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Video: Meet The Press Netcast

updated 6/13/2012 3:02:17 PM ET 2012-06-13T19:02:17

DAVID GREGORY:

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This Sunday, it may be that women in swing states decide this presidential election and the fight for their vote heated up this week when a prominent Democratic strategist took on Ann Romney and created a firestorm.

(videotape)

HILARY ROSEN:

His wife was has actually never worked a day in her life

(end videotape)

(videotape)

ANN ROMNEY:

My career choice was to be a mother and i think all us need to know that we

need to respect choices that women make.

(end videotape)

(videotape)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

I think it was an ill-advised statement by somebody on television.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

The fight for women voters and the gender wars is what kicked off this general election campaign.

We'll debate it this morning with Democratic senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican former presidential candidate and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Plus we'll analyze how the gender gap figures into the fall campaign with our roundtable. With us NBC's Savannah Guthrie, former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, and NBC's Chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd.

But first this morning, I'll talk to the president's point man on the economy, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, about jobs, your taxes, and fight over economic fairness in this campaign.

DAVID GREGORY:

Good morning, the president is in South America for a trade summit but his visit has been overshadowed by news of alleged misconduct with prostitutes involving at least 11 secret service agents. The investigation continues and we'll have more on this story this morning.

Back at home, tax day is tuesday and with the general election now underway. The economy is still the number one issue to voters, but some troubling numbers for the White House.

6 out of ten Americans think the country is on the "wrong track." 12.7 million people remain unemployed and only 120,000 jobs were added in March, lower than expected

On Friday, I sat down with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and asked him why the economic recovery is so sluggish.

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

It's not surprising still. It's a very tough economy still. And people still are living with the scars of the crisis. You know, the worst crisis since the Great Depression. And you can see the damage still in high unemployment. Housing's still really weak.

So it's not surprising you see that. But consumer confidence is gradually getting stronger, business confidence gradually getting strong. And if you look at how the business sector is doing and, you know, the business of America is business, the business sector looks really pretty strong now. You know, high tech is strong, manufacturing pretty strong, energy a huge boom, agriculture pretty strong, exports are coming back, private investment's been growing. And those are all encouraging shr-- signs of strength.

You know, what hurt us in 2010 and '11 was the crisis in Europe, the crisis in Japan, and oil— that oil price shock. But as-- as fears of those things have receded a bit, the economy started to strengthen again and that's good. Now-- but we had a long way to go, a lot of challenges ahead. And what we should be doing is working with Congress to help get more people back to work, you know, by doing some concrete things right now that would make the economy stronger right now.

DAVID GREGORY:

A lot of people look at the stock market and those gyrations and-- and wonder what to make of it. What-- what does the stock market tell us (particularly the way it's gone this week-- sharply down, and then-- and then back up, but we've seen a lot of down in the last two weeks) about the strength or-- or weakness of the economy?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

I think, again, most of the available economic evidence we see is-- is pretty encouraging. It shows an economy gradually strengthening. And the strength looks pretty broad based. And obviously, you've seen a lot more people coming back to work. But if you look at the last six months or so, broader measures of confidence, broader measures of economic strength, job creation and the markets have improved steadily over that time. You know, again, we have a lot of risks out there still, a lot of work to do, a lot of challenges to do. And-- and, you know, we-- we live with the burden and the obligation of trying to make sure we do as much as we can to make this thing stronger, make this economy stronger.

DAVID GREGORY:

What about your own money? Are you feeling safe in the financial market?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Oh, I feel-- I think Americans generally should be-- feel much more confident about the basic strength of the economy than they would have felt any time in the last-- four or five, six years. Again, if you look at the scale of what this president did and the speed and force with which he put out the financial fires and got growth starting again, and you look at the strength of the-- what are fundam-- fundamental measures of economic health-- it's-- it's very encouraging. So I think Americans should feel much more confident today than they felt any time in the last five or six years.

DAVID GREGORY:

So let's talk about the political context here, because we have a campaign that's underway. And in part, it's about how are women doing in the country, in this economy? It's something that Governor Romney has taken head on, on the campaign trail. This is in part what he said this week.

