Return to Transcripts main page


Debate Fallout; Obama, Romney Hit Campaign Trail; What Obama Needs To Do Now; Obama Campaign Rally

Aired October 4, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: President Obama back on the campaign trail after a lackluster debate performance. He's about to speak in Madison, Wisconsin. We're going to hear from him live this hour as he tries to recover.

Also, we will hear live from Mitt Romney. He's now campaigning with new energy and momentum after his showing in the debate last night.

Plus, Big Bird thrust into campaign politics and on the defensive.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Only 33 days to election and an entirely new dynamic in the battle between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The Republican nominee is widely seen as the winner of last night's debate while even the president's strongest supporters now concede he was not at the top of his game.

And now the president is back out there on the campaign trail. He's getting ready to speak at a rally over at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. We're going to be hearing from him live this hour. But, first, listen to what he said about Mitt Romney at a rally earlier today before he left Denver.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I got on to the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney.


OBAMA: But it couldn't have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that.

The real Mitt Romney said we don't need anymore teachers in our classrooms.


OBAMA: Don't boo. Vote.


OBAMA: But the fellow on stage last night, he loves teachers. Can't get enough of them.

The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries. But the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn't even know that there's such laws that encourage outsourcing. He's never heard of them. Never heard of them.

Never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He said that, if it's true, he must need a new accountant.


OBAMA: Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney, because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant.


OBAMA: So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney's decisions and what he's been saying for the last year. And that's because he knows full well that we don't want what he's been selling for the last year.


BLITZER: President Obama at that rally in Denver earlier in the day, very, very different from what we saw in the debate last night. Watch this.


OBAMA: The last point I would make before...

JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR: Two minutes is up, Israel.

OBAMA: No, I think -- I had five seconds before you interrupted me, was ...


OBAMA: ... the irony is that we've seen this model work really well in Massachusetts.


BLITZER: All right. Moments like that may have contributed to what so many people out there see as the president's debate loss.

Our CNN/ORC poll of debate viewers, people who actually watched the debate, finds that 67 percent think Mitt Romney was the clear winner, while only 25 percent think President Obama won.

Let's get some more now from our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, how damaging was this debate to President Obama last night?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we have to let the polls come in. And we will let the voters decide.

But I think you saw from the way the president was behaving on the stump this morning that even he knows that this was a pretty damaging debate for him. Look, Mitt Romney showed up as somebody who was reasonable, as somebody who criticized the president while being respectful of the president, and as somebody those independent voters, those undecided voters, those persuadable voters could take a look at and say, you know what, I could see him as a plausible president.

Just by being there, Mitt Romney was elevated to the level of the president. And he effectively I would have to say took charge of the debate. And the president just sort of did not really push him or force him or challenge him the way we just saw on the stump right now.

BLITZER: I was pretty surprised by that myself.


BLITZER: So what's the major lessons the president should be learning from his performance last night?

BORGER: Well, I think the lesson is that you have got to pay attention to what your opponent is saying there. And then you have got to prod. And you have got to challenge. And you have got to take advantage of every opportunity.

I would argue, Wolf, that Mitt Romney gave him the opportunity to hit some things out of the park and he didn't do it. Take a listen to this.


ROMNEY: You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I have been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.

LEHRER: Let's...

ROMNEY: But -- but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.



BORGER: So today on the campaign trail the president said he's got a good accountant obviously. Only pays a 14 percent tax rate.

Well, why didn't he take advantage of that opportunity last night? I mean, Wolf, there was no mention of the 47 percent number. That's something that the Obama campaign has spent over $3 million advertising about over the last two weeks. No mention of that. No mention of Bain Capital. No mention of the tax returns. No mention of outsourcing.

And so it seems to me that the president is going to have to look for opportunities, which by the way I think Mitt Romney handed him last night, but he just didn't seem to hear them.

BLITZER: Yes. He wasn't either prepared or he didn't want to get into that kind of debate.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: So what did Romney do last night that we probably haven't seen before?

BORGER: Well, I think he managed to do a couple of things really well. And I want to play this one bite for you and then we can talk about it.


ROMNEY: I just don't know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the -- at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs.


BORGER: The big thing he did is that he seemed to be able to relate almost every answer to job creation.

And that has been his mantra, which he's kind of gotten off of a little bit. So every answer last night whether it was about Obamacare or taxes for small business seemed to relate back to jobs.

