Marco Rubio makes the case for Mitt Romney, steers clear of vice presidential talk

Florida senator talks budget crisis and foreign policy, steers clear of vice presidential rumors


This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," May 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. Will Mitt Romney ask one of his party's young stars to be his running mate?


WALLACE: He's viewed as a vice presidential short-lister to close the gap with Hispanic, help win Florida and promote a bold foreign policy. We'll talk policy and politics with Senator Marco Rubio. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Then, six months before the Election Day, the economic recovery remains uncertain. We'll ask our Sunday panel what the latest jobless numbers mean for President Obama's reelection bid.

And our power player of the week takes us behind the scenes of "Jeopardy!".

All right now on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

President Obama officially launched his reelection bid this weekend.

With Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee, we wanted to discuss the economy and key foreign policy issues with a man many Republicans want to see as Romney's running mate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He joins us now from Miami.

And, Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Good morning.

WALLACE: President Obama kicked off his campaign this week saying that voters face a choice between his agenda of reform and the old Republican agenda. Take a look.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This time, they want bigger tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This time, they want even deeper cuts to things like education and Medicare.

And now after a long and spirited primary, Republicans in Congress have found a nominee for president who's promised to rubber stamp this agenda if he gets the chance.


WALLACE: Senator, in fact, Romney has endorsed the House budget which does call for tax cuts for the wealthy and more spending cuts for programs for the poor and middle class.

RUBIO: Well, this president doesn't have a budget and neither does Congress -- neither does the Senate, for example, hasn't produced a budget.

But, look, this campaign is very simple. It's not a difficult one to understand. This president asked us to hire him four years ago on the promise that he knew how to fix this economy and that he would be different, that he would unite this country. That's the standard we should judge him by, the standard that he set.

The economy is worse off. The debt is $5 trillion higher and he's become increasingly divisive. In fact, this president's rhetoric today quite frankly is just like anybody else in Washington. All of the things that made him different and special four years ago are gone, and now, all he does is run dividing Americans against each other, obviously, because he can't run on his record.

WALLACE: But he says that he inherited a mess -- I know it's become an old phrase. But then he inherited a mess, his programs are working, yes, more slowly than he thought they would, and the Republican agenda is the one that would take us back to the mess.

RUBIO: Well, of course, that's what he's saying. But the facts are something different. They did inherit a very difficult economic climate and he knew that when he was elected. But one of the reasons why he won is because he told the American people he knew how to fix it.

He's run up a $5 trillion debt and you have more people since 1981 that are either underemployed, unemployed or have stopped looking for work. You just saw the jobs report on Friday, they are abysmal. Things have not gotten better.

And let's not forget that for the first two years of his presidency, his parties control both chambers of Congress, he could have had anything he wanted. He got those things -- the health care bill, for example, and stimulus, and things keep getting worse under his watch.

He is accountable for that. And so, obviously, he doesn't want to run on that record, so he wants this campaign to about anything but his record on the economy.

WALLACE: The Romney camp responded to the president's speech yesterday with a new video attacking the president's record on the economy. Let's take a first look at that.


OBAMA: The real question --

NARRATOR: Job creation number small for the third straight month.

OBAMA: -- it's not just about how we are doing today, but how we'll be doing tomorrow.


WALLACE: Romney says that job growth should be 500,000 jobs a month and not 115,000 it was in last month and that the unemployment rate should be 4 percent, not the 8.1 percent it was last month. But here are couple of statistics, Senator -- the fact is that this country has achieved 500,000 growth only two months in the last 20 years. And in fact, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney never had four percent unemployment.

RUBIO: Well, first of all, we want a president with high expectations. We want a president that understands that the way things are now are not acceptable and that we have to make them better.

Second, I think the steeper your fall has been, in essence, the steeper recession is, the faster and the sharper the recovery should be. And I think that's what Governor Mitt Romney is talking about, and rightfully so.

Look, I have faith -- there's nothing wrong with the American people. And the American people are the backbone of this economy. They haven't run out of good ideas, they haven't run out of ideas for businesses they want to open. American people haven't forgotten how to create jobs.

But they do need a government whose policies make it easier for them to do these things, not harder. And if you look at the president's record over the last 3 1/2 years, it is a record of policies that make it harder for Americans to start a business or grow an existing business and thereby create new jobs.

And so, I'm glad that we have a nominee who has high expectations for the American economy because the American people have high expectations for the American economy.

WALLACE: When you say that the president's policies make it harder to start a new business or hire people, give me two examples where you think, the Obama policy would make it harder and Romney would make it easier.

RUBIO: Sure. Well, first of all, the president has run up a $5 trillion debt, which creates tremendous worry about the future. People look at that and say, OK, this is a country that's running up massive debts. They are destined for a massive tax increases to pay it off. That scares people from investing in the American economy. And without investment money, how are you going to open a business or grow an existing one.

The second thing is uncertainty about the tax code. You have a president that constantly goes around the country using the tax code as a weapon for class warfare, dividing Americans against each other, constantly looking for -- he thinks the solution to every problem the nation faces is some sort of tax increase on somebody.

