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Video: 2012: A question of character or policy?

updated 5/27/2012 1:32:15 PM ET 2012-05-27T17:32:15

DAVID GREGORY:

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This morning: the campaign debate over who's got the skills to turn the economy around? That's what the battle over Bain Capital and private equity is all about, and the fight is not going away.

While Obama ally Mayor Cory Booker made the big headline here last week by calling foul on anti-Bain ads against Romney.

(videotape)

MAYOR CORY BOOKER:

this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the american public. Enough is enough.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

The president is not shying away arguing private equity firms like Bain are about making money not creating jobs.

(videotape)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

There may be value for that kind of experience, but it's not in the white house

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

This morning the debate over Bain, the economy and where things stand in the race.  With us former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who will appear together with Governor Romney next week, and Maryland's Democratic Governor, Chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association, Martin O' Malley.

Gingrich and O'Malley square off.

Then as we kick off a hot summer of campaigning, the state of the race and the key question:  will either candidate be able to pull away?

With us, Democratic Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa , former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and former Republican candidate for Senate in California Carly Fiorina, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and from the Washington Post, author of the new book "Our Divided Political Heart" E.J. Dionne.

Finally this morning, a special conversation with Maria Shriver and author Michael Lewis about the advice they have for college graduates during this commencement season.

(videotape)

Offscreen voice:

Class of 2012 - you are dismissed!

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

And good morning.  So much campaigning ahead this summer.  Let's get right to it.  Joining me, the Democratic governor of Maryland, the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, Martin O'Malley; and former Republican presidential candidate, former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich.  Both-- great to have you both here and good morning.

                                 

MALE VOICE:

Thank you, David.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Speaker Gingrich, I have to ask you, now as you're here as no longer a candidate, you were here for the first time about a year ago declaring your-- your candidacy.  Where are you in this race?  Are you unequivocally behind Governor Romney?  And do you really think he can win?

                                 

NEWT GINGRICH:

Oh, sure.  I'm-- I'm totally committed to Romney's election.  I think given this economy, this level of unemployment, this level of deficits-- it's very likely he will win.  And I think that you'll see a pull away in September and October.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

What did you learn from campaigning against Mitt Romney about him?

                                 

NEWT GINGRICH:

He's tough.  He's much tougher than-- than I would have thought.  He's prepared to do what it takes to win.  He's a very good organizer.  I mean, the-- in the end, he could organize and raise money on a scale to-- that can match Obama.  I couldn't.  And I think he's also a very good study.  I think he really worked hard at understanding, when I beat him in South Carolina, what did he have to do to come back in Florida.  And so-- I have substantial respect for his ability as a leader to do the things he has to do to get the job done.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

So you heard how I framed this at the very top of the program which is:  Who's got the skills?  I feel like this Bain debate is really a skills test for who can turn the economy around.  The president defended himself and the attack on Bain, even though Cory Booker on this program cried foul about it.  This is what he said this week, governor, and then have you respond.

(VIDEO NOT TRANSCRIBED)

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Will he come across as anti-business with this line of attack?

                                 

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

No, I don't believe that.  In fact, I'm-- I agree with Speaker Gingrich during his campaign when-- when he-- had to address that claim that Mitt Romney initially made that, oh, he created hundreds of thousands of jobs, a claim he eventually backed off of under the speaker's questioning and pressing.

This-- but there are two things that really-- Romney has to recommend himself for the high office of president.  One is his experience with Bain Capital, where his job was to return profits as quickly as possible to a very narrow few rather than to create long-term jobs for the many.  The second one, though, which you don't hear him talking about at all, is his experience in the public sector when he was governor of Massachusetts.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, and I wanna get to that in just a moment.  But speaker, respond to this because you-- you called his time at Bain exploitation at one point in the campaign.

