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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Mitt Romney's Boys; Obama Debate Preview; On Faith and Politics

Aired October 15, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the rematch. Can the president turn the race around? Is Romney peaking to soon? On the eve of the biggest debate of this election, I talk to the Romney boys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at my dad and who he is and what he stands for, he's a man of great conviction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus a man who says the president is just like Muhammad Ali in his prime. Why he's not counting out Barack Obama.

And policy meets religion. Does America care that Mitt Romney is a Mormon? Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, tells me about his meeting with Mitt.

Also, he's in every election up close since the '60s. Last time he was here, Dan Rather told me this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER: Each of these campaigns is in a mode to be meaner than a mama wasp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And "Keeping America Great" with one of the country's top entrepreneurs, Martha Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA STEWART: I am 100 percent American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Our "Big Story" tonight, 22 days to go until the election and 24 hours before the second presidential debate, a town hall at Hofstra University on Long Island, with undecided voters, if there are many of those left, asking the questions.

CNN's Candy Crowley is moderating. This debate couldn't be more important.

Let's look at the latest CNN poll of polls. Mitt Romney with 48 percent and President Obama with 47. Tonight the president is deep in debate prep in Williamsburg, Virginia, while Mitt Romney does his homework in Boston.

And the candidates' top surrogates, their wives, are out on the trail, too. Michelle Obama getting a bit emotional today talking to college students in the battleground state of Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: But don't let anyone talk down your dreams and aspirations. You hear me? Don't let anyone talk down our country or our future. You all have every reason to be optimistic about what lies ahead for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Meanwhile, Ann Romney also looking to the next generation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: Our children and our grandchildren cannot inherit this huge amount of debt and this legacy of debt. They have to have the same opportunities and freedoms that were given to us by the ancestors that sacrificed so much for us to be here in the most amazing country ever on the face of the earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Joining me now, four of Mitt and Ann Romney's five sons, Craig Romney, Matt Romney, Josh Romney and Tagg Romney. And just to show off again about my superior knowledge compared to most news anchors of who you all are (INAUDIBLE) cheat. I'm just going to do this.

Tagg, Josh, Matt, Craig.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost.

MORGAN: I can do that. See? I can also get into your professions because I find this quite interesting. It's a private equity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MORGAN: Real estate, real estate, real estate, but about to go back to your real love, music production. Right?

(LAUGHTER)

CRAIG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: That's right. MORGAN: Why that's interesting is that apart from the fact you all look a bit like your dad, obviously your dad's three and a half weeks potentially away from becoming president of the United States. Why when Americans are about to vote now is he the guy to do the most important thing, turn round America's economy?

TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: He knows how to fix things. The country's got problems, big problems. He knows how to fix them. And the economy is hurting and we need somebody who knows how to fix the economy.

MORGAN: Josh, what people say is, yes, he can fix things. He can break them, too. When he was at Bain, as many jobs as he made, he also wiped out. That was the nature of the beast of being a venture capitalist. What do you say to that?

JOSH ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: I'm not sure where you got your facts but --

MORGAN: I'm not saying that.

(LAUGHTER)

This is what people say about him. He's a ruthless machine beneath the ready smile.

J. ROMNEY: Yes. You know, he's a guy who is in this to help people who are suffering under this economy. I mean you think right now there's 23 million Americans who are out of work or underemployed. You think there's a $16 trillion deficit. This is something, this is a legacy we can't pass on to the next generation.

I've got -- my biggest concern is not my business but my five kids and what's going to happen to them in this America.

MORGAN: Craig, the other criticism your dad gets with his policies and those of Paul Ryan, his running mate, are they look after the rich, not so bothered by those at the poor end of the game. You know, they don't -- they don't want to hike up taxes for the rich. They think they should actually come down if anything.

Why would your father care really about super-rich people not paying a little bit more tax? Why shouldn't they pay a bit more? Why shouldn't you? Like you're all (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

C. ROMNEY: You know, it's interesting. I ran into -- I have been touring around the country and had the chance to meet voters all over the place. I met a woman in Nevada who owns a small beauty salon and she came up to me and said, I have been in business for 30 years, these last four years have been the hardest I have ever gone through, and I'm struggling to keep my business going. She said, I need your dad to win or I think I'm going to lose my business.

That's really what this is about. That's why my dad's in this race. He's out there for the small business owners who are struggling, for the 23 million Americans who are unemployed. He knows how to create jobs. He knows how to get those people back to work. And that's why he's in the race.

MORGAN: Tagg, let's turn to the debate. It's obviously crucial. I mean your dad had an amazing debate last week. I just don't buy into the, well, it was because Obama was weak and your dad wasn't that strong. Actually, I thought he was very strong, the best I've seen him debate.

If he does that again, I mean, you guys are close to the White House. This is a huge night tomorrow night.

T. ROMNEY: Yes. I think the format is to make it tough for anyone really to win. I think it'd most likely be, you know, a draw. I mean you get -- it's a town hall format so --

MORGAN: Why are lowering expectations? Why --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Why not say, my dad is going to crush him?