(videotape)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:

The real war on women has been the job losses as a result of the Obama economy. And if we're going to get women back to work and help women with the real issues women care about, good jobs, good wages, a bright future for themselves, for their families, and for their kids, we're going to have to elect a president who understands how the economy works and I do.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Romney made the point that 92% of the job losses during this president's administration have been among women.

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

That's a ridiculous and deeply misleading look at the economy. Remember the-- the recession and the crisis started at the beginning of 2008, more than a year before the president took office. And it caused a huge amount of damage to men, to women, to families. And the damage lasted-- for a time. You're still seeing the scars of that.

And if you look at-- the damage early on, you know, most of the early job losses were in construction and manufacturing and disproportionately affected men. But as the crisis intensified, as it did over the course of 2008, again, before the president turn-- came into office, the damage spread. And you saw state and local governments, for example, cut back into teachers, fire a lot of teachers, let a lot of teachers go. And a lot of women teach.

So you saw the composition of those job losses change over the-- over the course of the recovery. But the president's policies have been very focused on trying to ease the pain on working families, expanding access to health care, preventive care to women and families across the country, making sure that we're aiding the most vulnerable.

Those are very-- were very important policies at the worst moments of the crisis. And the Republican proposals, as you know, would cut very deeply into all those basic programs. So it's good we have a debate about what the best path for the economy going forward. But it's a ridiculous and misleading way of looking at the damage caused by the recession.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you about gas prices. Because so-- we all feel-- high gas prices weighing down on us when we fill up our cars. Do you think that this gets worse before it gets better? Do you see a time when the price will start to level off?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Well, you know, what's happened to gas prices is fundamentally driven by what's happened to oil prices. And oil prices have risen quite a bit over the last six months, in part because people got more confident about growth around the world, which is a good thing. And in part, because concerns about Iran. And you've seen some encouraging signs recently, just this week-- more supply coming on to global markets. And that's helped calm some of the price pressures. And that's very encouraging.

But ultimately what happens to oil prices and to gas prices as a result could hap-- depends on how strong growth is around the world and the United States. And whether our broad efforts to-- to bring Iran to the table and deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear missions are-- are successful.

DAVID GREGORY:

Aren't those two big unknowns, though, Mr. Secretary?

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Both that you're going to have better than average growth around the world, with everything that's going on and Iran?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Yeah, they're-- I mean, but those are the realities we live with. And that-- that's--

DAVID GREGORY:

This is a lot more unstable, a lot more unpredictable, you think?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

No, well, I-- those are inherent uncertainties. And you just have to acknowledge them. But we're in a much better position to deal with those pressures than we have been. Again, if you look at overall costs of energy to the average family, even over the last five months or so, because the costs of utilities have gone down, because natural gas prices are so low, even as gasoline prices have gone up, and because we had a very warm winter, the overall cost of energy to the consumer have actually come down, not risen very much.

And of course, the payroll tax cut gave everybody a pretty substantial additional cushion to deal with those costs. So we're in-- we're-- obviously, it's an uncertain world. It's inherently uncertain. But we're in a much more stronger position to deal with these things than we have been.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to ask you one other question about the broader economy and what sort of holds us back. And a lot of people I talked to, asked to me what's the most basic question, which is, "What role does the debt really play?" Because here's the fact about the debt under this administration and the prior administration. If you go back-- the debt increase for the tol-- total Bush presidency was about $5 trillion, which is about the increase in the debt for just this president's-- first term, about $5 trillion. Is the debt so big that it keeps the economy from breaking through?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

No, there's no evidence and no basis for concern that those-- long-term problems about our fiscal sustainability are hurting the economy today. But let me just go back to your statistics, David. The president's policies in the-- the design to put out the financial fires and rescue an economy in-- in crisis caused only about 12%, a very small fraction of the increase in debt you've seen over this period of time.