                                 

NEWT GINGRICH:

Sure, look, I-- I went straight at him in the Bain issue.  But I think Obama has a different problem.  First of all, he has the worst unemployment record of any president since the Great Depression.  Second, his efforts at public-- bureaucratic investment have been a disaster.  We have one solar power company that went belly up for 2.1 billion.  They have Solyndra, which has become a national scandal at 585 million.

So-- so the problem that-- that Obama is he has no model of effective job creation as compared to private capital.  And I think that's why this is-- this is gonna fall flat on its face.  Plus, I was very careful.  I didn't go after private equity.  You just heard the president just now.  He's going after all private equity in a way.  Which explains why you had Senator Warner, you had the governor of Massachusetts who's one of his closest allies, you had Senator Feinstein, you had Cory Booker on this show.  Again, I think there are 15 or 20 Democrats now who have said this is-- this is an inaccurate and wrong approach for the president to be taking.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But if the chief qualification is, say, I'm Mitt Romney, I worked at Bain Capital, I understand private enterprise; therefore, that experience is what makes me a job creator when that is really not what is at the core of private equity.  That's not their chief function.

                                 

NEWT GINGRICH:

Sure.  But let me go a step forward 'cause we're gonna get to his public record.  When Romney left the governorship after four years, they were at 4.47% unemployment.  If we were at 4.7% unemployment, there'd be five and a half million more Americans at work.

So whether Obama wants to fight on-- on Governor Romney's record or he wants to fight on private sector Romney's record, Obama deciding to pick a fight, this is-- this is a little bit like the reverse of James Carville in '92.  Obama picking a fight on the economy is probably the worst possible strategy for his campaign.

                                 

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

I'd like to disagree with that.  We have driven, under President Obama's leadership, unemployment down to three-year lows.  Home foreclosures are lower now than they were when President Obama took office.  We have put together the American people with effective leadership 26 months in a row of private sector job growth.

That record will be contrasted sharply to what Mitt Romney did as governor, which was, in a relatively strong state in a better time of our economy, to have that state ranked 47th out of 50 in job creation.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Unemployment rate in Massachusetts came down under his stewardship.

                                 

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

Well, the unemployment rate came down in a lot of states.  They were different times.  Right now our unemployment rate nationally has been driven down to the lowest level in three years.  And it could be driven down further, more quickly with more job creation, if we would get beyond the sort of Tea Party Republican obstructionism that tries to prevent any modern investments to make this modern economy--

(OVERTALK)

                                

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, what is the warning, though, from the president's campaign and surrogates about what Romney policy would mean for job creation on a national level?

                                 

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

What is the warning?  I think what you see and I think part of what some of the, you know, armchair critics are missing is that what Romney did, Mr. Romney not Governor Romney, but what he did at Bain Capital was to drive up debt greatly by these companies that Bain took over in order to return huge de-- dividends to a small, little group of investors and then walk away--

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:08:10:00          But--

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:08:11:00          --from the business--

09:08:11:00                        (OVERTALK)

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:08:12:00          --striking, governor, before I let (UNINTEL), you have the president's job council where he has private equity folks on there.

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:08:16:00          Right.  They totally should be.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:08:17:00          You-- yeah.  And you yourself, you have the Department of Business and Economic Development headed up by someone from private equity.  So you seem to recognize--

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:08:23:00          Absolutely.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:08:24:00          --this-- the-- the-- the experience--

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:08:26:00          It's not about that.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:08:26:00          --of private equity in state government.

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:08:27:00          Absolutely.  It's a part of it.  But what the president of the United States, what the leader of the whole economy must be concerned about is not the short-term return of profits to the few but a long-term economy that creates jobs for the many.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:08:40:00          So-- so let's start down that road.  Why has unemployment come down?  Unemployment's come down because participation in the workforce is at the lowest point it's been in three decades.  People are retiring early because they can't find a job.  People have given up looking.  If you look at the Gallup surveys, the real number of those who are unemployed, underemployed, and quit looking are around 19%.

