The Daily Rundown | October 16, 2012
>>> hi hopes, with polls shifting in its favor, mitt romney looks to build on his momentum with another strong debate performance and president obama , he needs to try to win over both the audience in tonight's town hall and those voters will are kind of undecided or who thought they were going to stick with him that might be on the verge of breaking romney 's way if he doesn't perform well tonight. one topic sure to come up is libya and secretary of state hillary clinton is giving the president some political cover by taking full responsibility for the security failures that led to the death of u.s. diplomats in benghazi .
>>> just like old time, h ross perot the third name in the headlines on a presidential debate day. he is choosing sides and making news in a key battleground state when he does t
>>> good morning from new york city 21 days until election day , a few miles away from the debate site at hofstra in long island, tuesday, october 16, 2012 this is the daily run down, ima chuck todd . get right to my first reads to of the morning. a decisive victory for either candidate tonight could create momentum tough for the other to stop before election day . for mitt romney , another debate win might mean he could break the president's stranglehold on states like ohio and wisconsin, making the foote 270 electoral vote a lot more realistic. for the president, a win could reset the race before the first debate when it looked like the president was becoming the heavy favorite a new pew poll shows a split on who has the upper hand. 41% expect the president will win, 37% pick romney , a stark contrast from before the first debate. both candidates spent monday behind closed doors as they finished up debate prep with their wives instead weighing in.
>> mitt's prepared. mitt's confident. mitt has a presence about him and he is running because he believes in america.
>> does he look to you for encouragement?
>> i can never tell, but i'm primed in case he is. i'm personed, i'm looking at him, smiling, i'm giving a thumb's up if he can see t.
>> tonight's town hall format comes with risks and rewards. for the president, a chance to bolster the likability advantage he has had over mitt romney and make up for lost ground after his widely panned performance in the first debate. the bar for the president was higher than he faced john mccain the last town hall -style debate in nashville four years ago. then, mccain had to change the course of a race going in obama's direction and his aggressiveness at the time came off as cranky.
>> it was sponsored by crush busch and cheney, you know voted for it? might never know that one.
>> the president had to prove he was presidential. and did he accomplish that at that debate.
>> senator mccain in the last debate and today again suggested that i don't understand. it's true. there are some things i don't understand. i don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 while osama bin laden and al qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us.
>> well, now it's the president who has to reverse momentum that is in romney 's favor. he has the difficult job of being both aggressive and empathet empathetic. the president has to worry about questions like this one, from a town hall back in 2010 , that could become a romney tv ad if it happened tonight.
>> i'm one of your middle class americans . and quite frankly, i'm exhausted. i'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration you defending the mantle of change that i voted for and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.
>> instead of answering that question directly, the president talked around it for four minutes at the time, he has to avoid being too professor y'all tonight. for romney who has done more town halls than the president this year, tonight is his chance to clear his biggs hurled, convincing voters he can relate to average americans . town hall settings have not always shown romney as enthreat threatic. this moment in ohio back in march has become an attack line for the other side.
>> i'm a senior in high school this year, going to go to college. this it is not cheap. i want to know what you are going to do with college tuition ?
>> you want to shop around. you don't want to have huge debts. i knee it would be popular for me to stand up and say i'm going to give you government money to make sure to pay for your college, i'm not going to promise that what i will tell you is shop around, get a good price.
>> bad off-the-cuff moments like june 2011 in this visit to a tampa coffee shop , he attempted this bad joke while talking to unemployed voters.
>> should also tell my story, i'm also unemployed.
>> it worked there didn't work for the public. taking questions from a new hampshire crowd in january, romney argued his health care plan would argue competition among insurance providers, then he said this.
>> i like being able to fire people athat provide services to me. if someone doesn't give me the good service i need, i want to say i'm going to get somebody else to provide that service to me.
>> in his best moments, romney has been able to break through the stereotype that he is privileged and out of touch n april, when a voter challenged him on his mormon faith, he talked about a decade serving as a pastor in his church.
>> that gave met o the occasion to work with people on a very personal basis dealing with unemployment, with marital difficulties with health difficulties of their own or with their kids. most americans , by the way, are carrying a burden of some kind. we don't see it. we see some of the street, they smile and say hem lllo, but behind them, they are carrying a bag of rocks.
>> here is what to expect. the 90 minutes will be mod rated by cnn's candy crowly, pick the questions being submitted by 80 undecided voters , nassau county , collect selected by the gallup organization . romney will take the first kwaend the president gets the second. each candidate gets two minutes to respond followed by what the debate commission calls a facilitated discussion. look, that's code for follow-up but a word that spooks the campaign so the debate commission left the actual word follow-up out. no closing statement . up to hall debate format always guaranteed surprise. this morning, one of the candidates who par faced in the first-ever town hall debate for a general election for the presidency back in 1992 , he provided one today. ross perot endorsed romney and the des moines register , writing, our country faces a momentous choice. the fact is the united states is on an unsustainable course. at stake is nothing less than our position in the world. our standard of living at home and our constitutional freedoms. that is why i'm endorsing mitt romney for president. look, don't ignore this endorsement. ross perot is associated with one issue, the deficit. three states is where this -- where the deficit issue animates the most, virginia, colorado, iowa. iowa has the oldest population, therefore, the longest memory of per row. you sort of can connect the dots there. only a few other endorsements that carry credibility like per rose, colin powell , michael bloomberg , joe lieberman , those types of folks. one to watch. don't ignore it. finally through a debate that will tackle foreign and domestic issues you can the security lapses is sure to come up and libia. traveling in peru, secretary of state hillary clinton did a series of issues and claimed full responsibility for benghazi benghazi .
>> i am in charge of the state department , 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 post. the president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.
>> clinton also acknowledged the state department was aware of security concerns ahead of the attack.
>> we have long known that extremists have come out of libya. we long understood there would be an effort to establish extremist bases and operations. something we were very focused on.
>> asked by nbc news if the benghazi attack was the result of an intelligence failure , she wanted to take politics out of the equation.
>> i think what we want to do is get to the bottom of what happened.
>> clinton 's remarks drew a quick response from john mccain , lindsey graham and kelly ayotte , wrote in a statement -- this is ayotte replacing senator lieberman as the three amigos. it is clear, senator lieberman decided to take a step away. clinton weighed in on the stakes for her boss in tonight's debate.
>> i think he'll do fine. i think he just has to get out there and talk about what he's done for the country and wants to do the next four years.
>> tonight's debate has the chance to put space for the candidates, both men face challenge, show passion without being aggressive, sell their vision for the