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Countdown to Election Day in America; The Mood in Three Key Battlgrounds

Aired November 4, 2012 - 20:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Vice President Joe Biden on stage in Lancaster, Ohio. I'm sure you're going to hear from him when Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer pick up our election coverage right now. See you at 10:00.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The presidential race has been won by Governor Ronald Reagan of California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Clinton is now President Bill Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too close to call.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There it is, George W. Bush re-elected. Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Right now, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, they are trying to close the deal with voters in battleground states.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": Stand by for our new presidential poll as we count down the last crucial hours until election day.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the final frantic race for president before voters have their say.

CROWD: Four more years. Four more years.

CROWD: Romney. Romney. Romney.

ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, ending a long and close campaign.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Do you want more of the same or do you want change? ANNOUNCER: Fighting for every vote until the bitter end.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know what change looks like. And what he's offering ain't it.

ANNOUNCER: This hour, our last presidential poll before election day, the candidates' 11th hour game plans and the possibility of a stunning cliffhanger.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is the time to elect a leader.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd like to win this thing earlier than later.

ANNOUNCER: Now, CNN's "COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY," the fight for the presidency, the battle for Congress, and the issues dividing the nation.

OBAMA: I still believe in you. And you still believe in me. I'm asking for your vote.

ROMNEY: I need to you go out there and find people that will come join our cause.

ANNOUNCER: It's your vote, your future, your country, your choice.


BLITZER: We're down to less than two days until the election. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, they are racing from one battleground state to the next. They are trying to beat the clock. Right now the president is in Ohio, his third state so far today with Colorado still to come. Mitt Romney's heading for Virginia, his fourth state of the day.

We'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center.

Up first tonight, the results of CNN's final national poll before the election and it can't get any tighter than this. Look at this. A 49- 49 percent tie, a tie among likely voters, given the poll sampling error, the popular vote could still go obviously either way. Ninety- six percent of those surveyed say their minds are made up. But even now, 4 percent of likely voters out there say they could still change their minds.

And look at this, registered voters in both parties are equally enthusiastic, 70 percent of Democrats and Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting. In the end, who wins the popular vote isn't as important as the race to collect the 270 electoral college votes that will determine the White House.

Our chief national correspondent John King is over here. He's at the magic wall.

The popular vote is one thing. The battleground states, John, very different.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But you have to say, wow, we have a dead heat, a nail-biter going into the final 48 hours.

The one thing we can say with certainty, we are not going to get a map like this. The president had a blowout election four years, won with 53 percent of the vote. Won a lot of states, turned nine red states blue. We can say with certainty that's not going to happen this year. We have a much more competitive national battlefield.

But the question is, what happens here? We elect a president state by state, the race is to 270 and with 48 hours to go, here's how we see it. Two hundred and thirty-seven. Those are the blue states, light and dark blue, strong or leaning the president's way. Two hundred and six, those are the red states or they look pink if they are leaning Governor Romney's way.

You can say this, Wolf, no one has an easy path to 270. The president has an easier path to 270. The three final rallies and what he says is his final campaign will be held in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio. If the president can win just those three states and nothing else on the map changes, look at that, he wins re-election. Governor Romney could runt board everywhere else. If the president can win Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio and nothing else changes on our map, that means he is elected to a second term.

So the president has an easier path. So let's put these back where we have them at tossups right now. What about Governor Romney? How does he get 270? It has to start here in Florida. Governor Romney needs these 29. Without them, almost impossible to see him getting there. We lean North Carolina his way, he has to keep it. The Obama campaign says that's not out of play. But that one has been trending Republican, he needs to keep it and then he needs to match it by getting neighboring Virginia, one of the states the president changed to blue last time, 13 there.

If he does that and he can get Ohio, no Republican has ever won without it. If Governor Romney can win those four, Florida, keep North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio, look at that, then he would need just any one, pick one, off the menu. He could win Colorado, he could win New Hampshire, and he would win the election. But as you know, the president, Romney campaign says it has an enthusiasm edge here, but the president has had an edge in most of the polls in Ohio.

So I'm going to try to create a scenario asking this question, can Governor Romney get there without Ohio? No Republican has ever done it in history, Wolf. No one ever. He would have to win Colorado. He would have to win Wisconsin. He would probably have to win Iowa, and then that would get him over the top if he can do those three, just so hard to see him not winning Ohio and winning Wisconsin and Iowa.

So in the end, watch Ohio, both candidates will be back. Can he get there without it? Yes. Is it probable? Probably not.

