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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Obama Maintains Lead in Ohio; Does Romney Really Have Momentum?

Aired October 26, 2012 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight with breaking news, late new word on where Hurricane Sandy is heading and just how powerful it might be if and when it hits the East Coast.

Now, the storm has already claimed nearly two dozen lives in the Caribbean, as it heads north, could morph into something else entirely, part tropical weather system, part winter nor'easter, possibly lingering for days over the Eastern Seaboard, in other words, a superstorm.

That's what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is very worried about. He declared a statewide emergency this afternoon, emergency orders also in effect in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

A Baltimore area power company today requesting 2,000 out-of- state line men, some from as far away as Mexico, Philadelphia's mayor telling people in flood-prone areas to be ready to leave no later than 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Now, I'm always worried about overhyping a storm, especially this far in advance.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

COOPER: There's storm damage already to the campaign schedule to tell you about, the Romney side canceling the last of three events in Virginia this Sunday, an evening rally in Virginia Beach. Vice President Biden canceled a weekend event there as well. And the first lady scrubbed a Tuesday event in New Hampshire due to possible bad weather.

Weather could become a factor in the final push for votes and if the effects linger, it might even affect turnout on Election Day. That said, there are so many factors to consider, so much forecasting in the form of polling.

There's new CNN/ORC numbers tonight on the race in Ohio. You all know how important Ohio is. President Obama holding a four-point lead in this new poll, just slightly outside the margin of error and significantly right at the crucial 50 percent mark.

So the question is, what is driving the numbers in Ohio right now?

Chief national correspondent John King has some answers.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, that narrow Ohio lead for the president is within the poll's sampling error, but it is yet another poll showing the president with a small, persistent lead in the state of Ohio.

Let's take a closer look at why it is happening in this state that is so important in the pick for president. Here's the main reason right here. Governor Romney gets the Republicans. The president gets the Democrats but at the moment, in our survey, the president has a narrow lead among Ohio voters who define themselves as independents.

That is the battleground in a big battleground state. If you win the independents, you are likely to win. Governor Romney close, but the president with an important edge among independent voters. There's also an age divide, if you look at likely voters in Ohio. Among voters under the age of 50, there's a big gap, 18-point lead for the president among voters under the age of 50, a smaller lead for Governor Romney among voters 50 and older.

So the Republicans are withstanding the attacks on the Ryan budget, the Medicare attacks, but Governor Romney would like that lead among older voters, more reliable voters, more Republican voters to be a little bit bigger than 52-46. That's one thing he needs to work on.

This is significant. Like in Michigan, the auto bailout plays big in Ohio and look at this. You might say the president's only getting 41 percent of white men, 46 percent of white women. That's actually a good number.

If the president can keep above 40 percent among whites overall and above 40 percent among white men, it's pretty much game over in the electorate. This is a statistic right here we will watch as we get closer and closer to Election Day. If the president is above 40 among whites, especially above 40 among white men, in most states he would be well on his path to victory. You see this more and more in these industrial states affected by the auto bailout.

The president runs a bit stronger among white men. If that poll were to hold up, can Governor Romney get to 270 without Ohio and how much easier is it for the president to get to 270 with Ohio? Let's start with the president. He's at 237, Anderson, right now, Electoral College votes leaning or strong for him, 206 for Governor Romney.

Well, if the president were to take Ohio it puts him on the doorstep, at 255. The easiest way for the president to get over the top, stay right there in the Midwest. Take Wisconsin, take Iowa, and the president's over the top. Let's just say for the sake of argument he takes Wisconsin, but Governor Romney gets the state of Iowa on Election Day. The president would still be at 265 with Ohio and Wisconsin. Then he just needs five more. New Hampshire would give him four, so that's not big enough. But the Obama campaign increasingly thinks the Latino vote in Nevada would do it. That would put the president over the top there. If he didn't get Nevada for some reason, the president's options would be Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire or Florida. The president with an easier path.

What about Governor Romney? Let's leave this one blue. Can Governor Romney get there if Ohio is going blue? Can Romney get all the way to 270 when the president's already at 275? Well, he would have to win Florida, he would have to win Virginia. Then you're at 255, 254. He would have to win Colorado. That would put him in play at 263.

