Tim Russert: Mr. Clifford, in a recent debate you were accused of flip-flopping.
Steve Clifford: No I wasn't.
Russert: You were not accused of flip-flopping?
Clifford: Yes, I was. Accused that is. But I am not a flip-flopper. I am a man of principle.
Russert: You stick to your principles?
Clifford: I do. To quote Groucho Marx, "These are my principles, and if you don't like them, I have others."
Russert: What is your current stance on abortion?
Clifford: I am anti-pro-restricted choice, with reservations.
Russert: For years, you said you were "pro-death." Isn't this a flip-flop?
Clifford: Stop piling on, Tim. Pro-death was an attempt to triangulate between pro-life and pro-choice. But it tested poorly with focus groups. I made in error in how I framed the issue. I have not changed my position; I have simply re-languaged my position. I still attempt to triangulate between pro-life and pro-choice.
Russert: What is your position on Social Security?
Clifford: On Social Security I am absolutely clear. I think Social Security makes a lot of sense.
Russert: I meant how would you keep the system solvent?
Clifford: I will appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission on Strengthening Social Security. I will work with the commission and Congress to find long-term bipartisan solutions.
Russert: Could you be more specific?
Clifford: Absolutely, Tim. The Blue Ribbon Commission will comprise a chair, vice chair, 10 members, and staff. It will meet every second Wednesday at 9 a.m. for three months. My plan is very specific.
Russert: At one point, you claimed greater faith than your opponents because you believed in nine Gods while they believed in only one. Subsequently, you proclaimed yourself the candidate of Jesus. Isn't this a flip-flop?
Clifford: Stop Swift Boating, Tim. Jesus was one of my nine gods – actually one of my 11 gods, if you count three for the Holy Trinity. There is no inconsistency here.
Russert: With due respect, you announced a legislative program based upon the teachings of Jesus. Now you have abandoned this program.
Clifford: I did not abandon the Jesus program. I back-burnered it when "turn the other cheek" and "the first shall be last" failed to resonate with voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. That's why I re-launched and re-branded my nine-god strategy.
Russert: What do you mean by re-brand?
Clifford: I dropped Baal and Marduk. There are few Babylonian voters in the early primary states.
Russert: And who has replaced them?
Clifford: Vishnu and Lao T'ien Yeh, the Chinese God of Tax Cuts. Asian voters are increasingly important.
Russert: Would you extend, repeal, or modify the Bush tax cuts?
Clifford: All of the above.
Russert: What does that mean?
Clifford: It means we've received inconsistent polling data on this issue.
Russert: You have also been accused of being an evader who equivocates on critical issues.
Clifford: No I haven't.
Russert: Yes, you have.
Clifford: Let's not play "gotcha," Tim. Maybe I have depending on one's definition of "evader." Also on one's definition of "you" and "have" and "been" and "accused." Also "also." Tim, my campaign is about giving the voters what they want. If they want integrity, I'll give them integrity. If they want spontaneity, I'll give them spontaneity. If they want clear positions on issues, I'll give them clear positions on issues.
Russert: Do they want clear positions?
Clifford: No way. Issues bore voters. They would rather hear about Brad, Britney, and Angelina. That is why I make this solemn promise to the American people: No matter what my opponents do, I will never pander by discussing the issues. My campaign is about sound bites, image, and framing. The people want authenticity, so I'll give them authenticity.