In an interview with former Vice President Dan Quayle on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pushed Quayle to admit that Mitt Romney was wrong to oppose Obama's auto bailout: "[He] said, 'You know what? Let Chrysler fail.'...There would have been thousands of jobs lost. Did he get it wrong? Did President Obama get it right by bailing out the auto industry?"
Quayle endorsed Romney on Tuesday, prompting Lauer to ask: "You've seen the polls, he's always between 20 and 25%. Conservatives have tried to find anybody to pass him....why is he the Rodney Dangerfield of the race, Mitt Romney, why doesn't he get any respect?" The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Decision 2012; Dan Quayle on Volatile GOP Race."
Later in the exchange, Lauer wondered: "What's the biggest difference that you've seen in the way Washington works today or some would say doesn't work today? What's the biggest change?"
Quayle listed several reasons why the political mood had shifted, including: "I think, one, the cable news and the 24/7 news, you know, how do you get on there-" Lauer defensively interrupted: "It's not all the media." Quayle shot back: "No, I'm not – I said part – let me finish. It's not all the media, but it's, you know, I'm putting everyone trying to get on television and the way you get on television is to be the most strident, the most partisan, the most outrageous."
Here is a full transcript of the December 8 interview:
MATT LAUER: As we mentioned, former Vice President Dan Quayle has endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. Mr. Quayle, it's good to see you. How you doing?
DAN QUAYLE: Good to see you. Great.
LAUER: So you served with Newt Gingrich in Congress.
LAUER: You know him very well. Why not him? Why Mitt Romney?
QUAYLE: I know them both. I've known Newt since 1978. I've known Mitt since, I think, the late 1980s. Comes down to one thing – leadership. Mitt Romney would be a much better leader. We need a strong leader today. Matt, you know, everybody knows, Washington's a mess. It's dysfunctional. Starts at the top. There's a lot of blame to go around. But somebody from inside Washington, some – a Washington politician, somebody that has been there for the long time in Washington D.C., is not the one to go to be – to have the top job to try to clean up this mess.
LAUER: But Republicans have been taking a good, long look at Mitt Romney for years now. Basically he's been running for president for about five years now. You've seen the polls, he's always between 20 and 25%. Conservatives have tried to find anybody to pass him. First, you know, it was Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, now Newt Gingrich. Why doesn't he – why is he the Rodney Dangerfield of the race, Mitt Romney, why doesn't he get any respect?
QUAYLE: That's a fair question, but look, two-thirds of the Republican primary voters have not made up their mind. A lot of people that they hoped would run, Christie, Governor Christie, Governor Daniels, Jeb Bush from Florida, did not run. They're taking – they're taking their time. Mitt Romney is a well known quantity. He's a leader. He's got good character. He's got the discipline, the temperament. He's conservative. He's as conservative as anybody of the other major contenders and they will come around to him. They will come around to him.
LAUER: The fact that you're endorsing him now is a sign that the Republican establishment does like Mitt Romney but aren't we living in an anti-establishment world right now?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Dan Quayle on Volatile GOP Race]
QUAYLE: I think that the establishment likes Mitt Romney. The Tea Party, a lot of the Tea Party people are for Mitt Romney. Conservatives like Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney's the one that can bring the party together. He can go into the general election against President Obama. He can expand the base to moderates, disenchanted Democrats, to get, you know, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and have a coalition that will win.
LAUER: I want to ask you about a major decision he would have made back in 2008. You worked for Cerberus Global Investments right?
LAUER: Back in 2008, you owned Chrysler.
LAUER: And that company was in deep trouble and Mitt Romney said, "You know what? Let Chrysler fail." He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that said, "Let Detroit go bankrupt." Now, if he'd gotten his way you guys would have lost billions. There would have been thousands of jobs lost. Did he get it wrong? Did President Obama get it right by bailing out the auto industry?
QUAYLE: No, Mitt Romney talked about a pre-packaged bankruptcy, which is in essence what the Obama administration somewhat did. You know, we ended up in court with the thing. There was a lawsuit. As a matter of fact, the state of Indiana was the plaintiff in this case on the priority of the bond holders. The Supreme Court decided they didn't have standing to hear that. But President Obama and Mitt Romney both talked about, in essence, a pre-packaged bankruptcy and that's what happened.
LAUER: You talked a second ago, you said about Washington being a place where obviously the mood has changed. You've been out of public office for 20 years. What is the biggest change? What's the biggest difference that you've seen in the way Washington works today or some would say doesn't work today? What's the biggest change?
QUAYLE: The partisan divide. I had a lot of good friends on the other side of the aisle. Dick Gephardt and I, as a matter of fact, shared car rides down to Capitol Hill periodically when we had events down there because we lived close to each other. I don't know if that happens today. I remember doing a thing with Tip O'Neill when I first came to Congress. Danny Rostankowski was a very good friend of mine, very helpful to me as a freshman Republican. The question is, why? And I think that there's a number of things. I think, one, the cable news and the 24/7 news, you know, how do you get on there-
LAUER: It's not all the media.
QUAYLE: No, I'm not – I said part – let me finish. It's not all the media, but it's, you know, I'm putting everyone trying to get on television and the way you get on television is to be the most strident, the most partisan, the most outrageous.
The other thing, in the name of ethics, and we want clean government, is that nobody can, in Washington today, whether it's an establishment figure, or a lobbyist or anything like that, get Republicans and Democrats together and to have a lunch or dinner or coffee because they can't pay for anything anymore. And it's gone to such an extreme. And another thing is, most of the members today don't live in Washington. You know, they don't see each other. They come. They work. They work hard. And then they go home.
LAUER: So you make it sound like it's social dysfunction.
QUAYLE: Well, there is no socialability. There's no interaction outside the votes, outside the committees, outside the debate, which is always very partisan. It's very complicated. There is no one answer.
LAUER: Really quickly, in the ten seconds I have left, if your guy doesn't get the nomination, if Newt Gingrich gets it, can he beat Barack Obama?
LAUER: That was less than the ten seconds I had left but it works. Dan Quayle, Vice President Quayle, it's good to see you.
QUAYLE: Thank you very much.
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