Then, from there, how does Governor Romney get over the top? He would if he won Wisconsin, Paul Ryan's home state, 10 electoral votes right there. The logic being though, if the president's winning Ohio, these are two very similar states. So Wisconsin would be one model and let's just say for the sake of argument that one did stay blue, that puts the president right there. Governor Romney would have to get there by winning in Nevada, not enough, and New Hampshire.

So you see Governor Romney would essentially almost have to run the board without Ohio. The president has more options if he loses Ohio, because he starts closer to 270. So is it impossible for Governor Romney to win without this one? No. But is it improbable? Yes, Anderson.

COOPER: That's why they're spending so much time in Ohio. We're great talk to James Carville and Mary Matalin shortly about the race right now.

But let's take a view right now from the ground level.

Jim Acosta is with the Romney campaign in North Canton, Ohio. Brianna Keilar is at the White House.

Jim, the president ahead in Ohio, but still a close race there, no doubt about it. Is the Romney campaign showing any signs of concern about their ability to win Ohio?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I just talked to a senior Romney adviser a few moments ago who said, no, they are going to win Ohio, but he did say this race in this state is going to come down to independents. Whoever wins independents in the words of this Romney adviser, that candidate is going to win Ohio.

Now, there's a little bit of spin in that because if you look at recent polling like an ABC News/"Washington Post" poll that came out yesterday, Governor Romney is doing well among independent voters, so it makes sense they would be talking about that advantage right now.

But at the same time, there are signs that, yes, the Romney campaign is concerned about this state. And talking a little bit about what John King was mentioning just a few moments ago about the auto bailout, you heard one of Romney's top surrogates, Rob Portman, defend Mitt Romney's stance on the auto bailout. He, of course, opposed the auto bailout.

And then last night at a late-night event in Defiance, Ohio, Anderson, Mitt Romney passed along a story that ended up being debunked. He said that Chrysler was thinking about moving its Jeep operations to China. That was despite the fact that Chrysler had come out with a statement on its Web site saying, no, that is not the case, they are not moving its operations of Jeep over to China.

So it is a sign that, yes, they are concerned about that position on the auto bailout and he is getting pounded relentlessly on the airwaves with Obama campaign ads talking about that very stance -- Anderson.

COOPER: Brianna, you say the Obama campaign is pleased with where they are in Ohio. In terms of their ground game, in terms of the number of people they have on the ground in Ohio, how does it compare to the Romney campaign?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Compared to the Romney campaign, I think it's -- they would say that they are doing better in terms of their ground game.

They say this about a lot of battleground states because they have had this in place for years now, really since the last election, and it never really went away. So this is something they are emphasizing now.

And the strategy for President Obama, Anderson, is really to show up, to visit. He will be traveling Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we know so far, and he will be making seven stops, three of them are in Ohio. He will be emphasizing early voting. A lot of the concentration right now is on get-out-the-vote.

And they're pleased where they are, but I would say this to you. They're pleased in that if they had their choice they would much rather be where they are than where the Romney campaign is, but at the same time, they wouldn't say that they're comfortable and, yes, they're emphasizing the auto bailout for sure as you heard John King say.

Republicans will tell you that this is the Obama campaign's one- trick pony, but when you're on the ground in Ohio talking to voters, it is something that really matters to them. One in eight jobs tied to the auto industry.

COOPER: Yes.

Jim, Romney's speech today was described as a major speech on the economy. Didn't seem like there was a lot of specifics in there. But I lost count of how many times I heard him use the word change.

ACOSTA: That's right.

They did everything but play the song "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" going back to the Bill Clinton days. Yes, he is talking about change, and he's casting himself as the change candidate. And I think that is why they went out to Iowa today, Anderson, not to unveil any new economic proposals. You don't really do that in the final stage of a campaign.

What they wanted to do was talk about this message that they unveiled yesterday here in Ohio and that he is the candidate of not just change, but big change as he likes to say on the campaign trail.

COOPER: In terms of weather, Brianna, have there been any changes to the president's schedule next week? You mentioned some of his stops. Do we know how vulnerable those are to weather?