The third is a regulatory environment. Just the health care law alone is an endless stream of regulations that scare people. So, if you are a small business person, you are afraid to hire employees because you have no idea how much it's going to cost you to comply with the health care law.

Those are just three stark examples that I didn't make them up, that I'm hearing from real people here in Florida that are afraid of hiring people or starting a new business because of things directly attributable to this president and his administration.

WALLACE: Senator, let's turn to the other big story this week, and that is the case of the Chinese dissident Chen who the government there now says can apply for a travel permit to go to the United States to study.

Before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked out this apparent deal with the Beijing government, Romney weighed in and here's what he had to say about the Chen case and what at that point seemed to be the fact that he had been turned over to the Chinese without any protection.


MITT ROMNEY , R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a dark day of freedom. And it's a day of shame for the Obama administration.


WALLACE: Question: Did Governor Romney overreact in the middle of the diplomatic crisis?

RUBIO: No, I don't think so. First of all, I think this crisis is a reminder of what we are dealing with in China. And we hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system. But what we know for a fact we are dealing with now are people that are paranoid and are control freaks and a totalitarian system. I mean, they control everything from the words you can search on the Internet, to who gets to visit when he was in jail -- I'm sorry, in the hospital.

And so, these are the things that we are dealing with. This is a reminder of that.

Secondly, there's this propensity that this administration seems to have of an unwillingness to forcefully assert America's values. We've seen that in a number of occasions. Tragically, we saw that in 2009 during the green revolution in Iran. And we see that again here now, in China, where somehow this administration looked almost reluctant to forcefully assert the United States defense of human rights and the principles of human rights -- of respect for human rights, democracy, freedom, et cetera.

So, I think that is troubling. I'm not sure why this administration has this propensity to feel reluctant to strongly assert America's principles. We should be proud of those values and principles that made the world a better place.

WALLACE: The Obama administration also this week has played up and understandably, the president's decision to launch the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. And Vice President Biden suggests that Mitt Romney might not have made the same call.


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. You have to ask yourself, had Governor Romney been president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?


WALLACE: Two questions. First of all, is that fair game in politics? And, secondly, Senator, what do you think of Joe Biden especially when it comes to foreign policy?

RUBIO: Well, Joe Biden's record on foreign policy is one of being wrong on everything that he's ever advised or everything he's ever asked for -- from dividing Iraq, to admittedly telling the president not to go in and do this operation.

That being said, I also think he is a very nice person but Vice President Biden has the tendency to say some interesting things to say the least.

Now, let me focus on this issue of bin Laden for a moment. That was a very proud day for all Americans. Our armed forces did a phenomenal job and the president made an important and wise decision, and he has gotten his due credit and rightfully so for making that decision.

But now, he's taken it further. He has taken something that should unite the American people, a moment for pride for our country, and instead turned it into a weapon for political warfare.

RUBIO: And I think that's wrong. I really do. I think it's wrong for the president and for the vice president to take this issue and use it for politics.

And it goes back to the point I've tried to make earlier. When this president ran for office in 2008, he said he was going to be different. He was going to be a post-partisan uniter to bring Americans together. And three and half years later, the president has become just like anybody else in Washington, D.C.

And in his obsessive effort to win his reelection, he has lost himself and he has lost what makes him different. And this issue of how they've used the bin Laden raid is one example about how his administration has become just like everybody else.

WALLACE: You are a member of the both the Senate Foreign Relations and the Senate Intelligence Committee. So, I want to do a lightning round -- and I emphasize quick questions and answers --


WALLACE: -- in a number of foreign hot spots.

Let's start with Iran. You said we should pursue a dual track on one hand and propose sanctions and keeping up on the possibility of negotiations, while on the other hand also preparing for a possible military strike. Isn't that exactly what President Obama is doing?

RUBIO: Well, I think that the tactics are one thing. The attitudes towards the tactics are another. For example, I am concerned that the president and his administration has put too much faith in the negotiation route, in particular success in these negotiation are deemed a willingness to continue to negotiate. I mean, it's not an indefinite period of time.

But I think, generally, the track that I've outlined is one that people have built a consensus around. And when I raised that point on Iran, by the way, I didn't raise as a criticism of the administration. I raised as an observation of the right way to handle it.

But I do think that we need to do a better job of beginning to prepare our allies in the world for the reality that, at the end of the day, if negotiations and sanctions don't work, there will be a need for military action, because what we cannot tolerate, and I think the world would agree, what we cannot tolerate is a nuclear Iran.

WALLACE: You say we should continue foreign aid, as you put it, as a cost effective way to advance our values and interest. Romney is on the record as saying we should cut foreign aid by $100 million. Is he wrong?

RUBIO: Well, I think, first of all, he is looking for efficiencies in the budget, and rightfully so. I mean, it's is never a good time to spend more money than we have. And it's never a good time to waste money.

On the other hand, I do think we have aid improvements to the Millennium Challenge grants and other methodologies to ensure that the money is getting to those recipients.

