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Video: Rubio, roundtable break down the issues

updated 6/28/2012 1:44:22 PM ET 2012-06-28T17:44:22

DAVID GREGORY: This Sunday, the immigration debate roils the presidential race as both sides court Hispanic voters. This morning, my lead guest is at the center of that debate. He’s also top of mind these days as Mitt Romney searches for a running mate

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(video tape)

MITT ROMNEY: Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY: With us, the junior senator from FLorida, author of the book “An American Son,” Marco Rubio.

Also, the executive privilege standoff between the House Republicans and the White House. Is there more here than just political theater? The man leading the fight against the attorney general is here this morning. Chairman Darrell Issa joins the roundtable. We’ll talk about that and break down other key topics in the presidential race. The veepstakes for Romney, the fundraising edge, and immigration politics. Some key voices are here, former Democratic Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and Politico’s Jonathan Martin.

Announcer: from NBC news in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

Joining me now, the Republican Senator of Florida, author of the new book An American Son, Marco Rubio.  Senator, great to have you back on the program.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Thank you.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to start with what's on top of the news here.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

The Arizona immigration law.  As you know, critics say this is tantamount to racial profiling.  Law enforcement has the ability to pull somebody if over.  If they think they're an illegal immigrant, they can demand their papers.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

If the Supreme Court upholds that law, does that make you uncomfortable?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well and actually, I'm glad you're asking me about that, because I grappled with this issue during my campaign, and I talked about it in the book that you just showed on the screen there.  When it was first introduced, it made me very uncomfortable.  But then I learned more about what was happening.

First of all, they made a flight change to it that specifically prohibited that sort of activity that you've outlined as a concern.  And then I understood a little better about what Arizona faces and the unique aspects of Arizona as compared to, example, Florida.  I mean Arizona has an all-out border problem there that's not just about immigration, it's about security.  And it's legislature, frustrated with inaction from the federal level, reacted with this law.

What I've said repeatedly is I believe Arizona has a right to pass that bill.  I understand why they did it.  But I don't think it's a national model, and I don't think other states should follow suit.  For example, I don't want to see a law like that in Florida.

But it's important to remind ourselves that what the Supreme Court analyzes is the constitutionality of the law.  And I do believe that Arizona has a constitutional right to do this.  But I think, ultimately, the blame for those kinds of laws falls on the shoulders of federal officials and the federal government for not doing its proper role in enforcing immigration law.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, here's the big issue.  You know?  And I know you grapple with this.  You do in the book, as well.  We have up to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.  What are we going to do with those immigrants if we want to crack down on illegal immigration?  In your view of the world, can any illegal immigrant become legal in the United States without first going home?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well again, that's the complexity of this issue.  And as I outlined in the book, and I've talked about repeatedly in recent days, immigration is not a black or white issue.  It's not a yes or a no issue.  It is complicated because it has a deep human element.  These are human beings who find themselves here undocumented.  But, for the vast majority of them, they're here in search of a better life and opportunities for their children.

On the other hand, the United States can't be the only country in the world that doesn't enforce its immigration laws.  In fact, the United States today is the most generous country in the world on immigration.  A million people a year come here legally.  There's no other country in the world that comes close to that.  So your question goes to what do we do with the folks that are here now?

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  So what's the answer?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, the answer is threefold.  Number one is we've got to win the confidence of the American people.  It's a sequential approach.  You can't just say, "We're going to deal with the 12 million people right up front."  First, you've got to win the confidence of the American people that the federal government is serious about enforcing our immigration laws.  And that's why I think border security and e-verify are so important.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, deportations are up under President Obama.  You said he's dropped the ball.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

But it's not about just deportation, it's about enforcing the law.  For example, an electronic verification system where employers have the security of knowing that the people they hire are legally here, protects the American worker.  And by the way, is good for the immigrant, so they're not being exploited.

All to the border security element, which has improved.  It has improved.  But it needs to continue to improve.  Then I think we need to modernize.  The second step is to modernize our legal immigration system.  One of the things we don't talk about enough is that, in my opinion, the single greatest contributor to illegal immigration is a broken legal immigration system.  I think if you do those two things, then the plight of 12 million, or nine million, or whatever the number is, becomes easier to deal with.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

But it won't become easy, it'll never be easy.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

But it'll become easier if you have the confidence of the American people.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But you get into these issues, as any legislator does, and it's the final step that's the hardest.  Who can become legal?  What is amnesty?  And that's why this question is so crucial.  Can anyone become legal who's here illegally, without first going home?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, we've talked about, for example, in the case of the kids.  And I began to work on an idea a few months ago that hopefully one day will be reality.  And that is what do you do, how do you accommodate kids that came here at a very young age, through no fault of their own, have grown up in this country, graduate high school, want to go to college and be a part of our future, and find themselves here undocumented, through no fault of their own?  And we began to create an approach, and we'll continue to work on an approach.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

This is what's known as The DREAM Act.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, The  DREAM  Act I don't support.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

The DREAM Act is a different piece of legislation.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But it was an older version of that legislation.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

An alternative to it.

                                

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Which I've discussed since my campaign.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

We need to accommodate these kids.  But ultimately, again, here's where the balance comes into play, yes, we need to be compassionate towards nine or 12, whatever the number is, of people.  These are human beings.  And they are here because they're looking for a better life.

But we also can't do anything that encourages illegal immigration in the future.  And here's the other point that I think no one ever talks about.  What about all these people, including many Latino, Hispanic, you know, from Latin America, who are waiting to come here legally, who have done all the paperwork?

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator, I understand this.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

What do we say to them?