KEILAR: Yes, that's right, he's heading to Florida, he's heading to Virginia. So certainly some of his stops are going to be vulnerable. We have already seen a change. This just came out publicly, Anderson. He was supposed to head out to travel on Monday to Florida, his first stop. He's now going to be traveling on Monday.

As you know, Michelle Obama canceled a New Hampshire appearance on Monday -- or -- pardon me -- Tuesday because of weather concerns. Vice President Joe Biden was supposed to be heading to Virginia Beach tomorrow. He's canceled that. So I think we shouldn't be surprised. They're keeping their eye on the storm and I would expect that we will be seeing more changes.

COOPER: All right, Jim, Brianna, appreciate the reporting.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting tonight.

More "Raw Politics" next, starting with who's got the enthusiasm edge. Four years ago, Obama voters were fired up, ready to go. Four years later, are voters fired up to fire him? Gary Tuchman takes the pulse. We will also talk to Mary Matalin and James Carville.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey. Welcome back.

Just a quick reminder about our breaking news. We're continuing to track Hurricane Sandy. We are going to talk to Chad Myers, who is monitoring developments in the Weather Center. We will check back with him shortly in the program.

As we mentioned, the storm threatens, if nothing else, to rain out significant chunks of the campaign's final stretch. Turnout is obviously going to be vital.

And as our Gary Tuchman found out, enthusiasm is also going to be key.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day in the swing state of Ohio, the electoral bullseye of this political season. Mitt Romney working the crowds on this afternoon in Columbus, while Barack Obama pumped up his supporters in the evening in Cleveland, both men receiving wild ovations.

But while the crowd reaction is great, will that enthusiasm drive them to the polls on Election Day? Even among the fervent Obama supporters at this rally, this is a common theme.

(on camera): Were you more excited four years ago or more excited today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to say, honestly, I was more excited four years ago.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Meanwhile, fervent supporters at the Romney rally often have their own nuanced motivations.

(on camera): Are you more emotional about wanting Romney to win or wanting Obama to lose?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wanting Obama to lose, yes, most definitely. He's just -- he's really...

TUCHMAN: So, that motivates you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He let the whole country down.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Candidates appreciate any kind of support. But the more unconditional and enthusiastic that support is, the more likely that voter will go to the polls.

And voter turnout on November 6 will be critical.

(on camera): Romney strategists have been concerned that the perceived lack of their candidate's competitiveness could ultimately lead to less enthusiasm and, therefore, a lower turnout. So the message being emphasized to the GOP base is that Romney can win.

And that makes the message from Obama strategists all the more interesting. In order to increase Democratic enthusiasm and turnout, they have the very same message: Romney can win this.

(voice-over): A new Obama ad is basically trying to frighten Democrats into making sure they vote, reminding them of the disputed 2000 election.

NARRATOR: Five hundred and thirty-seven, the number of votes that changed the course of American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida is too close to call.

NARRATOR: The difference between what was and what could have been.

TUCHMAN: A new poll shows that 59 percent of Obama voters and 58 percent of Romney voters are very enthusiastic. But the ABC News/"Washington Post" poll indicates Obama's enthusiasm numbers were higher four years ago at 68 percent, while Romney's numbers are considerably better than John McCain's, which were at 38 percent four years ago.

The cheering was deafening at this large Obama rally on Cleveland's lakefront, but many Obama supporters say it feels different than four years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's seriously just a different kind of excitement. It's more sort of tempered in like reality, that this is a campaign, not a crusade.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

TUCHMAN: On the GOP side, anti-Obama sentiment remains a key component of pushing supporters to vote, much the same as four years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's more important to get Obama out. I do. I absolutely think it's more important to get Obama out.

TUCHMAN: Clearly, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have some complicated relationships with their supporters. But no doubt neither candidate will care as long as the supporters make it to the polls.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Cleveland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right, let's delve into the "Raw Politics" now.

Let's bring in GOP strategist Mary Matalin and Democratic strategist James Carville. Good evening to you both.