So, I would make the forceful case to Governor Romney foreign aid actually gives us leverages and allows us to spread our vision throughout the world. I think he made an observation from a budgetary perspective. But at the end of the day, I don't -- I think that we can make a very compelling argument that there are places around the world where without foreign aid, the U.S. would not have the kind of leverage or influence that we would want to have in those regions that are important to our national security.

WALLACE: Richard Grenell, a respected foreign policy spokesman who is openly gay, resigned from the Romney camp after he was not allowed to talk to reporters because of opposition from social conservatives. What does that say about tolerance? Tolerance --

RUBIO: Well, first of all --

WALLACE: If I may finish, just about tolerance --


WALLACE: -- both in the Romney campaign and in the Republican Party.

RUBIO: Well, first of all, Mr. Grenell, who I don't know him, nor the circumstances of his hiring -- but my understanding is that he had left the campaign on his own volition. That it was his decision to leave the campaign.

WALLACE: But in fairness, this was after he had set up a conference call and then he was told by the campaign, we don't want you to talk because there was so much concern from the social conservatives about the fact that they'd hired a gay -- and we should point out, Grenell had been the spokesman for the U.S. mission, the United States ambassador to the United Nations for years.

RUBIO: Well, I don't know Mr. Grenell. I don't know the circumstances behind his hiring. And obviously, I think the campaign has responded to that, and certainly, I'm sure they would respond to you if you ask them on it. I'm just not familiar with it.

But what I can tell you, what I have seen in the public statements is that Governor Romney says that they hire people based on their merit and their qualifications, and their ability to do the job. And as I've seen them publicly state, that leaving the campaign was a decision he made. He was not asked to do that.

WALLACE: But on the bigger issue, Senator, and this was one of the points that Obama made yesterday, President Obama made in his speech yesterday -- he says the Republicans and Romney will take this country back when it comes to gay rights, when it comes to birth control, when it comes to abortion?

RUBIO: Well, once again, I mean, there's been differences of opinion between the parties on these issues. For example, on the issue of life -- yes, the Republican Party, by and large -- although there is diversity in the Republican Party on the life issue. In essence, there are such as a thing as pro-choice Republicans. There are very pro-life Democrats that are certainly tolerated within in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. So think that's important to point out.

On that issue, there's actually more tolerance in the Republican Party. That being said, I'm proud of the fact that the Republican Party is the pro-life party on the issue of life.

On the other issues that you've raised -- I don't know anything about a contraception debate. I keep hearing about that. I do know about a religious liberty's debate that we had in this country, about whether the federal government should have the power to force a religious institution -- in this case the Catholic Church -- to have to pay for something that the church teaches against, so that issue was about.

I understand the president turned it into a contraception issue, because it ties back to this strategy of his administration. He doesn't want to run on his record. Instead they are in search of an issue that they can divide the American people on.

And that's wrong. That's not what he ran as. I remember the speech in 2004 when he spoke to John Kerry's nominating convention. And he said there wasn't a red America or a blue America, there was a United States of America. Whatever happened to that Barack Obama?

The president we have today is a typical Washington politician that's prone to hyperbole and decisiveness and false outrage. And I think it's very sad -- very sad to watch.

WALLACE: Senator, I want to move on to a couple of more specific issues. You propose a scaled back version of the DREAM Act which would allow children of illegal immigrants to get visas if they are either attending college or serving military and allow them to stay in the country while applying for permanent residency. Isn't that -- I mean I understand the scale back -- but isn't still a form of amnesty?

RUBIO: No, because, first of all, we don't create any special pathways. We use the existing immigration system to deal with a humanitarian issue. And that is these children who entered this country illegally or have overstayed visas illegally, through no fault of their own. These are children, they follow their parents. The parents put them in this predicament.

Now, they've grown up here. They are ingrained into our culture and our society. We spent public dollars to educate them and they have much to contribute to our future.

The case of the young girl here in Florida who is the valedictorian of her high school, who's been accepted to Dartmouth to study molecular biology, and yet has a deportation order. I think most Americans would say that's crazy to deport someone like that.

So, we use the existing immigration system. We give them a non- immigrant visa, which we do now for people that we're allowing to stay here legally and study and work. And at some point in the future, if they decide they want to stay here permanently, as I suspect most of them will, they will be able to do so but they'll to avail themselves of the existing system.

WALLACE: But if it's a --

RUBIO: Existing visas, not a special one like the DREAM Act.

WALLACE: Senator, if it's such a good idea, and some analysts says you're helping also to throw a life line to Mitt Romney that he could use to win back Hispanic voters after the very strong anti- illegal immigration positions that he took, all he'll say is he's studying it.

RUBIO: Well, it's impossible to ask him or anyone for that matter to take a firm position on a bill that hasn't been filed yet. We still -- we've only discussed this in concept. We still don't have a piece of legislation with the details on it.

But the other thing I would say, and I think this is really important -- the vast majority and overwhelming majority of the Hispanics in the United States are here illegally and don't have an immigration problem nor does their family. And to somehow some folks suggest that the Hispanic community is in favor of illegal immigration. That's wrong as well.

