NOW with Alex Wagner | September 26, 2012
>>> 41 days until the election and the race for president has narrowed to one fundamental question, how many times can you visit the state of ohio before they start getting tired of seeing you? it's wednesday, september 26th , and this is "now."
>>> joining me today, author and radio host kurt andersen , one half of the inspiration behind the emmy award winning "game change" the man with the longest introduction on this television show , msnbc political analyst and national affairs editor for "new york" magazine john mile heilemann my former boss melinda of the " washington post " and "new york times" magazine editor grammy nominated hugo lindhgren. one hour after high down a showdown at the oh corral. president obama and governor romney are holding dueling speeches in the buckeye state . chicago has the edge. the president up by ten minutes in a survey by quinn pe yak and cbs news and leading eight points in a poll by "the washington post ." these polls mirror an advantage president obama held in ohio in three polls last week, worth noting the president has a lead that is outside the margin of error. for governor romney , time that cruel, cruel mistress is slipping away . early voting begins in ohio next tuesday. can he win without the state ? if history is any judge no republican in history has won without ohio . according to the latest nbc news battleground map the president is expected to get 243 electoral votes to romney 's 191. with eight tossup states. obama win in ohio with its 18 electoral votes would put him at 261 electoral votes , that is just nine away from winning re-election. surprising exactly no one ohio has been a top focus for candidates. while governor romney logged 17 trips to the state this election cycle president obama is making his 13th visit this year alone. earlier this month the democratic ticket made clear just how much ohio means to them.
>> if we win ohio , we win the election.
>> if we win toledo, we will win ohio . and if we win ohio we'll win this election.
>> john heilemann, there has been no shortage of love for the state of ohio this election cycle. president obama and mitt romney both speaking at 1:05 today. i wonder your take on the state it's interesting when you look at the dynamics economically at play in ohio . governor cakasic's great job of sheparding the ohio economy to account for state unemployment 7.2%, lower than the national average, it also undercuts mitt romney 's message this economy isn't in turn around and time to get someone else .
>> makes john kasic a hobbled sur row gate for mitt romney , you can't say the economy is great when you're trying to prove the economy is bad. thing about ohio it's an important state , and remember when 2004 the whole election came down to john kerry losing narrowly to george w. bush in that state , the president has a couple huge advantages we're seeing in the ten-point game, one is the auto bailout. there is no state besides michigan be impacted more positively by the auto bailout than ohio . 82 out of 88 counties have an auto parts supplier in them that's felt a direct effect of the bailout. part of why the economy is doing better there. it's enough to move the needle. also the case that anti-union backlash in the industrial midwest and wisconsin has motivated organized labor in ohio in a way, the case always for democrats ohio is the place where organized labor has the most impact. this year motivating them more so. all that adds up to it's been an uphill climb for mitt romney , ten points is probably not what that margin will be on election day , but it's -- it is a state that's very hard to figure out a map for mitt romney to win. possible but not -- very hard. almost kind of fantastical, ha his naer to.
>> so many other things about mitt romney --
>> it's just very, very hard.
>> kurt andersen a son of the midwest is.
>> i am.
>> and john boehner said yesterday, one the things that probably works against romney in ohio is the fact that governor kasic has done a good job of fixing government regulation in ohio .
>> one way of putting it.
>> i think there are a lot of things. i am reassured by the fact that it's coming down to ohio in some sense because it is as representative of america as you could make a state be. it's not iowa or new hampshire, having this crazy disproportionate power to nominate presidents. i also have to think, in addition to what john said about the auto bailout being undeniable good thing for the administration, for obama , in ohio , romney 's particular formative personal problems i think were coming -- are losing him the election in ohio as well. the rich guy, the boss, the -- all that stuff, that is part narrative, part real, just is killing him.
>> the james lipton was on this program and said another word for job creators is, bosses. and that's exactly -- the republicans have done a masterful job in sort of changing the game on that but mitt romney is a boss fund mentally as you said. melinda, your colleague, e.j. dion in the washington post writes the latest washington post polls in ohio and florida underscore the trouble mitt romney is having gaining on the economy. basically e.j. saying the republicans have had a very sort of crass attitude towards how the americans will vote. if you're looking at the poll numbers seems like the american public has more of a nuance view as far as the economy.