James, Cornell Belcher, the Obama 2012 pollster, was on the program last night and he was saying that, in internal polls, they're not seeing this Romney momentum that the media has talked about so much since the first debate. They think momentum -- that Obama is doing pretty well. Do you buy that, that there's not -- that the narrative of Romney momentum is not accurate?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Romney did do better.

I think, objectively, he improved his position after the first debate. I don't think he improved it any in the last 10 days or so, but he demonstrably improved his position then.

But, no, I don't see any momentum at all, and I see 1,000 polls. It still is a pretty tight race. The real difference is between polls that do live interviews and polls that do robo-calls that can't do cell phones. That accounts for a significant difference. And that's a real issue here as we come down the stretch.

COOPER: And, Mary, can Romney win without winning Ohio? MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he can, and I don't -- I don't know how that enthusiasm gap that used to be 20 points could all of a sudden be even.

Let's look at they have the same ending message. Romney can win. Romney is deploying his resources and previously won by double-digit states of President Obama's. So we're down to the ground game. There's little that these gentlemen can say at this point that can exceed what their ground game has to do.

We have a great ground game. We don't even -- our high- propensity voters haven't even voted yet. And I would just disagree with my esteemed colleague and beautiful husband that it wasn't the debate that -- what happened at the debate was that Romney filled the hole that voters wanted to be comfortable voting against Barack Obama and for Mitt Romney, which is what Romney's going to do for the next four years to grow the economy.

There's nothing fundamental that has changed. This economy is the worst ever, energy prices are not down and people are living the same life they lived four years ago. So that's what this race is about, not all the polls.

CARVILLE: Look, first of all, President Obama won I think by 7.3 last time, so he doesn't have the duplicate what he did in 2008 to win.

Secondly, there's a way that Romney can win without Ohio, but it takes a very complicated formula to do that. And, you know, I think on the whole, I think Democrats are pretty satisfied with the position they're in right now. If you had said a year ago that the enthusiasm would be equal among Democrats and Republicans, we would certainly have taken that following the 2010 election.

But, look, it's going to be a close election. It's going down to the wire here.

COOPER: What about the ground game, James? How important is that in a place like Ohio? And I mean, the Obama people seem to think they have a much better ground game than the Romney campaign.

CARVILLE: Well, they do.

And if you look at some of these early voting things are really powerful for Democrats. Some of the stuff that I see or hear about is quite impressive. They have a much different -- and they put some people say $300 million into it. We will see on Election Day. We will be able to see how they do in swing states, where it's all concentrated, as opposed to the other states.

But the more I hear about this operation, the more that they have invested in it and the more that they think it's going to work. And hats off to them if they pull it off. I hope they do.

COOPER: Mary, the early voting doesn't freak you out in Ohio?

MATALIN: No, because there are 360,000 more high-propensity Republican voters. They far outnumber what Obama has to turn out.

Furthermore, in the last election, 2008, 300,000 evangelicals did not turn out and Obama won by, what, 260,000. There's all sorts of reasons. Let me say something about the ground game. That's what -- this is my 10th presidential race. I started on the ground game. My first job, I was the butt end of an elephant in Lincoln Day Parade. I know about the ground game.

At some point, every time you ask the Obama people what's so great about their ground game, they tell you how many offices they have. There's a rate of diminishing return. There's only so many voters that turn out. There's only so many phone calls you can make. If you don't have -- if they're not turning out for anything, then it doesn't matter how good your ground game is.

Our ground game is completely effective and it's proved itself over and over in the midterm elections. It is true what James is saying, they have this new microtargeting, having your high school girlfriend call you or some of your Twitter friends or something like that. If it works, it scares me, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Did you say you were the butt end of the elephant? That's how you started?

MATALIN: Yes, in a Lincoln day parade. If I had been higher up in the campaign, I could have been the face of the elephant, but I had to be the back end.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: We all got to start somewhere.

Mary Matalin, James Carville, both of you, thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

COOPER: All right.

President Obama continued his interview blitz today, sitting down in the Oval Office with MTV's Sway Calloway, answering questions from college students -- part of MTV's interview ahead, plus, how both campaigns are trying to reach out to young voters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're seeing Mitt Romney right now speaking in North Canton, Ohio. Running mate Paul Ryan is with him as well.