Now, the fact of the matter is that if you are in Hispanic community, you probably know someone or have a family member that's been deeply impacted by the illegal immigration problem. And so, you are sensitive and compassionate to that. That's why I think it's so important that the Republican Party be clear about the things that we are for.

And that's what Governor Romney is doing. He is for a legal immigration system that works.

And if we have an illegal immigration system that works, the illegal immigration problem becomes easier to deal with and becomes much less complicated.

WALLACE: Senator, we got less than five minutes left. I want to go through a bunch of issues with you.


WALLACE: Whether you like it or not -- and you know I was going to get to this -- you are widely considered perhaps the front runner to be Mitt Romney's running mate in the fall election. So, let's deal with that.

You are 41. You say you look 35. Honestly, do you think that you have the experience, the experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency in?

RUBIO: Well, Chris, as I've said, I'm not going to discuss the vice presidency. I'm not going to -- Governor Romney has a process in place. And I'm going to respect that.

I'm more than happy to tell you I am qualified to serve in the United States Senate, however, and that people can take from that what they want. Obviously, I have a experience first of all at local government where I served a year and a half. Then I served in state government for nine years. Eight of those nine years in leadership, I was majority whip, a majority leader, the speaker designate on the Florida House, and then I was the speaker of the Florida House for two year. I have now served a year and a half, close to a year and a half in the United States Senate.

So, that's my record. I mean, I'm certainly not the most experienced person in Washington D.C. But by the same token, I certainly have experience in serving in government and particularly in the legislative branch in one of the largest states and more complex states in the country in terms of public policy.

And the good news is that every day that goes by, I gain more experience on those things.

But I would also say this -- there was a point of diminishing return on Washington experience, and what I've learned about Washington is that sometimes, if you're there too long, you start to believe that certain things are no longer possible.

RUBIO: If you are there too long, you start to become like the way the president has become -- divisive, cynical, given to hyperbole on these issues, also looking for an opportunity to pit Americans against each other in some sort of political calculation.

What made President Obama different in 2008 was he promised to unite America and talk above this kind of issues. He hasn't done that anymore.

WALLACE: Senator, you made --

RUBIO: Five minutes.

WALLACE: -- you have made that point.

I want to show you some polling numbers. Hispanics make up 46 percent of New Mexico's population, 27 percent in Nevada, 23 percent in Florida and 21 percent in Colorado. And right now, Obama leads Romney among Hispanic voters 67 percent to 27 percent.

As just a professional politician, can Romney win the presidency if Hispanics vote for Obama over him more than two-to-one?

RUBIO: Well, again, Chris, there is no such thing as the Hispanic vote. I mean, it's as diverse as the country is. I'll give you an example. My cousin is the Democratic leader of the state Senate in Nevada. And yet we come from the same family, same background, same shared experience.

So, some of it depends on where you grew up and where you live and what the politics of the place you live in is. So, Cuban Americans in New Jersey are Democrats. Cuban Americans in Miami tend to be Republicans. I mean, there's a great diversity --

WALLACE: That brings up two points, though. One, you would agree, though, that he can't win the presidency if he loses Hispanics to Obama by more than two-to-one, wouldn't you?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, every state is different. He's not going to lose Hispanic two-to-one in Florida. In fact, I think he has an opportunity to win Hispanics in Florida. I think he has the opportunity in other parts of the country to make a very compelling case.

Look, while there is no such thing as the Hispanic vote, there are some things that unify the Hispanic community. Chief among them is an economic aspiration. They want to do better for themselves and they want to leave their children better off than themselves.

And I think if you look at the Obama record, it is not upward mobility. It is a record of record job losses and record unemployment, people dropping out of the job search. Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the Obama administration's, you know, bad policies with regards to the economy.

On the other hand, the American free enterprise system, which is what Mitt Romney is campaigning on, that's the only economic system in the history of the world that allows people to climb out of the circumstances of their birth and live their children better off that themselves. That's a very compelling argument to make to all Americans and especially Americans of Hispanic descent.

WALLACE: Finally, Senator Rubio, will you do whatever Mitt Romney asks, whatever Mitt Romney asks to help him beat Barack Obama?

RUBIO: That's a clever question, Chris.

I want to be as helpful as I can be to this -- to our nominee who is going to be the next president of the United States. And the good news is, we have a deep bench of folks in the Republican Party, governors and newly elected senators and some folks that have been around for a while. We have a good team of people that can go across this country and sell Governor Romney's message. And that's why I'm comfortable that he's going to win this election in November.

WALLACE: When you say helpful as you can be -- and look, I understand you are not campaigning for it. I understand the idea that, you know, you want to respect the process, and I believe you when you say you don't want to be the choice this time.

Having said that -- if Mitt Romney comes to you and says, "I need you to help me beat Barack Obama," you -- I mean, given your feelings about this country, about your red, white and blue patriotism, you're not going to say no to that.

RUBIO: Chris, that's -- I know you were going to try one more time. But I'm not going to talk about the vice presidential process. But I can tell you that there are multiple ways that someone can help our nominee and I look forward to doing that. I hope I did that here today.

