OTR Interviews

Dick Morris: Obama Outsmarted Himself in Jobs Plan Speech Controversy

Is the president no longer the 'adult in the room' after the controversy surrounding the timing of his jobs speech?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 1, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining us is Dick Morris, author of the book "Revolt." Good evening, Dick.

DICK MORRIS, DICKMORRIS.COM: Hey, Greta. You know...

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about all this, Dick?

MORRIS: Well, I was listening to it, and you know, I don't want to spend too much time on this scheduling issue. But what Obama should have done and probably was going to do is to speak on Tuesday night. Labor Day is Monday. Tuesday, there's nothing on. Then probably some bright apple on his staff got the idea, Hey, let's compete with the Republican debate and basically force them to change it or postpone it or nobody watches it, so let's do it Wednesday.

And then Boehner came back and said, You can't do it Wednesday. You got to do it Thursday, going up against the football game. And then Obama said, OK, I'll do it Thursday, but I'll do it at 7:00 Eastern, before the game. But what that means is that in Central, it's at 6:00. And on the West Coast, it's at 4:00, which means his own audience is undermined.

So I think Obama just outsmarted himself on this. I think it was an attempt to edge out the Republican debate and it blew up in his face.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, and I will say -- and I do claim to -- I do brag about having a little more expertise in this area than you or Rick, is that I'm telling you, the Packer fans and the Wisconsin state being a swing state, you know, I don't know which way it's going to go, but he better hope for a Packer win or he will get blamed.

All right, now, going to the recent polls -- recent polls, since Governor Perry got into the race, it seems that Michele Bachmann has fallen down considerably. Has he stolen her thunder, stolen her Tea Party support? And is there any way that she can reclaim it?

MORRIS: No, no. I think that would be overreacting to it, Greta. Since Perry got into the race, Romney has fallen from about 22 or 23 to 18 in the Quinnipiac poll. Bachmann in the Quinnipiac poll has gone from about 13 to about 10. And everybody else has dropped down proportionately. And I think Bachmann certainly can come back.

I think there's a huge risk for Perry, though, in this debate because what you want to do when you're a new candidate in the field is a slow build because you want every step up to be bolstered by a strong public feeling that you're doing well.

If you are staked to a frontrunner position through no action of your own, just basically a weak field and everybody talked about you and you're the flavor of the month, then you go into a debate and even a perfectly adequate debate performance, you slip, and people say you lost momentum. And then there's another debate and you slip again. And suddenly, you're trying to explain away why you're slipping, rather than what you should be doing, which is a slow build as people get to know you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does this -- the poll numbers that come out, does this change the strategy of Governor Romney now that he is at least for the moment in second place?

MORRIS: Yes, it does. Romney has to go out there and tell people, Look, you have a choice here, a guy who presided over the creation of jobs or a guy that creates jobs, somebody who was governor of a state that didn't have an income tax for its whole history and had conservative Governor Bush and conservative Governor Clements, who held the state at a low-tax environment, or Romney, who's created tens of thousands of jobs by his direct personal effort. I'm a jobs-creating expert -- that's what he's got to say. And suddenly, he's on a little bit of a defensive over his major issue, which is jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you -- in terms of the voting -- Republican vote this time around, do you think, or are there any polling numbers of any statistical data to support this, that people are going to vote for -- whether they're going to vote for someone they really like or whether they think they're going to -- or whether they vote for the person who they think can beat President Obama?

MORRIS: It's overwhelmingly the second when they ask people in the polls. It's almost 2 to 1 a tactical vote, which is very unusual for the Republican Party. One top Republican strategist, Charlie Black, once told me, The Republican Party behaves like a third party. They vote for ideological purity and that's it. Now that's different. They're voting based on who they think can beat Obama. And I think that that's pretty good.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who's going to jump in the race?

MORRIS: Who's what?

VAN SUSTEREN: Who else is going to jump into this race?

MORRIS: Well, I think...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, there's a lot of tea leaf reading.

MORRIS: We talked about Palin last week. And I think that her backing away from September 3rd thing leads me to believe she may not be getting into the race. The longer she postpones, the harder it is to build up an organization to get on the ballot in 50 states. And after October 21st, she starts missing filing deadlines.

Christie, on the other hand, still could. But I think maybe you're going to have the field that you have here.

In terms of Obama's speech, I think that raising this high level of attention, joint session of Congress, whole, gigantic build-up, is going to backfire on him because I don't think he's going to bring forth a gigantic program. He'll bring forth a couple of public works projects and maybe some small business loans. It's not going to do much.

By the way, Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, go ahead.

MORRIS: I just wanted to mention that lately, I've been talking a little bit about that Ground Zero mosque that's two blocks from Ground Zero. They're applying, believe it or not, for federal funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. They want us to pay for the mosque! And on my website, dickmorris.com, I have a petition. We're closing in on 100,000 signatures. And if you agree with me that they shouldn't get federal funding, please sign on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dick, always nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

MORRIS: Good to see you.