He also managed -- and this is something new for Mitt Romney -- to be the kind of anecdote guy who took stories from the campaign trail and related them to the American people. That is something we have not seen him do very well in previous debates.

But he managed to do that very well last night. It was clear that he was very trained. And he also -- one other thing that came in handy was Mr. PowerPoint. He gave the PowerPoint presentations. While I think he still needs to put some more meat on the bones, he at least gave the American public the view that he had detailed plans on everything that the president will now challenge him on in the next debate.

BLITZER: Yes. He was impressive, you have got to admit.


BLITZER: And what he did last night to the president of the United States was similar in my opinion to what he did to Newt Gingrich, to Rick Santorum, to Rick Perry during some of those Republican presidential debates earlier. He was on the offensive and he kept the opposition on the defensive.

BORGER: And those debates, it's very clear they were different because he had multiple challengers, but those debates clearly prepared him for this debate. BLITZER: Yes, they did.

BORGER: And you can see that President Obama was rusty.

BLITZER: He wasn't ready for that. But we will see how he does in the next one. Two more to come.

BORGER: There's more.

BLITZER: Thanks, Gloria.

Romney's campaign is certainly reenergized. We're taking a closer look at how he's capitalizing today on a strong debate showing last night.

And we're also standing by to hear from President Obama. He's over at a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin. You will see it. You will hear it. That's live coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The Romney campaign is flying high literally and figuratively after a strong showing in last night's presidential debate.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta has the latest -- Jim.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, flying to Virginia, Mitt Romney will spend much of the day after the first presidential debate up in the air. But for the first time in weeks, the state of his campaign is not.

(voice-over): Mitt Romney took his victory lap after the first presidential debate, receiving a sustained standing ovation during a surprise visit to a conference of conservatives in Denver.

ROMNEY: I saw the president's vision as trickle down government and I don't think that's what America believes in.

I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom.

ACOSTA: It didn't take long after the debate was finished for the Romney campaign to turn the spin room into the win room.

(on camera): Are you declaring victory?

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Jim, if this was a boxing match, the referee would have called it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): After taking some knocks from some in the GOP for spending too much time in debate prep and not enough at rallies in swing states, the Romney campaign felt vindicated, although Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom pushed back on the notion that the Republican contender was more ready than the president. FEHRNSTROM: Well, look, you know, I think at the end of the day both the president and Governor Romney probably put in an equal amount of time preparing for this debate.

ACOSTA: Just two days after the president joked his own advisers were pushing him to do more debate prep.

OBAMA: They're making me do my homework.

ACOSTA: Obama campaign manager Jim Messina suggested Romney had an advantage going into the debate.

JIM MESSINA, OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Governor Romney's prepared more for this debate than any president in modern American political history. They have been preparing since July. He took out an entire week. When you're president, you can't take do that.

ROMNEY: We don't need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have.

ACOSTA: The RNC released a new Web video called "The Smirk," seizing on the president's sometimes uncomfortable body language. Romney can only look to the Obama campaign's own Web video to see the president's next line of attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the language Mitt Romney uses, the verdict is false.

ACOSTA: Democrats are already labeling some of Romney's statements like this one on health care outright lies.

ROMNEY: Preexisting conditions are covered under my plan.

OBAMA: Well, actually, governor, that isn't what your plan does.

ACOSTA: Look to Romney to return fire at the next debate with a few new zingers like the one he launched at the president.

ROMNEY: Mr. President, you're entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.

ACOSTA (on camera): There will no debate prep rest for Romney and his sparring partner, Ohio Senator Rob Portman. As Portman told CNN, with two debates to go, his work is not finished yet -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us, thank you.

We're standing by to hear from the president of the United States. He's in Madison, Wisconsin, over at the university there right now getting ready to speak. This is video from him earlier in the day. That's live pictures from Madison, Wisconsin. You see the stage.

He should be arriving there momentarily. We're going to hear what he has to say. He's coming out swinging today, something he clearly avoided doing last night, for some inexplicable reason. We'll try to find out more on this.

Stand by, much more coming up. The president getting ready to speak.


BLITZER: It's taken nearly a month, but FBI agents finally made it to Libya to investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, the agents arrived late Wednesday, worked today at the site of the September 11th attack and left a short time ago. U.S. military security forces accompanied the FBI team. Last month's attack killed four Americans including U.S. ambassador to Libya. But security concerns stalled the FBI visit until today.