09:09:02:00          This is a disastrous administration.  And, candidly, if you wanna get into a fight over debt in an administration which raised the national debt from 47% of the economy to 74% in three and a half years, I-- this is why Obama's gonna have a hard time this fall.  He can't fight over jobs 'cause he isn't creating them.  He can't fight over debt 'cause he's-- he's increasing it.

09:09:20:00          He has policies that at least half of the American people find very unacceptable.  And I think Romney has a pretty straightforward case.  Can you afford four more years of Barack Obama?  Can you really afford four more years of this kind of economy?  Can you afford four more years of this kind of debt?  Or do you want somebody who, as governor, did, in fact, as-- as-- as David pointed out, I mean, the unemployment rate under Romney came down.

09:09:45:00          The fact is that he was able to balance the budget every year as he had to under the law in Massachusetts.  And the fact is he does know a great deal more about job creation than Barack Obama.

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:09:54:00          David, two things on the Romney record.  With regard to debt, Governor Romney drove up, for the people of Massachusetts, the largest per capita debt of any state in the union.  That's a fact.  When it comes to what little bit of job creation was happening in Massachusetts, it was happening in the public sector at six times the rate that it was happening in the private sector.

09:10:16:00          His record, whether it's at Bain Capital or whether it was as governor of Massachusetts, is not a record of reducing debt; it's of increasing debt.  Not a record of increasing private job creation but actually have having the 47th out of 50 states in terms of the worst job creation--

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:10:31:00          Except if he--

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:10:31:00          --in the country.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:10:32:00          --except if you look over time, most of the companies Bain invested in did well.  Most of them paid off the debt.  If you look at Staples, for example, the return on investment was enormous.  They paid off all the debt.

09:10:42:00          I mean, I think the-- the-- the problem the president's got is your normal American, you look at the price of gasoline, you look at the foreclosure rate-- which is coming down in part 'cause so many houses have been foreclosed.  You look at-- the unemployment numbers.  And you say to yourself, "Why would I believe Barack Obama will be any better in a second term?"  And that's why I think Romney has a very strong case to say it's time to try a different approach.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:11:07:00          One more on the Bain question.  Do you-- during the campaign you said, "You know what?  Governor Romney ought to have a press conference and lay out, really explain what his experience was at Bain, take all the relevant questions." Do you still think he ought to do that?

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:11:18:00          I think he did that.  And I think what happened was people looked at it.  And I can just tell you this is why I said I don't understand the-- the Obama campaign's strategy here.  Bain as an issue doesn't work because people look at it in balance.  And they say, wait a second, yeah, you can pick a couple-- a couple companies that lost.  You can pick a lot of companies that succeeded.

09:11:35:00          And as even as the governor of Massachusetts said last week, it is a good company.  It has a good track record.  It's a good citizen of Massachusetts.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:11:43:00          But you said this was a character issue for Romney ultimately, his time in business, what he did.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:11:46:00          And-- and I think he-- he clearly, if you look at what happened, he clearly came out.  He had the press conferences.  He answered the--

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:11:51:00          Is this a character issue to you and to the president?

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:11:53:00          I think it's more of a qualification issue.  There's nothing that Governor Romney did either in the private sector that created jobs or in the public sector that distinguish them self as a job creator.  There's a tremendous amount of balance that's required to be president of the United States, especially to bring our country back from the disastrous-- after effects of the Bush recession, the Bush job losses, and the huge amount of our deficit, 55% of which was caused by policies, tax cuts, that benefited the wealthiest of Americans rather than investing in a better-- future and a better economy with greater opportunities that our kids deserve.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:12:31:00          I-- I just wanna make one point.  At this stage, in 1984, no one on the Reagan team was talking about the Carter recession because they were talking about the Reagan recovery.  They were talking about the rate of job creation under Reagan.  They were talking about the success of Reagan.  This is an administration which went from "yes, we can" to "why we couldn't."