The vast bulk of that increase in debt is the result of the policy choices made by his predecessor to finance some very expensive tax cuts by borrowing, to finance two wars by borrowing, and to finance a big expansion of Medicare by borrowing, not by cutting other-- other spending or raising taxes.

And those are the-- that's the bulk of the contribution combined with the effects of the crisis. So it's a slightly misleading figure. But on the broad challenges we face as a country, they are mostly about how to get the economy growing, how about to expand opportunity for middle-class families. Now of course, as part of that, over the long run, we have to bring down our long-term deficits. But we have to do that in a way that's going to be good for growth and good for opportunity, protect the safety net and protect retirement security for-- for retirees.

DAVID GREGORY:

But there are others, Tom Coburn's just written a book, and he said, "If we don't deal with some of-- these debt problems, we're going to be Greece in two years." Do you not see the debt--

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

No, no, no risk of that.

DAVID GREGORY:

No risk of that?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

No, I mean-- it's true, we have a lot of challenges. But it would be a mistake to say the only challenge facing the country and the most important challenge that's facing the country and the solution to all our problems are to pull forward right now all those challenges we have to face and bring down our deficits. We're going to have to do that, but how we do it is really more important. And what-- as you know, we proposed to do that in a way that provides a balanced reduction of spending savings and tax reforms, phased in over time, so this economy can heal and come out of this crisis.

DAVID GREGORY:

You don't see a debt crisis?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

If Congress over-- in-- over a period of years will fail to act, then we would face a potential damage to growth, in true faith. But--

DAVID GREGORY:

But-- so what's the timeframe, Mr. Secretary? Because this president said, "We want to cut the debt in half--" you know, in the first two years of his presidency-- in the first term of his presidency. But that hasn't been accomplished. And you say, "Well, the bulk of the problem is really the prior administration."

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Well, the-- the president's policies, if they were enacted by the Congress would reduce our deficits from about 9% of G.D.P. today to below 3% of G.D.P. over the next several years. And that would start to bring down our debt as a share of the economy. And it would be better to start that process sooner, but you have to do it in a way that's balanced and fair.

And you gotta make sure you're protecting and preserving investments necessary to help us grow, like in education. You have to make sure you're protecting the safety net for the vulnerable. And you have to make sure you're protecting and preserving retirement security for our seniors.

DAVID GREGORY:

At the end of the year, the debt limit's going to have to be raised again, is that right? What is your message to congressional leaders--

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Well, the--

DAVID GREGORY:

--about that?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

This is Congress's obligation to do, as they've always done in the past. And it would be good for the country, if this time, they did it with less drama and less politics and less damage to the country-- than they did last summer.

DAVID GREGORY:

What was the damage done by last summer?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Oh, it was terrible damaging. I mean, you saw-- a precipitous drop in consumer confidence and business confidence, you know, at a very fragile time for the global economy. You know, those drops in confidence were like what you saw in a typical recession. It was very damaging, completely unnecessary, and very avoidable. And, you know, it's good-- it'd be good if they don't put the country through that again.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to ask you about taxes. Tax day is coming up. A dreaded day for all of us who play (SIC) taxes. Now the 1040 short form is two pages long. And yet, we've put this together. This is actually just the instructions. I think it’s 88 pages to fill out the two pages. Somethin's wrong here, right?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Yeah, we-- we could use a simpler system, as the president said. The right strategy for the country is both for individuals and for businesses to put in place reforms that would simplify the system, make it easier for people to meet their obligations as citizens, lower rates, and-- and broaden the base. That's the-- that's the right strategy for the country.

DAVID GREGORY:

But then why hasn't the president produced real tax reform suggestions, a real plan? Because the-- the focus this week, "The Buffet Rule" is to tax wealthier Americans, to ensure, you know, your vision of fairness in the tax code. But you're not taking a broad-based approach to tax reform. Why not?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

We’ve had-- we have a detailed set of comprehensive proposal on tax policy, both for individuals and for businesses. We think are going to be up to-- a necessary part of any responsible solution to deal with our long-term fiscal problems. On the business side, as you know, we're proposing to clean up a bunch of the corporate welfare in the tax system and use that to lower rates, so we can be more competitive and improve incentives for investment in the United States, who are creating and building things here.

