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'Meet the Press' transcript for Dec. 14, 2008

Transcript of the Dec. 14, 2008 broadcast of NBC's 'Meet the Press,' featuring Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Mary Mitchell, Chuck Todd, Jennifer Granholm, Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, Lee Scott, Eric Schmidt

MR. DAVID GREGORY:  Our issues this Sunday:  Charges of unprecedented political corruption in the president-elect's home state.


MR. PATRICK FITZGERALD:  The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY:  Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.  We'll talk to the state attorney general, Lisa Madigan, who is asking the courts to declare the governor unfit to serve; and the man who would replace him, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.

Then, lingering questions for the president-elect.  Did anyone in his inner circle have contact with Governor Blagojevich?  And will the stain of political corruption in Illinois taint the new Obama administration?  Insights and analysis from our political roundtable, Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chuck Todd of NBC News.

Plus, the U.S. economy in critical condition, in recession and getting worse. Jobless claims hit a 26-year high, and the auto bailout stalls in the Senate. What now?  Joining us, two key political players:  Michigan's Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm; and the former Massachusetts governor, 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Plus, three top business voices:  former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Walmart president and CEO Lee Scott and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

But first, the political corruption scandal involving Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Joining us, the top two officials in the state, the attorney general, Lisa Madigan, and the lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn.

Welcome to both of you.

MS. LISA MADIGAN (D-IL):  Thank you, David.

LT. GOV. PAT QUINN (D-IL):  Thank you.

MR. GREGORY:  Ms. Madigan, I'd like to start with you.  We know in the last couple of days that the governor is weighing his legal options.  He's speaking to defense lawyers.  Do you have any indication at this stage that he's prepared to resign?

MS. MADIGAN:  We have heard that there is a possibility that tomorrow he will make an announcement that he will step aside.  I don't know if that means he will resign or take another option that's provided under the Illinois constitution where he can voluntarily recognize that there is a serious impediment to his ability to carry out his duties and therefore temporarily remove himself.

MR. GREGORY:  Is there an option where he could resign and retain his paycheck, which is something, his financial situation, that he's said, according to the criminal complaint, that he's worried about?

MS. MADIGAN:  Yes.  I think that second option would potentially allow him to keep his salary.  And again, I have heard, as well, that that is one of his main concerns is his financial circumstances right now.

MR. GREGORY:  Lieutenant Governor Quinn, do you have any perspective on what he's about to do?

LT. GOV. QUINN:  I have no idea.  I hope the governor does resign.  I think that's best for the people of Illinois as well as for himself and his family. There is this other option that Attorney General Madigan just said, that he can step aside.  And he's got to do something because our state is in crisis.

MR. GREGORY:  All right, let me turn back to Ms. Madigan.  You talked about the various tracks on which this is proceeding now:  impeachment, a temporary restraining order, all efforts to get him out of office.  This is how you outlined it this week.  Let's listen.

(Videotape, Friday)

MS. MADIGAN:  The law gives the authority to Illinois Supreme Court to make a determination as to whether or not Governor Blagojevich is able to serve.  We think it is very clear that he is incapable of serving.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY:  "Incapable of serving," Ms. Madigan.  Why?

MS. MADIGAN:  Well, he's clearly incapable of serving based on the information that was contained in the criminal complaint of Patrick Fitzgerald, obviously, you know, filed on Tuesday.  So in addition to the fact that he was allegedly attempting to sell a U.S. Senate seat, gain campaign contributions for signing laws, refusing to provide Medicaid reimbursement to a significant children's hospital here in Chicago, get an editorial writer at the Trib fired, there is also this serious concern that absolutely everything that he does from here on out is going to be tainted.  It's going to be...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MS. MADIGAN:  ...illegitimate.  And so we think it is absolutely obvious that he is incapable of governing...

MR. GREGORY:  But...

MS. MADIGAN:  ...and for--the best thing to do is to move aside.

MR. GREGORY:  Let me press you on this.  You talk about the charges that are in the criminal complaint, which, by the way, is not actually an indictment, it's not a formal charge against him.  Are you aware of any of the evidence against him beyond what the public is aware of?

MS. MADIGAN:  Well, what I can tell you is that our office has been involved in providing assistance and information to federal law enforcement authorities all along.

MR. GREGORY:  So you're, you're aware of other evidence beyond what's in that complaint?

MS. MADIGAN:  All I can tell you is that our office has provided information assistance to federal law enforcement authorities.

MR. GREGORY:  Is it fair, though, as the attorney general of the state of Illinois, to pursue an effort to wrest the governor from office before he's had a chance to confront the charges against him, or to confront the witnesses against him before he's even been formally charged?

MS. MADIGAN:  Well, we are not looking to try to convict him criminally with the pleadings that we brought to the Illinois Supreme Court.  We're simply recognizing that these are extraordinary, unprecedented circumstances, and that we need to have a governor who can actually use the powers of that office and governor our state, or else our state becomes paralyzed.  And that is why we sought this extraordinary remedy of going to the supreme court, and the Illinois State Constitution does provide the Supreme Court a role in this.  We would like them very much to at least hear our side of the story.

MR. GREGORY:  Let me, before I turn to the lieutenant governor, one, one more question on this about your own political ambition which, in Illinois, is well-known, that in the past you've talked about pursuing the governorship of the state.  Your father is the speaker of the General Assembly.  You're in the center in all this at some measure.  Are you politically conflicted as you pursue this?

MS. MADIGAN:  No.  As the attorney general, I'm the lawyer for the people of the state of Illinois.  I will continue to do what is best for the people of the state.  And, really, after Tuesday morning, my continuing concern about the people is what has taken precedent.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MS. MADIGAN:  My political concerns will follow.

MR. GREGORY:  Would you like to be the senator from Illinois?

MS. MADIGAN:  You know, again, at this point, that's not even on my radar screen.  We're trying to move the state ahead in these really troubling times.

MR. GREGORY:  But if you were offered it, would you take it?

MS. MADIGAN:  Again, I haven't even thought about that, and I don't plan on thinking about it for a while, unfortunately.

MR. GREGORY:  All right, let me turn to the lieutenant governor Mr. Quinn.