09:12:51:00          And George W. Bush is the "why we couldn't" apparently.  But fact is this president's been president for three and a half years.  He had a chance to fix it.  It ain't fixed.  The country knows it's not fixed.  It's not fixed on gasoline.  It's not fixed on the economy.  It's not fixed on the deficit.  And Romney at least has a reasonable shot of doing a better job than Barack Obama--

09:13:08:00                        (OVERTALK)

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:13:08:00          Well, let me ask you about two challenges, one for you, speaker, and for Governor Romney, and that is the Latino vote in this country.  If he cannot close the gap, what are the-- the-- the-- what's the opportunity for him to actually prevail in the fall?

09:13:20:00          You ran to the left of him on the immigration question.  He gave a speech this week, didn't even-- didn't even talk about immigration.  How big of a problem is this for him?

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:13:28:00          Well, I think he's gotta address it.  But also you have, again, Barack Obama failed on immigration reform even when he had a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.  So he's not in a very good position to say how to fix it 'cause he failed to fix it when he controlled the House and Senate.

09:13:40:00          Second, if you go out and-- and he was speaking to the-- the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  If you go talk to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, they'll tell you the number one issue is jobs.  The number two issue is the price of gasoline.  The number three issue is housing.  And-- and the-- and the number four issue is education, where Romney spent the whole week on education, offered a very bold alternative to help poor children, particularly black and Latino and-- and white poor children, have choices other than being trapped in a failing school.

09:14:08:00          The question is if you campaign on those issues, if-- if Latinos conclude Mitt Romney's more likely to have my family have a job, he's more likely to bring down the price of gasoline, he's more likely to have my child have an effective education, does that overcome whatever the Democratic attack is?  And I think he'll probably get the same percentage George W. Bush did, which will be up in the 40s.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:14:29:00          That's-- that's a pretty bold prediction given where they've been.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:14:31:00          I-- that's right.  But I think it's gonna take a lot of effort and a lot of campaigning.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:14:35:00          A challenge for the president, Ron Brownstein writes about it in his column this week, which is what's the message?  What's the job creation goal and the big idea for the second term?  This is what Brownstein writes in his National Journal column this week.

09:14:47:00          "Today, for its one senior Democrat close to the White House, voters don't have a sense of what Obama would do to make the economy stronger.  The wedge issues and the doubts Obama's raising about Romney are helping the president retain some voters who might be tempted to abandon him.  But Obama would be playing with fire to wager that he can hold enough of those voters without providing them a more compelling and specific plan to improve their lives than he's offered so far."  What is that plan?

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:15:11:00          Well, the plan is that in order to create jobs a modern economy does require modern investments.  I mean, Speaker Gingrich describes himself as a pro-growth Republican.  I describe myself as a pro-growth Democrat.  We know that what we need to do is to create jobs.  The how do you that is to innovate, to invest in education, to invest in infrastructure.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:15:32:00          So government's gotta spend more money on particularly infrastructure in the country.  That's one big idea.

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:15:35:00          To a degree.  You can't do less.  I mean, how much less do you want for our country?  How much less education would be good for our economy?  How many fewer bridges can we keep to-- in good repair?  Is that good for our economy?  Certainly not.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:15:49:00          So Obama's second term, government spends more 'cause it has to.

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:15:52:00          No-- no, the ju-- no, the bottom line here, David, is job creation.  Last year President Obama, because of his leadership in America, we created more jobs as a country last year than were created in all eight years of George W. Bush.  What Mitt Romney is offering is an alternative to take us back, back to the days of debt, back to the days of record job losses, record home foreclosures.