On the individual side, there's lots of way to do this. But the only way to do it is by doing things that will put a modestly larger burden on the richest Americans. And The Buffet Rule you referred to is a way to make sure they can't take too much advantage of deductions in the tax code and end up paying a smaller share of their income in taxes than a middle-class family. That's the--

DAVID GREGORY:

But we're still talking about $5 to $7 billion a year. We're not talking about a huge impact. Isn't this more political argument than-- a real fiscal fix--

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

No, I-- I don't--

DAVID GREGORY:

--in the-- in the scheme of the problem?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

First of all, we proposed this as part of a incredibly detailed, comprehensive set of-- spending savings and tax reforms. And it's only in that con-- it's in that context we laid this out for the country. Now-- just because Republicans oppose this does not mean it's not the right thing to do and not the right thing to push for.

Remember, look at what they've opposed. They've fought everything we did to rescue the economy from the crisis. They fought giving millions of Americans access to health care, preventive care. They fought all the things we did to keep more teachers and first responders on the job. They fought the payroll tax extension. Just because they're against it does not-- doesn't mean it's not the right thing. And we're going to keep pushing for the things that are important for the country. And this is one of them.

DAVID GREGORY:

Is the emphasis that this president has on fairness, making the rich pay their "fair share" in his words, more important than economic growth? Because, you know, Republicans make the argument that the reason why you-- you treat dividends or earned income differently is because you want people to save, you want people to invest. And that fairness does away with the prospect of economic growth.

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Let me ask the-- let me answer this way. How did it work out for the country to have a long period where we cut taxes deeply for the richest Americans and lower them on investment to the levels they did under President Bush? Look what happened to the record of growth for the American economy and investment over that period of time. There is no basis of evidence and experience across countries that these proposals will be damaging growth.

And think about it this way, David. If you're not going to ask the most fortunate Americans to pay a slightly-- a modest share of their income, additional share in taxes, who are you going to ask to bear that burden for debt or deficit reduction? Are you going to ask other Americans to pay higher taxes? Or are you going to cut their benefits in Medicare? Or are you going to cut deeply into things-- because that's the tradeoffs we face. And when you govern, you have to make those trade-offs. And it is not responsible to sit here today and offer the American people the prospect of some path to greater economic strength by extending tax cuts for the rich we can't afford.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to ask you one final question about accountability. Slow economic growth. It's not a jobless recovery, but it's certainly not-- it-- the level of job creation is not what anybody thinks that it should be. And certainly not helping people get back to work at the appropriate level. Housing is still a big problem. What is the appropriate level of accountability for this president in his management of economic recovery, which is incredibly slow by historical comparisons to other recoveries from recessions?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Well-- we all share that responsibility. The Congress shares that, 'cause they have the power of the purse. And they write the laws of the land that-- that can make a difference in this case. And of course, the president shares some of that. And the president's policies were remarkably effective. If you look at this recovery and this-- the effectiveness of our crisis response relative to any in recent memory, dramatically effective, at much lower cost than people expected.

Very successful, very tough politically for us to do in that context.

DAVID GREGORY:

In terms of the president's stewardship of the economy, this is a success story?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Oh-- the president inherited, again, as you know, the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression, a crisis caused by a shock larger than what caused The Great Depression. And he did the necessary, deeply damaging, deeply politically hard things to get growth started again. And then he's done everything he could to convince a reluctant opposition to join him in doing things to make the economy stronger. And we're going to keep doing that, even if they're against it. Even if they don't like it.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But you call it a success story?

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Oh, absolutely, this president's policies were remarkably successful. And if you measure what we did relative to the record of the United States in past crises and the record of other countries, history will judge what he did as remarkably effective crisis management at a deeply dark time for the world economy.

DAVID GREGORY:

Mr. Secretary, thank you.

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

Nice to see you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Coming up, the fight for women voters in this campaign got off to a contentious start this week. A debate over the fallout coming up...