Governor Romney's been focusing on rallied in other campaign events, staying away from interviews in this final do-or-die campaign stretch. President Obama has been giving a lot of interviews, waging an all-out media blitz. Today, President Obama did a live interview in the Oval Office with MTV's Sway Calloway. Georgetown students submitted questions. MTV agreed to share its interview with us.

Mr. Obama was asked about a range of issues important to young voters, from jobs to student loan debt to climate change. And President Obama addressed those topics and also tried to connect with young voters with some personal details. It wasn't exactly a tough interview in any way, weren't a lot of follow-up questions. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWAY CALLOWAY, MTV: We have seen artists like Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Rage Against the Machine have all made popular music that inspired and informed.

What artists do you feel today uphold that tradition, and how?

OBAMA: You know, it's an interesting question. We haven't seen as much directly political music. You know, I think the most vibrant musical art form right now over the last 10, 15 years has been hip- hop. And there have been some folks that have kind of dabbled in political statements, but a lot of it has been more cultural than political.

You just mentioned Bob Marley. I can remember when I was in college listening and not agreeing with his whole philosophy necessarily, but raising my awareness about how people outside of our country were thinking about the struggles for jobs and dignity and freedom.

You know, you think about a lot of the music of the '70s, there was a sense of engagement in what was happening with anti-war movement and what was happening with respect to the civil rights movement, and so I would hope that we're going to see more of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come?

OBAMA: Because young people, they communicate in a lot of different ways and everything moves so fast today that you can set the world on fire in a positive way just through a message that goes through the internet in a way that -- I had to go buy an album or a cartridge, you know. A cartridge. That's old school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're re-elected, you go into a second term, Sasha and Malia will be in the midst of their teens. What are you most worried about: Malia getting a driver's license, Malia going out on a date, or Malia being on Facebook?

OBAMA: I'd worry about Facebook right now, only because, look, I know the folks at Facebook, obviously they've revolutionized the social networks, but Malia because she's well known, you know, I'm very keen on her protecting her privacy. She can make her own decisions obviously later as she gets older. But right now, even just for security reasons, she doesn't have a Facebook page. Dates, that's fine because she gets Secret Service protection.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: As I said, wasn't exactly tough interview. That's why we only showed you a small portion. We also put in a request obviously for Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan to be on the program tonight to try to balance off the time we spent hearing from President Obama. They both declined.

Some 45 million 18 to 29 year olds are eligible to vote in the November 6 election. They also have the lowest turnout rates. In 2008, President Obama captured 66 percent of the youth vote.

Joining me now is MTV news correspondent, Andrew Jenks, who talked to Georgetown students after President Obama's interview, CNN political reporter Peter Hamby, Republican strategist Kristen Soltis also joining us.

So Andrew, you've been visiting college campuses, much as you did today, talking to young voters. What are you detecting in terms of enthusiasm this time around?

You know, I think there is a sense of this has been a bit of a bad breakup from four years ago, not necessarily with president Obama, but just with government at large. So the sense of being disenfranchised, not as engaged. And that's been, you know, a bit disheartening.

But I think it's on us to ask questions, to make sure that our friends get involved, and I have seen as we've gotten closer to election day a lot of young people are starting to talk about it more. And so I mean, that's been encouraging.

COOPER: Kristen, in 2008, President Obama won 66 percent of the under 30 vote, a 34 percent margin of victory over John McCain. You say the president's numbers are high this time around but certainly not as high as 2008.

KRISTEN SOLTIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not at all. You had a recent poll come out that Harvard released where he had a 19-point advantage. It's still a wide margin but not nearly the margin that he had four years ago. And if he doesn't hold young voters to a significant margin that's close to those '08 numbers, it's going to be really tough for him to put together his majority coalition to try to win this election.

COOPER: Peter, you spoke with Obama campaign officials today about the youth turnout they expect this cycle. What did they tell you?

PETER HAMBY, POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, they point out that there's sort of this mythology surrounding the youth vote in 2008 which was 18 percent of the national electorate. That was only up one point from 2004, 17 percent.