And there is yet another new low for mortgage rates. The national average is 3.36 percent for a 30-year fixed rate and 2.69 percent for a 15-year mortgage. The latest drop is due to the Federal Reserve's new stimulus program of buying up mortgage backed securities.

And on the high side of new records, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that more than 1 billion people now are actively using his social network every month. Facebook stock jumped 2 percent after the announcement but gave up most of that gain by the end of the day.

So, a billion people now on Facebook. I don't think that's too terribly surprising when you consider it.

BLITZER: One billion people?

SYLVESTER: One billion people.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. See how that stock does in the coming weeks.

SYLVESTER: We'll see.

BLITZER: We're awaiting the start of the president's campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin. You're looking at live pictures coming in from Madison right now. This is the second campaign stop of the day.

Earlier, the president, he was aggressively going after Mitt Romney, something he avoided doing last night. We'll see how tough he is in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin latest polls there before the debate last night showing the president doing well. We'll see if that changes as a result of Romney's much stronger performance last night.

Also, Pete Dominick and our "Unsolicited Advice" panel -- they have a lot to say about what the president needs to do before his next debate with Mitt Romney. Stand by.


BLITZER: No matter where you tune in today, people are asking different versions of the same question. Here's a quick snapshot.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Can Barack Obama get back into a winning mode? The polls were looking good going into this, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The campaign -- the Obama campaign going after the inconsistencies, specificity that Romney now put on the table that's open to attack.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: He did give a strong performance. But that's what it was, a performance.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney's decisions and what he's been saying for the last year.


BLITZER: All right. Let's go straight to our CNN contributor, the Sirius XM radio host Pete Dominick. He's got a good panel with some unsolicited advice -- Pete.


Yes. We've got a brilliant panel here assembled. We'll talk a little bit I guess about last night. Get a little bit of reaction.

But moving forward, can the president recover? I want to just ask everybody here if we all agree that President Obama pretty much got shellacked. I mean, can we spin it? And if so, how?

I thought -- I don't know who that guy was last night and I'm talking about the moderator, Jim Lehrer. No, I'm talking about the president. Really, was he there? How many boxing metaphors can we make, Governor?

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Look, I think you've forgotten Barack Obama who actually debated Hillary and Biden back in the day. It's no drama Obama. That's what you've got. He's a great speaker. Great orator.

But there is no passion when he's debating. He gives you the numbers. Tells you what he thinks.

If we're going to decide the next president on debating skills and style, then we're all in a lot of trouble.


MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to disagree with you, shockingly.

ROSS DOUTHAT, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Shocking. I'm just going to laugh.

HOOVER: Well, Ross just laughs.

I mean, we have seen President Obama on the campaign trail when he was campaigning against Hillary really litigate his point, really make it strongly drive it home. You saw none of that last night. You saw him sort of going along with Mitt Romney's numbers and realizing he wasn't prepared enough.

So I think you're going to have to see a real shift in terms how he approaches the next debate, and I think that's why he's on the trail today, because he's mad. He knows he got shellacked. And I think he's got his game face on.


HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, you got a president who sort of stood there debating a guy who has not been on the campaign trail for the last six months. That Mitt Romney and those positions were brand new, made up out of thin air.

SCHWEITZER: Etch-a-sketch. Brand new.

ROSEN: I think the president was kind of shocked about it. All of a sudden, he was saying things that he's never said. He went back on things that he'd said. This wasn't just like etch-a-sketch, this was a complete clean slate that Mitt Romney went for.

And I think the president was trying to let it speak for itself and kind of make the point.


ROSEN: This can't possibly -- people can't possibly be buying this.

DOUTHAT: He did let it speak for itself. But I think that for allowing for some differences of opinion, basically you were right. This was the general election pivot by Mitt Romney.

And I think to use a boxing metaphor, it made it feel like the last six months have been kind of rope-a-dope where Romney had sort lulled Obama into thinking that, well, I guess he's not going to make a general election pivot, I guess he's not going to make a general pivot, and he pivoted. And the president didn't know what to say.

DOMINICK: But when you pivot that strong, what it really did last night --

DOUTHAT: No, but this was the genius of Romney's vagueness. He didn't actually -- I'm sure we disagree about this -- he didn't have to pivot strongly, he just had to change his emphasis.