You ran, of course, with Governor Blagojevich back in 2006, and when questions were raised about his ethical behavior back then, this is what you said. "He's always been a person who's honest and one of integrity." At what point did you change your view about him, and who is the governor?

LT. GOV. QUINN:  Well, I think after the election of 2006 through 2007 and 2008 things got worse and worse.  The governor announced that I was not part of his administration.  I did speak out against what's called "pay to play," accepting campaign contributions from contractors of state government.  I thought the governor did way too much of that, and it should be abolished. And I also led an effort to establish recall in Illinois where voters would be able, by referendum, to remove the governor or other statewide officials who weren't doing the proper job.  So I really feel that our state needs fundamental reform.  The only way to get it is for the governor to resign and all of us band together in the best traditions of Abraham Lincoln to get a government of the people.

MR. GREGORY:  But, Mr. Quinn, you have to, you have to understand, a lot of people hear about your relationship this week, that you haven't talked to him in a year and wonder what kind...

LT. GOV. QUINN:  Well...

MR. GREGORY:  ...relationship was this?  What kind, what kind of guy is he? What kind of political figure is he?

LT. GOV. QUINN:  Well, he's a bit isolated.  I tried to talk to the governor, but the last time I spoke to him was in August of 2007.  I think one of the problems is the governor did sort of seal himself off from all the statewide officials, so Attorney General Madigan and myself and many others, and that's no way to govern.  You have to be able to reach out and touch people and listen...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

LT. GOV. QUINN: their concerns.

MR. GREGORY:  So I, I just want to understand this.  So do you try to call him or go see him, and then he just doesn't get back to you?

LT. GOV. QUINN:  Well, you try and try.  But after a while, you know, it's not an easy place to go.  You just try and do your own job as best you can. The governor has his style.  I think that style hasn't worked for him or anyone else.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.  All right.  Let's talk about the, the prospect of the special election for this Senate seat that the president-elect is vacating. Of course, you were on the "Today" program earlier this week.  This is what you said.


LT. GOV. QUINN:  In general, I'm for the voters deciding who the next senator would be or any other public official.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY:  So are you for a special election?

LT. GOV. QUINN:  Well, since I was on the "Today" show, I saw a bill on Friday night that would provide for a temporary appointment to the U.S. Senate until we could have a special election.  I am concerned that we always have two Senators from Illinois representing us in Washington, and I think it's very important that whoever is governor get an opportunity to appoint at least a temporary person until an election could take place.

MR. GREGORY:  All right.  The, the issue here about this potential corruption in the state has raised a lot of eyebrows, obviously, in Illinois, about the question of where did all this come from?  Mary Mitchell, who will be on the roundtable in just a moment here, writes this morning in the Chicago Sun-Times what she calls "more of the same."

"The way out of the Senate seat scandal," she writes, "can't be more of the same.  With all due respect to Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, he shouldn't be in a position to pick the next Illinois senator.  He has served six years with the governor and didn't have a clue as to what was really going on with the Blagojevich administration."

Is that a fair criticism?

LT. GOV. QUINN:  No, I don't think it's fair at all.  I spoke out.  I, I was the leader of the effort to have recall in the Illinois constitution to give voters a chance to remove the governor if they felt that was appropriate.  I think that is the best way to go when all is said and done, if he doesn't resign.  But I would say this, that Illinois has had great, great U.S. Senators, people like Paul Simon and Paul Douglas and Barack Obama.  We also have some bad apples in politics, and we have to oust them and recall and, in this case, resignation is--are the way to go.

MR. GREGORY:  Ms. Madigan, let me turn to you one last time.  Your views on a special election.

MS. MADIGAN:  I think that's the appropriate way to go at this point, obviously, because of the taint that has been brought about by Governor Blagojevich in tempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat, allegedly.  That's the best thing for the people of the state is to have a special election, have somebody put in that position legitimately by the people.

MR. GREGORY:  As the attorney general, do you have any concerns about the potential involvement of the president-elect or other representatives in terms of contacts with the, the governor or his representatives?

MS. MADIGAN:  You know what, I do not know the extent or even the existence of those contacts.  It doesn't appear, from what I've heard so far, that there's anything improper that has occurred.

MR. GREGORY:  All right.  We'll leave it there.  Thanks to you both this morning.

MS. MADIGAN:  Thank you.

MR. GREGORY:  Let's now turn back here to Washington to discuss how all of this scandal in Illinois will impact the president-elect.  Joining us, Mary Mitchell, the aforementioned columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times, and Chuck Todd, our political director here at NBC News.

Welcome to both of you.

MR. CHUCK TODD:  Morning.

MS. MARY MITCHELL:  Thank you.

MR. GREGORY:  All right.  Chuck, so some of the news here is about incoming Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel...

MR. TODD:  Right.

MR. GREGORY:  ...a veteran of, of Chicago politics and going to be the chief of staff.  So he did have contacts with the Blagojevich administration.  The Chicago Tribune reported it this way this week, the headline that indeed he did talk with governor's office about who should fill this Obama Senate seat. "One source confirmed the communications between Emanuel and the Blagojevich administration were captured on court-approved wiretaps.  Another source said that contact between the Obama camp and the governor's administration regarding the Senate seat began the Saturday before the November 4th election when Emanuel made a call to the cell phone of Blagojevich's chief of staff John Harris.  Emanuel delivered a list of candidates who would be `acceptable' to Obama." A problem?

MR. TODD:  Perfectly normal communication that you would have in a situation like this, obviously, if Obama, becoming the president-elect, there would be some communication here between two Democrats, a Democratic governor and an incoming Democratic president.  The question is going to be--I think that the only thing the Obama folks have to fear is, did they have an inkling by any reaction from, from either John Harris or from Rod Blagojevich that they--those guys were looking for something...

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. TODD:  ...and did act upon that or not.  And then the second thing I think is, you know, did, did, you know--do they have their--do they know everything that's on tape?  And I think that's why we haven't heard from them, that's why there's been a slow response because I think there's always this fear of contradiction.  There's always this fear, "This is what I'm pretty sure the conversation was about," and, of course, we have an exact recording. And I think that's why we've seen a slow response by the Obama folks.