WALLACE: Senator Rubio, we want to thank you so much for joining us today, and we'll see what role you end up flying in this campaign. Thank you, sir.

RUBIO: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, President Obama officially launches his run for reelection. But the economic news is not good. We'll ask our Sunday group about the political battle over how to create jobs.



OBAMA: We have to move forward to the future we imagine in 2008, where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. That's the choice in this election and that's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.


WALLACE: President Obama Saturday in Ohio, officially kicking off his reelection bid.

And it is time now for our Sunday group.

Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard; A.B. Stoddard from The Hill newspaper; former State Department official and Fox News contributor Liz Cheney; and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams.

Well, President Obama made the same basic argument in his campaign launch, Bill, that he's been making actually for some months now. He wants everyone to get a fair shot, while he says Romney and the Republicans want bigger tax cuts for the wealthy, bigger spending cuts for the poor and the middle class. Is that a winning argument?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't know. There wasn't a whole lot about his actual record in his speech that I saw -- I mean, I missed the long defense of Obamacare and his signature achievement and his legislative achievement, his long defense of the stimulus.

So, I think he would like to frame this as Romney is going back to the Bush years and a rubber stamp for this horrible Congress and he is still running as Mr. Hope and Change. And all that stuff he's actually done for the last three and a half years, don't worry about that too much.

WALLACE: You know, I have to say, despite the cynicism of that remark --

KRISTOL: No, that was just a factual remark.

WALLACE: No, I think it was. I was really struck, A.B., by how little the president talked about what he has done in his three and a half years here in Washington and how much he wants to frame this as a choice between he's going to stand up for the middle class and the poor, and Romney is going to stand up and protect the rich.

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Well, that's why Romney continues to use the same words. He always says, because the president cannot run on his record, you will hear a lot of distortion and distraction. And Senator Rubio picked up on that theme this morning --


WALLACE: But were surprised how little Obama talked about the Obama --

STODDARD: No, we're not, because we have heard him, this is -- for months, we have known he's going to talk about Obamacare. He's not going to defend the stimulus program. Now, he has an economy that he can't talk up. Whereas a few months ago, it looked like we're on a road to strong enough recovery and that has now dimmed.

So, he really is finding it difficult to touch on a theme that will win swing voters and knock off Mitt Romney in the fall. The divisive theme of, you know, we can't go back to those hideous Republican economic policies is the one he's embraced and he's going to stick with it by saying "I'm the champion of the middle class and they only want to cut taxes for the rich and will take us back to, you know, the brink of the depression again."

What I wonder is, in several months, if he doesn't have to -- because he's going to so aggressive, sort of take a more presidential tone. I know he's trying to rev up the students before they leave campus for the summer, but it's very brazenly political at this point, I wonder about his tone as the weeks and months continue to pass and he sees what it does to the polling.

WALLACE: Liz, I want to pick up on this, because -- I mean, and, you know, I'm sure most people did not watch the president's speech live. But his basic argument was the same basic argument that he made in 2010, which is you give control back to Romney and the Republicans and they will take us back to the mess that we have been trying to dig out of for the last three and half years.

You could argue whether it's a good message or a bad message. But the fact is they tried it in 2010 and they took what the president called a shellacking in the midterm elections. Why is it going to work any better this time?

LIZ CHENEY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I don't think it will. I think he's desperate. I don't think that there is much else that he can run on.

It's interesting, though. Each time I hear him speak, you know, I am reminded about the way that senators operate in the negative sense, which is they believe that if they stand up and say something, that is sort of the end of their responsibility.

And whether it was this speech yesterday, whether it was the speech in Afghanistan, you always have this sense of saying it doesn't make it so. And he is a very effective public speaker from the technique standpoint.

But when you are facing a situation where the record is so bad, where the recovery is so slow, where people are so unhappy. I think it is going to be very difficult for him to say, yes, just trust me for four more years here even though my policies have been complete failures to date.

WALLACE: Juan, are we overly negative about the president's speech? It's been a pretty tough panel here so far.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it is tremendously -- I am sort of a mind, when I look at the economy, I understand that most Americans think that we are still in a recession.

Well, we're not in a recession. The fact is, we have been on a slow, clear recovery. That is what the trajectory shows. The second thing is to say that everybody who has investments on Wall Street knows that Wall Street is back to point -- in fact, it hit 1300 the other day, so it's beyond where we were --

WALLACE: 13,000.

WILLIAMS: -- 13,000, where we were when the Great Recession started. If you look at the rate of production of services and goods by this economy, is it again in excess of where we were when this recession started --


WALLACE: But the president (inaudible) about most of that stuff.

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm just saying, you know, I think that what we are doing here is we are saying, listen, here is where the economy is. Here's what he has to run on. He has something to run on. And it's not -- you can say, as Bill Kristol pointed out, he didn't talk about ObamaCare; he doesn't talk about the stimulus, never even mentions that word because it's so toxic.

But the fact is, that there are indicators for the American people, for you, for anybody who has kids coming out of college in the spring and looking for a job, that say, you know, there is reason to think that we are on a right track. So I disagree with my colleagues here.

