OTR Interviews

Democrats size-up a Romney-Obama matchup in November

Democrats assess the challenges Mitt Romney poses to Pres. Obama - and to himself


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 10, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The Democratic National Committee is already directing most of its firepower right at Governor Mitt Romney. So after tonight's primary results, is he still the candidate the Democrats see as the man to beat? Congressman Xavier Becerra is vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus. He joins us.

Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Who do you see as the biggest challenge for President Obama in the general election?

BECERRA: Probably two. Mitt Romney himself, as Rick just said, and two-thirds of the Republican voters who still don't trust Mitt Romney with their vote. It's one of those things where Romney is his own worst enemy. He cannot seem to gel. But he is the front runner.

VAN SUSTEREN: Problem that they have in all these races, of course, with the president is the president always has to run on his record. So the president I suppose has got a bit of a challenge there. He's got to see the unemployment levels continuing -- it's gone down from -- in December. But that unemployment level, that could be a big problem if Governor Romney runs in the strength as a businessman.

BECERRA: I think you're seeing the numbers get better in terms of jobs. And the president is working hard every month to make sure that we continue to see more jobs grown in the -- in the economy. Mitt Romney's got some issues, not just with his words about enjoying firing people, but his own record on what he did with jobs.

You know, when you're a corporate takeover artist, you do a lot of firing. You do a lot of displacing. You do a lot of job outsourcing. And you do a lot of bankrupting companies.

So Mitt Romney is going to have a tough road ahead when it comes to jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about in terms of the Massachusetts health care, in light of the fact that President Obama has a national health care that he's embraced, that passed with the help of the House and Senate? Is that something that the Democrats will be using as a weapon in the general election, if Governor Romney is the nominee?.

BECERRA: Think of a couple things. One, we found out this month that the cost of health care is rising at the slowest rate in quite some time. Now, whether you can credit health care reform, as the president pushed, or not, the facts is health care costs aren't rising the way other things are rising.

Mitt Romney cannot attack the president for trying to move forward on health care reform, because, in many ways, the model that President Obama used was the Massachusetts Romney model. So let Mr. Romney attack the president. He's, once again, attacking himself.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you see as the role of Congressman Ron Paul in this whole race?

BECERRA: I think Congressman Paul is an interesting candidate simply because he's not a Democrat. He's not a Republican. I don't even know if he's -- independents consider him an independent. He's someone with a very independent streak that gives people who can't find a party that they like a place to go.

Whether those voters, if Ron drops out, go to Mitt Romney or not is still a very open question.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think -- it's interesting, if he had joined, for instance, in the Democratic party, it would be -- the Democratic party would have the same issue with him?

BECERRA: In a way. It's really interesting. I know so many young voter who are with Ron Paul, who probably -- he separate himself by some 50 years from a lot of these voters. But yet a lot of these voters are not ready to go with Mitt Romney or any of the other Republicans. Whether they go with Barack Obama is still to be seen.

But it's really interesting. Barack Obama does very well with young voters. The president has to be the guy to beat when it comes to young voters. Ron Paul, if he's not in the race, gives President Obama a chance to go after all those young voters.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's going to happen in the House and Senate?

BECERRA: I think I'll be happy after November.

VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't expect you to say anything else, right?

BECERRA: Because the climate. I think it's moving in our direction, because People are seeing, if you want to create jobs, stick with the president.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we'll be watching, because if you talk to the Republicans and they say just the opposite. Depends on who I talk to.

BECERRA: Not Mitt Romney, who wants --

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm just saying, talk to Democrats, they say it's the rotten Republicans. Talk to the Republicans, they say the rotten Democrats. Anyway, nice to see you, sir.

BECERRA: Thank you for having me.