So you know, any dip in that isn't likely to really hurt President Obama if it comes to that.

But Kristen's right, this is about the margins here. You know, if North Carolina, for example, was a good example in 2008. You know, Obama won the youth vote nationally by 66 percent. In North Carolina, he won it by 74 percent, and he only won the state by 14,000 votes. So if he had won a similar share of North Carolina as nationally, he would have lost North Carolina.

So that's why you see in a state like North Carolina, for example, and Ohio, the campaign being so aggressive with mobilization efforts on campuses, because you know, there's a cushion there. I don't think it will swing the election one way or the other on a macro level, but you know, just around the edges.

COOPER: Kristen, do you think the demographics shifts this cycle, particularly the increase in young Latino voters are going to make a big difference?

SOLTIS: I think that you can increasingly not separate out the issues of young voters and the issues of the changing demographics in this country. Significantly fewer young voters were white than older voters. I mean, the demographic shifts are showing up in this group.

But you're still seeing these margins are so bad for President Obama compared to where they were four years ago that, even with those demographic changes, it's still going to be a struggle for President Obama to get that 34-point margin again.

COOPER: Yes, Peter, you spent a lot of time on college campuses. Let's talk a little bit about the ground game that you see. What are campaigns doing to try to get younger people to the polls?

HAMBY: Yes. I was just out in Ohio, Anderson, and the talk among the political class there is how Obama's really targeted his campaign visits to college campuses. Ohio State, Ohio University, Kent State, Bowling Green. To sort of draw in these folks. And, you know, since early vote has started, they can just bus students and young people who come to these rallies over to early voting locations in these counties.

And so Obama has sort of done that while leaving the campaign appearances and sort of, you know, blue-collar areas to people like Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

But, you know, young people, they aren't watching TV, they aren't consuming media in the same way that older voters are. You know, only somewhere between 24 and 28 percent of young people, according to Pew, you know, watched your traditional television. So the campaigns are sort of targeting them digitally. Social is big in this election for persuasion. They want to put out infographics that people can sort of share on Facebook and Twitter.

At the end of the day it comes down to traditional get-out-the- vote efforts which are already under way. Early voting started in Iowa, for instance, Anderson, on September 27 so people are already voting. COOPER: You're making me feel very old here because I didn't even understand some of the things you mentioned. Peter, thanks very much. Kristen Soltis, Andrew Jenks, as well. Thanks.

Two quick program notes to tell you about. On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, CNN traces the journey of Ann Romney. In 2008 she vowed no more elections. Obviously four years later she's her husband's biggest champion. And on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern, the CNN documentary "Romney Revealed" shows a side of the candidate the public never sees.

In the battle for the White House, swing states are swimming in a flood of campaign ads in this final stretch. If you don't live in a swing state it's almost hard to imagine how many ads are playing right now. Both campaigns are hitting their messages hard. They're sharing some of their tactics. A closer look at the tactics ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A scary day for Harry Reid on the campaign trail. The Senate majority leader hospitalized after a car accident. We'll have the latest on his condition, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: With the election less than two weeks away the air waves are flooded with ads from both the Romney and Obama campaigns, especially in swing states.

At this point the message is critical and the way it's delivered can mean just as much, right down to who appears in the ads, what they're wearing, what kind of voice is narrating. Looking at the advertising end game for both campaigns, it seems they're trying to strike similar notes in very different ways. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approved this message.

COOPER (voice-over): In swing states across the country, airwaves have been dominated by presidential campaign ads in these last days leading up to the election. New ads are out nearly every day.

ROMNEY: I will keep America strong.

OBAMA: With both campaigns hitting their message hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem. COOPER: Drastically different messages but with some notable similarities. The "New York Times" the campaign media analysis group at Kantar Media studied 119 presidential campaign ads that aired nearly 180,000 times in October, looking for similarities in images, themes and props.

KEN GOLDSTEIN, PRESIDENT, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GROUP: The campaigns have a tremendous number of ads in rotation, and there's a special focus on women voters.

COOPER: Thirteen percent of the ads from both campaigns featured the voices of women. Mitt Romney's campaign tried to show he understands women's issues in this ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He totally gets working women.