09:16:16:00          And when people are given the choice, particularly new Americans, about an expanding view of America with more jobs and more opportunity or a return to the days of George W. Bush--

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:16:28:00          I wanna make--

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:16:28:00          --they're going to choose to move forward.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:16:29:00          Speaking of Bush, they wanna run the 2004 campaign in a way which is make this a real contrast with Romney and make it a choice and not a referendum.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:16:36:00          Sure.  And-- and I think from their standpoint they have to do that 'cause they can't run on their record.  So they've gotta find a way to set up a fight.  But let-- let's talk about spending more.  The president's the one who said he was shocked to discover shovel ready jobs weren't shovel ready.

09:16:48:00          The president represents bureaucratic investment.  Romney invests-- represents private investment.  Romney made an education proposal this week that would actually improve the education of poor Americans and improve the education of children with disabilities while lowering the cost.  In New York City, if your child goes to a Catholic school, it costs two thirds as much as the public school and they are dramatically more likely to graduate and go to college.

09:17:11:00          The same thing is true of a number of private charter schools across the country.  This is actually in part a fight not over more or less; it's a fight over better or worse.  And the president has to defined public bureaucracies that, in many cases, are worse.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:17:25:00          Before you go, you two were chosen for a reason.

09:17:28:00                        (OVERTALK)

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:17:28:00          Well, as-- (LAUGHTER) as much, governor, as you love your job and I'll say it for you.  I know you love being the governor of the great state of Maryland-- a lot of buzz about you running for president next go around.  Mr. Speaker, what advice might you give Governor O'Malley on running for president?

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:17:41:00          Raise a lot of money.  (LAUGHTER)

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:17:45:00          That's what it takes.

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:17:46:00          Let's-- I mean, it's the entry level problem.  I mean, you've gotta be prepared.  And then, second, just understand you'll spend two or three years on the road.  Mark Warner's a great guy to talk to 'cause he went out, he looked at it a lot, and he came back and ran for the Senate.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:17:57:00          Are you disappointed about our process today and-- and how we pick presidents?

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:18:00:00          No.  Look, this-- this has been a brutal, tough process at least since 1800.  And it hadn't gotten any less brutal and-- and probably shouldn't.  If you're not tough enough to get to the presidency, you're not tough enough to be president.  So I-- I don't-- I have no regrets.  It's-- it was a wonderful, amazing experience.

09:18:18:00          Callista says she learned two big things.  People are overwhelmingly nice even if they don't agree with you.  And money matters.  Those are her two lessons.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:18:26:00          Would you like to be selected to be-- on the ticket with Romney?

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:18:29:00          I think that's highly implausible.  But, you know, I-- I've learned the hard way not to ever say no.  But I-- I find that-- as implausible as you find it.  (LAUGHTER)

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:18:39:00          Governor, are-- are you likely to run in 2016?  Would you wait to see what Biden and/or Secretary Clinton do?

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:18:44:00          I haven't even thought that far.  I mean, I'm focused on what I'm doing right now, which is doing everything in my power to help Democratic governors like Tom Barrett in Wisconsin where the-- where-- the polls have greatly narrowed.  And Wisconsin's an interesting choice.

09:18:59:00          Tom Barrett, who's been a mayor, who's done practical things, brought people together to solve problems versus Scott Walker, 50th out of 50 states in job creation and the only sitting governor with an active criminal defense fund.  So this is going to be an exciting race--

09:19:14:00                        (OVERTALK)

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:19:15:00          Another side to that story--

                                  GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY:

09:19:16:00          --help Barack Obama.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:19:16:00          --which-- which we'll talk about on our roundtable as well.  I'm gonna leave it there.  Thank you both--

                                  NEWT GINGRICH:

09:19:19:00          Thank you.

                                  DAVID GREGORY:

09:19:20:00          --very much.  And coming up we're gonna hear from our political (MUSIC) roundtable on the rules of engagement and the race for the White House.  Also some of these new polls show us a very tight race.  And we're gonna go inside the battle grounds with a focus on Ohio.  The political roundtable is here.  Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa; former chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina; the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne; and David Brooks of the New York Times.  Also a little later, advice for the Class of 2012 from Maria Shriver and best selling author Michael Lewis.  Stay tuned for that.