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But I--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm not able to get a definitive answer from you, which is can anyone become legal without first going home?  This is going to be the brass tacks question here--

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

But, when--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

--when you get to immigration reform.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah.  But again, the answer to that question depends on the environment in which it's being answered.  And in this current environment, in this current environment, the options that we have available today to deal with 12 million people, is very limited.  Because people are frustrated that our immigration laws are not being enforced, and we don't have a functional legal immigration system that people--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

--can avail themselves of, even if they did go back home.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

The latest thing that's happened is that the president took action unilaterally.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

His Secretary of Homeland Security gave guidance to her local agency saying, "There should be work waivers," not necessarily a path to citizenship, but waivers where children of illegal immigrants.  The president speaking this week at a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials said this.

(videotape)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: We should’ve passed the DREAM ACT a long time ago. It was written by members of both parties. When it came up for a vote a year ago, Republicans in Congress blocked it. the bill hadn’t changed, the need hadn’t changed. the only thing that had changed was politics.

(end videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

And isn't the president right to this extent?  You're not even comfortable saying what you would do about a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are here, even the children of illegal immigrants, because this is such a tough issue in the Republican Party over what is, quote unquote, "amnesty."

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well again, that's not an accurate assessment.  Because the first thing I'll tell you is I have talked in specific about an approach for these kids.  The DREAM Act is too broad.  I said that repeatedly during my campaign.  It doesn't just help the kids, it ultimately, in a very short order, could lead to these kids bringing in multiple relatives.  It could lead to millions of other people immigrating through this process.

It goes back to the balance that I talk about.  We need to be compassionate.  But we also can't do something that encourages illegal immigration in the future.  And I think The DREAM  Act, as they have written it, would do that.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But what the president did, you didn't like the way he did it.  You wanted legislation.  But substantively, you agree--

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

--with what the point did.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

No, even substantively, it's a short term fix for a long term problem.  And in fact, what it does is it injects election year politics into an issue that will never be solved as long as it's a political one.  I am convinced, after a year and a half here in-- in Washington and in the Senate, that for some people, I would say many or all, but for many, or I would just say too many people, this issue is more valuable unresolved.  For them, they'd rather have the immigration--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But you didn't support a DREAM  Act Bill.  You had a chance to put forward the bill, you didn't advance the legislation.  Why not force Democrats to vote on this?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Because they're stoppable (?).

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You're a leading voice on immigration.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well first of all, we have developed the idea in enough detail that people knew what was in, and that were able to-- when I first announced the idea, immediately, Democrats on the left criticized me.  The same people who are now applauding the president for doing something similar.  And that exposes the hypocrisy behind it.

The second point is that legislation like this, if you are a responsible policymaker, you don't just rush out a piece of legislation that impacts the lives of potentially 800,000 people that deeply affects the immigration laws of this country.  You have to be careful.  You have to answers to every question.

If I rush out a piece of legislation that's not ready, if I don't have every answer to every question that's gonna be raised about that bill, it loses credibility from the onset.  So I will continue to approach it as a responsive policymaker.  Look, if I wanted a talking point, if what I wanted was something to use in November elections, we would have cobbled something together and rolled it out.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But here's the reality.  You support a candidate, Mitt Romney, who talked about self deportation during the campaign.  Had to run hard to the right here on illegal immigration.  Had said, at one point, that he would veto The DREAM  Act.  And the reality is that he's far behind President Obama among Latino voters.

You write this in your book, An American Son, about Canada:  "I begin to wonder if some of the people who speak so disparagingly about immigrants would be just as worked up if most of them were coming from Canada."  You suggest a level of racism here toward illegal immigrants.  How much of a problem does the Republican Party have on this issue?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well first of all, (UNINTEL) that all these voices are Republicans, the enormous, vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans are supporters of legal immigration, are compassionate to the plight of illegal immigrants, but understand that America cannot be the only country in the world that doesn't enforce its immigration laws.

And by the way, again, I repeat, what about the 30, 40, 50 million people that are waiting to immigrate to the U.S., who's relatives come to my offices, for example, some of them, asking for help to expedite that process?  What do I tell them?  "Come illegally, it's cheaper and quicker?"

So I think that-- no one talks about them.  Again, it's not a simple issue.  And The DREAM Act is too broad.  There is an alternative that's better.  It's what we were working on, is what I had hoped to work on outside of politics, to be able to elevate the issue beyond the give and take of electoral politics.  Obviously, that's not going to happen, unfortunately, this year, because now the issue has been politicized by the president.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Romney's got a big disadvantage.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You would agree with that, among Latino voters?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well again, I think we need to remember that there are some historic factors in play.  I mean there are also a large number of Hispanic voters in this country who happen to be liberal Democrats, who happen to be lifelong Democrats.  They're not going to change the position and decide to vote for Mitt Romney now because he will change his position on immigration or not.  So we need to realize that this is a long term effort for the Republican Party to insure that our message of limited government and free enterprise is accessible to a group of Americans that happen to be of Hispanic descent.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

I brought up the Supreme Court.  The other big decision, of course, is health care.  Several different scenarios there.  How important is this going to be, do you think, ultimately in the race, if they strike it down or if they uphold it or if they strike down part of it?  Where do we go from here?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, irrespective of what happens with the Supreme Court decision, which again, is going to decide on the basis of the constitution, what the Supreme Court is deciding is whether the law is constitutional, not whether it's a good idea or not.  I think the debate about how to approach our health insurance problem in America will continue.