MR. GREGORY:  And, Mary Mitchell, it, it is fair to conjecture, I think, that, at this stage, the Obama lawyers and team is working with the U.S. attorney, Pat Fitzgerald, because some of this evidence, including Rahm Emanuel's contacts, would be on that wiretap evidence that's going to be a key part of the tape.  We've only seen some of that, of course, in that criminal complaint.  But there is a question about delays.  Why hasn't the Obama team put more of this out?  Is it a problem for him?

MS. MITCHELL:  It's a problem.  It's a problem.  And I'm not saying it's a criminal problem or anything like that.  It's a perception problem.  Should have came out first of all and said, "Yes.  What's wrong with talking to the governor about a seat?  There's nothing wrong doing that."

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. MITCHELL:  The--take two days, three days, a week, we're still waiting about this investigation.  Well, why would you have to investigate?  It would have to be somebody very close, a higher up person, a close adviser.  The secretary didn't do it.  You know, the, the cleaning guy didn't do it--have the conversation.  This was not barbershop talk.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. MITCHELL:  This would have to be a meeting to discuss a very important seat.  That's first of all.  Second of all, the shocking thing about the list that Rahm Emanuel allegedly was supposed to have given to him didn't have Congressman Jesse Jackson's name on it.  That, that just kind of blew my mind. Jackson worked for an Obama campaign, he was always running around talking about how close he was to the Obama family, but his name wasn't on the list? I mean, people are going to start asking questions about that, too.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MS. MITCHELL:  So besides the congressman being worried about the taint, now he's worried about his relationship with the president-elect.

MR. GREGORY:  Jesse Jackson Jr., the congressman, has denied any wrongdoing or any improper coordination with the Blagojevich administration.  But in the course of this complaint there are--there's a description of a representative of him talking to a representative of Blagojevich, kind of going down that road of what would be required to get the seat.  Is that a problem for him?

MR. TODD:  Well, it, it depends on what your definition of a problem is for, for Jesse Jackson Jr.  You know, is it possible somebody without his permission, you know, went to the governor, that, that he didn't know?  I think that's possible.  The other thing is, OK, he was already not seen as the most politically viable person to put into that seat to hold it statewide, OK? That is why he wasn't on this alleged list that Rahm Emanuel gave.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. TODD:  They were thinking in pure political terms, who can hold the seat, who can hold it in 2010?  And there was some question.  Jesse Jackson Jr. himself talks about the controversial part of his biography, which is his name.  You know, he said it in that press conference earlier this week.  So he's not in political trouble as far as his congressional seat.  He doesn't appear to have a criminal problem here, and he's not--you know, if he wants to be mayor of Chicago someday I think those ambitions are still there. Statewide ambitions, which were already, I think, a long shot...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

Mary, you, you--one of the questions that came up this week from a reporter in the press conference with the president-elect is, "What is wrong with politics in Illinois?" But you, in your column, try to put a little perspective to all of this, and this is what you write.  We'll put it up and share it with our viewers.  Called pay to play, which of course is critical of all this.

"Regardless of how we rail against Blagojevich, at the heart of all politics is pay to play.  Yes.  There's a thin line between expectations and shakedown. But do any of us really believe that the people who raise huge sums of money for a particular political candidate aren't expecting something for their efforts?  Do we really believe that a person who is vested with the power to give away a Senate seat isn't going to give it to the person who will somehow do him or her the most good?"

Here's The New York Times this morning, a fresh example of that.  Front page, "A champion of Wall Street reaps the benefits," talking about all of the contributions that Senator Chuck Schumer gets from Wall Street--constituents, yes, and an important business for the country.  Reality check time.

MS. MITCHELL:  Reality check.  Pay to play, everybody knows it, even--not just in politics.  Office politics, pay to play.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. MITCHELL:  You know, if you know the boss and the--and you, you, you need something from the boss, he's going to look around and find the person going to do him the most good.  He's not going to hire--you know, put somebody in a place of power that isn't doing him any good.  That's the world.  That's how the world works.  But there is a line.  You got to know how to play the game. And Blagojevich, Governor Blagojevich was tacky in playing the game.  That's what people are upset about.  They're embarrassed that this man had the nerve to get caught on the wiretap using foul language, actually giving voice to, you know, the wink and the nod thing.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. MITCHELL:  He didn't just wink and nod, he actually tried to shake people down, according to the wiretaps.

MR. GREGORY:  But even--the president-elect said this is the far side of the business approach to politics, which was a nice, euphemistic way to put this.

But, Chuck, this is part of entrenched politics here in Washington.

MR. TODD:  Yeah.

MR. GREGORY:  So I mean--that Obama's going to confront.

MR. TODD:  It is.  I mean, and it is one of the things Obama himself bragged about, about having so many small donors that maybe he wouldn't be, he wouldn't be caught having to just service, you know...

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. TODD:  ...the big, the big donor.

But you bring up a great point about Chuck Schumer.  And you're going to have this huge roundtable discussion about the economy.  What Wall Street happened? What happened in the financial situation?  You look at what--at some of the contributions that Wall Street made and, you know, there is a connection here. You wonder why legislation--why some things were overlooked or why Wall Street was allowed to do these credit default swaps or whatever.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MR. TODD:  It--there, there are lines here of, you know, huge donations made to people that are in charge of these regulations, the Senate Banking Committee...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MR. TODD:  ...and electing U.S. senators.

MR. GREGORY:  And none of this is illegal, by the way.

MR. TODD:  It's not illegal.

MR. GREGORY:  Even to raise it as, as an example is nothing, nothing wrong with it.

It's part of the system, Mary.

MS. MITCHELL:  It's part of the system.  But here's, here's the problem here. And, and I'm embarrassed, I'm from Illinois.  I've been at the Sun-Times for nearly 20 years.  We took our eye off the ball.  Anytime that the, that the governor of any state can basically auction off a Senate seat and the media doesn't get ahold of it and doesn't start, you know, reveal it--we're talking about the Obamas' dog and things like that instead of talking about keeping our eye on the prize and exposing this kind of dirty politics.

MR. GREGORY:  I want to talk about transitions here and go to some polling in just a minute, but some breaking news this morning.  The president has made a surprise visit--another surprise visit to Baghdad, and he appeared this morning with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.  A much orderly procession than we've seen in previous visits.  I'm sure the president will point to a sign of the stability in the country that this is, in effect, a state visit.  That's happening as he transitions out of office.  You wrote, you blogged this week on First Read, Chuck, about our new polling, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, and, frankly, a lot of support for Obama around the country both in his picks, how people, people, people feel about him personally.  This is how you wrote it.