>> the interesting thing to me about the numbers in ohio , is that even those who say the economy is going badly, blame kasic as much as they blame obama and those who think it's going well give the credit it to obama as much as to kasic. so, you know, i do think that what john said about the auto industry is very important and also, women voters are really breaking for obama in ohio as they are elsewhere and in that way, paul ryan has been a huge damaging factor to romney across the board, but seemingly in places like ohio , florida, and virginia in particular.
>> which is not how they thought this was going to play out. you know, the -- hugo, i want to play a new ad from the romney campaign, too many americans the title of it. mitt romney straight to camera no suit jacket, let's take a look.
>> president obama and i both care about poor and middle-class families. the difference is, my policies will make things better for them. we shouldn't measure compassion by how many people are on welfare. we should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good-paying job.
>> i think that's a strong ad for mitt romney . the question is why he wasn't playing that two or three months ago.
>> it is a good ad and you're right. there's a larger dynamic in ohio that actually is true nationally, too, which is you have some economic improvement, you have -- there's a sort of consumer confidence number that came out, highest since february, the housing market that's starting to actually show real upticks nationally and the distressed markets, so it's going to be hard for mitt romney to go around selling the voice of gloom. that's something people don't want to hear. they're changing tactics. the compassion idea, something else, compassion and mitt romney , not a natural fit but they have to try something new. i think, i would be interested to see if they come out with a harder economic message because ultimately that's where his real advantage with the president would lie if they could come up with a story there that's more compelling than they've been able to so far.
>> i've been surprised the extent to which he stuck with the same message in ohio , saying stuff like, we're going to turn out to be greece.
>> which he said yesterday.
>> he said that yesterday. he also said yesterday, what obama 's selling is so foreign to what we've ever accepted in america, you know, that --
>> you don't have to go to greece, obviously. that's changing the subject into some other --
>> to a place that most ohio voters and american voters have no idea what you're talk about.
>> the number in the times front page story about the deficit and, you know, the fourth straight year of trillion plus deficit, these are things that concern --
>> the american voters.
>> and a number that resonates. talk about trillion dollar deficits an every normal person is going to go what are we doing.
>> let's be clear about that ad. the ad is a strong ad, but generally candidates do straight to camera ads when they feel like they're in trouble. president obama did his one and only after the welfare ads started to hurt him, you didn't build that, he went straight to camera. romney 's ad is a response to the 47% and what that's doing to him in places including ohio and to go back to curt's point about why romney is personally beyond the economic numbers, the president has had a problem with white working-class vote es for a long time. worse in the south than in the industrial midwest but still there in the industrial midwest . mitt romney is almost like -- almost the jerry built to be the worst possible candidate to talk to white working-class voters. only one ohio by one point because he was so weak. he has been portrayed by the president and by priorities usa very effectively, the anti-bain ads, stuff over the summer they ran more of those ads in ohio than any place else between the two of them and they did a good job of putting him in a bad position so when the 47% thing happened it came out of romney 's mouth reinforced the image that campaign had done a great job of --
>> didn't they know this was going to be an issue. we know now they're playing that great intro video from the rnc introduces mitt romney as a human being , beginning to re-air it. the question is why didn't they do it right after the convention when they didn't get a bounce, there was this -- you know this narrative cementing about mitt romney being this sort of elute plutocrat that had no communion with the everyday american, working clars american, you know, early voting starts next week.
>> i think the bigger question is the same question, when you dial it back further, republicans ask, why didn't romney over the summer start doing positive advertising in a big way to try to take on the attacks that were coming on bain and his tax returns and all that stuff. it's one of the great historical questions. some day a history will be written of this campaign by someone and getting to the bottom of decisions they made around trying to prophylactically push off what were going to be attacks one of the blunders they made.
>> game change.
>> one of the most positive things and powerful things at the republican convention were the people from the mormon church saying, you know, he wrote the will of my dying 14-year-old. where have those people been.
>> ann romney mentioned it on leno and we will talk that about later on the show. i will say in times of duress, i always go straight to camera, after the break, as both campaigns barnstorm and blanket the air waves in battleground states , one factor that could make six weeks largely irrelevant and could spell trouble for governor romney .
>> i think a loyal republican says the house is on fire, and time is running out, if we want to save this house, we better do it now. guess what? time is running out. you know when early voting starts in ohio . in less than a week. i was saying last week, 45 days, there aren't really 45 days left. they got to turn this thing around or they lose.
>> team romney 's hunt for a red october next on "now." bob... oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters