Tonight’s final debate on foreign policy comes amid a lot of new information, including some brand-new polls to talk about.
This morning on “Starting Point,” Obama Campaign rep Stephanie Cutter addresses the tight battleground state polls, and previews President Obama’s plans ahead of the debate.
Rush transcript available after the jump.
O’BRIEN: Let’s take a look at this new Quinnipiac/CBS News Poll; it’s looking specifically at Ohio. President Obama is holding on to a five-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Ohio. That’s the good news there.
But – and this is critical – that margin has been cut in half since September. That’s got to be very worrisome for you. Also he holds a 50 percent to 45 percent lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, but that’s down from a 53 percent to 43 percent advantage. The sample of error, I should point out, is plus or minus 3 percent. How worried are you about those numbers there?
CUTTER: Well, I’m not sure that 53-43 was ever realistic. You know, we’re pleased with where we are in Ohio. Ohio was a critical state. We have many different pathways to 270 electoral votes. Mitt Romney has one, and it all goes through Ohio. We’re extremely pleased that we’re up five there. There’s a good reason for it.
One, our ground game: we’re knocking out early votes all over that state because of our ground game.
Two, because of what the president has done over the past four years to move our country, and particularly Ohio, forward, saving the auto industry, bringing manufacturing jobs back cutting taxes for the middle class. All of these things matter.
And I think the people of Ohio understand where the president would go over the next four years in terms of continuing to move our country and Ohio forward.
O’BRIEN: Let’s talk about Florida for a moment. If you read “The New York Times” the FiveThirtyEight blog which Nate Silver writes, he writes this.
“Mr. Romney has made larger than average gains in the state” – he’s talking about Florida – “since the Denver debate and ha now become a definitive favorite there.”
That’s the headline of that column, is after Romney gains, should Obama concede Florida?
Should Obama concede Florida?
CUTTER: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. You know, I’ve been here a couple of days. And I’ve seen our ground game at work. Our people are coming out, are voting by ballot early. Early vote starts here in a couple of days. We’re pleased with where we are. There are polls that show us three up, there are polls that show us three down.
This is the nature of a tight race. We always knew this was going to be a tight race. Soledad, I’ve said to you previously this is going to come down to the wire. It’s going to be a very close race. We need everybody to come out and vote. We’re here in Florida for this debate. It’s an important conversation we’re going to have tonight.
You know, the president has had a steady, strong foreign policy over the past four years to keep this country safe and secure. We’re stronger today than we were four years ago.
I think that will stand in contrast to Mitt Romney, who has not been steady, who’s been reckless, who has been, you know, traveling the country – traveling the world, you know, blunder after blunder, lots of bluster on some of our most important challenges across this world – Iran, saber rattling, no end to the war in Afghanistan.
This is an important conversation we’ll have tonight. I think it’s important to the people of Florida. I think it’s important to people across this country.
O’BRIEN: Hold on one second for me, Stephanie, while I talk to Ron Brownstein.
RON BROWNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIR., “NATIONAL JOURNAL”: You know, one thing I’m wondering about, you know, If you look at the polling that’s come out since the first debate, there’s some evidence the biggest impact has been with white women voters moving toward Mitt Romney.
O’BRIEN: Is this across the country or in Ohio specifically?
BROWNSTEIN: No, across the country. Both of the polls that have been out in the last 24 hours, the NBC/”Wall Street Journal,” the Politico, George Washington battleground, have President Obama trailing by double digits among white women, which is basically double the deficit that he had in 2008; still holding on in Ohio.
But I’m just wondering what – if the Obama – if you look at what the Obama campaign was talking about last week in that second debate and certainly after, they are focused on these voters. I wonder if they have a thought on why that’s happening.
O’BRIEN: Hold on one second.
Roland, you wanted to jump in, too.
MARTIN: I’m also curious if Stephanie could speak to the issue of the new ad the Obama campaign put out, where they’re talking about Iraq and Afghanistan. And the end of that says about bringing those – spending those dollars home. Is that the way to spend – ?
O’BRIEN: (Inaudible) strategy.
So, Stephanie, let’s go back to you. You have an opportunity tonight, of course, to talk about foreign policy. But the poll numbers, as Ron was just talking about, when it comes to female voters, are in decline for the president. How do you, using the stage you’ll have tonight talking about foreign policy, try to turn those numbers around for that critical voting bloc?
CUTTER: Well, let me answer the first question first. In terms of women, there will be a gender gap on Election Day. There will absolutely be a gender gap, and for good reason. You saw in last week’s debate that Mitt Romney couldn’t articulate any sort of agenda of how he’s going to move women forward, both in terms of economic security but health security.
He wasn’t being honest about the positions he’s taken over the last six years of running for president, whether it’s not standing up for equal pay for women or, you know, telling their bosses that they can have control over whether women have access to contraception, female employees having access to contraception on the insurance plans.
You know, to Roland’s question, I think tonight is absolutely an opportunity for talking – we’ve been at war for more than a decade in Afghanistan. The president’s bringing that war to an end. He’s already committed to using half of those savings from that war to invest back home, to do some nation building back here, building our roads, bridges, highways, putting construction workers back to work.
He spoke about that at the convention. It’s a key piece of his agenda over the course of the next four years.
Mitt Romney hasn’t committed to ending the war. He hasn’t said how he’s going to wind it down. You know, we’d like to hear some answers about that tonight. Previously he said he’s going to kick it past the election.
O’BRIEN: They’ll have an opportunity tonight. Stephanie Cutter with us this morning, thank you, Stephanie. Nice to see you as always. Appreciate it.
CUTTER: Thank you. Nice to see you.