T. ROMNEY: Pull off a Chris Christie. You know, I did enjoy watching him --

MORGAN: Yes.

T. ROMNEY: -- the last debate. I think it was a chance for America really for the first time to tune in for 90 minutes and hear Mitt Romney on -- from his own mouth, unplugged. Not -- no liberal media putting their spin on it.

(CROSSTALK)

T. ROMNEY: Yes -- no offense, but letting people hear and I think it was refreshing for people to hear what his vision was and what he thought as opposed to hearing what the other side thought his vision was.

MORGAN: Josh, one of -- one of the problems you have or have had until this point has been with women voters for your father. And yet today, we saw a poll come out in Gallup and "USA Today" in the swing states, two interesting statistics to me. One is your father's five points ahead clear in the swing states in this particular poll, 51-46, but more importantly, he's closed the gap to zero on the female vote.

There's been a big surge in almost all the polls we've seen since the debate. So he clearly connected with women. But not all the women. Because we have a video here which has just come out today. This is an Obama promotable video, stars Scarlett Johansson, Eva Longoria and Carrie Washington. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ACTRESS: I want to talk to you about women. CARRIE WASHINGTON, ACTRESS: And about Mitt Romney.

EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: Mitt Romney is for ending funding to Planned Parenthood.

JOHANSSON: Including cancer screenings.

WASHINGTON: He said he'd overturn "Roe v Wade."

JOHANSSON: We have Republicans trying to redefine rape.

LONGORIA: Trying to force women to undergo invasive ultrasounds.

JOHANSSON: If you think that this election won't affect you and your life, think again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Social issues, I mean, I know the campaign's tried very hard to avoid having to go back over this ground, because it's contentious area and your father has made it pretty clear that he doesn't think it's as important as the economy, but a lot of women, women we just heard there, very high-profile women, it does matter to them.

Your father may be president and they're worried that he's going to outlaw gay marriage, that he's going to, you know, flip-flop around on abortion, all these other things that you know he's been criticized for.

What comfort can you give young women that think that your father is going to come after them?

J. ROMNEY: If we keep spending $1 trillion a year more than we take in, and we keep saddling this country and the future generations with debt, none of those things matter. I mean this election, you know, as I look at what people are really worried about, women and men, is the economy. It's people that are struggling to put food on the table, its people who are out of work, people who are looking to get a better step in life. That's what this election is about.

MORGAN: But also America, though, you know, I've read a piece from a British newspaper at the weekend which has been picked up a bit and people were surprised I took this view, I sort of outlined the fact your father could win and it may not be the big disaster that his opponents say it could be, that economically he may be with his credentials as a business guy, the right guy to turn things round.

We shall see whether he wins to start with. But certainly, when it came to his principles as a man, as a human being, as your father, as a husband, as a grandfather and so on, I think he has impeccable credentials although his principled people you could probably wish to meet.

In terms of his credentials as a politician, I think there is merit to the argument that he's fairly unprincipled. That he's a flip-flopper. What is the argument from the family, if you like, that he's not unprincipled.

J. ROMNEY: You know, we were able to see him as a dad. We were able to see his principles as a -- as a father, a husband, a grandfather, and we're actually able to see him as a leader as well. In the private sector and as governor. And we were able to see the way he led, which is very principled. He has strong principles, a very strong core conviction. He leads with them.

And when you look at what he's done, how he's lived his life in every aspect, in business, running the Olympics, as governor, he's a man of great principle and obviously, there's a lot of people that try and tear that down and make that a weakness. When you look at my dad and who he is and what he stands for, he's a man of great conviction.

MATT ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON I think, you know, it's about his record, too. It's very easy to parse people's words in a campaign election and say they have, you know, differing views today than they had a few years ago. He's very consistent but if you look at his record, that really tells a lot about somebody. And we've seen that from the time we were little and we know what kind of a good principled character this is, but I think everybody, and I think a lot of people got to see that during the debate, too. But people get to know that --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: But clearly a lot of women watched it and were more impressed by him, or felt a better connection than they were before.

Let's watch a little clip, this is great, from the new FOX show "New Girl."

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't do this. Don't do this.

MORGAN: We have to do this. I'm sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think April is in love with your brothers.

MAX GREENFIELD, ACTOR, "NEW GIRL": Who isn't?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's the joker?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're such a spazz.

GREENFIELD: Yes. No, nobody gets rowdy like us Romney boys. Just a bunch of alphas. You know what I mean?

(LAUGHTER)

That is of course unless we're fishing. I'm, like, (INAUDIBLE). Nothing I love more than just getting on the water with dad, the freezing cold dawn, couple of cold beers in hand, having that one quick moment --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your dad doesn't drink. He's a Mormon.

GREENFIELD: Well, we don't drink the beers, Courtney. We just buy them to support American breweries. We dump them in the lake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

T. ROMNEY: That is great.

MORGAN: That's fantastic. There's a new Romney brother called Tug.

