Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sheds “crocodile tears” as he decries the plight of factory workers because as the former head of a private equity firm he helped engineer the export of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin the show with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who’s also chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. Governor, thank you for being with us.
GOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY: Thank you, Al.
HUNT: You are one of the very top surrogates for President Obama. In a paragraph, what’s the Obama vision for economic recovery in a second term?
O’MALLEY: Well, it’s a vision of a country that’s still expanding, still growing, creating jobs and expanding opportunity, and a country that realizes that in order to do that we have to not only balance our budget, but make critical investments to educate, innovate and rebuild our country, just as our parents and grandparents did.
HUNT: And that’s the real choice between the president and Mitt Romney then?
O’MALLEY: I think it’s a very stark choice. If you look at what Governor Romney is putting out as a supposed economic plan, it’s really a return and a double down on what President Bush tried that had such disastrous -
O’MALLEY: Correct. What George W. Bush that had such disastrous economic consequences. Worst job losses, worst deficits of any presidency since the Great Depression. So it’s a very - it’s a very stark difference. Increasingly as this campaign unfolds, that difference will become more and more apparent to more and more people.
HUNT: Let me ask you this. We had a Bloomberg poll this week that showed the president with a widening lead over -
O’MALLEY: I noticed that.
HUNT: - over - over Governor Romney. But it also said when you look at the internals - which at this stage are more important, as you know much better than I - voters give the president bad grades on job creation, bad grades on the budget deficit, bad grades on the economy, bad grades on China. That’s really not very encouraging, is it?
O’MALLEY: Well, no. But at the same time, in the course of these campaigns we’re trying to do something more than simply fill a certain job for a certain of time. In other words, it is a conversation. It is a call and a response. And - and every voter wants to - wants it known that they’re not happy with the pace of our progress. And none of us really should be happy with the pace of our progress.
And at the end of the day though, there will be a choice made between two alternatives, two individuals. And I believe that the president will prevail because his message is more optimistic, it’s more forward looking, and it’s more truthful and realistic.
HUNT: You have said that the president is open to anything which accelerates this recovery. You talk to them all the time in your surrogate role and head of the governors association for Democrats. Would this include extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for a year?
O’MALLEY: Well, I think that the - I think that the president’s been clear that he’s willing to compromise on the Bush tax cuts, especially where lower earning people are concerned.
HUNT: But how about for the wealthy?
O’MALLEY: I don’t know about that. To what good effect - what good effect -
HUNT: If you’ve got to compromise for a year on the - for the economy or whatever. I don’t know why, but I’m saying is that -
O’MALLEY: In order for them not to take the dog hostage and shoot it? For what end?
HUNT: So that compromise doesn’t appeal to you?
O’MALLEY: Well, I think that the - I think compromise for the sake of the common good and our progress is an important compromise to make. I don’t - looking at that hypothetically, I think we’ve seen what the result is of massive tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans. There’s a myth. There’s a big lie that’s really being told right now at this stage in the campaign from the Romney camp and Republican surrogates. They want all of us to believe that the reason we have a deficit is because of great increases in federal spending.
And the truth will emerge that 55 percent of our federal deficit is the direct result of tax cuts pushed through in the Bush presidency that primarily benefited the wealthiest among us. The jobs have not come raining down, Al.
HUNT: Let me turn to a couple of other subjects. Immigration. The president’s immigration order of a week or so ago, you have - you have lauded it. You said it’s good. It’s certainly played out good politically. My question is if it was such a good idea, why did the president wait until four and a half months before the election? Why not do it six months ago?
O’MALLEY: I don’t know. There’s a certain - there’s a certain pace to every issue. And they - I think a greater amount of support has built around the issue of immigration reform, especially over these last couple of very frustrating thing. And I think the other thing that has -
HUNT: You don’t think he did it for political reasons right now rather than doing it six months earlier?
O’MALLEY: So much of what - timing is such a - is such an interesting art. And one of the things that we rely upon leaders to do is to instinctively kind of know when the time is right for change that can actually take hold and become lasting. Ironically, I think one of the things that has built a greater consensus for immigration reform in our country is the very mean-spirited and unkind language that emerged out of the Republican presidential primaries. It’s not in keeping with the generous nation that our parents and grandparents -
HUNT: Another subject. The Washington Post reported Friday that under Mitt Romney, Bain Capital invested in companies that sent American jobs overseas. The Romney campaign said the story is fundamentally flawed because it didn’t differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring, and that that - that was the - they were insistent of that. Every example of outsourcing involved sending jobs. Flawed story, bum rap?
O’MALLEY: No, I think it’s a legitimate story. Mitt Romney stands up in front of factory gates and cries crocodile tears and falsely claims that the president is sending jobs to other countries, and yet he made a big profit telling Americans companies just how they could move jobs to other countries. I don’t quite get his nuance between whatever the words that he used. I suppose if you shake the Etch-A-Sketch enough you can come up with a - with a story that works for the day.
But long term, I think the deeper - the deeper disqualification of this, beyond his lack of sincerity and the crocodile tears for factory jobs lost, is that he has no record as a job creator. Now you can quibble with the fact that the rate of job creation should be even greater by now in this recession, but you cannot debate the fact that we have had 27 months in a row of private sector, month-to-month positive job growth. Nor can you debate that under Governor Romney in Massachusetts their state ranked 47th in job growth. So the bigger point of the story I believe is that his work at Bain was about wealth consolidation, not about job creation in the United States.
HUNT: Give me a couple quick political questions. Should Hilary Clinton run for president in 2016? Would it be good for the Democratic Party?
O’MALLEY: Oh, I don’t know. She’s certainly done an outstanding job, I believe, as President Obama’s secretary of state.
HUNT: She’d be a strong candidate?
O’MALLEY: I think she’d be tremendously strong.
HUNT: Would she run against Governor O’Malley if she ended up running for president?
O’MALLEY: I don’t -
HUNT: You’re not going to tell us.
O’MALLEY: I don’t know about that, but I do know that she’s a great leader. And if -
HUNT: It’s something that does cross your mind from time to time.
O’MALLEY: What’s that? Hillary Clinton running for president?
HUNT: No, the idea of Martin O’Malley running.
O’MALLEY: Only when reporters ask me, and my mom.
HUNT: You mentioned earlier you thought that - is your mom for it, by the way?
O’MALLEY: I’ve asked her not to make comments.
HUNT: Finally, you said Obama was going to win. How big a victory do you expect in November?
O’MALLEY: I don’t know. I think what we’ll see is a very lively debate about these two different visions for - for creating jobs and expanding opportunity. And at the end of it though, I think the race could well widen and he may well win by a larger margin than any of the pundits in town are predicting.
HUNT: Governor Martin O’Malley, thank you so much for being with us.
O’MALLEY: Thank you, Al.
HUNT: Say hi to your mom. I’ll try to get her views on your candidacy later.
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