"Obama's enjoying a bigger honeymoon than his recent predecessors ever did. Just consider these numbers in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll:  67 percent say they're pleased with Obama's early appointments; 75 percent believe that the level of his involvement in making policy has been exactly right; and his favorable/unfavorable rating, 67 percent to 16 percent.  By comparison, a month after their initial presidential victories, Bush's rating was 48 percent to 35 percent; Clinton's was 60 percent to 19 percent.  A lot of love out there.

MR. TODD:  It is.  One caveat, done before the entire Blagojevich thing...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MR. TODD:  ...exploded.  But two, this is a combination of hope and despair that Obama is benefiting from.  Yes, he's got his own supporters who are very hopeful and very optimistic, and we saw that in the movement of some right track/wrong track numbers.  But, wow, the country gets the scope of the problem.  There is a lot of pessimism out there for what we're facing and what we've faced.  We had half our survey said this--2008 was the worst year that they could remember in their lifetimes.  We had 90 percent say the economy got worse over the last year.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. TODD:  You had pessimism about the way things are going ahead.  So the despair, in an odd way, is helping Obama.  People that didn't support him are rooting for him, not because they want Barack Obama to succeed, because they want themselves to succeed.

MR. GREGORY:  And I've got...

MR. TODD:  So it is this odd combination that Obama's benefiting from.

MR. GREGORY:  A lot of latitude.  We're going to leave it there.  Chuck Todd, Mary Mitchell, really appreciate you both being here.  Thanks very much.

MR. TODD:  Thanks, David.

MS. MITCHELL:  Thank you.

MR. GREGORY:  And coming next, the U.S. economy in critical condition, our special discussion.  Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Walmart President and CEO Lee Scott, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt--all of them right here only on MEET THE PRESS.


MR. GREGORY:  The economy in turmoil.  A special discussion after this brief station break.


MR. GREGORY:  And we're back on MEET THE PRESS.  We've assembled quite a panel of experts here:  former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm; and the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt; the former CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina; and down in Arkansas this morning, the CEO of Walmart, Lee Scott.

Welcome to all of you.  I really appreciate you being here.  This is such a challenging time for the country, and the economy is in such dire straits, it's a really important conversation to have.

Let me start, Governor Granholm, with the auto bailout.  It failed in the Senate this week.  There may be some hope for the White House for the Big Three.  What went wrong?

GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D-MI):  You know, I think that we didn't do a good enough job explaining to citizens across the country what a failure of these--the automobile industry would mean for America.  Obviously, with the ramifications across the country with all of the jobs, three million jobs, I don't know that people felt it.  I think the timing was bad because it, it came on the heels of the financial industry bailout.  But I also do think that there was an issue there, according to the Los Angeles Times, who saw a, a, a missive that was sent out on Wednesday to the Senate Republicans that it was an opportunity to, to go after the unions, too.  So I think there was a...

MR. GREGORY:  Well, you...

GOV. GRANHOLM:  ...collection of things that caused this.

MR. GREGORY:  Well, you actually had some very strong comments about this during an interview on WJR radio in which you talked about why this failed. Let's listen to that.

(Audiotape, Friday)

GOV. GRANHOLM:  What do we elect these people in Congress for if not to protect our citizens?  And all they have been doing, the Republicans in the Senate have been protecting the foreign companies that are in their borders. They're not acting as Americans.

(End audiotape)

MR. GREGORY:  Not acting as Americans.  That's pretty tough language.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Well, why are other countries helping their auto industry right now?  It's because they see it as a critical national need.  We have a national need in this country--it's not like any other industry.  The auto industry is going to be the industry that enables us to be independent of Middle Eastern oil.  This is a--the industry that's going to lead us to the electric vehicle, to energy independence.  So if we don't have an auto industry that's, that's an American, domestic auto industry, not only does it mean three million jobs lost, not only does it mean that we're going to have to pay the costs of the cleanup of the fail of the bailout--which is, by the way, about $150 billion to the taxpayers, because you'll have more people on unemployment, more people needing health care and all of that.  So not only will you have that, but you also will not have the ability to have an industry that leads us to energy independence.  We'll be replacing our reliance on foreign oil with the reliance on foreign batteries, because it's the battery that's going to be driving the electric vehicle in the future.

MR. GREGORY:  Governor Romney, you, you've been outspoken about this as well, and you've got some personal experience with this.  Your father, of course, an auto executive.  You came out against a bailout.  Are you glad to see that it stalled?

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA):  Well, I, I am glad to see that the proposal that was made by the chief executives of the Big Three didn't get accepted. They basically came to Washington saying, "Give us, give us a check so we can continue to fund business as usual." Look...

MR. GREGORY:  Fourteen billion dollars is what they were, what they were...

GOV. ROMNEY:  Well, and originally they wanted a lot more than that.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

GOV. ROMNEY:  And I'm glad to see there was some progress made over the, the ensuing weeks.  But, frankly, I think all Americans agree that we want a domestic automobile manufacturing sector.  We don't want to see this go away.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

GOV. ROMNEY:  We don't want to lose those jobs.  And we believe, the long term, it's important for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to survive, to grow, ultimately to thrive and create more jobs.  The question is what's the best way to do that?  Right now, those companies suffer about a $2,000 per automobile cost disadvantage.  Part of that is labor, part is benefits and part is a legacy cost associated with retirees.  As long as that $2,000 disadvantage is on their back, they can't be competitive.  They'll keep losing share, they'll ultimately find themselves, frankly, being potentially liquidated down the road.  So let's get rid of that cost disadvantage.  And I think the reason that Republican senators stood up--and by the way, business executives like Jack Welch stood up and said, "You know what, this may require bankruptcy or something like a, a very powerful czar that could step in and change those contracts, change some of those burdens, get the costs down." If you do those things, we can make these companies competitive long term, they can be successful, they can beat back Toyota, Honda and Nissan making cars right here in the U.S. at a $2,000 cost advantage they have.  We've got to, we've got to make sure...

MR. GREGORY:  Do you want to respond to that quickly, and then...

