Obama Campaign Adviser Robert Gibbs Talks Tonight's Debate on CBS THIS MORNING


Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs discussed with co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell the strategy for tonight's debate, Vice President Biden's comments yesterday and the recently released video of President Obama live today, Oct. 3, 2012, on CBS THIS MORNING on the CBS Television Network (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM).

Below is the transcript from the interview:

O'DONNELL: I also want to give you an opportunity to respond to that tape that was aired by FOX of the President talking about what happened in New Orleans. Does the President believe the Bush administration did not help the victims of Hurricane Katrina because of their race?

GIBBS: Look, as you said, the President said that the incompetence that surrounded the federal government's response to Katrina in 2005 was colorblind. What the President is talking about in that tape is the law that governs disaster assistance requires a 10% match for community to qualify for disaster assistance. We waived it for Hurricane Andrew, we waived it for New York City in 9/11 and Barack Obama and members of the Mississippi and Louisiana delegations all believed we should also waive it for New Orleans.

O'DONNELL: So, you're not worried about the optics of this tape?

GIBBS: If the Republicans want to defend the Bush administration's response to Katrina, I'm sure the President would give them this time during the debate to do that. But, look, I have to say I'm a little amazed that, as you mentioned, a widely covered speech, likely by people at your network is somehow caused a kerfuffle five years later because somebody like Sean Hannity decided to re-air what was covered extensively. You wonder why you get a debate that's a little bit distracted during a political campaign when something like this happens.

ROSE: Is there something that the Obama campaign believes the President has to do tonight because clearly the Romney people believe this is their opportunity to reset this campaign?

GIBBS: I think what you'll hear the president do tonight is have a conversation directly with the American people about where we've been over the past four years and what we have to continue to do moving forward to strengthen our economy, to build it from the middle out and give people a real sense of security and opportunity. Talk about retraining workers and bringing manufacturing jobs back into this country, hiring new math and science teachers to improve our education, doubling our exports. All of those things that will help create jobs as we move forward and strengthen our economy. I must say, I was struck by Kevin's [Madden] answer about the fact that once again the Romney campaign says they really don't have time to discuss the specifics of their tax plan. And, you know, this is a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy.

ROSE: We haven't heard the specifics of what the President is prepared to do in terms of spending cuts as well.

GIBBS: No, I don't think that's true. I think if you look at the budget plan that the President has outlined, he has a $4 trillion spending cut plan that deals with making sure our tax code is fair and that those that are on the upper end of that tax code are a paying a little bit more. Mitt Romney's $5 trillion tax plan isn't hard to explain because of the time, it's hard to explain because of the math. The math doesn't add up. $5 trillion isn't paid for and what that requires, as economic studies have shown, is that Mitt Romney has to raise taxes on middle-class families to provide people like him with a tax cut.

O'DONNELL: Speaking of middle-class families, median household income for Americans in the four years that Barak Obama has been in office has dropped $4,000. Middle-class families are hurting. Yesterday Vice President Joe Biden said, "How can you justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years?" Was that a gaffe by Biden, or was he speaking the truth?

GIBBS: What Vice President Biden was saying was what, I believe, many middle-class families throughout this country believe, median household income didn't fall in the last four years, median household income fell in the last decade for the first time since we began keeping statistics.

O'DONNELL: But Robert, the Vice President said, "buried the last four years," suggesting something happened during the Obama administration.

GIBBS: What Joe Biden and President Obama have suggested each and every day on this campaign trail is that we had eight years of horrific economic decisions, tax cuts for the very wealthy, Wall Street writing its own rules – it culminated in an economic disaster that took place about four years ago, of which we've had to dig out from each day of the last four years. Let's be clear, the middle class has been buried for a lot longer than the time that we've been dealing with bad economic decisions from the former administration. People in the middle class have been working harder each and every day and watching their wages decline.

Click here to watch the video.<