Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, a surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that he anticipates “a different Barack Obama” in the next debate, while predicting that a strategy of mimicking Vice President Joe Biden’s debate style would backfire.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: Welcome back. We are now joined by former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, a top Romney surrogate. John, let me ask you. Last night, the Democrats were ecstatic. They say Joe Biden energized us again. Give me your take on the VP debate.
JOHN SUNUNU: If they’re energized by that grotesque display, all the better for it. I thought Joe Biden was on steroids last night. He looked like the Cheshire cat at times and then he looked like the gawker and the stalker. But worse than that was his substance.
What he said about Benghazi is atrocious. For him to try and throw the intelligence community under the bus, after the State Department had earlier in the day talked about the fact that - that they knew almost immediately that this was an organized attack, and for Biden to claim the intelligence was bad, shame on him, shame on Obama.
HUNT: Let me ask you about Paul Ryan and substance. There’s no better policy wonk probably in Congress than Paul Ryan. But he still couldn’t tell us where we find those trillions of dollars of tax loophole closings. Is that a problem for Romney-Ryan?
SUNUNU: Well, let me tell you - let me explain the arithmetic to you in simple terms.
SUNUNU: If you take a look at the 20 percent cut in rates that Romney-Ryan are proposing, that comes out to about $360 billion a year, $3.6 trillion over 10 years. There’s about $1.2 trillion or $1.3 trillion in loopholes that are available to put in the basket to negotiate with. Some of those will be eliminated in negotiations, some of them will be means-tested, and some of them will be capped. But there’s roughly three times as large a basket of choices as there is what is necessary to take care of the $360 billion a year in tax cuts.
HUNT: Well, why not -
SUNUNU: If you’re a smart negotiator - wait a minute, Al - if you’re a smart negotiator, you don’t identify which ones are your priorities. You go to the table with the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and you say, “Here’s the full list. Now let’s talk about which ones we cut, which ones we means-test, and which ones we put in the category where you can only take a certain amount of them.”
HUNT: But, John, why just negotiate one side? Why not also negotiate the tax cuts? Why do you - why do you - why do you reveal what the goodies are before the election, but you don’t tell what any of the discomfort is until after the election?
SUNUNU: Well, because you reveal some of it so that you’re ahead of Obama, who’s revealed none of it.
HUNT: But they’re all goodies you’re revealing.
SUNUNU: He’s had three years, four years - he’s had four years to put a budget together. Al, he has sent down budgets that have been voted on in the House 414-0, in the Senate 97-0. He can’t even get a “pretty please” vote out of Democrats on what he’s proposed. If you’re going to negotiate, you do it the right way. If you read Woodward’s book on Obama, you see the wrong way.
HUNT: John, second presidential debate next Tuesday in Hofstra. Do you expect a different Barack Obama, a different Mitt Romney?
SUNUNU: I expect the same Mitt Romney. Mitt is pretty consistent. But I think you’ll probably see a different Barack Obama. They’re probably showing him tapes of Biden’s disgraceful performance and suggesting to him he ought to get wired like that. So I suspect you’ll see a little bit of Joe Biden not only in Joe Biden, as we saw last night, but a little Joe Biden in Barack Obama.
HUNT: And would that be - would that be good or bad for him?
SUNUNU: Yes, it would.
HUNT: Let me - you know, after the last debate, you not only said the president was incompetent, but he was lazy. Do you still feel that? And tell us how he’s lazy.
SUNUNU: Look, tell me what - nobody thinks he did well in that last debate.
HUNT: That’s true.
SUNUNU: Everybody thinks he was unprepared. There are only two reasons that you come out looking unprepared. One is you haven’t done your work, and that’s lazy, or, number two, you’ve done your work and you’re uncapable of delivering. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.
HUNT: So - so you think he was lazy in the context of the debate preparation, not - not in general as a president?
SUNUNU: Yes. That’s - that’s the context of the question.
HUNT: OK. OK.
SUNUNU: The context of the question was - was - and I pointed out that he came out and said that, you know, they’re making me work out, indicating that he wasn’t really excited about doing all the hard work.
HUNT: Let’s go right next door to a state that you have dominated politics for a long time, you have more independents, actually, than Republicans or Democrats, New Hampshire.
HUNT: Most polls have shown recently that Obama has a slight lead. Your take on what’ll happen in the Granite State?
SUNUNU: Well, the last poll I saw was Rasmussen 48-48. I will again stick out my neck and say that Mitt Romney will win New Hampshire by two to three points.
HUNT: OK. And you’re in Ohio right now. Do you have a feel yet for what’s going to happen?
SUNUNU: I’m in Cleveland.
HUNT: Yeah, but that’s right. I think - the last time I checked, Cleveland’s in Ohio. Do you have a feel? There’s probably no more important state that Ohio. Do you have a feel for how Mitt Romney’s doing out there?
SUNUNU: I’ll be honest, I get a feeling that it’s still neck-and-neck out here. I don’t think the last of the positive impact of the debate has completely moved Romney ahead here, but I think over time it will. But it’s going to be a slugfest down to the last minute, and I suspect that the ground game of both Republicans and Democrats will be probably what determines which way Ohio goes in the long run.
HUNT: John, final question. Do you see any issue or set basket of issues in the next three-and-a-half weeks that will be dominant, other than jobs and the economy?
SUNUNU: No, I think it’s jobs and the economy. I think, with the last - and I - I don’t think it was deliberately hoked up, but I think the anomaly of the last jobs report makes Obama a little bit vulnerable, believe it or not, because I think if it goes back to normalcy, it’ll go from 7.8 back towards 8 percent, and he’ll have to carry the shock of that movement in the wrong direction just a couple of days before the election.
So what he may have thought was a gift in the October numbers, the number that came out in October may bite him with a rebound in the other direction in the November number.
HUNT: OK, the New Hampshire original, John Sununu, governor, thank you so much for being with us.
And when we come back, we’ll talk about two former governors battling for a Senate seat in Virginia. The last word right after this break.
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