BLITZER: So Ohio, Ohio, Ohio, as we're saying, John. Don't go too far away. Anderson Cooper, of course, is with us every step of the way -- Anderson.

COOPER: Check in with our analysts, senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is here, our analyst David Gergen, Gloria Borger, also here with our Republican consultants and contributor to CNN, Alex Castellanos, and former special adviser to the Obama White House, Van Jones.

Two days to go before this thing. Where are your heads at? What are you looking at very closely in terms of the numbers?



I think this is -- it's possible to call this race. John King just laid it out that President Romney has got -- Mitt Romney has got a steeper hill to climb in the electoral college. If you look at the 12 battleground states people normally list, Barack Obama is ahead in nine of the 12 battleground states and Romney is only ahead in three.

But when you go on the ground, you actually talk to people in the state, I was in Ohio this week, that was quite striking how many Republicans on the ground thought they were going to win it. They thought they had the enthusiasm. They thought they had the evangelical --

COOPER: Is that just -- does that -- do you think that's --


GERGEN: I think it -- I think we rely too much on the polls. We should not get stuck on the polls. I think we should wait and see what the voters say because on the ground things are happening that you don't get out of the polls.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, there's no doubt that Republicans are more enthusiastic this time than they were four years ago. And our poll, though, on overall, on sort of a national average shows a tie between the parties on that. That wouldn't be good if that held up in the battleground states for Mitt Romney, because what he's got to depend on to match the get-out-the- vote effort from the Obama campaign, he's got to depend on the natural energy, enthusiasm, of his own troops.

If he doesn't have that, then he's really going to have a problem.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And remember, four years ago, when you're talking about Ohio, President Obama won because he won in early voting. He effectively lost on election day those votes. And you talk to the Romney campaign, they have been crunch the numbers, as you can imagine, big time, they argue that their numbers are up a lot, a lot, like it is about 100,000 but is it enough.

COOPER: In early voting. BASH: In early voting and absentee.

KING: That is the question. Is it enough? When you go into these states, as I have in the last few weeks, it is night and day. This is not 2008. You go into the Obama campaign offices, they are full of people. They are working hard. If this were 1988, the Dukakis campaign or if this is the Gore campaign or the Kerry campaign, or even the Clinton campaign, you would say, this is a good operation. But it is not like it was four years ago when you went in and it was celebratory.

There were people getting outside, they were people trying to get -- and too many people to work the phone banks. It's not like that. These are bustling Obama campaign office, they are working hard, don't get me wrong. And they have a great organization. They don't have the energy. Walk a college campus, pick one, anywhere in the country.

BORGER: But does Romney have more --


KING: It is not like it was four years ago.

BORGER: But does the Romney people have more energy --

KING: The Republican offices are buzzing.


KING: Way more than they were for John McCain, in Ohio, in Colorado, elsewhere.


GERGEN: But the question is --

KING: The question, is it enough?

BORGER: Is it enough? Is it --


BASH: His job to say this, but the House speaker did an exclusive interview with Deidra Walsh just today in Ohio, and he knows Ohio. He's from Ohio, and he insists that he has never seen this kind of Republican enthusiasm in his home state right now.

COOPER: It is fascinating, though, to hear Mitt Romney using the same kind of words that then-candidate Obama used. He talked about change a lot, but also talking about kind of being on this mission or being this is a movement which is kind of reflecting what a lot of the Obama folks felt four years ago.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: And that's what you're seeing changing the country, you know? This is -- we want the same president we wanted last time, we just haven't gotten him yet. So Mitt Romney is out there campaigning for hope and change. And -- but yes, I'm seeing in these states a tremendous amount of intensity. Obama intensity is picking up here near the end. The storm helped the president and I know we want to talk about that. But this thing's a nail-biter.

When I look at the numbers, I think any reasonable analyst would look at this and say Obama has an advantage. But if you look beneath them, I can make you the case that Mitt Romney can reach 300 electoral votes.


VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISER: Yes, I mean, it's really fascinating. First of all, in places like Ohio, you've got Ralph Reed in there. I mean, anybody who thinks Ohio is in the bag for Obama, you've got Ralph Reed in there, you've not heard from the evangelicals yet. And Ralph Reed -- he tells you, he's going to push in a body bag. You wake up in a body bag, and then you can see it. You can see these people come in.

At the same time there may be real under sampling of younger, browner voters. When I am in Ohio, I'm seeing people -- they say nobody has ever called me for a poll, nobody has asked my opinion, and I've got all my friends coming out. So there are some X factors here that we don't know about.

CASTELLANOS: We don't know about.