Joining me - Democratic Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand and former Republican presidential candidate - Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

And later, part of my PRESS pass interview with Bill Cosby on and President Obama's performance in office.

(videotape)

BILL COSBY:

They have no idea what he inherited -- it's as if he had the surplus, when he moved into office. And this is, this is sad.

(end videotape)

(COMMERCIALS OMITTED)

(videotape)

HILARY ROSEN:

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing. Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes, that was the sound bite this week from Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist close to the White House that got all of this started this week. Hilary Rosen was supposed to be a guest with me this morning and declined to appear, cancelled her appearance on Friday, wanting to avoid sort of the firestorm over this. But that was the conversation about Mitt Romney trying to close the gender gap. Ann Romney responded to that on Twitter right away saying, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

And so the debate about the gender gap got a lot more personal. It's not just political science and poll numbers, the real debate is out there. Joining me now, two working moms. One, a key voice in the Democratic Party when it comes to focusing on women's issues, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. And the other, former Republican Presidential Candidate, Minnesota Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann. Welcome to both of you.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Thank you.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

Good morning.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Glad to be here.

DAVID GREGORY:

Congresswoman, we had a slight delay. Always be careful about that. But I want to start with you and ask you your thoughts after you heard all of this on both sides this week.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

Well, I thought it was shocking and insulting. I'm a mother of five. I've been at home full time with our children. I've also worked full time as a federal tax litigation attorney. And one thing I know, when women are home full time, they probably have a better pulse on the economy than even their husbands have, because they're the ones who are directly impacted by the price of groceries, by the price of gasoline, by the price of dealing with banking, and with all the other factors of running a home.

Ann Romney certainly understood the economy. And I think women all across the country were highly insulted, and the should be, because women have borne the brunt of the failed economic policies under Barack Obama. Just one example: women are paying $2,000 a year more for gasoline than they did the day Barack Obama came into office. That's just one example.

And when 92% of the women who-- when 92% of the people under Barack Obama's failed economic policies are women who've lost jobs, that's an unbelievably shocking number. Because 858,000 women have lost their jobs under Barack Obama. That's direct opportunity that's lost for them.

And especially your previous guest, Secretary Geithner, he continued to blame George Bush for the current economic woes, for the current debt woes. But at a certain time, Barack Obama has to take responsibility. And there's no question, his economic policies have had a disproportionate negative impact on women. And that's why I think women are going to be very upset with this current administration.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator, was there a broader context to Hilary Rosen's remarks that got overshadowed by her saying that Ann Romney's never worked a day in her life?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Well, Hilary apologized for her remarks. And her remarks were wrong and they were inappropriate. As a mom, I know one of the toughest jobs in the world is being a parent. But this election is not going to be about Ann Romney or Hilary's remarks.

What this election is going to be about is which candidate fights for America's women. Which candidate actually cares about women's economic opportunity? This has been a very tough economy. But it's Barack Obama whose first bill he ever signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows women to fight for equal pay for equal work.

Women are still making only 78 cents on the dollar. Mitt Romney, his hero is the governor from Wisconsin who just got rid of the equal pay laws there. This president has focused on women's economic opportunity. One of the biggest challenges for women to own businesses is access to capital. President Obama has focused on increasing access to capital.

Women start their businesses with eight times less capital than men. President Obama's also focused on education. Pell Grants are often used by women. He's increased the number of Pell Grants for women, over two million. It's an enormous investment in women's future and potential.

And when you look at the health care debate, overwhelmingly it affects women. If you look at Medicare and Medicaid, both disproportionately used by women. Mitt Romney would like to privatize Medicare and Medicaid. that's not going to help women. Under President Obama's health care policy--

MICHELE BACHMANN:

David? David? Those are--

(OVERTALK)

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

--he's been able to get six--

MICHELE BACHMANN:

--statements that are being--

(OVERTALK)

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

--hundred dollars for-- let me finish, I'm almost done. $600, and then laughed. Under President Obama, being a woman is no longer going to be a preexisting condition.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

David, those are-- David, if I can get in.