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Wait.  Let me just jump in quickly because one of the reasons why there is a cost disadvantage is because other countries provide health care for their citizens.  In America, we put that entire business on--burden on business.  Lee Scott's on this--in this conversation.  He has come to the National Governor's Association and said if you want to make us competitive, let's have a uniquely American solution to the cost of health care.  That will significantly reduce that disparity between the U.S. and other countries in terms of competitiveness of the auto industry.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Dave--David, that's a, that's a nice point except it doesn't relate to the companies from overseas that are making cars...

GOV. GRANHOLM:  It's relates entirely to the legacy costs.

GOV. ROMNEY:  ...making cars here, that are making cars...

GOV. GRANHOLM:  You know that.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Hold on just a moment.  That are making cars right here in the U.S.

MR. GREGORY:  All right.  Let's...

GOV. ROMNEY:  The companies across the ocean have come here, made plants in the U.S.--Nissan, Toyota and Honda.  They're able to make cars...

GOV. GRANHOLM:  I hope...

GOV. ROMNEY: $45 an hour, labor costs plus benefits and legacy costs.

MR. GREGORY:  All right, let me...

GOV. ROMNEY:  Our cost is $73 with...

GOV. GRANHOLM:  It is not!  That is--that has been totally--Mitt Romney, now, you know that...

GOV. ROMNEY:  ...with--I'm sorry.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  ...because it's not...

MR. GREGORY:  I want to break, I want to break in here because this debate, this debate will go on.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Labor costs, labor costs, legacy costs--labor costs and legacy costs and benefits are $73 an hour.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  That's not accurate.

MR. GREGORY:  This part of the debate's going to go on.  I want to bring Eric Schmidt in here.  You have said, as CEO of Google, that innovation will power us out of almost everything.  And, Carly Fiorina, that's something that you agree with.  Even the GM letter this week saying that, "We acknowledge we have disappointed you," the ad said this week.  "At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs have become lackluster." They failed in the innovation game.  Isn't that behind the failure of the bailout?

MR. ERIC SCHMIDT:  But they can fix that, because America is a place where innovation drives huge business outcomes.  It drives job creation, it pays our taxes, it has created the wealthiest society on Earth.  We forget, in the middle of all this doom and gloom, that we have the strongest universities, the most creative people, people coming all around the world to come here. There's every reason to think that we can take the money the federal government's going to provide in this stimulus anyway and solve our fundamental energy and transportation issues relatively quickly, and with American jobs and with American expert-oriented industries.

MR. GREGORY:  Lee Scott, you're stepping down as CEO and president of Walmart.  It's been suggested by some hometown press that you might like to take over one of the auto companies.  Is that something you're thinking about?

MR. SCOTT:  No, it isn't anything that's crossed my mind at, at this point. The great thing is I'm a retailer.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. SCOTT:  And, and I've, I've got a feeling that this is a lot less complex business than what you're talking about.

MR. GREGORY:  How so?

MR. SCOTT:  Well, in our business we're focused on customers, we're focused on everyday needs of middle-class America, working people.  And so what we are is in touch with what's happening out there in this economy on an everyday basis.  An example would be we're seeing right now these Walmart moms, they're spending their money against their children's needs and their family's needs and deferring their own purchases.  We're seeing people buy more and more food, particularly frozen food.  In our Sam's Clubs, we're seeing the small business, particularly the restaurant owner, who's visiting the club multiple times a week as yesterday's cash flow allows them to purchase...

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. SCOTT:  ...for tonight's business.  So that's the business we're in is everyday real life, real people kind of business.

MR. GREGORY:  Let, let, let's do that, and Carly Fiorina I want to bring you into this.  But I want to share some information.  As we pull back and look at the broader economy, we've compiled some statistics that we, we think are revealing.  Look at the economy compared to a year ago.  You look at the Dow, down 35 percent.  It was up over 13,000, now it's at 8630.  Unemployment is up two full percentage points, 43 percent increase.  That's two million jobs that have been lost in a year.  Home foreclosures up 28 percent.  This is how the Associated Press reported on the employment picture this week.

"Employment shrank in virtually every part of the economy - factories construction companies, financial firms, accounting ...  [and] retailers.  ... The United States - already in recession for a year, may not be out of it until the spring of 2010 - making for the longest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, economists are now saying."

This also struck me, Ms. Fiorina.  During the Depression, 1933, there was 25 percent unemployment.  That was about 11 million workers.  At 6.7 percent unemployment, we're already talking about 10.3 million workers because the work force is so much bigger now.  Are we actually headed for a depression?

MS. CARLY FIORINA:  I don't think so.  But I think all of those statistics are an important reminder.  While we have been focused in Washington on big companies...

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. FIORINA:  ...the Detroit automakers, and big unions, the truth is we're not as concerned, and we should be, about the hundreds and thousands of small businesses who actually create two-thirds of the jobs in this country.  Which brings me all the way back to the original problem.  We have a recession, a deepening recession right now because credit is unavailable.  Credit is unavailable to small businesses so they can't hire.  When hundreds of small businesses can't hire 10 and 15 people, over time that creates big unemployment numbers.  They may not have big unions to represent their interests in Washington.  They're the little guy, but the little guy matters. When credit isn't available, consumers don't have the money they need to spend.  So I think we have to go back to the root of this problem, ultimately, which is credit is still unavailable.  And that is despite massive bailouts of big financial institutions who are still not lending.  And I think we also have to remember in this debate about the automakers, whether it's a $15 billion bailout or a $30 billion bailout...

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. FIORINA:  ...that won't save the auto industry.

MR. GREGORY:  Let me follow up on this point, because I, I had, I had a conversation with a friend of mine out on the West Coast who's in a marketing job and worried that the loss of one additional client could actually lose him his job.  And he's got a lot of friends who are in that position.

Governor Romney, you understand the capital markets pretty well.  I spoke to some experts this week who said what people may not understand is that there's plenty of money in the economy, it simply has nowhere to go.  Can you explain what that means and why that matters?