Because the health care laws, currently structured, is discouraging job creation and expansion of business in America.  And so that issue will continue to be faced as the law is upheld.  And if the law is overturned, Republicans, hopefully we have the majority, and President Romney, are going to have to come up with an alternative, a way to replace what Obama Care does.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Would you like to see insurance guaranteed for people with preexisting conditions?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I think I talked about the way to handle that, for example, people that are difficult to insure, is through high risk pools.  There are ways to do that.  But I really would like to see for America is a vibrant, private insurance market where individuals can buy insurance from any company that will sell it to them, with the same tax treatment as their employers get, where companies can pool together with other companies to buy this insurance, where the consumer is in charge of health insurance, not just the employer structure that we have in place today.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you a question about the economy and the fiscal cliff that's coming here in Washington, which are some big decisions about whether we're going to balance the budget.  Would you use any money from closing tax loopholes, any new revenue that would come into the government, would you use any of that to pay down the debt?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

But no one is in dispute that we need more revenue.  The question is how do you generate it.  And that's the fault of the--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, but my question is would you use any of it to pay down the debt?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I would use revenue from growth.  Which I think, when you talk about--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, that wasn't my question.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

No.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Any closing loopholes, because you know what I'm getting at, which is this idea of the tax pledged.  Do you consider this, raising taxes, if you close a loophole, you get new revenue to the government, you use part of it to pay down debt, maybe the majority of it, to bring down tax rates?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I know, but I reject the premise of that.  I think that's a false choice.  I think the issue--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Other Republicans in the Senate don't think it's a false choice.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I think it's a false choice.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Do they?  Okay.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

And here's why.  Because I think the issue here is growth.  And that's a good thing, by the way, that I think both parties are now debating about.  I think we know what the selection is partially about, and that is both parties agree that what we need is growth in America.  It is the single biggest way, it's the best way, to solve our debt problems, our unemployment problems.

Now the debate is about how we generate growth.  And the reason why I oppose tax increases is because I think they hurt growth.  I think it's destructive to growth.  But I think if we do tax reform, which would involve flattening the tax code, getting rid of certain exemptions that are in place today, you can do that in a revenue-neutral way in the first year.

But that would generate growth.  And growth would generate revenue.  And then you how to have the fiscal discipline to use that revenue to pay down the debt.  So I think that growth is the only way to solve this problem.  And I think tax increases would hurt growth.  That's why I object to tax increases.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to ask you about your political standing.  And here's a surprise.  I'm not going to ask you if you're going to be Mitt Romney's running mate.  I'm not going to ask you that question.  What I'm going to do instead is simply play this piece of tape from your last appearance here in may.

                    

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator, do you stand by that answer?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I thought you had told me you'd burned the tapes?  (LAUGHTER) Look, I'm not discuss--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you stand by that?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I'm not discussing the vice presidential process anymore.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I made the decision two months ago not to discuss it any further.  I think, by the way, other people that have been speculated about are doing the exact same thing, and wisely so.  I think Governor Romney--

              

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But I'm not asking you to discuss, I'm just asking you, do you stand by that statement?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I'm not discussing the vice presidential process.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You're not going to say whether that's still operable or not?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I just-- look, here's what I can tell you.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You said, under no circumstances, and yet, you're obviously providing material to be vetted.  So if it was under no circumstances, why allow yourself to be vetted?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, here's--

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

No, here's what I can tell you definitively.  And that is that I am confident, based on his lifelong record of making good decisions, that Mitt Romney's going to make a great selection for vice president.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you a couple of other things.  Here's the headline in AP about some of the issues you write about in your book, some mistakes you say you made.  "As Senator Rubio raises his profile, will issues from his past hold back this GOP rising star?"  There's been talk about use of a party credit card.  Your friendship with David Rivera (PH), who's a Congressman-- from Florida, who's still being investigated, was investigated, by the state.  Is there anything there from your past you think is a liability politically?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

You know, I think your opponents want to turn anything into a liability.  This show, as we speak, there are bloggers standing by their computers, and fact checkers and others, that want to use any word I say against us or in the future.  And that's one of the things I discuss in the book is how everything you do in politics, even if you may think it doesn't look bad, will be put together and packaged in the worst possible way in the future, and be viewed through a lens very different from the one at the time that you're doing it.

So what I talk about in the book is I have made decisions in the past that, if I had a chance to do differently, I would.  You raised the credit card issue.  You know, at the end of the day, I have a good explanation for all of that.  But that doesn't mean that's the way it's going to be covered, and that's not the way it's going to be portrayed.  And then there's a lesson there that, in politics, especially the higher you go, perception is often reality, and you have to be sensitive to that when you're involved in politics.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You hired people to kind of go through your record to make sure there's nothing embarrassing.  Are you confident at this point that there's nothing that will emerge about your past in politics or personally that would be either embarrassing to you politically or, if you were to be on a ticket with Mitt Romney, that would cause a problem?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah, look.  Again, on all that stuff, I wrote a book that I thought was a very honest appraisal of where I am and where I've been and the decisions that I've made.  And the reason why I did it is pretty simple.  There are other people out there that are my age, in their 30s at the time I was making these decisions, maybe they're in politics, maybe they're in business, and maybe there are lessons to be learned from that.

I've made good decisions.  Like everybody else, I've made bad decisions.  I've learned from my bad decisions.  I have always learned, like all of us do, from our mistakes.  I wouldn't over-blow them, either.  But I think it's important to point those out.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

It's interesting.  What a lot of people may not have realize, that you were a Mormon when you were younger, and your family was Mormon.  And you've written about it, and others have, that you sort of instigated the change to get out of the Mormon Church and become Catholic.  What brought that on?  Why did you move away from the Mormon Church?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, a couple things.  I think it's important to point out I was eight years old, I mean at the time that our family went into the church.  And as I talked about in the book, my mom, we moved to Las Vegas, and she was looking for a wholesome environment to raise our family.  It was one of the things that, I know when people think of wholesome environment for the family, Las Vegas doesn't come to mind.  But it was (CHUCKLE) a much smaller town back then, and outside of the strip, obviously.

And we have family members, still do, that were very involved in the LDS Church.  And my mom was a big admirer of the family-friendly environment it created.  And as I discuss in the book, that's why she moved us there.  You know, but for spiritual reasons, when I was about 12 years old, I started feeling called back to the Catholic Church.  And it was nothing against the Mormon Church, it was just this calling that's happened twice in my life.  And one of the aspects that I explore in the book is my faith journey.  And I hope people enjoy reading about that, as well.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You know, there's so many similarities between you and President Obama in terms of your political rise.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Hopefully in book sales, too.  (LAUGHTER)

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah, you've written a book, like he did.  Your ascent, as rapid as it is, has to be remarkable.  And I'm sure you've looked to President Obama.  I realize you're different ideologically.  But what do you learn kind of positively and negatively from his very fast rise and your own, as you go through it?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, and I've discussed this in other interviews and a little bit in the book.  Obviously, I think like all Americans, his candidacy of 2008 was an historic one.  I deeply disagreed with him on policy.  But I understood the historic nature of his candidacy.  And I understood politically how well organized they ran that campaign.

I mean just in terms of being a practitioner of politics, you watch the way they conducted that campaign with admiration, even though there were very strong disagreements about the policy positions that he took and has taken.  I can tell you that when I was thinking about running for the Senate, I studied his Senate run when he was in third place.  I mean he was not supposed to be the nominee for his party in Illinois.  And I felt if someone like that can run and win in Illinois, then someone like me can win in Florida.

But look, I think the one thing about the president that, to me, is personally disappointing, and I obviously don't know the president very well, is I thought in 2008, irrespective of where he stood on issues, he had a very unique opportunity to elevate American politics above kind of the normal fray where it had been before.  I think he's abandoned that.  I think he now become just like everybody else in this town, where politics is about-- divide and conquer as opposed to hope and change.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Are you ambitious enough to believe that you can become the first Latino president?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

You know, I don't ever, and what I've really done, I hope the book captures this, is I've deliberately not tried to ever view any position I have as a springboard for another position.  I think it's a recipe for self destruction.  What I do believe is if I do a good job in the Senate, if I'm a serious policymaker, if I take my time to put forward bills as opposed to, you know, bumper sticker solutions, like I've tried to do with this immigration issue, then I think, six years from now, I'll have a lot of opportunities to do different things in politics, outside of politics.  My experience has been that, if you do a good job at your job, you'll have other opportunities, including some you've never expected.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

I tried to save the toughest for last.  You know, we have our own vetting process here as we try to get to know you better and help the American people get to know you better.  And rooting through, going through your book and understanding your interest in music, in rap and hip hop, (CHUCKLE) the critical question is:  east coast or west coast?  (LAUGHTER) Biggie Smalls or Tupac, which is it?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah, was more of a west coast fan, I guess, during that time.  You know, that distinction has gone away now.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

--Miami-based--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, we're the same age.  So that's right, we have--

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

But I was more of a west coast guy.  And that probably hurt me on the east coast.  (LAUGHTER)

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, one last question.  I'm thinking about basketball.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

And I'm wondering, in Florida today, who would get more votes, Obama, Romney or Lebron James?

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, in Miami, probably Lebron James.  (LAUGHTER) Like everywhere else in America, unfortunately, there's still a lot of hate going on for Lebron and The Heat.  But tough pill to swallow for them.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.  You can't be for--

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

For The Heat.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

You can't be for them in Florida and (LAUGHTER) still deal with Ohio.  That's the problem.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Yeah.  That's exactly right.  (LAUGHTER) Yeah.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Rubio, thanks very much.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Happy to have you here.

                                 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Thank you.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back now with our political roundtable.  Joining me, senior political reporter for Politico, Jonathan Martin is here.  NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, former Democratic Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, and the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Contaminated, Congressman Darrell Issa.  Welcome to all of you.

Chairman Issa, I want to start with you.  The standoff between your committee and you personally with the attorney general and now the White House, over executive privilege.  Bottom line, is there an agreement here that you can reach?  Or are you going to a full House contempt vote?

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Well, there is a standoff, but it's not something we aim to have.  We'd like to get the documents.  They're very specific documents in many cases where we've been give under-oath testimony about e-mails or memos or correspondence.  And we'd like to have those.  They don't involve executive privilege.  It's pretty clear they're communications about post-February fourth cover-up by the Justice Department.

You know, there was ten months in which they said there were no gun walking until they said, "Oh, yes there was," and they retracted the February fourth letter to Senator Grassley.  That's what we'd like to have.  If we can have those documents, we can postpone--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right--

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

--or cancel the contempt.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Let's walk back.  The underlying problem here is a policy where federal agents allowed gun walking.  So they didn't arrest straw purchasers of illegal guns, they let them to back into Mexico.  Ultimately, those guns got into circulation, were used to kill two federal agents.  That was the underlying problem.  That program, which started under the previous administration, has gone away.  The documents--

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

No.  No, it didn't.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

It didn't go away.