DAVID GREGORY:

Go ahead.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

These are patently false statements that are being-- David, if I can get in. These are patently false statements that are being made about Mitt Romney. He has not come out and said that he's going to do with the Senator is stating. In fact, just the opposite.

I think one thing that women are saying is that Mitt Romney is an extremely smart guy. He's been successful in creating jobs in the private economy. And that's something that Barack Obama has not been able to do. Mitt Romney also understands how to turn around companies.

The United States government needs to have a turn-around person who knows how to be successful. Not only has Mitt Romney proved how smart he is on job creation, he has a very optimistic message also. That's why I think women are trusting him when he speaks.

One thing that the Senator had mentioned is that women start jobs. That's true. Women start two thirds of all small businesses. But the problem is, under the Dodd Frank Bill, there's a denial of access to credit. The other thing, under health care, President Obama promised us that our health insurance premiums would drop $2,500 per year. Instead, this last year, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed the highest that they have in the last ten years. On every measure, women's lives are worse under President Obama than they would be under a Mitt Romney as president of the United States.

That's the difference. Do women want to pay $2 or $2.50 a gallon for gasoline? Or do women want to pay $5 or $6 a gallon for gasoline? Do they want to pay lower prices for groceries or higher prices for groceries? Do they want to pay less for health insurance premiums or more for health insurance premiums?

That's the difference that they're looking at when they go into the voting booth. Their lives will be far more improved with a proven, smart, successful businessman like Mitt Romney than someone like Barack Obama--

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

--who can only blame his predecessor for his current economic poor choices.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to ask you both, because I think what you both are talking about is so important in terms of all voters' perceptions of the economy and particularly women. And that's what really is so important about the conversation. But there's an aspect of this, Senator, too, which is I guess the cultural element, some of the gender wars, very difficult subjects for women about working in the home, pursuing a career.

And as I talked to women this week, one of the things I heard is, "You know, it's just like a lot of-- you know, Democratic woman heard the debate about contraception and said, 'Really? Are we turning the clock back to something that seemed settled?'" And in this case, you had a similar reaction, perhaps, among a lot of women, Republican and Democrat, particularly Republicans who think, "Wait, we're now turning back the clock, you know, 20 years to this debate?" Because it was reminiscent, if you call it 1992. On the campaign trial, Hillary Clinton saying this.

(videotape)

HILLARY CLINTON:

You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Is this the conversation that we're going to have again in the course of this campaign?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

I don't think so. But I think women's voices are going to be so important in this election. This is an election where I believe that women have to be heard. And, you know, one of the reasons why I started to put my campaign off the sidelines is to ask America's women to participate, to vote.

A lot of younger women aren't voting. We want to make sure younger women are voting, making sure women are heard on the issues they care about, making sure women are holding elected leaders accountable. But in politics today, women don't have a strong enough voice. We only have 17% women in Congress. We only have six governors.

And I like to joke with my friends, if we had 51% of women in Congress, do you think we'd be debating contraception? I don't think so. I think we would be talking about the economy. We'd be talking about the best ways to get more money into women to own small businesses and other small businesses, the best way to increase our manufacturing, increase entrepreneurialism and innovation. So I think women's voices are very fundamental to this election.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let's remember the backdrop of this well, Congresswoman Bachmann. Here is the gender gap numbers in the latest polling that you see between Governor Romney and President Obama. And the president has a big advantage on the numbers. But I want to ask you this question, because frankly, to me, it often seems condescending to say, "Well, what is the conversation that women care about? What are the issues that women care about?" And yet, there are issues that women are particularly listening for. What kind of conversation would you like to see ensue in this campaign?

MICHELE BACHMANN:

Well, certainly not the kind of conversation that you just rolled the tape from with Hillary Clinton, where there's insulting women who make the choices to stay at home and care for their children. I think we need to lift up women that take on the most difficult job in the world. But the women who stay home and care for their children, the women who choose to go to work, both have a common area that they're concerned about.