GOV. ROMNEY:  Well, people are holding onto their money.  Consumers are saying they're concerned about the future, and so they're pulling back.  Look, what, what's happened in our economy for the American family can be illustrated by the total numbers.  The, the total net worth of Americans has dropped by about $11 trillion over this last couple of years.  And that translates into about $600 billion a year less consumer spending.  That's a lot of money that comes out of the, the stores and the automobile showrooms. And, and that's going to have to be made up somehow.  Now, you might think, well, we can make it up with exports.  But the dollar's become so strong, that's not going to happen.  You might say we can make it up with new investments.  That's not going to happen because of the credit crunch.  And the last player that can step forward is government, and that's why we're going to have to have our government take action to stimulate the economy.  I think, actually, the tax reductions for middle income individuals, lowering our corporate tax rates, those will have the biggest impact.

Actually, Greg Mankiw, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, says that tax cuts have a greater multiplier effect, more bang for the buck even than more spending.  On the spending front, though, we're also going to have to spend more.  I hate doing that as a conservative, but I think we ought to spend more to upgrade our military equipment.  It's been shot up, it's been lost in the Middle East.  But the government is going to have to step forward, not only with monetary policy to add funding and capital to the capital markets so we see more lending, but also for additional spending and lower taxes.

MR. GREGORY:  And I want to get to the stimulus picture.  I want to ask both of you about that.

But, Lee Scott, let me bring you back into this just to talk about the American consumer.  You're the largest retailer in the world.  You've actually had a pretty good year this year because of your, your business model, lower prices on thing that, that people need, as you--as your mission statement says.  Where is the American consumer?  What we see in our polls again and again is that the number one thing that people are worried about is losing their job, and the number one asset in their lives, their home, continues to decline in value.  And as much as the government's trying to help out in this regard by lowering long-term rates, people still aren't confident that their home isn't going to lose more value.  So where are they mentally, psychologically?

MR. LEE SCOTT:  Well, what we're seeing is, in our surveys and interfaces with the customers, which we do extensively every month, is that energy costs have clearly dropped.  I noticed on my way in here this morning gasoline here is $1.339, so that's moved down.  We're seeing, though, that, that our customers have a great deal of faith that government will ultimately take the right action and be successful in addressing the current situation, but the number one issue today is their concern about their job.  And that is, that is clear.  You can see, across our store, things--in our pharmacy group, we have increases in prescription drugs, but not at the same rate it was.  And what we're seeing is an increase in self-treatment.  We're seeing an increase in food storage as people are cooking more at home.  And, in fact, using leftovers more extensively.  So consumers are, in fact, changing their behavior.

If I could just add, though, David, I--we think--we are optimistic over the long term--certainly, the next few months, are going to be very challenging. But we, we believe there's an opportunity here to not just address this challenge and this crisis, but what are we going to do as a country so we emerge from this crisis as a stronger America?  So are we going to address comprehensive healthcare reform...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MR. SCOTT:  ...or are we going to have a national energy policy?  What are we going to do about education?  Because if all we do is this one package, and we don't address the rest of it, what will keep us from coming right back to the same situation?

MR. GREGORY:  Well, and let's get to that issue of what the government can now do.

Eric Schmidt and Governor Granholm--I'll start with you, Eric Schmidt.  What has to be in this stimulus package?  You've been providing advice to the Obama transition administration.  There's talk that it could approach a trillion dollars.  A couple weeks ago, it was $500 billion.

MR. SCHMIDT:  I certainly don't know how much the stimulus package is going to be.  We have, essentially, a classic liquidity squeeze and a falling real estate market.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. SCHMIDT:  The correct thing for the government to do is to come in with a fair amount of money to get the--get business going again.  If you're going to do that, seems to me that you should get a twofer.  The president-elect has talked about this.  Let's use that money to fix some of the problems that we have in the country--roads, bridges, schools, access to broadband.  And maybe we can work on energy policy.  In energy, for example, we're dependent upon foreign oil, which is crazy.  We've got technology in America with respect to automobiles and power systems.  We have lots of land, lots of sunshine, lots of wind, all of the natural resources that you could imagine, that we're not using.  We have technology that's been invented in America to create, to create solutions to get us off of foreign oil and start decreasing our use for, for climate-polluting things like coal.  The effect of this is we get a whole new industry started with this stimulus that's going to happen anyway.

MR. GREGORY:  By the way, I'm just curious, before I get to Governor Granholm.  What, what is--the way people use Google, the search engine, tell you about their psychology in the, in the--in this, this economy?

MR. SCHMIDT:  Well, a--it's interesting that the Internet continues to grow sort of independent of whether there's a recession or not.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MR. SCHMIDT:  The--we, we've seen quite an increase in, in queries of things like "discounts" and "bargains" and things like that.  And we know that shoppers are using the Internet to get--do better pricing.  They're getting better value.  But, but, fundamentally, they're behaving as you'd imagine.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MR. SCHMIDT:  They're more careful about money, they're doing more comparison shopping, and they're buying.

MR. GREGORY:  Governor Granholm, what, what do you say?  What has to be in the stimulus?

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Well, I think it has to be a broad-based economic recovery package.  I mean, first of all, you have to make sure that we don't do further harm, and that's why making sure, for example, that three million people don't lose their jobs with the auto industry and, and the related industries is very important.  But in addition to that, the governors of the states are really focused on what is it that's going to put people to work right now.  So we have--I mean, for example in Michigan, we've got over 800 projects that have all been engineered--when I say projects, I mean roads, bridges, etc., things where dirt will fly, and they're just sitting on the shelves because we have had no funding to be able to, to put those--you know, to put shovels in the ground.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  This will enable people to get to work.  But--to be put to work.  But it's also the count--what is known as countercyclical measures, meaning when times are tough you need safety net--the safety net more.  And so we have less money, but we have more need for people on health care, for people on unemployment, etc.  So you have to make sure you do both things. You fund the countercyclical things so that you keep people form being hurt...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  ...and you also fund this ability to get them to work.  And I think Eric is right on the money.  Make sure that the money is going toward something that will have the long-term benefit of transforming the economy, particularly in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

MR. GREGORY:  But, but, Carly Fiorina...

MR. SCHMIDT:  Well, the governor, the governor has plants in her state which could be converted...


MR. SCHMIDT: building batteries and battery systems for automobiles. They're empty right now.  Let's use them.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Let's go!

MR. GREGORY:  But, Carly Fiorina, let's talk...

MR. SCHMIDT:  All right.