DOMINICK: Ross, let's go easy on the word genius here. A lot of campaign ads are going to come out from last night.

But listen, I -- you got to -- you have to be listening to who you're talking to. And last night the president, a trained actor, even though they know the lines that are coming listens and can react.

Hilary's right. He -- I think he was shocked at all this new Romney stuff. But he still could have listened. He still could have reacted to some of what Mitt Romney said.


SCHWEITZER: He said your math doest add up. He absolutely said, look, your math doesn't add up. You say you're going to cut taxes by 20 percent.

No -- he said, no, I'm not going to cut any taxes, but I'm going to cut taxes for the people who pay them by 20 percent and then I'm going to find them money through these loopholes. Which loopholes? There's a thousand tax credits and loopholes. He didn't name one. Not one.

DOUTHAT: No, but what he proposed --

HOOVER: One thing we know is --

DOUTHAT: What he proposed was a general cap on the number of loopholes you can claim, which is actually a totally reasonable way to do tax reform. It gets you out of the problem of sort of litigating each and every loop.

DOMINICK: Why he isn't arguing about substance? Why?

ROSEN: The only people got affected (ph), the middle class.

But here is something that the president clearly did which was he said, all right, Mitt Romney's going to go out and do this. In many ways, Mitt Romney just made the next three weeks for himself miserable, because what he did --

DOUTHAT: Oh, sure. Totally, he's going to be sitting at home crying over the polls showing him pulling ahead.

ROSEN: Listen, I totally agree he energized his base. But what he did was he set himself up for a -- three weeks of fact checking and, you know, change of positions. Even his spokesperson, Margaret, came out into the spin room and said remember when he said he was going to cover pre-existing conditions, well, no, no, that's wrong. He's not really going to do that. They were already backtracking on the substance. So this is going to have to --

DOUTHAT: So let's be clear. So the Democratic line for the next few weeks is going to be Mitt Romney used to say he was going to cut taxes for the rich. But now he says he isn't going to cut taxes for the rich and that's bad? I mean, what's --

ROSEN: No. I think the Democratic line right now is you have a president of the United States who has brought 30 straight months of job growth and is producing for the American people.

DOMINICK: That doesn't matter because it didn't happen last night. And we're arguing substance and we should be talking about policy, they should be talking about policy.

But those debates last night can be watched with the sound off and President Obama looked weak. He was shy. He was meek. He was on his heels. He got punched time after time and never swung back. And that matters in a debate.

ROSEN: It may matter in a debate, but independent voters afterwards in dial groups said, you know, that it really didn't change their view --

DOMINICK: Probably true, right.

ROSEN: -- of Mitt Romney or President Obama. The substance is going to be what matters.

There's one other point which is Mitt Romney was smart to get back to only focusing on the economy. I think there was a mistake made in this debate by not focusing on women's issues, by not focusing on any social issues.

DOMINICK: President Obama could have brought it there.

ROSEN: He could have.

HOOVER: Independent voters support President Obama on those issues by a much wider margin.

DOUTHAT: That's a good way to look out of touch. If Romney's talking about jobs and the economy and Obama's pivoting to Planned Parenthood, who look out of touch with the issues the people care about the most in this election? Not Mitt Romney.

ROSEN: It's not what people care about the most. It's whether it matters to people.

DOUTHAT: I think -- looking ahead --

ROSEN: Independent voters have consistently said they care about where women stand.

DOMINICK: Looking ahead at the next two debates, what can happen? Mitt Romney never had caffeine looked like he had a ton of it and President Obama looked like he need a nap.

HOOVER: I think President Obama is going to have to get aggressive.

DOMINICK: He just said he can't get aggressive. No drama Obama.

HOOVER: I think he's a very competitive guy and he's like a fourth quarter guy, fourth inning -- ninth inning, fourth quarter --

DOUTHAT: He might be a fourth inning guy.

SCHWEITZER: He's not going to be the barracuda. He's not going to attack. He's not going to poke. He will respond by explaining these are the facts, actually. Sorry, you're mistaken again. He's not going to be that guy that raises his voice. DOMINICK: Is he going to be able to find out how to make a point that he needs to make in 5 seconds in under a minute? Because I don't know if you can read debating for dummies, he's got to be able to -- he was boring me last night.

