Mitchell Reports | October 09, 2012
>> governor romney 's strategy one of his top advisors, been with him the longest, eric fehrnstrom joining me from boston. good to see you, eric .
>> thank you.
>> talk about first of all, the polls. your take on the polls? you've now pushed ahead certainly in pew.
>> well, look, our view is it's going to be a close contest up until november 6th . a view that's shared by the obama campaign . i know that a week ago, when polls were showing a different result, we were being questioned about the state of the race and our advice was to simply caution everybody to be patient, that there's going to be a lot of ups and downs in this campaign, but it's going to be tight right until the end and we believe that to be the case and i believe the president and his campaign share that view.
>> the governor is going to be in ohio tonight. what is your sense now about ohio and whether you have a chance at ohio , which is so important? no republican has won the presidency without winning ohio .
>> ohio is in play. it's an important battleground state . the politics of that state are almost evenly divided between republicans and democrats. we believe we have an enthusiasm edge, strong surrogates who will be working on our behalf there, not only home state senator like rob portman but the governor will be with governor christie talking about manufacturing jobs and energy in ohio tomorrow. so, we look forward to that contest. we feel it's going to be close. again, until the end. but we feel that we have an enthusiasm edge working in our favor.
>> are you going to do anything differently in the next debate? what is your strategy in terms of debate preparation or is he already proved to your satisfaction he doesn't need a whole lot of additional preparation for the next debate?
>> well, you know, i've heard a lot of discussion in the wake of last week's debate and about the president's poor performance but our view is that the reason the president did so poorly, not because of the altitude, not because of the moderator, not because john kerry was a bad stand-in for governor romney in their mock sessions, the reason he performed so poorly is because he doesn't have the facts or issues on his side. it wasn't just a bad debate night. it's been a bad four years for president obama . but the next debate is not going to be a presidential debate . it will be a vice presidential debate and the pressure is on joe biden to live up to his reputation this week as a policy expert and as a skilled debater, but i expect he'll do just fine. this will be his 18th either presidential or vice presidential debate. he's had a lot of practice at it. paul ryan 's first. but again, in that case, we think we have the facts and the issues on our side with the obama /biden team you'll get another four years like the last four years with the romney /ryan team, a real recovery with more jobs for everybody.
>> now politico is reporting today that ann romney and tagg his son, one of his sons did an intervention to try to save the campaign if you will and let mitt be mitt and get the candidate to talk more about himself, talk more emotionally to give the foreign policy speech. in pushing back against some of the staff. can you help us out on that? what is the -- your perspective about it?
>> i saw the story. it's a silly little story. there's no truth to it. we're focused on big things . yesterday the governor gave a speech where he talked about some of the very real foreign policy challenges facing us. he talked about building 15 ships a year so we can build up our navy. he talked about the importance of reforming our foreign assistance and linking it to positive outcomes. he talked about stopping iran's reckless pursuit for a nuclear weapon. these are the issues and the challenges that we're focused on. we're not distracted by some of the nonsense stories that come around.
>> right now, we're seeing the governor is about to -- already speaking in iowa. obviously another important battleground state for you guys. but, has there been a shift in strategy? we've seen him in the last couple days talking more personally, telling some of the stories that surrogates tried to tell on his behalf at the convention but which he did not mention in his speech. is he deciding to open up more to the american people ?
>> i'll tell you, what this election comes down to, andrea, it's not necessarily going to be the debates alone or the advertising that you see in the final weeks or even the visits to the battle ground states as important as they are, what people will be asking themselves when they go to vote is do we want another four years like the last four years. that is the broad messaging frame that we use when we talk about the economy certainly, or even the unraveling of the obama foreign policy around the world. and i think if the election is going to come down to the answer on that question, then i think mitt romney is going to win.
>> eric , when you talked about the upcoming vice presidential debate and you made mention of the speech yesterday from governor romney where he talked about defense cuts and his proposals, paul ryan voted for the sequester and cuts, how does paul ryan defend his original budget and medicare proposals in contrast to what governor romney is now proposing?
>> well, what matters now is, what is governor romney 's plan going forward and paul ryan has signed up for the romney plan. specifically with respect to the sequester, governor romney is opposed to it. in fact, when that was decided last summer governor romney issued a statement specifically mentions the prospect of some devastating cuts to our national defense budget should sequestration become necessary. so the governor has made it a priority to reverse the obama defense cuts. it's not just the $500 billion that will happen as a result of sequestratio sequestration, another $500 billion in the works. the president's defense secretary has said the combination of the obama defense cuts with sequestration will be devastating to our military. it will further weaken our standings in the world and embolden our adversaries.
>> what about benghazi? do you think that is a legitimate issue for this campaign? do you think the president should be held responsible for what happened in that terror attack ?
>> well of course. even the president would concede that he's accountable for everything that happens in his administration. look, what happened in libya in benghazi was a preplanned terrorist attack that was carried out on the anniversary of 9/11 that resulted in the assassination of an american ambassador and three other american civilians and what the administration told us in the aftermath of that attack against evidence to the contrary, against what the president of libya was telling the world is that this was in reaction to a youtube video . people need to be held accountable for what happened in that respect and i think it's entirely appropriate for congress to be asking the tough questions and it's incumbent on the president and his team to answer those questions.
>> is there one thing you would take back from the debate, the reference to big bird ?
>> well, look, you know, i think trivial pursuit was a board game . i didn't think it was a campaign strategy but the obama campaign is trying to prove me -- prove otherwise. we have some big problems, 23 million americans struggling for work, $16 trillion debt, emerging dangers in north africa and the middle east we spoke about, and the president's message of the day what he wants the american people to focus on is big bird ? big bird is going to be fine. governor romney is more concerned about the jobs for the american people . as i said, 23 million of our fellow americans struggling for work. our focus is going to be on putting them back to work.
>> good to see you. thank you very much for being with us today.
>> thank you.