msnbc | October 25, 2012
>> hi, everybody. good morning. i'm thomas roberts . 12 days to go and a frenzied sprint to the finish and the hurdle to the end finding both presidential candidates racing through critical swing states today. for romney the focus is ohio , oh ohio , ohio . he will speak any minute in his campaign in since nattet and first of three stops in the buckeye straight. president obama will be on day two of the battleground, unlike anything he's done before. after appearing with katy perry in front of a crowd of 13,000 nevadans, the first stop this morning was the swing state of florida .
>> we are right in the middle of our 48-hour fly around campaign extravaganza. you notice my voice is getting a little hoarse, but i'm just going to keep on -- i'm just going keep on keeping on.
>> keep on keeping on. the president took off from florida within the last hour. the president will touchdown at his next stop, virginia , just after noon today for a 1:00 p.m . campaign event, third stop, illinois where he'll arrive just after 4:00 and cast his ballot after 5:00 in chicago and touchdown in ohio for a campaign event taking place in cleveland and touching down at andrews air force base just after 11:00 p.m . and along for the ride is nbc's own brian williams who asked the president about the close state of this race.
>> you're fighting for your life in a 47-47 race.
>> well, actually, i think that we always knew this was going to be a close race from the start.
>> meanwhile, the president picked up a key endorsement, former secretary of state colin powell .
>> that's an endorsement of president obama for re-election.
>> yes. and i'll say why. when he took over the country was in very, very difficult straits. we've come out of the dive and we're starting to gain altitude. i think we ought to keep on the track this we are on.
>> he responded to richard hour dock. saying this on the "the tonight show ." i don't know how these guys come up with these ideas. let me make a very simple proposition. rape is rape. it is a crime.
>> at this state of the game how much will the mourdock firestorm impact the republican presidential nominee ?
>> what republican candidates have said this year --
>> i know, regarding abortion, regarding rape, regarding contraception.
>> i'm a pro-life guy.
>> yea. but they are driving away so many swing voters .
>> let's dig in and bring in our thursday political power panel. political reporter for "the washington post ," ann lewis , former director of communications for bill clinton and robert trainem, a former communications director for rick santorum . ann , i want to start with you as we take a look at this obama video hitting romney over the mourdock controversy.
>> even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that god intended to happen.
>> when it comes to rape should it be legal for a woman to get an abortion.
>> i'm very proud of my pro-life record and i've always adopted the idea and the idea that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life.
>> is this a game changer in the president's favor?
>> i think it is less a game changer than moving forward and it emphasizes for women what they knew, what is chilling about these men who again, want to run the government and make decisions that will impact women 's lives and yet really don't know what their lives are like. whether it is mitt romney saying he is going to get rid of planned parenthood and by the way, heel he'll be delighted to sign a bill that would end all abortion or paul ryan saying the circumstances or richard mourdock wo uses rape, pregnancy and god's will all in one sentence, that's a very chilling display of internal views and that, in fact, would determine their government policies .
>> robert, women 's ears prick up about what they hear on the campaigns and we have this new associated press saying that the gender gap has gone up nationally and they're tied up 47% to 47%. and romney talking about whether he still supported richard mourdock last night. take a listen.
>> do you still consider yourself in his corner?
>> it depends on what he does. i think it depends on what he does. if he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong. it's when you own up. when you don't own up to it the people will not believe in you? senator mccain has since said that he is glad mourdock has apologized and voiced his support for mourdock. does he withdraw his endorsement?
>> i'm not sure about that because mourdock said this, not governor romney . let's go back to something ann said moments ago. this is not something mitt romney said. this is not something that he's endorsed. in fact, he's on record as saying that there's no piece of legislation that he's aware of from an abortion perspective that will cross the president's desk any time soon and when you take a look at the polls, most american women , rape is rape, it is despicable. it is horrible and it is against the law and everyone who does that should obviously be put in jail, but women are more interested right now in this context about the economy and that's the main reason why you see the 47%-47% poll numbers out there what mr. mourdock should do is apologize and apologize forcefully because what he said is absolutely disgusting and inaccurate and not in the mainstream of american politics and the american psyche.
>> how much of a problem is this for governor romney ? how worried should the romney campaign be? it exposes an achilles heel on that.
>> we're talking about social issues rather than the economy. that certainly hurts mitt romney . so far he's been able to thread a pretty careful needle here saying that his position is very different from richard mourdock 's, but i would also say he supports richard mourdock in that senate race and the republicans are looking at the prospect of taking the senate over, so at this point romney could be looking at the prospect if he actually is elected at rung the board, the senate, the house and having the white house and that makes republicans happy that they could be in that position.
