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Notes on Meet The Press Broadcast of July 15, 2012

July 15, 2012

This week on Meet The Press, Romney campaign senior advisor Ed Gillespie responded to the existence of six documents sent to the Security and Exchange Commission showing Mitt Romney was the CEO and single shareholder of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002. Gillespie explained that Romney was on leave from Bain during those years in order to run the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and it was “standard practice” for him to sign those filings.

Ed Gillespie (All rights reserved to NBC News)(Note that during these years, decisions were made at Bain which lead to the outsourcing of American jobs to overseas firms. The campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama wants Romney to take responsibility for those decision. The Romney campaign says it is unfair. Hence the debate about who was actually running Bain Capital during those years.)

Host David Gregory asked if Romney stands by the decisions made during that time, even if he wasn’t in charge. Gillespie responded that after the Olympics, Romney “retired retroactively” from Bain. (The phrase “retired retroactively” will no doubt get a lot of play in coming days.) Again Gregory asked if Romney stands by the decisions on outsourcing and call centers. Gillespie said, “In terms of ‘stands by,’ I don’t know what you mean. They weren’t his decisions.”

It is “patently false” that Mitt Romney shut down factories and moved them overseas while at Bain according to Gillespie. Gregory asked, “Does he support outsourcing as a legitimate company decision?” Gillespie dodged and Gregory tried again. Gillespie said that businesses should be free to make these decisions, but we need a business atmosphere in the United States that makes it easier to keep jobs here; the Obama policies don’t do this. In fact, said Gillespie, the president is the “outsourcer-in-chief.”

Gregory asked Gillespie about the controversy surrounding the “made in China” US Olympic team uniforms. Gillespie said Romney does not want to politicize the Olympics. Gregory pushed again and got the same answer.

On the Romney tax returns, Meet The Press prepared a list showing all recent presidential nominees and the number of years for which they have released tax returns. (Obama has released 6 years, Senator John McCain [R-AZ] released only two.) Gregory also pointed out that Romney chided former Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in a previous campaign over the same issue. For his part, Gillespie did an admirable pivot saying Romney wants an America where more Americans file tax returns because they have jobs.

Next up, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) appeared side by side (via satellite). This is a relatively rare format for Meet The Press, but added to the Gillespie interview it gave the show a very Republican heavy top half.

“Why is Mitt Romney running away from his company, Bain Capital, like a scalded cat? Because they were exporting American jobs to low wage countries, and he doesn’t want to be associated with that,” said Durbin. Kyle responded, “This administration is making it hard to keep jobs in the US.” (Of course, the outsourcing we are talking about happened in 1999-2002.)

Kyl also refused to politicize the Olympics over the uniform issue. Durbin pushed Kyl and the Republicans in the Senate to eliminate the tax incentives for outsourcing.

On the income tax rates, Durbin said the top 2% should pay their fair share, and this will not harm the economy. Kyl said these top taxpayers already pay 90% of all our tax revenue so we should not do things to hurt them.

In the roundtable, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward said, “Outsourcing is a reality.” He stood by his paper’s investigation which says Romney’s fingerprints are not on Bain in the year’s under question. The bigger questions, according to Woodward, are about Romney’s private wealth and the campaign’s lack of transparency on this.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for tax Reform, said that Obama’s record is awful, so he is trying to get people to look at anything else they can.

Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, said that Mitt Romney came to his organization this week and gave a speech which included no plans for job creation.

Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, asked when Mitt Romney looks for a vice presidential candidate will he only want two years of tax returns to examine for potential nominees?

At one point, Gregory bemoaned the focus on the trivial in the campaign, losing site of big important issues. (Is it just me, or does it seem truly rich for anyone in the American media to criticize a focus on the trivial?)

The program wrapped up with Gregory interviewing Bob Costas in London where he is preparing for NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Olympics. The topic was the newly released “Freeh Report” linking Penn State football leader Joe Paterno and other university officials very tightly to the cover-up of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual crimes against children. Costas said that either Penn State will suspend the school’s football program for at least a year or the NCAA will do it for them. “If they play football come September at Penn State, something is wrong,” said Costas.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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