00:19:51):00                       (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

(videotape)

MARIA SHRIVER:

Wherever you go in life, however fast you’re going, remember this: whenever you are in doubt- pause, take a moment-look at all of your options, check your intention, have a conversation with your heart and then always take the high road.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Sage advice from Maria Shriver, as the class of 2012 graduates and prepares to enter such an uncertain world. I wanted to reach out to two celebrated voices in our culture and two highly sought after commencement speakers. You just heard from Maria Shriver, who addressed the graduates of the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Also joining me, best-selling author of so many books including: “Moneyball,” “Boomerang,” and one my personal favorites “Home Game an Accidental Guide to Fatherhood” -Michael Lewis. He’s going to be addressing Princeton University graduates June 3rd. Welcome to both of you, Thank you for being here.

MARIA SHRIVER:

Thank you for having us.

MICHAEL LEWIS:

Thank you for having me.

DAVID GREGORY:

Maria let’s pick up on that piece of your commencement address that I just played. The power of pause. What was the advice that you thought was so important for graduates to hear, including someone in the audience who was extra special.

MARIA SHRIVER:

Yeah, my daughter was in that graduating class, and well I think that we’re in a rush all of us to go out and you know to be first in every business we’re in a rush. I wanted to tell these young people they’re going out into uncertain times, they know that far better than most of us and that it’s okay to pause.  It’s okay not to know to that question that everybody’s asking them: you know what are you gonna do? What’s your job? Where you living? How much are you making? And that the concept of pausing, not just when you graduate but throughout life is a very powerful concept I think, and that there’s so much outward communication. I wanted to talk about the benefit of communicating inwardly with yourself throughout your life, and you have to pause to do that.

DAVID GREGORY:

It’s interesting Michael because there’s so much emphasis on the individual graduate as he or she goes off into the world. Maybe not enough emphasis on the idea of becoming part of a team, and a sense of shared purpose- which I think actually resonates which a lot of young people.

MICHAEL LEWIS:

You know I think that’s true. I think Maria’s point is very well taken. I think, you know I’ve actually only done a few of these commencement speeches and each time I do them, I do feel,  I wonder a bit if anyone is listening. And I do kind of, I’m a little skeptical of the power of words on these ears, cause I think back, I’m actually giving this year, a talk I supposedly I heard thirty years ago when I graduated from Princeton. Not only do I not remember the talk, or the speaker, I don’t remember the event even happening. And so I’m sitting here thinking what do I tell these people, and it’s quite possible that I will be the only one who remembers what I said, no matter what I say, but I it’s- when you sit and you kind of think what do you tell people to make a difference in their lives as their going out into this world. I think this sort of business of backing away from the pressures, from not accepting that you have to do anything right when you walk out the doors of a University, and sort of leaving yourself open to some weird risks at that stage of your life is a pretty good message, because it is sort of the point in your life when your 21, 22 years old when you’re most likely to take useful risks. As you get older, you take fewer and fewer of them. So, I’ll probably take that as my theme, but I sort of doubt that anybody is going to pay much attention.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, I don’t know, I mean Maria the thing that has occurred to me,  I’ve only done a few of them-I did one just a couple of weeks ago and what strikes me time and time again that I’m never prepared for, is I get up there and I think that I’m not that much older than these graduates, and then I realize: A, yes I am, B, I have more in common with their parents than I do them, and then I get very emotional because I think about my own kids  and that’s what seems to overtake me.