DOUTHAT: He had 5 more minutes of time than Mitt Romney, but Mitt Romney I saw this morning spoke like 500 more words.

DOMINICK: That's right. This is awesome. We have to continue in a moment here when everybody's going to get the opportunity to give their unsolicited advice to some unsuspecting target. We'll be right back here.


DOMINICK: All right, we're back here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Now it's time to give our unsolicited advice to our unsuspecting targets. Let's start with Governor Bryan Schweitzer -- Governor.

SCHWEITZER: My advice is for corporate America. Last night, there was somebody, a kitchen aide in the middle of the debate had a tweet something about Obama's grandmother. It was really outrageous.

Then we went through Chick-Fil-A. I'm not going to buy a Polaris snow mobile next time I buy a snow mobile because they've entered the political arena.

Look, 50 percent of America's going to vote one way and 50 percent the other way, but you need all of the customers. Don't wade in here as a corporation into politics. You need everybody as a customer. Don't chase us away.

DOMINICK: What about small business?

SCHWEITZER: Same thing. I'm really surprised when people put even my campaign sign in front of their small business. I'm thinking, they're going to lose.

HOOVER: You're a popular guy though, doesn't that get them sales?

SCHWEITZER: There's 22 percent that vote against me.

DOUTHAT: You're not taking that sign down. This is actually why the Citizens United decision hasn't led to nearly as much corporate cash going into politics as people expected because corporations have basically taken your advice in general except for the rare kitchen aid --

SCHWEITZER: They're still luring through the Chamber of Commerce.

DOUTHAT: You saying shouldn't give to the Chamber of Commerce?

SCHWEITZER: They're laundering it. Keep it secret.

HOOVER: All right, well, my piece of unsolicited advice though I never thought I'd have a chance to say anything to Mark Zuckerberg directly, he has of course the news today a billion subscribers on Facebook.

That's a seventh of the world's population, but the guy has one color of t-shirt. He has 12 t-shirts all the same color in one drawer in his house. He's a centimillionaire and he has all the same color t- shirts. I'm not going to say spruce it up, get an Oxford shirt, but you could add a little color.

DOMINICK: You're giving Mark Zuckerberg some fashion advice.

HOOVER: Because you've got to grow up.

ROSEN: By the way, my friend, Steve Jobs, did the same thing, only wore a turtle neck his entire career.

HOOVER: Mark Zuckerberg is not Steve Jobs.

DOMINICK: I knew Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg is no Steve Jobs. What would make a difference if he changed his wardrobe? You would be happy?

DOUTHAT: It might be like Samson cutting his hair in the bible. You know, he changes his t-shirt and suddenly he loses all of his internet powers.

HOOVER: I don't know if you knew him when you were at your alma mater, but I feel like there's something about growing out of college.

DOUTHAT: I deny anything I did at my alma mater on a regular basis.

ROSEN: My own unsolicited advice is equally large reach, which is to Oprah. Oprah, who is still a goddess to me and virtually every woman I know, has a very big voice.

And Oprah's endorsement of what was at stake in 2008 in that election was very powerful. And Oprah speaking out, other women speaking out, we have a candidate on the Republican side who wants to re-litigate -- talk about litigating, wants to re-litigate fights women have had and we thought we won for the last 50 years.

Mitt Romney wants to take us back. The Republican-dominated Congress and Senate would take us back to those fights all over again. Oprah, we need you. We need other women like Oprah to get out there and say we cannot go backwards. We have to go forwards.

DOUTHAT: You mean he's going to take us all the way back to the policy that we had on religious institutions in health care like a year ago? Like all the way back to the dark ages of 2011, the horrible year of 2010?

ROSEN: Wail, the policy is women's health care should not be discriminated against. Men's health care is not, so, Ross, nothing you say here is going to actually make women support Mitt Romney.

DOUTHAT: I'm not trying to get women to support Mitt Romney. I'm just trying to tell the truth about the policy change. In any case, so my unsolicited advice, we'll pivot away from a dispute we probably won't resolve here, is for pundits and journalists after this debate.

It might be time to wrap up on the elections of 2000, 1872 and 1888 where the three elections where the winner of the popular vote did not win the Electoral College.