MR. GREGORY:  ...about tax policy, because you mentioned that just a moment ago.  I, I've talked to, to some people in the economy, some bankers this week who say, you know, the problem with a rebate, for instance, is that people may use it once, they might save it, but a sustained tax break lets them know that that money's going to be there.  But the governor--Governor Romney talked about corporate tax relief.  But isn't what's more important here is the consumer, more that middle, middle income tax relief so you get consumers driving some of this recovery rather--because it's not so much a question of businesses not spending.  They have to cut back because both they can't get loans and because the consumer is shrinking.

MS. FIORINA:  I think the consumer is extremely important.  And, as everyone has said in their own way, the first concern of the consumer is, "Will I have a job?" And that's why getting the job creation engine going is so important.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MS. FIORINA:  Eric is correct that innovation is a job creation engine.  But the reason I keep talking about small business is because small businesses are the engine of job creation in this country.  Two-thirds of the jobs come from small-business owners.  So we have to make it easier for small businesses to form and hire and grow and prosper.  Tax policy can help with that, absolutely.  But I also think it's important to realize that businesses, whether they're large, medium or small, businesses want to have some certainty about the--what the tax climate is, so that they can plan.  And Governor Romney is absolutely correct, when we have the second highest business tax rate in the world, that does not encourage businesses to form and grow here. It is also true that there is a difference among states in their business tax policy, and so a lot of states have used tax policy to attract jobs.  Southern states have used tax policy, state tax policy, to attract auto jobs, for example.  So I think tax policy makes a huge difference in job creation, it makes a big difference in small businesses in particular.  But we got to get the job creation engine going.  Government can help, certainly; but, ultimately, businesses create jobs in this country.

MR. GREGORY:  Lee Scott, generally your view about the role government could play--and let me use a specific example, and that's the area of housing prices.  We don't know where the bottom is for the housing market.  Nobody knows that.  It's just like the stock market in terms of actual prices here. But there is an attempt here by the federal government and the Federal Reserve to buy up a lot of this long-term debt, in effect to own the majority of mortgages in the country, which--as opposed to investors owning them--which is certainly an important new trend.  But it doesn't necessarily incentivize people to go out and buy a home if they are concerned that the value's going to continue to go down.  Should the government provide insurance to homeowners to guarantee the principal, which is something that's being discussed right now?

MR. SCOTT:  Well, I don't know.  It's hard for me to be critical of government intervention in the mortgage business, since my wife and I got our first house in the early '70s through a 5 percent tax rebate that came from buying a $30,000 home.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. SCOTT:  And that $1500 we got back from the government was, in fact, our down payment.  And I thought--quite honestly, I thought that was a very effective way to give myself and my family the opportunity for home ownership and to do it in a very constructive way.  I think back then the interest rate was 8.75, so it wasn't that attractive.  But I think there is a role that government can play.

MR. GREGORY:  Governor:

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Can I just say, I, I think that one other piece that is very important that is an opportunity right now is to give people the means to be retrained.  And so we've got a lot of people in Michigan, for example, that have had the rug pulled out from under them, and maybe they could be retrained to do, you know, energy efficiency work by retrofitting homes or businesses with weatherization and, and a--you know, making sure that we reduce our carbon footprint.  Maybe they could be retrained for healthcare jobs.  We've done something in Michigan--you know, we have no, No Child Left Behind.  We call it No Worker Left Behind, where we have taken the community colleges as the means of work force training and use them to be able to retrain people. We've got 35,000 people in the training system right now.  But government can really help explode that because, as you create this knowledge economy, our goal is to double the number of college graduates in Michigan.  We're in the middle of this paradigm shift where we tell people you can't just expect to go from high school to factory anymore.  Well, as the, as the next administration considers the stimulus, work force training is a huge opportunity.

GOV. ROMNEY:  It's been going on for a long time in Michigan.  Michigan needs, needs some help fast.  But I guess the nation needs help fast.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

GOV. ROMNEY:  The real question that, that I have is why is Washington waiting?  We're seeing more than 100,000 jobs a month being lost in this economy, and we're waiting.  I guess people are waiting for the next president.  I don't know why.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Well, tell the president to...

GOV. ROMNEY:  I think, I think, I think the Republicans and the Democrats and the president need to come together and say, "We're going to take aggressive action to get this economy moving as fast as we can."

MR. GREGORY:  You think the president could have been more aggressive about this?

GOV. ROMNEY:  Oh, I, I think Congress and the president need to act...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

GOV. ROMNEY:  ...and put together their own stimulus package instead of waiting for Barack Obama.  Take action right now.  Look--right, right now we talk about, for instance, infrastructure projects.  Those are great.  We're, we're in favor of those things, they need to be done.  They're going to get done anyway, let's move them forward.  But they take time in most cases because you have to have the environmental reviews and the...

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

GOV. ROMNEY:  ...the engineering work done, and then you have to contract it out to different contractors, and it takes a while to happen.  We'll do it, but it's not the immediate jump-start this economy needs.  That's why tax policy, in many cases, lowering taxes on middle income individuals...

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

GOV. ROMNEY: the way to get things moving most aggressively in the consumers' hands...

MR. GREGORY:  And we...

GOV. ROMNEY:  ...and in small businesses' hands.  But let's, let's put together our platform.  Let's have Republicans put together our own platform of what we'd do to stimulate the economy, get it out there, have the Democrats do the same.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Let's vote on something, get it in place instead of waiting for late January or February.

MR. GREGORY:  Well, let's, let's talk about our recent polling.  The question was about the role of government, and the question is, "When it comes to the economy, the federal government is focused on..." what?  Look at the responses:  61 percent in our poll said helping large businesses; just 5 percent said helping average Americans.

The question, Eric Schmidt, is what responsibility, then--if that's how people are perceiving this--does the business community have in being statesmen and women and playing a real leadership role beyond Washington?

MR. SCHMIDT:  The issue ultimately is about self-interest.  And you had a lot of scenarios where people have taken their own self-interest ahead of the citizens or their, or their employees or so forth and so on, and it's put a bad name on that whole part of the industry.  The important thing here is to lead for the nation.  This is a great country.  We have some of the most amazing resources and opportunities.  I would much prefer to be going through this in the United States than, for example, in Europe, right, where all of this stuff will take five years rather than one year to get through.  So let's get on with it.  Let's get the message out.  Let's restructure.  Let's do everything Carly said about small businesses, and let's do it quickly, as the governor said.  The most important thing we can do right now is help fund the facilities that are already in place.  The states have things ready to go, the infrastructure projects are ready.  There, there's a lot of things that we could do literally in the first week of President-elect Obama's service, if not before.