COOPER: We're going to be standing by for more results from our new poll on how the economy is influencing voters. Also Tom Foreman is taking us inside his virtual U.S. Senate. And he'll tell you how our lives could change if the balance of power shifts in the Senate. Both presidential candidates holding battleground state rallies tonight. Our reporters are there to reveal the campaigns' last-minute strategies.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture from Cincinnati. The president of the United States getting ready to speak to a big crowd there in Cincinnati. We are going to have live coverage. That's coming up. Stand by.

Meanwhile, we have more now from our new national poll, CNN's final survey before election day in America. They showed the voters' mood is improving but there's still a long way to go. Forty-six percent say things are going well in the country right now. That's up from 36 percent back in August. Fifty-three percent say things are going badly in the country, that's 10 points lower than in August.

The mood is much more pessimistic when we specifically asked about the economy. Only 28 percent say economic conditions are good, 71 percent call them poor. And among likely voters, 34 percent say economic conditions will improve only if President Obama wins, 43 percent say they will improve only if Mitt Romney wins. Thirteen percent think things will improve if either wins. Five percent think things won't get better -- Anderson.

COOPER: We're watching all of this and we're watching both candidates on the trail tonight holding rallies, as we've said, in battleground states. So far today, President Obama's campaigned in New Hampshire, Florida and now Ohio.

CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin is in Cincinnati -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Well, as you mentioned, the president has been crisscrossing the nation, hitting battleground states. Now some of those states were expected nail-biters, New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado but he has also been investing time, for example, in Wisconsin. Yesterday he was there.

This is a state he should not have to invest some of these precious last hours and in the final days. He is swinging through no fewer than three times. In a traditionally blue state that is a lot of time for a Democrat to invest at the very end of the campaign.

His message, Anderson, he tells audiences that he will continue to fight for the middle class. He insists that he, and not Governor Romney, is the candidate of change, and he says that he will be the man, the president, that voters can trust.

This was what the president said earlier today in Hollywood, Florida.


OBAMA: You know, and here's the thing, when you make this choice, you know, part of what you're choosing is who do you trust? You know, because you don't know what crisis the next president is going to confront. You don't know what challenge we may have to meet that was unexpected. So part of what you're -- part of what you're focused on is, how does somebody operate? And Florida, after four years as president, you know me by now.


YELLIN: Now, Anderson, the main message the president and his surrogates delivered, simply put is vote. His campaign believes they have to support in this nation, if they can just turn their supporters out -- Anderson.

COOPER: How is he going to spend the day tomorrow? What's the schedule?

YELLIN: Tomorrow he goes to Wisconsin again, as I mentioned, also Ohio. And he is ending the day in Iowa where as they say it all began. He will be there with Mrs. Obama at a very late rally late tomorrow night.

I would also point out that Bill Clinton will be on the campaign trail tomorrow, spending his entire day in Pennsylvania for the president, shoring up support in, again, a traditionally blue state, because this campaign says they've learned from the past and they can't take it for granted -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jessica, thanks very much.

Mitt Romney is heading for Virginia. It is the fourth state that he has visited today. The real eye-opener was his late-afternoon stop in Pennsylvania, a state the Obama campaign has counted on winning. Here's some of what Romney just told the crowd.


ROMNEY: If there's anyone worried that the last four years are the best we can do, does anyone who fears that the American dream is fading away, if there's anyone who wonders whether better jobs and better paychecks are a thing of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message, with the right leadership, America is about to come roaring back.


COOPER: Well, CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is following the Romney campaign.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A sign Mitt Romney knew that he's an underdog here in Pennsylvania, the GOP nominee entered this event outside of the Philadelphia suburbs to the theme from the movie "Rocky." Across the country, he's being giving his closing argument in what sounded like a surgeon general's warning to voters. He says if the president is re-elected, the country could go back into recession then continue to accumulate massive piles of debt.

So what he's been doing, he's been trying to reach out to independent, undecided and even some Democratic voters to change their minds in the final days of this race. Asked why the Romney campaign is trying to compete in Pennsylvania, a state that has been long considered to be a Democratic stronghold in presidential races, a top Romney adviser points to the polls saying that they are overperforming in this state and that the president, in their mind, is underperforming.

So Mitt Romney, who has long been considered a numbers man throughout his career, whether it is in business or in politics, is going to find out on Tuesday who's right, the pollsters or his campaign.

Back to you.

COOPER: Jim, thanks very mush.

It's a dead heat in our new presidential poll, as you know, but voters are not evenly split when we asked who they think will win. More results on that ahead.