COOPER: While President Barack Obama's campaign ad wants to show just the opposite.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a scary time to be a woman. Mitt Romney is just so out of touch.

COOPER: Many of the ads in both campaigns are negative in tone, with 90 percent of pro-Obama ads using an image of Mitt Romney.

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.

GOLDSTEIN: They always portray him in a suit and tie which is, I guess, less bad than putting him in a tuxedo. But the opposite's also the case on the Romney ads. Typically in the Romney ads you see him in jeans and his blue oxford shirt trying to look a little bit more casual.

COOPER: Seventy-five percent of pro-Romney ads show images of President Obama.

OBAMA: You can't change Washington from the inside.

COOPER: Republicans used sad, depressed faces in 21 percent of their ads, mostly to illustrate unemployment.

Democrats only used that tactic in 1 percent of their ads.

But Democrats went heavy on the elderly, using elderly voices or images in 38 percent of their ads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was suddenly 60 years old. I had no health care.

COOPER: A topic Republicans largely stayed away from.

Despite the emphasis on the Hispanic vote, only 2 percent of ads from either side were in Spanish during this period.

The use of charts, numbers and statistics was used heavily by both groups: 65 percent of time for Democrats, 79 percent for Republicans.

The American flag, always an iconic image in political ads, was shown in 29 percent of Democratic ads. The flag appeared in just 6 percent of Republican ads but in a much different light.

(on camera) That's where Steven's talked about being worried about what he called the never-ending security threats in Benghazi, specifically mentioned the rise in Islamic extremism.

(voice-over) Republican groups used clips from newspaper headlines in 18 percent of their ads.

Mitt Romney would have let us go under. Let us go bankrupt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While Democrats used news clippings 35 percent of their ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)

COOPER: With the election less than two years away, the airwaves are flooded with ads for both the Romney and Obama campaigns, suddenly that nonpartisan credible news source like tom Brokaw comes on the air and that can be a very powerful combination. The one-sided message and directed at people who haven't already made up their minds.

COOPER: With a race this close, the campaign ads are flooding the networks, but it's a still question on which ones will work and which side will win.

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COOPER: Air constantly in some states.

We're going to check back with Chad Myers on the storm. That's coming up. First, Susan Hendricks has a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there is new video that Syrian officials say shows the aftermath of a deadly car bombing today near a Damascus playground. If it is, in fact, what they say it is, it would be a grisly breach of a U.N.-negotiated cease-fire for the holiday Eid al-Adha. As always with Syria, we can't independently confirm. Rebels saying ten were killed, most of them children. It is unclear who was responsible.

Back home, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was treated and released from a Las Vegas hospital after an accident in his motorcade. He suffered bruises in the crash. Others he was traveling with also sustained minor injuries.

An inspection report released by the FDA shows the company at the center of a deadly meningitis outbreak knew it had a problem months before the first patient got sick. Now, according to the report, the New England Compounding Center's internal monitoring system found bacteria and mold growing in rooms meant to produce sterile products as far back as January. Federal inspectors later found dozens of vials of medicine containing, quote, "greenish/blackish foreign matter."

Cycling's governing body is demanding that Lance Armstrong return millions of dollars in prize money for his seven Tour de France victories. Armstrong was stripped of all seven titles due to allegations of doping.

And seen here, an unexpected hazard on a new stretch of highway in Texas. Wild hogs running across the road. They caused four crashes the day the highway opened. Luckily, no serious injuries were reported. The speed limit is 85 miles per hour.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Susan, thanks.

Back in a moment with the latest on Hurricane Sandy and the punishing superstorm that it could become.

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COOPER: Welcome back. Back to our breaking news, tracking Hurricane Sandy and the potential forecasters now say it has to do a lot of damage in dollars, some of the most densely populated parts of the country it could hit.

Again, there's a lot we don't know at this point. As always, new information is coming into the weather center. So let's briefly go back to Chad Myers for the latest.

So when can we expect to start feeling the effects of this storm on the East Coast?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: There are already waves in Florida right now and eventually into Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, but really, we won't feel wind with this until Sunday night, maybe even until Monday.

