on the slogan, "why we couldn't."


CROWLEY: So I think actually Newt Gingrich, who has a way of framing things pretty accurately, is, in fact, onto something with the Obama re-elect campaign, and that is, I don't think they're trying to blame George Bush. I think they're blaming Mitt Romney by osmosis, right?

It's, well, if you want to go back to George Bush, you're going to -- then go ahead and vote for Mitt Romney. So aren't they trying to use those figures in some way, shape, or form? Because there's such a lingering blame that is placed on him by most Americans.

BAI: They are. And I have to believe that that is a starting point in the debate for them. Because they have to know that that's not -- that's not a sum political winner in summary. In other words, you can't -- it's not really -- it may not be fair, it may be that the last 10 years of governance led to what Obama inherited and that he has had to deal with a very difficult set of circumstances. It's not that the American people blame him for the economic mess, but you are the president, you've been the president for three- plus years, you're not going to be able to win a re-election campaign, I think, based on the notion that you didn't create the mess and then can't be held accountable.

CROWLEY: You've got about 15 seconds here, 52 percent do blame President Obama somewhat or a lot. That can't be good news at re- elect.

YELLIN: They know that, but they also feel that they can make a case that the other guy is worse. And that's what they're doing with this George Bush equivalence and also trying to tie Mitt Romney to Republicans in Congress.

CROWLEY: Jessica Yellin, Matt Bai, thank you, come back again.

BAI: Any time. Thanks.

CROWLEY: Next, how a 40-year-old White House scandal changed our lexicon.


CROWLEY: And finally, today is the 40th anniversary of the arrest of five burglars for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Sound familiar? Well, try this, it is the 40th anniversary of Watergate.

That day Watergate of the name of a building complex housing the DNC offices. In the history books, it's the name of a scandal that brought down Richard Nixon. So great was the impact that the Oxford English Dictionary devotes considerable space to the word, including the modern use of just the suffix, "-gate."

"The continued success of -gate," it reads," shows how the English speakers have welcomed the means to describe any sort of scandalous event with a snappy suffix." Indeed, over the decades there has been "Travel-gate, "Billy-gate," "Monica-gate," and...


ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: Obviously somebody got access to my account, that's bad. They sent a picture that makes fun of the name Weiner. I get it, touche.


CROWLEY: "Weiner-gate."


WEINER: Today I'm announcing my resignation from Congress.




CROWLEY: There has been "Climate-gate," "Korea-gate," "NAFTA- gate," and...


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly.


CROWLEY: "Henry Louis Gates-gate," that was the one about the Harvard professor, a cop, and a president who stepped in it. No resignations, just a round of beers and an awkward photo-op closed the books on that one.

An initial Google search turns up more than 120 "-gates": "Contra-gate," :Memo-gate,""Nanny-gate." Examples range beyond U.S. borders and the confines of politics. There's "Nipple-gate," "Tiger- gate," "Camilla-gate," and...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's one thing that has followed you negatively...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You call it "Taser-gate"...

PALIN: We sure do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Trooper-gate," whatever.


CROWLEY: Palin's "Trooper-gate" is not the same as former President Clinton's "Trooper-gate." That one dealt with four Arkansas state troopers, an alleged extra-marital affair, and federal jobs.

After 40 years, sometimes it's just hard keeping the "-gates" straight.

Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Find today's interviews, some analysis, and Web exclusives at our Web site, Happy Father's Day to all our SOTU fathers out there.

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