Meet the Press | November 03, 2013
>>> this sunday, a special look at the state of the obama presidency as he struggles now to fix the rollout of his signature health care law .
>> we are just going to keep on working at it. we're going to grind it up.
>> one year ago this week, president obama beat former massachusetts governor mitt romney in the 2012 election. now the president invokes the name of his defeated gop rival to defend health care reform . in just a moment, governor romney joins me for an exclusive interview. and president obama 's approval rating is at an all-time low. obamacare is at a rough start. more u.s. spy revelations have rocked even our closest allies. and did the president consider replacing vice president joe biden with then-secretary of state hillary clinton ? that's according to a bombshell in a new book "double down, game changing 2012 ." bob wood card, katty kay , david axelrod , bill kristol . i'm david gregory in washington .
>>> and good sunday morning. the killing of a tsa agent at los angeles international airport is raising questions about the motives of the 23-year-old suspect, and also airport security . do tsa agents need to be armed? our justice correspondent pete williams will be here in a little while to give us an update and fresh report on all of that. but first, the obama care debate. the healthcare.gov was actually off site for repairs over the weekend. they said saturday the glitches are, quote, just at this present time of the iceberg. this week, as you might have remembered, the president traveled to boston to compare the rough start of obama care to what he called the slow start of the massachusetts health care plan. but he also praised his 2012 opponent mitt romney , who in 2006 , as governor of massachusetts , signed that state 's health care reform legislation into law.
>> i've always believed that when he was governor here in massachusetts , he did the right thing on health care . if it was hard doing it just in one state , it's harder doing it in all 50 states .
>> that is proving to be the case. and the 2012 republican presidential nominee , former governor mitt romney joins me exclusively this morning. governor, it's good to see you. thank you for being here.
>> thanks, david. good to see you.
>> why do you reject the compliment from president obama this week when he says obama care based on romney care and that's the right way to go?
>> well, i think the president failed to learn the lessons that came from the experience in massachusetts . first of all, the massachusetts experience was a state -run plan. the right way to deal with health care reform is not to have a one size fits all plan that's imposed on all the states but recognizing the differences between different states and their populations. states should be able to craft their own plans to get all their citizens insured and to make sure preexisting conditions are covered. and there's some other differences. in massachusetts , we phased in the requirements so that there was a slow rollout, that way you could test the systems as you went along to make sure there wouldn't be glitches. and perhaps the most important lesson the president, i think, failed to learn was, you have to tell the american people the truth. and when he told the american people that you could keep your health insurance if you wanted to keep that plan, period, he said that time and again, he wasn't telling the truth. and i think that fundamental dishonesty has really put in peril the whole foundation of his second term.
>> on that point, we are talking about a small piece of the individual market, about 5%. in your law in massachusetts , there were also minimum requirements for health plans in order to qualify for health insurance in massachusetts . and the reason for that is so that you had basic plans that didn't allow presumably young and healthier people not to be adequately covered, because if they ended up getting a condition, the rest of the people have to pay for it, that hurts your risk pool .
>> well, we could talk about the technical differences between the massachusetts plan and the federal plan, but the key, i think, that has really undermined the president's credibility in the hearts of the american people is that he went out as a centerpiece of his campaign and as a centerpiece of obama care over the last several years saying time and time again that fundamental to his plan was the right people would have to keep their insurance plan, and he knew that was not the case. he could know it by looking at massachusetts and seeing people there lost insurance . he could have learned those lessons and told the people the truth, but he didn't. he told people they could keep their plan. and, you know, it was nbc news that said, look, some 6 million people are going to lose their insurance . that's not some little number, that's 6 million american people . the comparison to massachusetts , though, really comes down to two major points. a lot of people don't have health insurance because they can't afford it so you have to have subsidies. that's what did you in massachusetts skpchlt massachusetts . and in order to make sure your risk pool is right, you have to have young and healthy people in it so that the people would be taken care of who are older and sicker. that's what you did. but here's what you said to meet the press back in 2007 about the mandate. i want to play it and get your reaction.
>> i think you're going to find that when it's all said and done after all these states , laboratories and democracy get the chance to try their own plans, that those who follow the path we pursued will find it's the best path and we'll have a nation that takes the mandate approach.
>> you don't believe all states shu should adopt this, but you do believe all states should take a mandate approach. if it's so good for massachusetts , what's wrong with taking it national?
>> what i said there was precisely right, which was each state should be able to put in place the plan that works best for them, and if they adopt the massachusetts plan, terrific. if they adopt a different plan, that's also fine. but recognize massachusetts teaches some important lessons some states are not going to want to follow. one lesson is health insurance is more expensive in massachusetts than anywhere else in the country. now, that's something that texas and minnesota and montana are not necessarily going to want to adopt. and you're going to see, as a result of obama care, premiums going up dramatically across the country, and again, going back to -- i think the key thing the president is trying to get away from, and that is that he told people they could keep their insurance and that was not the truth. and whether you like the model of obama care or not, the fact that the president sold it on a basis that was not true has undermined the foundation of his second term. i think it's rotting it away. and i think the only way he can rebuild credibility is to work with republicans and democrats and try to rebuild a foundation. we've got to have a president. we've got to have a president that can lead, and right now he's not able to do so.
>> that's very strong language. you're saying the way he pitched your ability to keep a plan will undermine his entire second term. but how do you know --
>> there's no question.
>> assuming they get the site up and working, that's a big assumption at this point, but if that happens, how is it that in the end the same approach that you took in massachusetts with regard to subsidies, with regard to a mandate, why don't you think that could ultimately be successful?
>> well, what's going to happen is the people are going to lose insurance . you're going to have millions of individuals lose their health care plans.