WALLACE: All right. But let's -- having said that, the economic news -- and we just got the latest economic report for April on Friday, and the news was not good -- and let's put it up on the screen. Only 115,000 jobs created.

The unemployment rate went down because 342,000 left the workforce and the percentage of Americans in the workforce, those who either have jobs or are looking for jobs is now 63.6 percent. That's the lowest in 30 years. Now the president does note that the private sector has created more than 4 million jobs over the last 26 months. Can he sell that as a recovery?

KRISTOL: He can sell it as a very mediocre improvement from the situation he inherited. And I think at the end of the day, I've also tried to think about, well, what will he say in September, October, when we have the real campaign and real debates?

He has got to make -- if he can make this a choice between Obama's first term and Bush's second term, he would have a chance, because one thing every American knows is the scariest moment in our adult lifetime, in terms of the economy, was September 2008.

And President Obama, to be fair to President Obama, he wasn't president then, and that was under President Bush's watch and we could always debate endlessly who was really responsible for the housing bubble and the securitization of mortgages and the financial crisis.

But I do think that the more you think through what Obama strategy is going to have to be, it's going to have to be to hang 2007-2008 on the Republican nominees' neck and say recovery may not have been great but it's better than what I inherited. That's got to be he -- so it's not going to be about his record. He is going to make Mitt Romney into the third term of George W. Bush.

WALLACE: You think that's right, A.B.?

STODDARD: You know, I think that Bill might be right. He might have to say are you better off now than you were in November of 2008 when you elected me? Yes, you are. But he's running out of time and we see that from the latest numbers.

It's the estimates for growth have been downgraded. We're just not going to see the kind of growth in the next six months before people go to the polls. It's going to boost hiring and it's just not going -- the picture is not going to change that much. So if this is not enough progress for Americans, they will vote him out.

WALLACE: All right. Before we get overly negative about that -- I mean, we do need to point out the fact is that's either leading or tied in the polls and a lot of people -- I think experts say he has a much easier path to 270 electoral votes than Mitt Romney does at this point.

Liz, I have one quick political question to ask you: are you considering running for the Senate from Wyoming?

CHENEY: I love Wyoming. Wyoming is my home and what I have been hearing from people all across Wyoming is how important it is that we defeat Barack Obama in 2012. And they're very afraid about, you know, if you ask people in Wyoming, are you better off now than you were $5 trillion ago, they'll say absolutely not.

WALLACE: OK. But -- and I -- the reason I'm bringing this up (inaudible) there was a report yesterday that you were traveling around the state and that you're thinking of running for the Senate from Wyoming in 2014.

CHENEY: Look, Chris, I have been honored to have been asked to help support the Republican Party in Wyoming. As I said, it's my home. It's a very special place. But I'm really focused on defeating Barack Obama. We don't have the luxury, frankly, of looking beyond this election, because this election is so important.

WALLACE: And let me tell you folks, to be continued.

All right. We have to take a break here. But when we come back we'll turn to foreign policy and politics. How did the Obama administration handle the case of that Chinese dissident?



HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are closely engaged in following up as he takes the next steps and we will certainly keep you informed.


WALLACE: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday expressing some optimism about the deal the U.S. made with China to allow a dissident to come to this country. And we are back now with the panel.

So, Bill, how do you think the Obama administration handled the case of the -- this Chinese dissident, Chen, and how confident are you that the Chinese government will keep its promise to give him the travel permit to come to this country, along with his family, to study?

KRISTOL: It seems that the Obama administration handled it -- you know, made some mistakes. But to be fair these are tough issues to handle in real time, and they just now need to insist that the Chinese government keeps its promise. I mean, this will be a test for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.

But I suspect they put enough pressure on the Chinese government to see to it. I don't think China wants to pay the price of not keeping such a high, visible promise. And I actually think it might be that Secretary Clinton was helped by the uproar back here.

She was probably able to say to the Chinese, look this has become a huge a huge issue in the United States. We have a presidential campaign. Do you really want China to be, you know, everyone in the country to know that China -- this is the way China treats its people. Why don't you just let him go. It is probably better for you.

WALLACE: By the end of the week. And it certainly was a period there where it looked like the U.S. diplomats in Beijing had fallen down on the job. They had allowed Chen to go to the hospital. And then lost control and any contact with him. But by the end of the week it looks like they had rescued him.

STODDARD: Yes, I think so. I mean, the task that Bill said will be in the coming days and weeks see if he is mistreated or if he's rearrested or if he is going to actually make it here as planned.

I think it is it a complicated and chaotic situation made more difficult by the fact that Chen often changed his desires and requests. And he was thanking the U.S. one minute and disappointed the next. Obviously his abandonment at the hospital was a lapse for the U.S. officials handling this over there.

But I think that he wasn't so much helped by Mitt Romney's criticism, calling this a day of shame for the U.S. I thought it was reflexive and a political error for him to weigh in on something that was happening quickly. That was so sensitive.

I think it was ham fisted, as President Obama was suggesting, that Mitt Romney would not have made the same call on the bin Laden raid. And I think it was just a mistake maybe, ultimately, strangely helped. But I thought it was politically tone deaf.