T. ROMNEY: Yes.

MORGAN: Who can replace Ben who's not here.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: We have Tagg --

T. ROMNEY: I would have loved Tug --

J. ROMNEY: Tug and Tagg --

MORGAN: He clearly -- I mean he looks most like you and he's called Tug. So we're all assuming this is you there. How do you feel about this?

T. ROMNEY: This is --

MORGAN: That is occasion.

T. ROMNEY: I used -- it used to be every -- everywhere I went people would ask is Tagg your real name, and now the first question I get is, have you seen "New Girl?"

(LAUGHTER)

J. ROMNEY: We took a vote. We want to replace him. That guy looks like more fun.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I mean what is --

M. ROMNEY: Bring him here next time.

MORGAN: Well, people say, you're the One Direction of politics, only a little bit older, like a sort of political boy band. How do you feel about that? J. ROMNEY: Not good.

(LAUGHTER)

J. ROMNEY: Not good at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's One Direction?

J. ROMNEY: Not good at all.

MORGAN: Finally, you are 22 days away potentially from seeing your family win the presidential election, it's neck and neck, anything could happen. You get there, you'll be at the White House, you'll be the first family. Have you begun to think about what that could be like?

M. ROMNEY: We really don't.

J. ROMNEY: Yes, I -- my --

M. ROMNEY: We compartmentalize this.

J. ROMNEY: We haven't even discussed what would be the next step. We're just talking about getting my dad here.

C. ROMNEY: To borrow a sports cliche, we're taking it one day at a time. We honestly are, though, I mean --

MORGAN: Do you feel, though, that there's been a real change since that last debate, that there's been an irrational reaction in your father's favor because of the way he performed and indeed, the poor way that the president performed?

T. ROMNEY: So much enthusiasm. We've been -- all of us have been on the trail a lot the last couple of weeks. And there was a dramatic uptick in enthusiasm as people got to see who the real Mitt Romney is and see how good of a person he is.

J. ROMNEY: I think it really started after he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate and people saw this elections happening, people started paying attention. From that time on, I mean, the energy at the rallies we're going to and people we meet, I mean, it's just -- it's amazing. It's just a ton of energy, a ton of enthusiasm.

MORGAN: The White House are briefing Obama is going to come out fighting, we're going to see a more passionate Obama coming after your old man head-to-head. How will he deal with that? You know him better than most people.

M. ROMNEY: We've seen him -- we've seen him in those situations. I think each one of us here has come to him head-to-head and very --

MORGAN: And what happens?

M. ROMNEY: Very aggressive as teenagers. And we usually get beat down. (LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: So you think the president is going to beat you --

M. ROMNEY: A verbal -- a verbal beat-down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

M. ROMNEY: No, he's -- my dad is very good. He's -- he's got an incredible intellect. He has great principles. He knows his ideas and so, you know, he's been prepared. We are tough as teenagers but really, he'll do a good job. And I think it's going to be a good debate. I think, you know, my dad is certainly someone who is very witty and intelligent.

MORGAN: And by the way, where is Ben?

T. ROMNEY: He's busy being a doctor.

MORGAN: Is it something I said? I mean --

T. ROMNEY: No. He's treating patients, I think.

J. ROMNEY: Yes.

T. ROMNEY: Yes, he's in residency. So --

MORGAN: He hasn't defected to the Obama camp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Because I'll ask --

(CROSSTALK)

T. ROMNEY: Not yet. Not yet.

MORGAN: Good to see you, Tagg.

T. ROMNEY: Nice to see you, too. Thanks for having us on.

MORGAN: Good to see you, Josh.

J. ROMNEY: Piers, good to see you. Thanks.

MORGAN: Matt, good to see you.

M. ROMNEY: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: Craig, good to see you.

I'm just showing off again. I know that better than anybody else.

The Romney brothers.

When we come back, the man who compares Romney/Obama to Frazier/Ali, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, reacts to all of this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bunch of malarkey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Irish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Irish is I come over there and smack that dumb look off your face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: "Saturday Night Live's" unique take on last week's vice presidential debate. Needless to say that's not what we're expecting to see tomorrow or maybe we will.

President Obama is hard at work right now planning his strategy for what he hopes will be the debate of his life.

Joining me now, a big city mayor who's team Obama, Kasim Reed of Atlanta.

Mr. Mayor, welcome here.

MAYOR KASIM REED, ATLANTA: How are you, Piers?

MORGAN: Are you expecting quietly for Barack Obama to come out like a charging rhinoceros?

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) Mitt Romney across the stage?

REED: No, not at all. He didn't need to do that. He doesn't need to overcorrect. You know, I made the analogy because the president has been running the country for the last four years while Mitt Romney is running for president. I think he had -- certainly had a bit of ring rust during the last debate that they had. I think he's going to come out in a calm and effective manner and I think he's going to do very well.

There are two more debates to go. If you think of the classic Ali/Frazier fights, so Frazier had a very good first fight, he lost the rest of the other two and I think history remembers winners. So that's what I think is going to happen here.