I think we probably get a lot of air travel through on Sunday night, but by the time Monday rolls around, almost every airport up and down the East Coast will be shut, not even -- if they don't close their doors, you're just not going to see airlines send their planes into that type of system and then risk having either a bumpy landing, you know, the plane being on the ground in a hurricane. There just won't be flights.

COOPER: When -- I mean, this may be an unanswerable question. When will we know how bad this is going to be or what it's going to actually kind of look like? At this point it's still kind of far out.

MYERS: It is kind of far out and it was far out last night. And at some point last night, I had three models -- I tweeted about this in the middle of the night. I had three models bringing a Category 3, almost Category 4 hurricane, into New York Harbor.

COOPER: Wow. MYERS: This is ugly. And it backed off today, because the storm simply didn't generate coming out of the Bahamas. It didn't generate, a lot like Irene didn't generate. So if this thing stays kind of like the Irene, this becomes not a big deal.

But that's not the forecast. Not a single model does that. Every model turns it back into the northeast, either from New York City all the way down to North Carolina, and then here's the rub that we've never gone through this before. There's not been ever an instance where a computer model has had to work this out in its head or in its computer.

There's a cold air mass back here. There's a low here, and another low here, and they're going to combine. What is going to happen when those two combine, we honestly simply don't know. There's not been any history for this in the computer program. The program's only been running for 25 years. Maybe a little bit less.

COOPER: So just explain to me briefly, what is so unique about that, that combination?

MYERS: You have the moisture from a tropical storm and then you have the wind and the energy and even the potential for snow with a low pressure that is a normal low pressure. It's just a winter type low that's coming in from the west and from the southwest.

When they get together, you have a storm that already wants to make 40-mile-per-hour winds, and then you add another storm that has 70 mile per hour winds already in it. And when you smash those together, you get what's called a hybrid, a kind of -- a double type storm. And all of a sudden, you have energy from one, cold from one, and moisture from the other, and it just takes off.

COOPER: Wow. Chad, appreciate you cutting through the hype and trying to give us the facts. Appreciate that.

MYERS: We'll see.

COOPER: We'll keep. We'll keep following you all weekend. "The RidicuList" is next.

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COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we bring you the perils of live television.

An anchor in San Francisco was reporting outside the World Series when he got hit live on the air by a stream of bird poop. Kind of hard to see the initial trajectory of the actual poop but take a look.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1989, the Giants were in the World Series versus the Oakland A's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Oh, my God! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang on. Hang on. You know, I have to tell you, I have to tell you, one of my goals in life, Bethany (ph), one of my goals in life is to make it on YouTube. And I think I just did. I'm on YouTube. Hello to my YouTube friends. How are you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, you did make it on YouTube. Look, it's baseball. There are going to be some runs, sometimes from birds.

By the way, the co-anchor is wearing a panda hat, because the Giants' third baseman's nickname is Kung Fu Panda. I know stuff about baseball. At least what somebody else tells me about baseball. Maybe I didn't know that before today. But whatever. This isn't about me. This is about bird poop.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea what I paid for this coat. Wow. Wow. Oh, hey, there's more. All I noticed was what went in my eye. I'm supposed to go on from here? Hey, Darren, it's raining in San Francisco. It's raining bird crap, if I may say that. Are we still on? I'm going to put my glasses back on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Wow. That's a lot of poop. I'm telling you, it's live television; anything can happen. For instance, a spider may slowly descend on a single thread of web right in front of the anchor.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teuton (ph) County is currently making plans to close the old landfill, clean up the pollution and plan for new services there such as composting. Voters will decide next month.

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COOPER: You think one little spider is enough to make a professional newscaster to go all little Miss Muffet? Heck no! One must maintain composure even if there's a cockroach crawling all over you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are cases from back at the height of the Manson Family crime spree.

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COOPER: Ugh. I think we need to see that one in slow motion. Yes, see, this is the kind of thing that will haunt a young aspiring reporter's dreams.

But if you want to be on live television, you have to be ready for anything. Spiders, cockroaches, projectile bird poop, it is all there just waiting to pounce, my fellow journalists. I salute you.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now. Have a great weekend.