WALLACE: Liz, you know it's a difficult situation. We obviously have a lot of big issues with the Chinese -- trade and currency manipulation, what China is going to do for us or not do for us in terms of countries like Syria and Iran and North Korea. How should this administration balance those bigger issues on the one, with on the other hand the question of human rights and wanting to protect people Chen?

CHENEY: Well, I think the first step is to be in a position where we can convey a level of competence that the administration hasn't been able to convey. And if you look at what happened with Chen, it was a mix of familiar ingredients that we've seen in many Obama foreign policy efforts -- incompetence, naivete in believing that you can trust the Chinese and then a desire not to offend them, you know, not to offend this autocratic regime.

And I think that they have repeatedly come down on the wrong side of that. Senator Rubio mentioned earlier today the way that they dealt with the Green Revolution for example.


There has been this constant desire not be perceived as strong or forceful, not to stand up in defense of American values. And I think frankly that hurts us and it limits our ability around the world, actually, to defend our interests.


WILLIAMS: Nation build and interfering in another country's sovereign affairs is real and when you are dealing with the Chinese, the Chinese for the longest time have viewed the United States as an enemy even, and antagonistic, and worried about our presence in that whole Southeast Asia realm. What we are seeing I think is increased sensitivity by the Chinese to their global image. And I think for the first time, a willingness to deal with this situation, the human rights situation, in a very practical way. And that is to say there is a solution rather than to stand there and say to their nationalists who are just so strongly anti-American and think the United States is a super power and bully, say no, here is a way that we can do this in terms of giving him the opportunity to go abroad and study at the university.

And the only question in my mind, will there be some kind action taken against his friends, against other people in China. Because remember Chen is a symbol of the civil rights movement inside of China and the Chinese government can be abusive.

WALLACE: Let me turn to the other big story, foreign policy story this week. And that was that President Obama made a surprise -- seems like it was two weeks ago -- made a surprise visit this past week to Afghanistan on the first anniversary of the raid that took down Usama bin Laden. And the Obama campaign released a campaign video which has upset some people, take a look.


FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there and it hadn't been bin laden, suppose they had been captured or killed, the downside would have been horrible for him.


WALLACE: Bill, horrible for him. You know, the thing that strikes me about that, is you could say well it was just a misstatement by President Clinton, but the fact is, it is it part of an Obama campaign video and the implication seems to be that President Clinton seemed to be focusing more on the political they are focusing on the political risk to Obama than the life and death risk to the Navy SEALs.

KRISTOL: Well, I think that is what President Clinton said in this Obama campaign video so that is really unfortunate I think for the Obama campaign, and kind of unfortunate for the country. I mean, using a former president of the United States to make this kind of -- and send this kind of political message is I think odd and inappropriate. I don't think George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush or I don't think Bill Clinton until now actually would do this kind of thing. So that is really a little strange. And it is it too bad.

WILLIAMS: Didn't Romney just say, oh, Jimmy Carter -- that's like saying Jimmy Carter wouldn't have made the call? I think guess what Mitt Romney actually said on the campaign trail. You know, I am not going to move heaven and earth to go after one guy. So, you know what, it would have been calamitous if in fact for his political fortunes in much the way the Iranian hostage crisis was for Jimmy Carter if this thing had blown up and failed.

KRISTOL: And Jimmy Carter did the right thing of trying to order a rescue. And the secretary of state quit and so -- and he didn't say gee, I took a great political risk. He said I'm president of the United States I'm going to do the right thing. Shouldn't that be -- and it's not -- we all supported President Obama's doing it. And he would have gotten -- and he has gotten credit. And would have gotten credit on this first anniversary if they hadn't politicized this excessively. So I'm not...

WALLACE: Don't you think, Juan, that they did go...

WILLIAMS: I thought it was unseemly that they used the anniversary in the way that they did. But the fact is Republicans have dominated on national security, national defense for most of my life. And you're telling me Republicans wouldn't have made hay out of this? You bet they -- come on. So what are we talking politics here. Obama has succeeded in taking much of this national security argument off the table in terms of the coming election.

WALLACE: OK. We have less than two minutes left. I want to talk a little substance with you, Liz. The president signed a long- term security agreement with Hamid Karzai on that surprise trip to Afghanistan which commits us in some forms, unstated form to helping the Afghan government after our troops leave in 2014 up until 2024, for another 10 years. What does that mean?

CHENEY: Some unstated form, your words, is exactly right. And that is the important key here. Nobody knows what it means. Vice President Biden's national security adviser was out a day afterwards saying this doesn't mean anything. President Obama yesterday said the war ends in 2014. It's a real problem. You've got the president of the United States...

WALLACE: Well, they did say it going to mean more training and they did say it's going to be a counterterrorism component to the U.S.

CHENEY: But apparently no ability to use Afghan territory to launch drone strikes anyplace else, including into Pakistan. We launched the bin Laden raid from Afghanistan. It is absolutely unprecedented to have a president who has rejected every major recommendation from his commanders on the ground for the entire duration of his time in office. And now we learns he confirm that we' are negotiating with the Taliban in a situation where we said we are leaving in 2014 so they have absolutely no incentive to negotiate with us.