MORGAN: Well, I mean -- REED: But no charging, raging or anything like that from the president.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: No, OK. But it's going to be interesting to see how the president changes his demeanor. Because he was oddly lackluster. I think you just put it down to just being ring rusty. He just seemed to be disengaged in the whole process of the debate. I mean I presume that you and other supporters have sent word, look, Mr. President, we need -- we need some fire in the belly tomorrow night.

REED: Well, you know, I know that the president has plenty of fire in the belly but, you know what, Governor Romney has gone awful far off this debate. You know, it was just two weeks before that debate or days before that debate where he was losing almost every swing state so we understand that he had a good debate and we understand that we're in a neck-and-neck race but most people would still rather have President Obama's hand.

I really watched the earlier segment and thought that that was really interesting. You all mentioned his record. His record as governor of Massachusetts was terrible. He went from 35th to 47th in job creation. He left the state with $1 billion in debt and he left with less than a 37 percent job approval.

So I was a bit stunned to sit here and hear how wonderful his record is. He would not have been re-elected governor of Massachusetts. That's why he elected president.

MORGAN: What would you have said --

REED: And here's -- no, here's a guy --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: OK. Let me throw that back at you. What would you have said if rather than that, he'd been president of the United States and he'd taken the debt from $10 trillion to $16 trillion, if he'd unemployment at the end of a four-year tenure at 7.8 percent, gas prices have doubled, house prices had collapsed.

What would you have said if Mitt Romney had presided over a presidency with all those economic checks on his list? You would have been equally unimpressed, wouldn't you?

REED: Well -- well, I would push back on that. First of all, I would say preventing the country from going into a great depression is a pretty big deal. This wasn't just a recession. This was the country on the verge of a fiscal cliff. So I'd say that. I'd say five million jobs, creating more jobs than George Bush, his predecessor, who left him with $10 trillion in debt that your Republican friend Paul Ryan was his wingman on, that the Republicans left with him having to save the automobile industry, having to save the banking and financial services industry. I believe that you would get some credit for that. Having mortgage foreclosures at a five-year low. So basically, what Mitt Romney has said is you haven't cleaned up fast enough. Mitt Romney has run for office a total of four times. He's only won once. So that means he's got about a 25 percent chance of winning here.

If he were an IPO he would not bet on himself. So I think that if you're going to talk about records, I'll put Barack Obama's record in public service up against Mitt Romney's every single time.

MORGAN: OK.

REED: He was not a good governor of Massachusetts.

MORGAN: OK. I hear you.

REED: He's not even contesting Massachusetts.

MORGAN: I hear you. But let me -- the problem that you have in the Obama camp is, as you say, momentum has moved to Mitt Romney. There's a poll of swing states today showing a five-point lead for Mitt Romney. More worryingly, when you study the detail of it in Gallup and "USA Today", you see that there are two areas where he's really improved. One, in his likability that was a major issue for Romney before.

REED: Sure.

MORGAN: Clearly since the debate people just found him more likeable. They can relate to him more. And secondly, with women. The gap has closed completely now in a series of polls where Barack Obama was way ahead with women. So women for whatever reason are being put off by the president's campaigning right now. Why is this?

REED: Well, let me say -- let me say this. You know, Mitt Romney is very fond of saying that hope is not a strategy. But dishonesty is. And that was his strategy during the debate and it's not going to prevail. You talked a lot about the swing states. The fact of the matter is, is if the electoral college were to play out right now, the president would win about 256 electoral votes and Mitt Romney would be at about 207 or 208, and he'd have to sweep the day.

What you didn't mention is that he's behind four to six points in Ohio. Now, as much as you all want to fantasize about it, no Republican has won without winning Ohio in 100 years. So he's doing better --

MORGAN: Do you really think, Mr. Mayor --

(CROSSTALK)

REED: Hold on. Wait a minute. I let you speak --

MORGAN: No, I -- no.

REED: I let you speak, Piers. MORGAN: No, I can't let you just say that you think I fantasize about a Republican win in Ohio. What on earth makes you think I fantasize about that?

REED: No. No, I just watched the piece -- the wonderful piece that you all were talking about, Mitt Romney being president. And all I'm saying is -- you talked about the swing states, and the swing states that Romney is doing well now in are Florida, North Carolina, he is doing better in Virginia. He is still losing the remainder of them. Now before, he was in an awful position and people were putting on life vests left and right.

And it took the stench of defeat for Governor Romney to turn away from his right, right political policies. And you're all talking about a guy who has pledged allegiance to Grover Norquist. You know the financial situation that the United States of America is in. You referenced the $16 trillion in debt. Paul Ryan voted for every budget-busting measure the whole way. He was George Bush's wingman.

So how can you have a conversation about the $16 trillion debt when his wingman was a part of it for the entire time? And all I'm saying is, if you want to talk about the polls, any serious person would take the president's hand, if we had an election tonight. He will win the next debate on tomorrow, he will win the third debate, and then he's going to win the presidency of the United States.

MORGAN: Mayor Kasim Reed, if he shows even a 10th of your passion and determination and confidence tomorrow night, he will slay Mitt Romney. So I congratulate you for that. I hope it rubs off on him for the sake of the Democrats. I will hope to also speak to you again because I like having you on the show. Thank you for joining me.

REED: Thank you, Piers. Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: My pleasure. Thank you.

When we come back, one of the country's top evangelicals who met with Mitt Romney just a few days ago, Franklin Graham. And later, a man who's seen it all when it comes to elections. Dan Rather. He's made his latest verdict.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: When Mitt Romney met last week with Billy Graham, he promised to do all he could to help the candidate. Also in the meeting was Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son. He's the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association under the relief organization Samaritan First. He joins me now.

Welcome to you, Franklin. How are you?

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, EVANGELIST: I'm fine. Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: This is quite a passage in America where whoever wants to be president has to go down, see your father, and now you as well. How did it go, the meeting with Mitt Romney?

GRAHAM: It was a nice meeting. My father knew the governor's father, George Romney, when he was governor of Michigan, and he became a close friend of my father's. So my father felt that the Governor George Romney was his friend and he was glad to meet his son. First time they had met. I met him a few years ago for the first time but a very nice man. We had a great meeting. Enjoyed it very much.

MORGAN: Mitt Romney is obviously famously a Mormon. What is your position, you and your father, about Mormons? I mean do you believe that they are Christians? Is this you being (INAUDIBLE) as few times.

GRAHAM: Well, you know, there's a lot of differences in various faiths and we all have those differences and doctrine or dogma but what's important is that we get along and that we co-exist together and we respect one another, and I think that's what's important. There are differences, no question, in what the Mormon faith teaches. I think you were raised Roman Catholic?

MORGAN: I was, yes.

GRAHAM: And so there's a lot of differences between what the Catholics believe and what Protestants believe. But they would work together --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I would personally, having interviewed Mitt Romney about his faith, see, I would personally say I think he is Christian, very much so. There are a few key differences in theology, we know that, but overall, I would say not enough to disqualify him as a Christian.

Do you believe that? Do you think he is a Christian?

GRAHAM: Well, first of all, I'm not going to get into what each candidate believes or they don't believe. All I know is --

MORGAN: There's a lot of Mormons in America. And there's also millions --

GRAHAM: Sure.

MORGAN: Tens of millions of Christians, obviously.

GRAHAM: Sure.

MORGAN: Hundreds of millions.

GRAHAM: And there's differences --

MORGAN: All wondering -- but they're all wondering if we vote for this guy, are we voting for somebody who essentially is a Christian?

GRAHAM: Sure. And listen -- MORGAN: And they look to people like you to say yes or no.

GRAHAM: Wait a second. No, it's not that easy. You know, as an evangelical Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ is the -- is the son of God. I believe that he came to this earth to take my sins and he died on the cross, he shed his blood on the cross, he was buried for my sins and later, he rose from the grave.

The bible is very clear. Jesus said, I'm the way. He said, I'm the truth, I'm the life. No men comes to the Father but by me. This is the core of what I believe as an evangelical. Yet I know there are people that have different beliefs and differences but I'm going to work with them and we are not voting for the man who is going be our pastor-in-chief. We're looking for a commander-in-chief. Someone who can lead this nation out of the economic mess and political mess that we've found ourselves in.

And many people believe that Governor Romney, and I'm one of those -- I have already voted and I voted for him. And my father has already voted.

MORGAN: You would forgive me if I sort of took from all this that you probably aren't quite ready to say he's a Christian.

GRAHAM: First of all, I'm not going to get into this debate as to who's a Christian or who's not a Christian. I'm not going to even go there.

MORGAN: Don't you think it's a quite interesting debate, though?

GRAHAM: You ask him. I'm not going to speak on that.

MORGAN: I think he would say that he thinks he is Christian.

GRAHAM: I'm not going to get in that debate.

MORGAN: Let's turn to some of his issues, one of which is abortion, where he seems to have performed a number of flip-flops, for want of a better phrase. This is what he said in 1994.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Now, clearly he thinks the complete opposite now. Do you have any problem with that?

GRAHAM: No, because I think as we get older, Piers, we do change our views. Ronald Reagan -- MORGAN: He was my age when he said that.

GRAHAM: Ronald Reagan --

MORGAN: It wasn't like he was young. This is what I find a bit odd. He was my age. I'm 47. I think he was about 47. It was 1994. That's what I find a bit odd about it. He wasn't young. I couldn't imagine changing my belief about something like abortion at this age.

GRAHAM: Sure. I think as we get older, I think we do change. When I say older, I'm talking about every year as we mature --

MORGAN: Don't you think politicians do it for other reasons? Are you not slightly suspicious --

GRAHAM: No, I think Governor Romney, what you see with him is what you get. This is what he believes. This is his position. I appreciate his position, where he is today on abortion. I appreciate the fact where he stands on the Biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, because this is a huge issue in this election, whether people want to admit it or not. For evangelical Christians, for churches across the board in the United States, this is the number one issue.

MORGAN: Gay marriage?

GRAHAM: The definition of marriage. God instituted marriage. And for the president to now back something that is against God's position and -- is a big problem for him with not only Evangelical churches, but African-American churches across this country who are very conservative --

MORGAN: Why shouldn't gay people get married?

GRAHAM: Listen, they can do whatever they want.

MORGAN: Apart from get married.

GRAHAM: They can do whatever they want.

MORGAN: But that doesn't -- you don't want to include marriage.

GRAHAM: Marriage is between a man and woman. That's -- God is the one who defines the limits for marriage. He's the one who gave marriage -- the first --

MORGAN: I understand it. But when you say they can do whatever they want, you mean except get married.

GRAHAM: This is a free country. They can live however they want. But for us to say what marriage is, apart from what God says marriage is, is wrong.

MORGAN: Can they get married or not?

GRAHAM: No. Listen, I cannot accept gay marriage. I'm not homophobic. I'm not against gay or lesbian people. They are free to live however they want to live. But I believe God makes it very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. And there's no discussion about it. And for me to support any other definition other than God's definition would be wrong.

MORGAN: Do you think it's a sin, homosexuality?

GRAHAM: Yes, sure. Sure, it is. Piers, I'm a sinner. So I'm not condemning. I'm not their judge.

MORGAN: Anything you want to share with me?

GRAHAM: I'm glad my mother's not here. She's in heaven. But if she were here, she would give you a long list of my shortcomings. But now, we have all sinned. And I'm a sinner. I was 22 years old when I got on my knees one night, Piers, and I asked God to forgive me of my sins. And I accepted his salvation, his son Jesus Christ, my faith into my heart and into my life.

We're all guilty of sin. But God is wanting to forgive sin. And he's willing to forgive and he's willing to forget. But the only way to him is through the cross, is through Christ, who died and shed his blood, who God raised to life.

If we're willing to believe -- Piers, if you're willing to believe by faith, God will forgive us. He will forgive you. He forgave me.

MORGAN: He would probably have a lot more to forgive with me than he would with you.

GRAHAM: He's in the forgiving business. He loves it.

MORGAN: Nice to meet you. I mentioned again, Samaritan's Purse, relief organization, does great work around the world. I congratulate you for that work. How's your father?

GRAHAM: He's doing well, thank you.

MORGAN: Please send him my very best, a great American icon. Lovely to meet you.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

MORGAN: When we come back, the man who once called an election -- and I'm quoting here -- "hotter than a Times Square Rolex." That man is, of course, Dan Rather. And he's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Dan Rather's been covering presidential campaigns since 1952. For millions of Americans, it's not an election without him. Luckily, the host of "Dan Rather Reports" on Access TV is here with me now.

Dan, welcome back. DAN RATHER, "DAN RATHER REPORTS" ANCHOR: Glad to be back, Piers.

MORGAN: When we last spoke, you were very much of the view this is getting to be a very nasty election. Have your worst fears been realized?

RATHER: Even beyond my worst fears. And I fear that in the next 22, 23 days, it will get even worse. There's a lot of money to be spent by both sides. And they are going to spent it with as much negative campaigning as they possibly can, I'm sorry to say.

MORGAN: Romney clearly had a great debate. And the power of debates in the modern political arena has probably never been greater, judging by the reaction to that debate and to the poll numbers. Do you agree with that?

RATHER: I do agree with that. I think the debate tomorrow night will be the most important, perhaps decisive presidential debate in the history of our country, certainly in the TV era, in the sense that, despite the Democrats' hoping to the contrary, Governor Romney, whether you think he should have or not, got a big bounce in the polls. He got four to six poll points on the national polls, and he moved in the swing states.

And that puts a lot of pressure on President Obama. And I think that if President Obama loses this election, if he loses it, we will trace it back to the first debate.

MORGAN: I actually -- I remember watching him at the convention making a speech the night after Bill Clinton. Clinton made an amazing speech, even by his standards. Obama's just wasn't quite as good. It wasn't quite as inspiring. I thought even his wife sounded a bit more up for the battle.

Since then, I just felt that the president's mojo isn't what it was four years ago, almost like he's been battered down by the job. Do you see that in him?

RATHER: I doubt seriously whether that's, in fact, what has happened. But you couldn't watch that first presidential debate and not come away fearing if you were a Democrat and believing if you were a Republican that that was the case. He's been off himself for quite a little while now in terms of public appearance, public speaking.

One can say look, he has a lot on his mind. But for whatever reason, in the first debate, he was, in the public perception, beaten and beaten fairly badly by Governor Romney. It will be very interesting to see what he does tomorrow night.