The election has come down to toss-up states showing yellow on our map. Our battleground reporters are out in force tonight. We'll check in with some of the closest contests ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Once again, you are looking at live pictures from Cincinnati. The president of the United States getting ready to address a pretty big crowd there in Cincinnati in a few moments. We are going to have live coverage. Stand by for that.

We also have more now from CNN's final pre-election national poll. Remember, it shows the presidential candidates in a 49-49 percent tie among likely voters nationally. But look at this. When we asked them who they think will win, 57 percent say President Obama, only 36 percent say Mitt Romney.

Also, both candidates' favorable ratings are nearly identical, 52 percent have a favorable view of the president while 46 percent have an unfavorable view of him. Mitt Romney's favorable number is now up to 51 percent. Only one point lower than the president's. The same goes for his unfavorable number, it's 45 percent, while the president's is 46 percent.

John King is over here at the magic wall to compare the latest poll numbers with what the voters thought four years ago.

What are you seeing, John?

KING: Well, that's a great question because we always see in our exit polls, we're going to ask which candidate you think better handles the economy, which candidate will better handle an international crisis. But who votes, who votes, the demographics of the electorate will tell us a lot early on about who's likely to win. Let's go back in history a little bit and look at some 2008 exit polls.

This is fascinating. On Election Day in 2008, then-Senator Obama won by six points among independent voters, right? Eight points. Among independent voters. In our new poll tonight, Wolf, Governor Romney is ahead by 20 points among independents. If Governor Romney wins by double digits among independents on election day, it's hard to see the president winning re-election. So we'll watch what independents do on election day. In our last re-election poll, big advantage for Governor Romney there.

Let's move over here. Among Latino voters, we know what the president did four years ago. He got more than two-thirds of the vote. Latinos were 9 percent of the national electorate four years ago. Watch this number on election day. If it's around 9 percent or if it's higher, that's good news for President Obama because we expect he's going to get two-thirds or more again of the Latino vote. If this number is flat or down, that's a potential opening for the Romney campaign.

Who votes on Tuesday is critical to who wins. That's that one there. Let's turn this up and move on to another one here. If you look here among -- let me turn that off for you. Among voters aged 18 to 29, this was 18 percent of the electorate, 18 percent of the electorate four years ago, you see the president's advantage. Again, we expect the president to have a similar advantage among younger voters age 18 to 29 versus Governor Romney. The question is, how many vote? Is the Obama coalition this year similar to four years ago?

So, again, when you look at early exit polls, are they around 18 percent? If that number's down that is an opening for Governor Romney. Let's move on here among white working class voters, this is just the state of Ohio. This is how the president won Ohio four years ago. If the president of the United States is above 40 among white working class voters in the state of Ohio, which is the battleground of all battlegrounds, that's the number to watch on election day.

If he can match this number or get close to it, above 40, that would bode well for the president in the key battleground state of Ohio.

One more we want to look at Wolf, here is among white evangelicals. Van just talked about the Ralph Reed operation in Ohio. They're also working in Virginia. They're working in Colorado. They're working elsewhere. This is what happens four years ago. About 28 percent of the electorate, about 28 percent of the electorate four years ago nationally, said they were evangelical voters.

Watch where that number is in Virginia, watch where it is in Ohio, watch where it is in Colorado, and if Governor Romney can get about eight in 10 of those votes, he has a very good shot in this election, if the turnout is up. The question is, is it the Obama coalition of 2008 or is it a different electorate in 2012?

BLITZER: Can they recreate that magic of four years ago? If they can, they'll be in good shape, if not, we'll see what happens.

Anderson, this battle for the battleground states is intense.

COOPER: Yes, it certainly is and we're counting down into election day in America, almost here, could come down to a handful of states that go either way. Let's check in on three of these swing states that the president won in 2008. Don Lemon is in Ohio, Poppy Harlow is in Iowa, and Kyung Lah is in Castle Rock, Colorado -- Don.

LEMON: Anderson, the strategy here is to get as many people out to early vote as possible. I've had the chance to go to several polling places in Hamilton County, in Franklin County, and today in Montgomery County here in the Columbus area, when I went out to check out the polls to see how early voting was going, I was stunned by the number of people I saw, the lines were around the building. People waiting in lines for hours.

I'm told, by the Democratic Party chair here, Anderson, that they had 4,000 people in four hours to early vote in Montgomery County. And that is causing the Republican people here on the ground to try to rethink their strategy to get people to the polls and vote.