                             

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

There was something under the previous administration, a couple of programs, wide receiver was one that they mention a lot, started and stopped, cancelled and found to be flawed, under the Bush era, never got to President Bush or the attorney general.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Because they're indictments

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

They were indictments that the U.S. attorney, the Republican U.S. Attorney said, "We can't go forward, this is too flawed a tactic."  It was shut down.  Lanny Breuer, member--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Head of the criminal division.

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Right, head of criminal division, began those prosecutions over.  And at the same time, fast and furious, began--

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

There really was a recognition by the previous administration that this was the wrong thing to do, and it was shut down.  It was started back up in this administration.  At this point, what we want to do is make sure that no administration starts or stops it again.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But Congressman, the documents you're after are not about the program itself, they're about how the Justice Department responded to you, what they were saying about you and your committee and the attorney general's testimony.  If you got everything you wanted, what do you think it would prove?

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

You know, Brian Terry's mother wants the truth.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

One of the agents killed.

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Both the ranking member, Mr. Cummings, and myself promised to get the truth.  We got a lie, we got a cover-up.  But more importantly, five different times, we had the-- the key people involved in front of-- a deposition, private deposition with Republican and Democratic consuls, and the administration's handlers, lawyers, said, "Don't answer, don't answer, don't answer."

We need answers.  We can't have answers when people take the fifth.  We can't have answers when the Justice Department instructs witnesses not to answer questions.  And more importantly, I think the American people understand if the administration lies, the people who tell untruths in the administration, and then cover it up for ten months, have to be held accountable.  That's not executive privilege.  You don't have the privilege to lie to the American people.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

What would you be able to prove?  I mean what the White House is saying is this is a fishing expedition, it's to score political points, it's all theater.  What can you prove if you get e5tg you want?

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Well first of all, what we know is, on a couple of occasions, specific testimony about memos and e-mails that were sent were looking for those.  Those are in our discovery.  What we really want to know is why did it take ten months, and what were they covering up?  Because from this ten months, we go backwards to find out the important thing.

Who at Justice up and down the chain authorized this and allowed it to continue?  Remember, Brian Terry was killed 18 months ago.  We're not just talking about February fourth, we're talking about the three months after he was killed, and the months leading up to it.  The investigation has to, one, hold people responsible, two, make sure it doesn't happen again.  And the second part is what we're all about.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor, do you think the White House ought to try to find some accommodation here?

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

I think both sides need to find an accommodation.  But with all during respect to the Congressman, this strikes me as political.  The administration has provided 7,600 documents.  There's been 11 Congressional hearings.  People want the Congress to deal with jobs.  They want them to deal with the one million construction jobs that are going to expire unless they act.  They're going to need to deal with close to seven million student loans that are going to go up unless the Congress acts.

I think the attorney general has done a very good job.  I mean I commend him for what he's done on challenging the Arizona immigration law, on what he's done with a number of other inquiries, the voting rights suppression that is happening around the country.  I think there's a little bit of political payback.

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

--the Congressman.

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

But Bill, you know, you--

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

But--

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

--Nixon got us opened up China.  He created the E.P.A. and O.S.H.A..  There were a lot of good things that happened.  In this case, the attorney general has given 80,000 documents to the inspector general.  And of the 7,600 documents that we received, some of them we didn't ask for, they're not pertinent.  And many of them are completely redacted, completely black pages.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  But so a lot of it--

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

So let's understand, we want answers to specific questions.

                                

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, I want to get in here because I want to talk about the politics of this, as well.  Jonathan, there is tension here among Republicans.

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Right.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

The chairman wants to move forward.  There's a lot of other Republicans who say, "Hey, this is not the focus here we want in an election year."

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Right.  If you get truths here, and I think to the House GOP leadership, they would say they'd rather talk about jobs every single day from now until election day.  But the fact is, in the House, there is a strong block of conservatives that have prompted Speaker Boehner to sort of bend here.  And so he is having to pursue this issue.

Look, I don't think they want to do this.  I don't think Governor Romney certainly wants to pursue this.  They want to focus entirely on jobs and the economy, on President Obama, from now until election day.  But it's a testament to the chairman and the conservative strength in the House GOP that this is happening.

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

But Jonathan, you know, the Tuesday group, the most moderate Republicans, have come up to me time and time again about this.  And it's not a fight we want.  It's not what we want to be on.  Yes, we want to be jobs and the economy.  The Data Act passed unanimously out of the House, and it's died in the Senate, that would bring greater transparency and accountability and save money.  We have those issues we're working on.

But, you know, some fights you pick?  This wasn't one.  Some fights come to you, and you have to do what you have to do.  In this case, you'll have all the Republicans, moderate and conservatives, saying, "We don't want to do this, but we will do it."  And you'll have a lot of Democrats--

DAVID GREGORY:

And Andrea--

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

--voting with them.

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea Mitchell, where are we on this?

                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, like you've heard from the chairman here, from Chairman Issa, is that Nixon did some things that were good.  I mean that is the analogy.  And by invoking executive privilege, the White House has now brought into the sort of symbolic confrontation, this constitutional confrontation, that the White House does not initially want.  But they think that they can win because, as Governor Richardson said, they think the people care more about the economy.

It is a distraction.  It is politics at large in Washington, according to most people.  But I think that this thing is going to play out there, going to have this vote on the House floor.  And the irony is, of course, that it will be up to the Justice Department whether or not to prosecute.  This is going to go to the courts.  I think that Chairman Issa would agree with that. It's going to go to the courts, and you're not going to have the resolution before the election.