MR. GREGORY:  Lee Scott, you know, you've been criticized at Walmart on, on healthcare issues, on driving down wages.  As a business leader, and when you think about your successor at Walmart, do you have a responsibility to help Washington with the employment picture?

MR. SCOTT:  Well, we've been fortunate this year with our business to have added 30,000 jobs here in the U.S.  We've improved our health care, we've improved, I think, the, the general opportunity of our associates.  So criticisms aside, I, I think Eric's exactly right.  These are not times to be self-serving, and that's why we have reached out to the new administration and said, "We want to be a partner on these things." Any business or anyone today who's putting their interests ahead of this country, I think, is just on the wrong track.  And, and we get, quite honestly, some people who, who say that we shouldn't be pushing for this energy policy and for this reform in health care, that Walmart shouldn't be involved in that.  I think they're just wrong. I think today, more than ever, we have a responsibility to participate, and I don't mean on a negative side of participating by just being critical of what's proposed, but by being a partner in these solutions.

MR. GREGORY:  I want to go around the table with everybody.  As we, we get closer to Christmas and people are worried about this, and we go into the new year and a new administration--I'll start with you Governor Granholm.  What are you watching?  What are you looking for as an indicator of whether this is going to get worse or whether we're going to see some recovery?

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Well, I mean, for me, the--in the immediate--and I want to thank President Bush for actually saying--indicating that he's going to be using whatever executive power he can to ensure that the auto industry does not go down, because it means so many other industries across the nation.

MR. GREGORY:  And he can top the TARP.  He can get some of that bailout money to help, yeah.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  And he can do that.  It's exactly right.  Just to get us to this.  But I do think this issue of confidence and of access to credit is so important.  Confidence is so critical for the nation.  If you're not confident, you're not going to buy a car, much less a product from Walmart. You're not--you know, if you don't have access to credit.  So that issue. And, and the leaders, I think, really need to be evoking this, "We're going to be all right.  In fact, we're going to be magnificent." And a crisis brings a moment for us to shape something different into the future.  That's true with the automobile industry, it's true with every industry.  And so I think that the issue of, yes, we want to see swift action on jobs, we want to see swift action on access to credit, but we also want to make sure that we, we, we have a vision for the future that's going to take this issue forward.

MR. GREGORY:  All right, so we've got three minutes.  I want to get to everybody.

Carly Fiorina, what are you looking for as an indicator?

MS. FIORINA:  Well, I think credit conditions improving is vital.  And frankly, common sense and logic say to me that if the government has already spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out large financial institutions that there should be some conditions attached to that bailout, and the conditions should be, "Let's loan some money." It is inconceivable to me that the automakers who actually need a bridge loan to get them to a place where they can restructure are coming to the government because the banks refuse to give them a loan.


MS. FIORINA:  Those banks ought to be, I'm sorry, required to loan money. The taxpayer has bet on them, and they are unwilling to bet on three American companies.  Credit has to be loosened or small businesses and consumers are not going to be able to buy or hire.

MR. GREGORY:  Eric Schmidt:

MR. SCHMIDT:  The government is guaranteeing more than $2 trillion worth of loans to these institutions.  It's time for that money to start working. Hopefully, very soon after the president-elect is, is in office, we're going to see a stimulus package that is of, of sufficient size that will bring confidence back to the markets.  We know that when American consumers have credit, have cash they will spend it.  That will then begin the recovery cycle, and it will be quick.

MR. GREGORY:  OK, Governor Romney.

GOV. ROMNEY:  You know, I, I'll paraphrase Yogi Berra when he said, "I don't like forecasting, particularly if the future's involved." And so I'm not sure I can, I can look at indications to say...

MR. GREGORY:  But what would you--what are you--what are you looking for as, as indicators?  Not a prediction, but what do you want to see?

GOV. ROMNEY:  What I want to see is government act.


GOV. ROMNEY:  I don't want to see a government just talk about the problems, I want to see them actually act to take the, the kind of measures that will stimulate our economy and get it moving again.  I don't want to have them wait until after the inauguration or months after that.  I want them to move quickly and with a broad-based economic stimulus plan that doesn't waste money, that doesn't have earmarks for very special projects that congressman and senators want.  I want instead the normal process going through departments, with criteria published as to how the money's going to get spent.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

GOV. ROMNEY:  I want to see action now.

MR. GREGORY:  And, Lee Scott, you're on the front lines of the American consumer's mind-set.  What are you going to be watching for to see whether or not things are getting better or worse?

MR. SCOTT:  Well, every morning at 6:00 I get sales from around the world, and, really, that tells you as much as anything.  And what we'll be looking for is that that Walmart mom is confident, that, that the future and the money that's available to them will continue to improve, and we'll see that in our sales.  And right now they need us, and that's what we're focused on.  We'll see it in our stores, I think, immediately as they feel better about what's happening.

MR. GREGORY:  Governor Granholm, do you want to be in the Obama Cabinet?

GOV. GRANHOLM:  I want to be governor with that great partner in the White House.  It'll be the first time in eight years that we feel like we have a partner.  It's great.

MR. GREGORY:  All right, and we want to take a moment, Governor Romney, to wish God's blessings for your wife, Ann, as she confronts difficult health challenges.  We wish the best to you and your family.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Thanks so much, David.

MR. GREGORY:  Thank you all very much.

GOV. GRANHOLM:  Thank you.  Congratulations.

MR. GREGORY:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate you being here on my first program.  Thank you.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Very exciting.  Very exciting.

MR. GREGORY:  We're going to continue our discussion, by the way, with this dynamic group and ask them to share their advice for the incoming president in our MEET THE PRESS Take Two.  It's a Web extra.  It's on our Web site this afternoon at

And we'll be right back.


MR. GREGORY:  That's all for today.  The beginning of a new era for this program.  There's a lot of change going on right now in Washington, but there is one thing that won't change, if it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.