Former governors Howard Dean and Haley Barbour appeared on Fox News Sunday for what host Chris Wallace described as preview for what a debate in the general election between President Obama and Mitt Romney might look like. Amazingly the subject of Barbour's lobby shop being linked to Iranian nuclear efforts didn't come up during the segment. Imagine that.
For his part, Howard Dean did a fairly good job of explaining towards the end of the segment just what kind of trouble Mitt Romney is going to have during the general election, given the fact that's he's rightfully perceived as out of touch with everyday Americans and only cares about helping the 1 percent, of which he's a member.
Republicans keep pretending this long primary season was somehow good for Mitt Romney, but without is we wouldn't have the list of gaffs Dean was able to rattle off here. The more the man talks, the more he continues to stick his foot in his mouth.
Transcript below the fold.
WALLACE: All right. Governor Barbour, I want to -- I want to switch, because everybody thought going into the last six months that the economy was going to be the big issue in this campaign and a bad issue for the president. But the economy keeps getting better. It has created more than a million jobs in the last six months, unemployment is down to 8.3 percent -- even though half million people entered the work force last month.
Can't the president make the argument, look, unemployment is still too high, but I inherited a mess and things are getting better?
BARBOUR: Well, he's certainly going to make the argument that it isn't his fault, but -- despite the liberal media elite saying how great the economy is, the fact in the United States today or last month, 58.6 percent of the adults had a job. Except for the Obama administration, you have to go back 30 years, to 1983, 29 years to find a time when that small of a percentage of Americans were working and 10 percent of those have a part-time job.
So, if they want to tell us how great it is, the 42 percent of the Americans who are not working probably have a different view.
WALLACE: Governor Dean, a couple of facts. The are still more people unemployed than when this president took office. And remember that Barack Obama said if you pass his stimulus, that unemployment won't go up above 8 percent. A trillion dollars later, it has never gone down below 8 percent.
DEAN: Chris, here's the fundamental problems that Republicans have and this is due to the Occupy Wall Street people who changed the dialogue. The guy -- most people in this country believe now that there's 1 percent that has a lot and a 99 percent that gets treated not so well. In the last poll I saw, 70 percent of the people in this country believe that Governor Romney, who I think is going to be the nominee, is in favor of the 1 percent. Thirty percent of people believe about Barack Obama.
You know as well as I do, that the most important question any poll is: who do you trust to understand candidates like me? This president is trying to do everything he can to turn around the economy that he inherited when he took office. And he's done a lot of good things and there are jobs being created, a million of them in the last six months.
So, I think when people are going to look at the economy getting better, it's not good enough yet but it's getting better. And if you look at who do they trust to do something for them as opposed to the Wall Street, this is going to be Barack Obama's election. And I predict today, he's going to win Florida, Ohio and Virginia. There's not any Republican candidate who can win if we take Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
WALLACE: All right. We got two minutes left. I want to give you each a little bit less than a minute and let's wrap it up with kind of a big picture.
Governor Dean, assuming that Romney is the nominee, what's the basic case against Mitt Romney?
DEAN: The basic case against Mitt Romney: he has no understanding of what it's like for ordinary people. He's building a zillionaire dollar house out in California with an elevator for his car in it. He has bank accounts -- or did have bank accounts in Switzerland, invest in the Cayman Islands. There's nothing illegal about that. This is the just who brags on the stump that his wife had two Cadillacs and he shut -- it was funny when he shut down the factory.
This is a decent guy, and I think Governor Romney is a decent guy. And I think Santorum is right, he is a moderate at heart, but he has no connection to the ordinary Americans in this country.
WALLACE: All right. Governor Barbour, I'm going to let you wrap it. Same amount of time. The basic case against Barack Obama.
BARBOUR: The case against Barack Obama is his record. Here's a man who cannot run for reelection on his record and normally presidential elections are referenda on the president. In this case, the president's policies are not only unpopular, they make it harder to create jobs when the government sucks all of the money out of the economy, when potential employers are told that the president is going to stick them with the largest tax increase in American history, $1.5 trillion in new taxes.
How do potential employers say, well, gee, I think I'm going to hire some people even though I'm going to lose all of that money, when they don't know what their obligations are going to be for health care for their employees, but they know that the cost of the health care has gone up under the Obama administration, how are employers expected to have more jobs?
We've talked about bad energy policy. If this election is about Obama's policy, he's going go to lose and the Democrats will try to do anything they can do to keep it from being about his policies.
WALLACE: All right. We're going to leave it there. Governor Barbour, Governor Dean, I want to thank you both --
DEAN: Thank you.
WALLACE: -- for coming in today. And we will have you back to continue this debate as the campaign rolls on.