I think what you're going to see in a few days is polling showing Mitt Romney and Barack Obama pulling really close together in the national vote while with Obama still up five or six points in some polls in Ohio.

So even if it doesn't happen, we're at least going to have to talk about the scenario on shows like this and elsewhere for a while. So remember the Samuel Tildon Ruter V Hayes election, it's time to talk about that again.

ROSEN: Democrats have historically hated the Electoral College because we always were assuming we were winning the popular vote. This might be the first election where Democrats actually like the Electoral College.

DOMINICK: We're loving it now.

ROSEN: It's incredibly possible that we might need it to, you know --

DOMINICK: Always love when it's on the side that -- all right, here's my unsolicited advice. My unsolicited advice is to Democrats and New York Jets fans and frankly anybody else who feels like a loser right now.

It's this. The sun will come out tomorrow. I mean, the idea -- I can't sing. But the idea today that so many people, Democrats, liberals, however whatever that word was pronounced.

DOUTHAT: You were watching MSNBC last night?

DOMINICK: On Twitter, my wife, my mom, people are going crazy. It's over. President Obama is mostly likely still going to win this election. The Jets probably won't win any more games, but it's not about that.

Your happiness can't come from an election or a sporting event. Think about your family, think about what's going on right in your life. And don't let a day be ruined over it. Don't let a week be ruined over it.

Stay positive. Stay upbeat. Do what you can. None of us watching it wanted Obama to win last night. Could have helped him, we were yelling at the screen, but you can't do anything.

And you know what? Mark Sanchez can't throw the football very well either. Don't try to control the things you can't.

SCHWEITZER: He has Eva Longoria.

DOMINICK: He does. Actually, she picked him. I don't think we should get so wrapped up with this and let it affect us with our families and our lives.

DOUTHAT: Can we do it with sports but not politics? The baseball playoffs are --

DOMINICK: It's even worse with sports. They really don't affect your life.

DOUTHAT: Really? You're changing the whole way I interact with my television here.

ROSEN: I think you're making a really good point, but for a different reason. Because I actually think that when push comes to shove, voters are going to look at where these candidates stand and what they're going to do for them. And the theatrics of a debate like a sporting event are not going to be the thing that makes them decide.

DOMINICK: If we have another minute though, I wanted to just talk about this vice presidential debate coming up, which is between Biden and of course, Ryan. And what are we thinking here? Is this going to be -- is everybody watching it? Is it as exciting? Is Biden going to hold his own with Paul Ryan?

HOOVER: It's high drama. You tune in because first of all everybody anticipates the possible gaffe that could come from Joe Biden although in these circumstances he tends not to slip up.

DOMINICK: We got to go?

ROSEN: They raised the bar for Paul Ryan.

DOMINICK: We'll see you next week in Kentucky. Throw it back to Wolf right now. Back to Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pete, thanks very much for some unsolicited advice.

Right now, we're waiting for the president of the United States. He is in Madison, Wisconsin. A huge crowd is there. Will the president be on fire? Will he be cool? Will he be hot? Standby. We're going to hear he's getting ready to start speaking there. We'll take him live when we come back.


BLITZER: The president speaking at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He's ridiculing Mitt Romney right now. Let's listen in.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: -- don't want what he's been selling over the last year. Governor Romney may dance around his positions. He may do a tap dance and a two-step, but if you want to be president, then you owe the American people the truth.

So here's the truth. Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class. We can't afford to go down that road again. We can't afford another round of budget busting tax cuts for the wealthy. We can't afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research or technology. We can't afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street banks or oil companies or insurance companies.

We can't afford to double down on the same top down economic policies that got us into this mess. That is not a jobs plan. It's not a plan for our economy. It's not a plan to strengthened middle class. It is not change. It is a relapse and we're not going to do it.

We have been there. We have tried that. We are not going back. We're moving forward because I've got a different view. We have a different view about how to create jobs and prosperity. This country doesn't succeed when only the rich get richer.

We succeed when everybody has a shot, when the middle class is getting bigger, when there are ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Our economy does not grow from the top down. It grows from the middle out. That's how it grows.

We don't believe that anybody's entitled to success in this country, but we do believe in opportunity. We do believe in a country where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, where everybody's getting a fair shot and everybody's doing their fair share.

And everybody's playing by the same rules. That's the country we believe in. That's what I've been fighting for the last four years. That's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.