                             

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we have about three minutes left.  And now Chairman, I'm going to ask you to take off the newsmaker hat, put on the analyst hat.  Because I want to react a little bit to Senator Rubio and the immigration politics of this week.  Governor Richardson, it was striking to me that you have both Senator Rubio, but also, Mitt Romney really straddling this issue of immigration, not answering the hard questions that a lot of people want to address, saying, "Well, we're going to get to a comprehensive solution, something that has eluded presidents, from Obama to President Bush, as well."

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

Well, Senator Rubio, very articulate.  The first time I've ever met him.  However, he has not taken a definitive position on-- he's against The DREAM  Act, which allows immigrant kids to go in the military, college--

DAVID GREGORY:

And get citizenship.

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

--and get that break.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

Get citizenship.  He's against comprehensive immigration that, as you asked him, the 12 million immigrants that are here, what happens to them under the Obama plan, under create conditions?  The president has pushed for comprehensive immigration.  He's pushed for a DREAM  Act.  It's been Republican filibusters, Republican opposition.  The president has appointed hundreds of nominees in important positions.

And then lastly, the President's done a good job in creating jobs for Hispanic.  What you have now is an increase, almost in two million Hispanic jobs in the last 27 months.  There's been also an increase, through the payroll tax cut, close to 234 million Hispanics got a tax cut.  His initiatives towards education, high-tech jobs.

Another thing that bothers me in this debate, most think that Hispanic immigration issues are really landscaping.  Those are honorable jobs.  But what we're talking about is future technologists.  We're talking about future doctors, business leaders.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

That's the new emerging--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, but--

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

--Latino community.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Jonathan first, and then Andrea, in terms of how Senator Rubio is positioning himself.  What struck you about today?

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Oh, how cautious he is on this issue, just like Governor Romney is.  They don't want to talk about what the elephant in the room is, and that is what do you do with the 12 million illegal immigrants who are here in the country right now?  Do they have to go back to their countries first before they get some degree of amnesty?

Look, Governor Romney has said all week that he's going to propose a long term solution.  That's kind of his preferred choice of words, "a long term solution."  But what does that mean?  Does that mean mass deportations or some form of conditional amnesty?  We don't know because they won't say.  And why won't they say?  Well, because, on their right flank, they're facing heat from border hawks--

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

--in their own part.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

But you're a California Republican--

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

--Hispanics whose vote they need.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Can any illegal immigrant become legal without first leaving the country?

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Yes.  But understand that, since 1986, when Ronald Reagan thought he fixed this on a bipartisan basis, granted amnesty, put in new, tougher rules to keep it from happening again, the system has failed.  Since the '90s, in California, we have seen it fail, fail, fail.

Republicans have an obligation to deal with 12 million people that are here in a broken system, a system that was, in fact, broken, and that's part of why they're here.  At the same time, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  We have to make sure that, whatever the comprehensive reform is, that it has real teeth and can be verified.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea?

                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

We can't go through this again.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea?

                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The whole point, though, is that the reason why Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio are being so ambiguous about it is because, as Jonathan just pointed out, there are pitfalls on all sides.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

There are no easy answers.  Look, two days before the president announced his temporary solutions, temporary fix, Marco Rubio was telling a group of us reporters how he was going to propose a DREAM Act modification.  But the president (UNINTEL) run around him.  And the fact is that he had never discussed personally that with Mitt Romney.

They wanted that deniability built in because they didn't not want to pin the candidate down on it, and Marco Rubio doesn't want to be pinned down on it.  And the fact is that now the president has preempted it and you can't even introduce his own legislation.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me just get a break in here.

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

We're back now with more from our roundtable.  All the talk about Marco Rubio this week has certainly intensified the speculation about who Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate, and why, after all, this decision matters.

(videotape)

SEN. ROB PORTMAN: Then let’s decide this one for Mitt Romney.

(end videotape)

GREGORY: Many of them also on hand this weekend for this high-dollar donor retreat in Park City, Utah. But it is Rubio getting a lot of attention, no much so that the candidate felt the need to insist he is on the list.

(videotape)

FMR. GOV. ROMNEY: There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not and that’s Beth Myers and myself. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.

(end of videotape)

GREGORY: Karen Hughes advised then Governor Bush on his search for a number two.

(videotape)

MS. KAREN HUGHES: This is political equivalent of a colonoscopy. They’re searching every inch of a, of a candidate’s life, of their past. And they would prefer that they’re able to do that out of the glare of publicity.

(end videotape)

GREGORY: Beyond Rubio, it’s former Governor Tim Pawlenty getting a lot more attention this week.A former governor with a strong appeal to working-class voter who above all would do no harm. It’s an appeal that focuses speculation as well on Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who help Romney double down on a call to balance the budget. this week reports also emerged saying Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, a celebrated fiscal conservative, has formally begun the vetting process.

(videotape)

MS. HUGHES: Yes, you’re looking for someone who brings something that adds no only to your ability on the campaign trail, but really importantly, I think, to your ability to govern effectively  once you’re elected president.

(end videotape)

GREGORY: The big question is, what message does Romney want to send with his vice presidential pick? Does he play it safe or go for a game-changer? There are lessons from 2008 when maverick Senator mcCain plucked Sarah Palin, a little known governor of Alaska, out of obscurity. But insiders say that has become a cautionary tale, leaving the Romney campaign more apt to make a conventional choice for the number two spot.

(video tape)

ROMNEY: Thanks, guys.

(end videotape)

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

So, there it is.  Discuss. Governor Richardson, you've been in this position before.  You know, think of it from Mitt Romney's position.  What is the message he wants to send?

                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

Well, I think he is so behind with Latino voters that, if I were advising him, which he won't take that advice, (LAUGHTER) is that he go with Rubio.  Because Rubio will help him in Florida.  And you then have a chance in some of those states like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, with a high proportion of Latino voters.

I don't think it's going to be enough, even if he picks Rubio, because the president has a very good record with Hispanic voters.  But I think if he goes with some of the traditional choices that are out there, and I know many of them, they're good candidates, the opportunity with this sleeping giant of a Hispanic community that is just exploding is not going to be there.  And Rubio's an attractive guy.  If he picks him, I don't think he can still win those states.  But--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, what about the first "do no harm" theory?

                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Oh yeah.

                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Which is someone who has been around the track a few times.  I wonder what Issa thinks about this.  What about--

                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

I want to be on the selection committee.  That seems to be the way you do it.                                   

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Assuming that you're not on the list and not being vetted, (LAUGHTER) because we haven't heard about you in that context.  What about Tim Pawlenty?  What about Rob Portman, who would seem to be the frontrunners if you're going to choose a safe candidate--

                                                 

MALE VOICE:

Right.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--who is not going to hurt the--

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

2008, more than ever, tells us be ready to be president on day one, and make sure there's no question you're ready to be president on day one.  And that favors governors, it favors people who have been on the scene longer.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

So--

DAVID GREGORY:

You know Jonathan, I did a panel discussion with Steve Schmidt, who of course ran McCain's campaign.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Right.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

And he said, "We won't be the last campaign to make a VP choice for politically expedient reasons.  But we'll be the last campaign to do it for a while."

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

That's right, exactly.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

And that is the--

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Well, I think the Congressman's case is what the Romney folks are looking at.  And that is who can step into the job if the president is incapable of doing it?  And that's also in Governor Romney's D.N.A..

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

He has somebody who's prudent and cautious.  He's a management consultant, right?  So I think if he is still in the game, and it looks like he's going to be come August, he's going to make a sort of safe, traditional pick.  Talking about folks like Tim Pawlenty, like Rob Portman, perhaps Paul Ryan.  But I'll tell you, I was talking with some sources at the Utah event this weekend.  The biggest buzz out there was for Condi Rice.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Interesting.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

She's not going to be--

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Oh, she made a great speech at lunch.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

She's not going to be the pick for a variety of reasons.  But it just goes to show, at least among donors and GOP elites, that there's still a sort of search for that star power that obviously something like that has.

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

But in the end, it's who can bring you the most votes, who can bring you a state that you don't have.

                                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

Well, but that's the old wisdom.

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

That really is the old wisdom.  But it's still--

REP. DARREL ISSA:

No, Bill, I think it's the-- and it's a great reason to say Marco Rubio, but it's not a great reason to pick a president, a vice president.  The vice president should be picked based on "do no harm" and based on job one being "you can take over the presidency."

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

But this is a lot about Marco Rubio and the unique role he has in American politics that Governor Romney would sort of spurn his own fight club rules, which is you don't talk about fight club.  In a matter of hours he would say, "Yes, he, in fact, is being vetted that."

JONATHAN MARTIN:

That's a remarkable testament to Rubio's place in American politics.

                                           

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But it was sort of a courtesy, that statement.

                                                 

MALE VOICE:

right.

                                                 

MALE VOICE:

Right.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Because it didn't seem if--

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

We don't know if it's true or not.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We don't know if it's true.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Right.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But it seems like he--

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

But the fact that he said it, though.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.  And well, why wouldn't they look at him?

DAVID GREGORY:

I mean, you know, you'd be crazy not to.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--going to the Hispanic community.

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

This needs to be cast very broad.  There's no question you need to be prepared.  Because ultimately, your number one choice could falter at the end.  The late Jack Kemp was once the absolutely going to be the VP, and at the end, he wasn't.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

And I think you have to look, and you have to realize that this is a unique position where you go from being president and chairman of the board and CEO and chief operating officer, and if you're not there, the vice president, who has a nondescript job, has to come in and do all of it.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

So I have a question about Paul Ryan.  Paul Ryan's chairman of budget committee.  You know, I mean like Marco Rubio, guys are the same age, 41 years old, and a big future ahead of him in the Republican Party.  But the question, chairman, is whether a guy like Paul Ryan is a little too incendiary.  Would the left be able to really go to work on him because of his views about Medicare, because of his budget?  Do you think Romney looks at that and says, "Boy, he's attractive, he doubles down on my message, but he'd just be too much of a lightening rod?"

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Well, I hope that Governor Romney looks at what Paul Ryan and others have said and not what the political left has said about them.  That's part of the consideration.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

--if he's embraced a lot of what he says.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Right, exactly.  If you look at Paul Ryan, he's the person that took on the president in that famous Republican gathering where the president said, "You guys have no ideas."  And he said, "Well, wait a second.  I gave you this.  What about this?"  And the president had to back down and say, "Well yes, those are some very good budget ideas."

This is a person of substance that I serve with in the House, I'm very proud to serve with, who has a lot of great ideas.  If he's not the vice president, he still is one of the people on the short list for key cabinet positions.

                                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

Yeah.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

And OMB, and these kinds of positions.  And that's one of the reasons you cast the net is you're looking at people, like Bill Richardson, who might or might not be the VP, but also, might or might not be--

                        

DAVID GREGORY:

I don't think that Romney's--

DAVID GREGORY:

--you, Bill.

DAVID GREGORY:

I just don't see that.

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

He's got to have one Democrat in the administration.  (LAUGHTER)

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Can you do transportation, governor?  

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--you will not serve under Romney.