And that's the cost of living. And that's what's happening under Barack Obama is that life has gotten increasingly difficult. So women are really caring a lot right now about the price that they're paying at the pump. And again, we're talking a $2,000 increase per year. And at the average income, this $50,000, and you've seen it spike, and $2,000 in your cost of gasoline, that's really pulling you back from advancing your economic wellbeing, especially if you've seen your price of health care increase 9%. That's hurting women. That's the point, David.

Here's the other thing that we can't forget to say today. Your previous guest, Tim Geithner, was in a hearing in the House Budget Committee, when the government statistic came out that, effectively, 15 years from now, our economy will effectively shut down because we're going to be smothered in debt. That's the story. Young women need a future and a chance and a hope. And they won't have it if President Obama's big spending policies, big debt-accumulating policies continue.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let--

MICHELE BACHMANN:

That's not going to help women. That's not going to help their children. We have to stop the big spending ways. And Barack Obama hasn't put forward one plan, and Harry Reid hasn't put forth one budget, to solve the out of control spending or the problems with Medicare. Because Medicare will also--

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

--collapse. President Obama told us that his future under Medicare is Obama Care. Senior citizens will no longer have Medicare. There'll be an Obama Care. Senior citizen women don't want Obama Care. They want Medicare.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me just, because I want to get you both on.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

I'd like to respond.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes. On another news matter here. But before you respond, this question of do you think Ann Romney has any inability to connect to working class women in the country because she's wealthy and has stayed at home?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Not at all. I think Ann Romney's voice should be part of this campaign, as all women's voices should be part of this campaign. But I just want to comment on one thing Michele said. What's insulting to women is that the Republican Party and the House of Representatives had made it part of their agency that they want bosses to tell women what medicines they're eligible to take. Nothing could be more insulting. 99% of America's women take birth control in their lifetime. This is a debate that has long been settled. But this Congress, starting with HR-1, has made an effort--

(OVERTALK)

MICHELE BACHMANN:

--false portrayal of where the House of Representatives-- that's a false portrayal. What we want is women to be able to make their own choices. And there's constantly been--

(OVERTALK)

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

That's not what the bill says, Michele. Michele says--

MICHELE BACHMANN:

We want women to make choices. That's why, on health care--

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Not when your boss tells you you can't.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

--we want women that health savings accounts and the ability to be able to make their own choices in health care. You see, that's the lie that happens under Obama Care. The president of the United States effectively becomes a health care dictator. Women don't need anyone to tell them what to do on health care. We want women to have their own choices, their own money. That way, they can make their own choices for their future on their own bodies.

DAVID GREGORY:

Can I just get in here one second, because I'm running out of time. Congresswoman Bachmann, first to you, are you fully behind Mitt Romney for president at this point?

MICHELE BACHMANN:

Well, I'm very seriously looking in the endorsement for Mitt Romney. As you know, Rick Santorum just got out of the race this week. I think we're seeing a uniting and a pulling together around our eventual nominee. And I have said that I want my voice to be one of uniting our party, the Independents, the mainstream, the conservatives, evangelicals, the Tea Party movement. I want to unite our party. And so I'm waiting for our party to come together and help in that process.

DAVID GREGORY:

And to both of you, if you can get a quick comment, Senator, you first, on this Secret Service story coming out of South America and the President's trip, misconduct apparently involving prostitutes, what is your next question about where this goes?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Well obviously, we need a very full investigation. And I understand the Secret Service responded quickly and sent those alleged to do the improper behavior home immediately. These are serious issues, and we can't tolerate them. And so it needs a full and complete investigation.

DAVID GREGORY:

Congresswoman?

MICHELE BACHMANN:

Well, Americans should be outraged. The Secret Service has a wonderful reputation. This is outrageous. It can't go on. There's even stories that this has been spread into the military. And I think the White House clearly was embarrassed by this, and this is not good. We have to make sure this never happens again.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. I'm going to leave it there. Both of you, thank you very much.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

Thanks, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

Appreciate it.

MICHELE BACHMANN:

Thank you.

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