I would point out that tomorrow night is under a different format, as you know, that this public crowd participation, which is a different format, and a much more difficult format in order to come back, if you will. I'm not saying Barack Obama can't do it, that the road is littered with the career carcasses of people who underestimated Barack Obama. But it's not an ideal situation. An ideal situation would be the same format as the last time, one against one, eyeball to eyeball on the stage. There will be some of that, but most of it again, since the format has changed, will have this crowd participation.

MORGAN: I had Mitt Romney's sons on earlier, who are great credit to him in many ways. But they are very clear, and I think he's become very clear in his mind, that this is all about the economy. That yes, you can get into an argument about abortion or gay rights or whatever the social issues which are very divisive between the parties are, but actually what Americans want is somebody who fix the economy. Do you agree with that?

RATHER: Not at this late stage. I do think that the economy, in terms of issues, is by far the number one issue. But right now, I think it's all about -- and for the next three weeks, it will be about the debates, the economy and turnout. Mitt Romney will get his vote out. Whether Barack Obama can get his vote out or not remains an open question.

MORGAN: We're hoping to get some footage of Hillary Clinton tonight, who has been speaking for the first time about the whole Benghazi fiasco, the events leading up to the assassination of the ambassador there. What did you make of that, in particular the way the White House behaved in the aftermath?

RATHER: Well, I think we have to allow for some light and shade and some perspective. But it's not surprising that Secretary Hillary Clinton would come out and take the responsibility for it the night before the debates, because obviously --

MORGAN: Is she just taking the heat away from Obama tomorrow night, do you think?

RATHER: Exactly. I think that's the plan, as much heat as she can, because she knows that this is a vulnerability for them. We will see how President Obama handles that. But she takes the heat of saying listen, it's my department, I'm responsible for it. That was pretty predictable.

MORGAN: Is it credible, though, Dan? In all your experience, is it credible that the White House, the president, the vice president, would have no knowledge of any requests from an embassy for extra security, particularly in a hot spot like Libya, where there's been so much attention from the White House in the last year?

RATHER: I can certainly see where someone else would have a different view, but I think it is credible, particularly in the heat of an election campaign. I'm not saying it did or didn't happen. But denying that it happened, it has credibility with me because the president, let's face it, has been concentrating, as has Governor Romney, on three key states, Florida, Virginia and Ohio, which those three states are going to settle the election.

So I can believe that it happened. But I do understand those who are skeptical and those who just don't believe it. MORGAN: Ambassador Rice has been criticized. Her people have made it very, very clear to me that she acted honorably, that she acted on the intelligence she was given, and when -- after four or five days after the event, they believed it was to do with protests because of the video. Clearly now it was deemed to be a preorganized attack by al Qaeda. That's what most people assume.

Do you think that she was behaving honorably? Do you believe that? Or do you think it suited the agenda of the administration to not have this as a reminder that al Qaeda's alive and well and killing Americans?

RATHER: Two points. One, I think she's entitled to the benefit of any doubt. I do think she behaved honorably. Without some of the eyewitness or ear witness testimony or testimony to the contrary, I think yes. The second is that in the -- it's impossible to protect every embassy. I'm not making a defense. I think the Obama administration has much to answer for for the way they handled this.

But no administration -- President Bush's administration, they had occasions in which the guard was let down here, there, or it wasn't what it was supposed to be. But what interests me in terms of the campaign and the election, Piers, is that President Obama was laying down aces on foreign policy, led by the card that says we got Osama bin Laden. And the Republicans have done a remarkably good job, I think, of punching through this vulnerability with what happened in Benghazi.

It will be interesting again to see tomorrow night in the debate how effective Governor Romney can be in pressing that advantage. But about the debates, I promised myself I would say this. We get caught up in the debates. And having said I think they could be decisive, and maybe the first debate will be the decisive moment, but, you know, I have a feeling that many people in the public, when they look at both candidates and each candidate individually, they have a feeling of sort of facing a manure spreader in a wind storm. It's all campaign posturing. It's just all just messaging, that nobody is cracking through and saying --

MORGAN: We've got the footage down. We've got breaking news tonight from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her trip to Lima, Peru. She is now talking about the Benghazi attacks on September 11th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Quick reaction to that, Dan? RATHER: Playing defense.

MORGAN: Yes. Skillfully, do you think?

RATHER: As skillfully as possible under the circumstances. But look, this is hurtful to President Obama, his administration, his campaign. And with Secretary of State Clinton standing up, she's doing the best she can to play defense for him. But in the end, the president is responsible.

MORGAN: Right. And by talking out tonight, of course, she does make it a perfectly valid thing for Romney to rip into Obama tomorrow night. It's going to be a great debate, fascinating stuff. Dan, always, good to see you.

RATHER: Good to see you.

MORGAN: Lots of talk in this election about small business and entrepreneurs can save the economy. Is that the answer? When we come back, I will ask the perfect person, Martha Stewart, billionaires, great business woman. Come out, Martha.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: If there's anyone who knows about Keeping America Great, it's surely Martha Stewart, the founder and chief creative officer of Martha Stewart Living on the Media, has a new project in the works to encourage America's artists and entrepreneurs, and joins me now. Martha, welcome back.