                                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

In the end, this election's going to be so close.  I think the president wins it very narrowly in those southwest states.  You know, all this "do no harm", "who's going to be the best VP, ready to be president," you know, I'd love that.  That's a civics class statement.  But in the end is, "How can I win and eek out a narrow victory?"  And I think Governor Romney is going to have to find a game changer.

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

So who's Obama going to pick for vice president, then, to do that?

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, he's got a good one.  He's got the vice president--

DAVID GREGORY:

They already made the lawn signs.  They can't change that now.

                                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

And Biden is strong.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

He's strong in Pennsylvania, he's strong with the middle class voters.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  Let me take another break here.

DAVID GREGORY:

Final moments with our roundtable.  I wish we had a second hour today, there's so much news.  We want to go round the table quickly on some other big news this week in politics.  First up, of course, is what's coming down the pike this week.  The Supreme Court and health care.  Here was talking points memo, the blog this morning.  And here's a headline:  "Obama Care Supporters at Odds Over Post-Supreme Court Strategy."  Andrea, high stake stuff this week.  It's going to have a big impact in the race.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It's huge.  And, you know, either way, if the mandate is thrown out by the Supreme Court this week, the left and liberal supporters of the president say that they're going to make it a huge issue.  But any way you look at it, it is a huge defeat for this administration.  This is the signature policy of this president.

                        

DAVID GREGORY:

0Let's review.  They can uphold, they can strike down.  They could strike down the individual mandate, or they could strike that down plus--

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

--that severability argument where they also strike down things like guaranteeing that insurance companies have to cover people with preexisting conditions.  This is what Speaker Boehner said this week in a memo to Republicans about what happens when the Supreme Court acts.  He said, "No one knows what the court will decide.  But if the court strikes down all or part of the President's health care law, there'll be no spiking of the ball.  Republicans are focused on the economy.  We will not celebrate at a time when millions of our fellow Americans remain out of work."  But Congressman, there's no question that Republicans will make this a part of the fall choice.

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Well, if they strike down the entire bill, then some of the things that we all agreed on should be dealt with will be first and foremost.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Preexisting conditions.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Preexisting conditions.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Keeping young people up on their parents until 26.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

Well, an age to be determined.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

And a status to be determined.  But absolutely.  There would be a need, a bipartisan need, for a group of us, particularly those on Ways and Means, to get together and say, "Okay, what is it we can cobble together from what we do agree on with our Democratic colleagues, and put back in?"  Because all along, we've said real problems, this isn't the solution.  If this goes away, we still have to start dealing with the problem

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor, I'm told, by the way, that the White House expects as early as tomorrow, it could add a Wednesday session to announce it, or, of course, on Thursday, just for those planning their viewing at home.  What do you say about all this?

                                                 

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

Well, I think it's a huge defeat of the Supreme Court most for it to strike any part down, even just the individual mandate for the American people.  Just this week, several million kids got their health insurance.  I think there's going to be a real uproar against a politicized Supreme Court.

You know, here they're making political decisions.  This is a clear constitutional issue.  The Interstate Commerce Clause of the Congress dictates that this can happen.  It's going to energize a Democrat base.  And that is important for the president--

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON:

--to get--

JONATHAN MARTIN:

--the only side that I can see here, if it is struck down, that finally progressives, who have been grumbling quite a bit about Operation Obama, could find something to rally around if it is struck down.  But I think area is right, there is no question.  This is one more issue where the president will have been rebuked.  Talk about issues like the credit rating of this country being downgraded, the President's signature first term accomplishment--

                                                 

MALE VOICE:

Yeah.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

--being struck down by the court.  It's just a rebuke to a sitting president, and symbolically, I think in that way, it would be hurtful to his chances.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Next item here has to do with the remaking of Mitt Romney as we get into the general election.  We've seen lots of examples of this.  Romney, as we learned from Rock Center, is out there playing practical jokes on the press corps, going onto the campaign bus, having a little bit of fun.  You know, not only, you know, he's baking cakes, his sons are appearing on Conan.  We have kind of a, you know, recasting of his image a little bit.

The next item I want to get some comment on.  There are his sons on Conan this week.  The next item has to do with fundraising.  And I want to get Andrea to weigh in on this.  The reality is that Mitt Romney has a pretty commanding lead from last month in terms of how much he is raising.  He has become so politic in this area.  Why does it matter?

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It matters because these television ads, these web ads, the whole organization, it matters hugely.  And, you know, President Obama, Barack Obama as a candidate, ran circles around John McCain, who abided by the overall limits.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now, what you see is this huge amount of money.  Mitt Romney raised money in private equity.  This is what he knows--

                           

  DAVID GREGORY:

Knows how to do.

                                                 

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--very well how to do.  We see it this weekend in Utah.  He knows how to make that appeal.  And he knows how to deal with donors and donor maintenance.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

And if you ask David Axelrod, the top Obama strategist, what he's worried about, he will tell you first thing he's worried about is money and whether or not they can keep pace.  Because it's not just what the two candidates are raising, it's what these Super Packs are doing.  And they're going to, I think, on the GOP side, raise much more money now than Democrats will going forward.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we're going to leave it there.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

But he has more money in the bank.  President Obama has--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

                                                 

REP. DARRELL ISSA:

--a commanding lead in the money that he has.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Super packs--

JONATHAN MARTIN:

Well, ultimately--

                                      

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--burn latest--

                                               

JONATHAN MARTIN:

And the president has a small--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  We've got to go.

                                                 

JONATHAN MARTIN:

But Mitt Romney is a veteran investor.

                                                 

DAVID GREGORY:

They're going to keep talking.  (LAUGHTER) That's all for today.  We'll be back next week.  Happy birthday to two of the most important people in my life today.  If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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