Madison, what we are rallying around is a new economic patriotism that is rooted in the core belief that built this country, the belief that the economy grows when we have a strong and thriving middle class and everybody who works hard has a shot. And there are specific ways that we can do that.

I want to export more products and outsource fewer jobs. My opponent said we should let Detroit go bankrupt. We came together -- don't boo, vote. We came together to reinvent a dying auto industry that's now back on top of the world.

We've created half a million new manufacturing jobs. And so we can keep giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that are opening new plants and training new workers right here in Wisconsin, right here in the United States of America. That's what we need to do.

I want to help big factories and small businesses double their exports. Create a million new manufacturing jobs. You can make that happen, but you're going to have to vote. I want to control more of our own energy.

And after 30 years of doing nothing we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That's good for your pocketbook. That's good for our economy.

And it's also good for our environment. We've doubled the amount of renewable energy that we generate from sources like wind and solar. Thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines, long lasting batteries.

Today, the United States of America is less dependent on oil than at any time in nearly two decades. So now you've got a choice between a plan that reverses this progress as you heard last night or one that builds on it.

The guy who was playing Mitt Romney said he refuses to close a loophole that gives big oil companies $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies every single year. Does anybody think that oil companies need a tax subsidy? So we've got a better plan.

We're going to keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal and farmers and scientists can harness biofuels to power our cars and our trucks and make our buildings and schools more energy efficient and develop our natural gas that's right beneath our feet.

And if we do all those things, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020. We can support hundreds of thousands of jobs all across the country. But you're going to have to vote to make it happen.

I want to make sure that every young person in America has the chance to get the skills and the knowledge they need to compete in this 21st century economy. You know, education's the only reason I'm standing on this stage.

It's the only reason Michelle was able to do what she did. And so we haven't forgotten that we need some student loans to get through school. That's why over the last four years we've helped millions of students pay less for college because we finally took on a system that was wasting billions of dollars on banks and lenders.

We said let's cut out the middleman. Let's give the money directly to students. Now, the guy playing Mitt Romney last night says he loves education, but the budget that his running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward -- don't boo, vote -- would gut education to pay for more tax breaks for the wealthy.

That's one path. It's the wrong path. We need to decide that in the United States of America no child should have a dream deferred because of an overcrowded classroom, because of outdated textbooks. No family should have to set aside an acceptance letter to go to the University of Wisconsin because they don't have the money.

No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn't find any with the right skills here in the United States. So I need you to help me recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers, improve early childhood education, give two million workers the chance to learn skills the community college that will lead directly to a job.

Help us work with colleges and universities like this one to cut the growth of tuition costs so that you guys aren't overburdened with debt when you graduate. That's a goal we can meet. We can choose that future for America.

We're going to have to do something about the deficit, but we've got to do it in a smart way. I said I'd cut the deficit by $4 trillion through a mix of spending cuts and higher taxes on the wealthiest of Americans.

I've already worked with Republicans to cut a trillion dollars in spending. I'm willing to do more. I want to reform the tax code so it's simple and fair. But I'm also going to ask the wealthiest among us to pay a higher tax on incomes over $250,000.

The same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president created 23 million new jobs, and went from deficit to surplus. And look, the whole economy does well when taxes are, you know, kept low for middle class families and working families because when you guys have a little extra money in your pocket, you spend it.

You have to on basic necessities and that means business has more customers. And they make more profits they then hire more workers. And the economy as a whole begins to grow. But to do that and reduce the deficit at the same time, we've got to ask folks who can afford it to do a little bit more.

Now, last night this may have actually been the real Mitt Romney because he ruled out raising a dime on taxes on anyone ever no matter how much money they make, ruled out closing those loopholes that are giving $4 billion of corporate welfare to the oil companies, refused to even acknowledge the loophole that gives tax breaks to corporations that move jobs overseas.

When he was asked what he would do to actually cut spending and reduce the deficit, he said he'd eliminate public television funding. Don't boo now. But I just want to make sure I got this straight. He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's going to crack down on Sesame Street.

BLITZER: All right, so there's the president of the United States. He's got a good line there about Mitt Romney. He's been ridiculing Mitt Romney big time. He did it earlier today.

Now, something he avoided doing dramatically last night. We have a lot more on this coming up. We're also standing by John King is joining us with some analysis of the latest developments and they are dramatic. Standby.