MARTHA STEWART, "AMERICA MADE": Hi, it's so nice to see you, Piers.

MORGAN: This is perfect timing. You have this thing called "America Made," a multimedia celebration of American artists, artisans and entrepreneurs. You've taken over the Vanderbilt Hall in New York's Grand Central Terminal. Tell me about this event and why it's important right now.

STEWART: Well, I think that it is just the right time to be encouraging small business, to be encouraging entrepreneurial initiative, to be encouraging the hand made, the homemade, which really was what made America in the first place. So we're encouraging. We have chosen ten honorees. And we let our public choose the 11th. It was amazing. We -- out of 2,000 possibilities, we got hundreds of thousands of votes for one winner.

MORGAN: Really?

STEWART: Yes. And he happens to be a bee man who raises his own bees and makes wax candles. It sounds small, but it is the beginning of a -- something that could be a fantastic business.

MORGAN: Something has clearly gone fundamentally wrong with the American business model. What do you think it is? And how does the president that wins in three weeks time put it right? STEWART: What happened really, I think, was that manufacturing went where labor was cheap and more plentiful, and more amenable to hard work. And that's what happened. It went elsewhere. So manufacturing kind of came to a screeching halt.

I mean, we don't make sheets and towels here any more. North Carolina, all those wonderful mills, are gone. All the cotton that grows here is shipped away and woven and made into sheets elsewhere. The same with many, many things. Our fabulous Apples, our phones, our iPods, our iPads made elsewhere. Invented here.

MORGAN: I have a problem with this. Apple makes 100 billion -- squilliion dollars. They could, if they wanted to, take a bit of a hit and bring of seems these factories home, to galvanize the American economy. They could do that, couldn't they?

STEWART: They could, but are they going to get the kind of skilled labor quickly enough to make as many things as they have demand for? That's what's happened. We've kind of lost the --

MORGAN: Is the genie out of the bottle, do you think?

STEWART: Well, I think it can come back. I think that these 28 million entrepreneurs who were running small businesses in America have the key to the future success of this country. And yet there are some very nice things happening, like Toyota. Toyota is manufacturing more cars here now than elsewhere.

We just did a piece down at the Toyota factory in Kentucky. And this is a car that's designed and manufactured right here in the United States. So it's very fun to see the assembly line of this amazing plant and American workers.

MORGAN: Does whoever win on November 6th, have to make it more business friendly for companies to make that kind of decision.

STEWART: I think it would be great if that happened, absolutely. And I think that is where we must look. We must look to the small businesses, to build them into bigger businesses to make it better for all of us.

MORGAN: Big debate tomorrow night. Obama's last stand some are calling it. Are they over-egging the souffle, Martha? Do you that think he's in that big a hole?

STEWART: I think it's a big debate. And I think what Dan Rather says is true. It's just very, very important tomorrow night. We're all going to be glued to our TVs. More than 50 million of us I'm sure watching.

MORGAN: I think it will be a massive audience, massive debate. Anything could happen.

Martha, lovely to see you. Best of luck with the "Martha Stewart Transforming Grand Central Terminal." It's a multimedia celebration of American artists, artisans and entrepreneurs who are American made. STEWART: They can check out our website for all the details. And they can --

MORGAN: What's the website?

STEWART: MarthaStewart.com.

MORGAN: Easy as pie. Easy as one of her pies. Martha, lovely to see you.

STEWART: Great to see you too.

MORGAN: When we come back, Only in America, the extraordinary moment that inspired the world. You know what I mean, that guy that just jumped out of space, as you do on a Sunday afternoon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, to boldly go where no man has gone before. I'm talking, of course, about this, the moment when Felix Baumgartner stepped off a platform 24 miles above the surface of the Earth, hurtling through the sky at a top speed of an incredible 830 miles an hour, breaking the sound barrier in a four minute free fall, before opening his parachute and landing safely in the New Mexico desert on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FELIX BAUMGARTNER, STRATOSPHERE JUMPER: I had tears in my eyes when I was coming back a couple times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It was incredible, absurdly courageous feat of endeavor that had the whole world watching on the Internet and gasping in shock and awe. Here's the thing, Felix is Austrian. And Red Bull, the company that took a massive financial and reputation risk on funding the project, is also Austrian. There was a time when America and Americans led the way in this kind of seemingly impossible dream, driven on by presidents with big dreams and big ambition.

When the late Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon in 1969, it was the extraordinary combination of a space race set in motion by President John F. Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I can't be the only one who was sad to see the end of the Space Shuttle Program recently. Space travel inspires whole generations like nobody else quite literally on Earth. Just look at the enthralled faces on children all of the world, gripped by Felix Baumgartner's astonishing daredevil act.

America is a country full of dreamers, a country at its best when it dreams big and acts on those dreams. Whoever wins the presidency on November the 6th should take a leaf out of JFK's book and dare the world again to dream big, led by the Americans, not because it's easy but because it's hard.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.