>> some people will end up saving money in the plans and some people will pay more. again, that was also the case in massachusetts .
>> well, that may well be the case, but the reality is that was not what was sold with obama care. obama care barely made it through washington , as you know. and there is no question in my mind but had the president been truthful and told the american people that millions would lose their insurance and millions more would see their premiums skyrocket, had he told them that at the time it was going through washington , there would have been such a huge cry against it, it would not have passed. you begin with honesty. we can talk about what's the right plan, and there are aspects of the massachusetts plan i think other states would be wise to adopt. there are probably aspects that states will say, i don't want that, i've got a better idea. let him try those things. but imposing something that in some ways resembles what we did in massachusetts on the entire nation is not something -- and particularly doing it, by the way, in a dishonest way without telling people what was entailed is something the american people are rejecting overwhelmingly.
>> final point on this. what would you have done had you become president -- in my interview of you during the course of the campaign, you said there were parts of obama care you would want to keep, et cetera . what would you have done? you just saw the republican party try to fund it or delay it. how would have dealt with obama care had you become president?
>> well, i'm not president so i can't be so clear-minded as to tell you what i would have done, but my own plan was to say to each state you've got a requirement to move to a point where all your people are insured and you cover preexisting conditions. we're going to give you flexibility from the federal government level to help you be able to do so. and with regards to what's going on in washington lately with the shutdown, if you will, to try and replace or defund obama care, there's no question that every republican i know of wants to see obama care replaced, repealed and repaired. at the same time, the tactic of shutting down government is one which i thought was not a good tactic in the first place, i thought it would not be effective and it was not effective. you heard this morning, for instance, the campaign manager of fran cuccinelli, when they were talking about the shutdown, they were having a hard time , and now they're talking about obama care and his campaign is doing better ask bettnd better. the shutdown was not the right way, in my view, but with obama care, i would have taken the senate and the white house and replace it with something that's going to do a better job for the american people and let them keep the insurance they were promised they could keep in the first place.
>> you mentioned ken cuccinelli running for governor in virginia. the new book is called "double down game change 2012 ." a lot of political entry. one aspect, governor, when you had a family owned plan, you actually voted against it. you questioned whether you should stay in the race and whether you could ultimately win. there is an argument that comes through in the book with some republicans that with the stakes so high in the 2012 election, did you not show enough fight? did you not want to win it enough? how do you rebut that charge?
>> there is no question but that i wanted to win it. no one could have worked harder than myself and my family worked for the campaign. we were all in, 110%. and we wanted to win very desperate desperately. we recognized what was at stake. frankly, i was concerned that if the president were reelected, the economy would continue to dwindle along, we would continue to lose credibility around the world, the american people would find it harder and harder to get jobs, and we're seeing those things happen before our very eyes. i ran because i believed i was the most effective guy to be able to beat president obama . it's not easy being an incumbent, but i thought i was the most likely to be able to do so, and i gave everything i could possibly give to make that a reality.
>> as you know, there is a lot of talk about 2016 . that happens immediately after 2012 . you considered chris christie to be your running mate and ultimately you rejected him, and some reporting in the book indicates that there was some concerns about his background and your own investigations and your own vetting process. here's what they report in the book. the dossier on the garden state governor's background was littered with potential landmines. there was no point in thinking about christie further. with the clock running out, romney pulled the plug on it for food. questions about his lawsuits, his health, indeed his weight. do you look at those issues as disqualifyi disqualifying, and if so, why?
>> i know the vetting people who went through that analysis and put together the report laid everything out. frankly, there wasn't anything they found that wasn't already part of the public record and hadn't been dealt with effectively by chris christie . there was nothing new there. the reason i chose paul ryan was, as i indicated before, which paul had a complement of skills and experience that i thought would be helpful if he actually became vice president. i had been a governor. i hadn't worked in washington . he had been in washington . he was a budget pro. and i figured his relationships in washington , his knowledge of the budget would be a good compliment to me. and chris, by the way, chris could easily become our nominee and save our party and help get this nation on the right track again. they don't come better than chris christie .
>> but you obviously had concerns about his health, his weight and other issues. if he does seek the nomination, do you think these are going to become issues? you yourself are reported as saying in the book a government race is not an important vetting process, these issues will come to the fore again. is there something he should be concerned about?
>> i know in a campaign people dredge up all the old stuff again. with regards to his health, his health is very solid, very good. there's not an issue there. i know the democrats will try to go after him if he's our nominee in any way they can, but you can't argue with the kind of success he's had. he's been the governor. he's about to win on tuesday, i think, pretty solidly, and his record as governor really stands out. new jersey, after all, is a very blue state . he's a very popular governor in a very blue state . that's the kind of popularity and the kind of track record the republican parties needs if we're going to take back the white house .
>> it's interesting. you have told republicans since losing in 2012 that electability is still the key, that you were the guy best positioned to beat president obama . do you think that governor christie is the favorite in 2016 because he's the most electable?
>> i think it's early to say who is the most electriciable and who would be the favorite candidate. but you look at chris christie and you say that's a great guy with a great track record, with ability to work across the aisle, with laborer and blue collar voters in new jersey. it's a very compelling story. there's other compelling stories. paul ryan , jeb bush , marco rubio . there is a long list of very capable people, but chris christie stands out in the light of the republican party .
>> does ted cruz stand out as a light in the republican party ?
>> i don't know. i've named some and we'll see where it goes.
>>> the future of the republican party . you've had a close enough look at some of the divisions of the party, so we'll talk about that with you in just a moment. plus, the man who was at obama 's side as the president defended his health care plan, massachusetts governor deval patri patrick.
>>> our new poll shows the president's ratings at an all-time