>> so i think one of the things about this whole issue and in some ways it not only turns off women who when you look at a recent gallup poll , abortion is the top issue for women voters. that doesn't say whether or not they're pro-choice or pro-life and they're top of mind and ahead of the economy. so i think not only you have that issue with women , but i actually got a call from a man who said this was troubling for him to have politicians talk about rape in the ideological, abstract way rather than talking about it in a way that frames it as a crime and something that too many women deal with.
>> one thing we're watching is both campaigns taking ohio very seriously. the latest battleground map showing ohio still and this key playing piece with the two men getting to that piece. that map will stay on their side and i was saying there's this new time poll showing women voting in ohio are favoring the president 56% to 37%.
>> thank you for bringing that up, tom. when i hear people say the gender gap will go either way . look at the swing state polls. larger numbers of voters, very carefully, 19 points up for women , that's a winning margin and no, he's not banking on anything. that's why he's there and that's why he's going to come back there and he's going to keep talking to voters in ohio and he's going to remind them once again that it was barack obama and his administration who saved the united states ' auto industry when mitt romney said let them go bankrupt. i will tell you what is being banked. what is being banked are the early votes. numbers, thousands and thousands of ohio voters who have already cast their votes and from what i can tell, it's something like 60 to 30 in favor of president obama .
>> you're accurate right there, ann . it is early voting according to "time" magazine, 60% in favor of president obama and is this something that governor romney can tackle. can they be able to do enough in the days that are left to have a chance with ohio .
>> i don't know the answer to that question, tom. i think we'll see come election day , but a couple of things and i just want to let detroit go bankrupt because the democrats and bush have quite some time. "the new york times" actually place that title and not governor romney and it's ironic that the major newspaper endorsed governor romney this morning and that's number one and going back to your point about women in ohio . no question where governor romney and paul ryan need to do is begin to talk about the future for the next few years and president obama 's favor, but i remind you and the viewers out there that in 2004 george w. bush won ohio in southwestern ohio and we didn't know that until the day after election day .
>> would mitt romney have written government checks to detroit.
>> well, i think --
>> yes or no. yes or no.
>> the president picked up this key endorsement from colin powel and we are just learning that the president has called colin powell to thank him for that. do you think this will help the president in states like virginia ?
>> i think it doesn't hurt. i don't think endorsements really matter. when you have colin powell who does enjoy such bipartisan support and has such stature as a level-headed, moderate republican , tossing his support behind barack obama and he did the same thing in 2008 . i do think it's a big deal and a talking point for democrats to use on the stump in states like virginia where those issues like the navy military issues will certainly matter also in the states like florida .
>> colin powell coming out for the president like he did in '08 and coming out again this morning for his support.
>> my thanks to all three of you. i appreciate it.
>> thank you.
>>> i want to bring in my next guest florida democratic congressman ted deutch . the recent polling showing governor romney leading there. what, if anything, can the president do to close the gap in a state that seems to be leaning toward mitt romney ?
>> sure. great to be with you, by the way, thomas. first of all, in three of the last five polls that came out down here, the president's ahead, but there are a lot of things that are going in the presidents -- that are working in the president's favor. first of all, there are 500,000 more registered democrats in florida than there are registered republicans. we have seen that the president is doing five times better in early voting this time than he did four years ago. the hispanic voter registration is up by 195,000 and only 18,000 of those registered as republicans. that, together with the incredible ground game. 106 field offices around the state, the president's good shape to win the state of florida .
>> as we talk about the president's xhefrnts to the des moines register in which he wins the second term it will be due in large part to republicans and governor romney alienating latino voters. florida 's latino population has exploded and a diverse latino population making up nearly 23% of the state and as we look at the diversification, it doesn't include cubans, puerto ricans and mexicans. is the latino population in florida solid leah for the president or is it likely that the president can make inroads.
>> the community is solidly behind the president and they're behind the president for several reasons. first and foremost because the president's plans for the economy is built from the middle out. it helps middle class families and not just the top down approach that outsourced jobs and crashed our economy before. the hispanic community understands that just like the broader community and on immigration, this is a president that's committed to immigration reform and it's taken dramatic steps to help immigrants find a place in this country while governor romney 's position is still one of self-deportation. he struggles to maintain that and the community here in florida have heard this loud and clear.
>> we appreciate your time.
>> my pleasure, thanks, thomas.