MARIA SHRIVER:

Well, when the played the pomp and circumstance you get very emotional and I actually almost burst into tears in the speech, because I talked being in awe at my first child graduating from college. But I think that they’re a lot of people our age who are speaking  to these young people who have something very much in common. There are millions of people who are having to start over again in their lives, who are having to re-imagine their lives, who are having to take incredible risks, who are having to do things they never imagined. So I think we’re all kind of in this together in many ways, depending on our age, there is so many women who are finding themselves in the position of being breadwinners, caretakers, nurtures, and having to drop out of jobs, reinvent themselves, start businesses . I think as a nation, we’re having to re-define who we are, what we’re doing, and we’re all having to step back and say you know I might have to take a risk I never imagined. I look for common ground with these young graduates , they may be younger but I think we’re all kind of starting out on a path in many ways that has no kind of clear direction to it, and that’s scary and exciting.

DAVID GREGORY:

It is scary and exciting and Michael the other, and it feeds, the point you made was risk, and it’s something you talked about as a commencement speaker at Drew University in 2010. Everybody says, you know do what you love. This was your advice.

(videotape)

MICHAEL LEWIS:

The challenge I think for you today is to find what you love and do it before you figure out how much that love is going to cost you.

(end videotape)

MICHAEL LEWIS:

Yes, you know it is, it’s something, you know I think , you get dragged into these things because you’re supposed to provide some sort of role model for them I think. In a funny way, I think these speeches are misconceived. I think they’d probably benefit more from negative examples if they had, if Princeton would bring back some white collar criminals, some Goldman-Sachs traders or disgraced politicians to explain why you don’t do what you do to get to where I am, that might have more affect. So, I get brought up in front to sort of explain how I got where I am, and this happy position of doing what I like to do, and I tell them that look- there was a moment in my life when I was not much older than you and the price of doing what I wanted to do seemed very very high. The financial price. If I was not twenty-five years old, I would not have gone and done it, cause I didn’t really figure out how high that price was at that time. Ten years later, I never would have made the decision to do what I do, because it seems like it would cost too much. And, so I sort of insistently said to them look- this is the moment where you can pay that price because you don’t really know what it is. So, go for it. This is maybe your one shot when you come outta here, so don’t blow it by jumping at money, by doing the things that everybody thinks you should do because it seems successful, figure out where your heart is and try to go with that.

DAVID GREGORY:

Maria I want to come back and perhaps end on this point of the inner journey that you talked about off the top. There was one commencement speaker back in 1994, who I think is pretty near and dear to your heart and that is your late father Sgt. Shriver and this is what he said  in part, he said “I am a man of consequence, - the Sargent Shriver known everywhere as Maria Shriver’s father!..The first thing I’ve learned is this: It’s not what you get out of life that counts. It’s what you give and what is given to you from the heart.” At another point he said “I have one small world of advice because it is going to be tough: Break your mirror!!! Yes indeed shatter the glass. In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. Learn about the face of your neighbor and less about your own.”

MARIA SHRIVER:

I think that’s very valuable advice, and it could be given by somebody like my father, who was a very deeply religious, deeply spiritual man. But, I find more and more people that I talk to are re-defining what success means in their lives, and they are going within to ask those questions. Michael talked about changing course in his career. You can only do that, I think, if you step back and really have a conversation with yourself about what makes you happy, how you define success and be courageous enough to say I don’t define it in the way that’s going to get me on the cover of People magazine or on the cover of Time magazine, but it works for me. That might be in serving people, taking care of your family, having time to coach a little league game, and so I think people are in the process of re-defining what success means, and I think that’s a really great thing, and I think you can only do that if you break the mirror, pause-step back, take a beat, and talk to your heart.

DAVID GREGORY:

And Michael Lewis whether you think the kids are listening or not I’m sure as a dad you get up there and you’re thinking about these big thoughts and thinking about your own kids at the same time.

MICHAEL LEWIS:

Yeah, I mainly hoping that if I give the Princeton commencement speech, Princeton will feel obliged to admit them.

DAVID GREGORY:

Exactly, which Is

MARIA SHRIVER:

Won’t happen

DAVID GREGORY:

Thank you both, great to have you both, and I appreciate it.

MARIA SHRIVER:

Thank you

MICHAEL LEWIS:

Thank you

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