I think that you can clearly look at this and say that the president is snatching defeat from what could have been a victory in Afghanistan. He doesn't talk about victory. He doesn't talk about winning. There is no evidence that the Taliban has broken with al Qaeda which he says is now apparently the objective. And there is no way to verify, frankly, any move in that direction based on the disagreement of their negotiations. So, it's a dangerous situation.

WALLACE: OK. We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you, panel. See you next week.

Don't forget to check out Panel Plus where our group picks right up with the discussion on our web site And we'll post the video before noon eastern time.

And make sure to follow us on Twitter @FoxNewsSunday.

Up next, a special power player of the week.


WALLACE: Still to come, the "Power Player" of the week.

ALEX TREBEK, "JEOPARDY!" HOST: People who come to our tapings often ask, how would you do, Alex, if you were a contestant on the show?

WALLACE: Trebek says he can answer about two-thirds of the clues, but as he gets older, it doesn't come quickly to him.

TREBEK: A good 30-year old would clean my clock.


WALLACE: It has just been honored for celebrating and rewarding knowledge. But this institution of higher learning is on television five nights a week. Here is our "Power Player" of the week.


TREBEK: If I can ring in with my ball point pen faster than the contestants and come up with the correct response before they do, I'm feeling pretty good.

WALLACE: Alex Trebek is talking about the appeal of watching "Jeopardy!".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "Jeopardy!".

WALLACE: The show he has hosted for more than 6,000 episodes over 28 years

As to what makes a good contestant --

TREBEK: Ashley (ph)?

ASHLEY (PH): What is an escalator?


On our show they do well because of their intelligence and their skills and their game playing abilities.

WALLACE: That was of great interest, because "Jeopardy!" came to Washington in April.

TREBEK: Read the final -- the scores in the end of the "Double Jeopardy!" round.

WALLACE: -- to tape five shows with so-called "Power Players," including me. Trebek gave me a few pointers.

TREBEK: Keep in mind that you'll see it up there and you'll hear it as I read it, so it's reinforcing the clue.

WALLACE: And I'm just seeing -- if I hit this, it lights up.

TREBEK: Yes, and you must respond before the last light goes out.

WALLACE: It turns out the signaling device is as important as knowing the answer.


TREBEK: You can't ring in until I have read the last syllable of the last word in the clue. And you ring in a fraction of a second too early, you've locked yourself out for a fraction of a second.

WALLACE: I learned all this the hard way, during my practice game with Dr. Oz and BBC anchor Catty Cay. There were some ups --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) is one-fifth of this (inaudible).

WALLACE: (Inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

WALLACE: -- and downs.


WALLACE: One of the joys of "Jeopardy!" is how little it's changed over three decades. I asked more about pop culture now, and there was a firestorm in 2001 when Trebek shaved his mustache on a whim.

TREBEK: Thank you, Johnny, hello, ladies and gentlemen --

We are on the verge of war and yet there is so much being made of "Alex shaved his mustache."

WALLACE: Trebek has been hosting game shows since the early '60s in his native Canada.

"Jeopardy!" watchers say that an inordinate number of the correct questions to your answers are Canada.

TREBEK: If somebody on the Internet says that then they should get a life.


WALLACE: You seem as if you know all the answers to all the questions.

TREBEK: Do you doubt that I know?

WALLACE: Do you dumb it down for celebrities?

In fact Trebek says he can answer about two-thirds of the clues. But as he gets older it doesn't come as quickly to him.

TREBEK: People who come to our tapings often ask, how would you do, Alex, if you were a contestant on the show? And I tell them, honestly, a good 30-year old would clean my clock.

WALLACE: Trebek has other interests. He has gone on 12 USO tours to entertain soldiers and he's deeply involved in World Vision, which builds provide schools and provides health care and clean water in third world countries. He is now 71 which raises the biggest question.

Any thoughts of retiring?

TREBEK: Yes, I have been thinking about retiring but I am torn, because I enjoy doing the show so much. A lot of people have been telling me, Alex, you've got to go for at least 30. You have just done 28 now. At least do two more.

So that has a nice ring to it -- put in your 30 and go help people.

WALLACE: "Jeopardy's D.C. Power Players" runs the week of May 14th. My game airs on Wednesday May 16th. And, yes, Trebek says they did make it a little easier for us than their usual contestants.

Up next, we hear from you.


WALLACE: Time now for some comments you've posted to our blog, Wallace Watch, and we've got quite a few about last week's show.

Kevin Reed (ph) wrote about our interview with White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Brennan was fine with Obama withholding pictures of bin Laden under the guise of inciting violence. Yet he dodged the question of the ad with Clinton of killing of Osama.

And William Hollihan (ph) had this reaction to our conversation with preacher Joel Osteen. "Osteen is a sincere man, but I wish he could evolve his interpretation of scripture regarding gays, and that he will understand the difference between civil marriage and a religious wedding."

Please be sure to keep your comments coming. You can find us at

And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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