This is a numbers game and it's all going to come down to the wire. I couldn't believe the number of people I saw. They believe all of those votes, most of those votes today here in Montgomery County, Democratic voters -- Anderson.

COOPER: Let's check in with Poppy Harlow in Des Moines -- Poppy. POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it is around the clock here, non-stop, we're coming to you live tonight from one of Obama's 352 volunteer centers in Iowa alone, calling, knocking on doors, they wouldn't give us a number of doors knocked and calls made to date but they did tell us that in -- from Saturday to Tuesday, they expect to knock on 1.1 million doors here in Iowa. Romney camp says, look, we've contacted two million voters in Iowa since June.

The early vote, just like Don said, that's key in Ohio, it is critical in this battleground state. Forty percent of the votes this year are going to be early votes. Right now, Democrats have a 63,000-vote lead on Republicans. They traditionally do lead Republicans in this state on early voting but the Secretary of State's Office tells me, Anderson, that lead is much narrower than it has in past years.

Bottom line, Romney camp, getting out the ground game very hard here in Iowa. They want these six electoral votes -- Anderson.

COOPER: And let's check in the situation in Colorado with Kyung -- Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Paul Ryan is expected to arrive here momentarily. This is his final event of this barnstorm day, so perhaps it's fitting I'm actually standing in a barn here at the Douglas County fair grounds. The Republicans here in Colorado say they are the ones with the energy. You can see how crowded it is behind me. And if you look at who has already cast their votes in early voting, it is the Republicans who are leading. 1.6 million people have already voted.

The Colorado secretary of state said about 85 percent of the registered voters will have voted before election day. So the Republicans leading by 35,000, very different story here than what we're -- Poppy is seeing in Iowa. Republicans saying they have the energy. They have the edge. But I can tell you from being out here, it is too close to call. Both sides really have to reach those very critical independents in this swing state -- Anderson.

COOPER: Quick check of three battleground states right there.

We are waiting to hear from President Obama in Ohio in just any moment now. We're also turning our attention ahead to the battle for Congress. Tom Foreman has a pretty unique way to show us how the election could change the Senate and affect some of the -- really the toughest issues facing the country right now. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We are not only focused on the battle for the White House. We're also paying very close attention to which party ends up controlling the Senate. It will have a huge impact on some of the most important issues facing the country right now.

CNN's Tom Foreman is in our virtual U.S. Senate for a close look.

What are you seeing, Tom? TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, you're absolutely right. Right behind the White House race, the single biggest attention grabber in all of this is going to be the race for the control of the U.S. Senate because what's decided here? The balance of power here will have a huge impact on what actually gets done in Washington over the next four years.

Let's take our camera up high and show you the current balance. The Republicans have 47 seats in red here but you see that little strip of blue seats in the back, in the red section? That is the Democratic advantage. When you include the independent senators who caucus with the Democrats, they have 53 seats and that gives them a majority.

Also, they have the White House, with President Obama, of course, and the Republicans have one stronghold and that is the U.S. House of Representatives, where they have the majority.

So, if nothing changes here and President Obama gets reelected, what can we expect to see here in the U.S. Senate? Well, a lot of the same maneuvering and bickering as we have seen before, I imagine, but also a new agenda. One of the first things on President Obama's agenda, higher taxes on the wealthy. He's talked a lot about this as a way of making the economy more fair and getting the economy moving again.

Here's another item. Immigration reform. He took a lot of heat not getting this done the first time after he promised he would. He says if he is reelected, he'll take another crack at it. And here is a wildcard. He might have a Supreme Court seat to fill. Justice Ginsburg has indicated she might want to retire. If she goes that is a liberal-leaning justice going away. The president would probably try to put another liberal in that seat and if he succeeded that would maintain the status quo in the court.

But now let's imagine that the president doesn't get re-elected but everything else remains the same. What would Mitt Romney as president want to do in this chamber?

First thing, lower tax rates for everybody. He's talked about it a lot, a 20 percent reduction across the board, plus closing a lot of loopholes out there. That's his way of getting the economy moving again and getting the deficit under control.

He also wants to get rid of Obamacare, repeal Obamacare. Says he'll keep the most popular parts but by and large, the rest of it he just wants to chuck out.

And he, too, could face that Supreme Court seat. Big difference, though. Big difference. If a liberal justice goes away, he would probably want to put a more conservative justice in that seat. That would change the balance of the court and, Wolf, it would probably affect the types of rulings that we would see coming out of that court if President Romney were in charge -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Tom, a lot of experts believe the House will remain in the hands of the Republicans, but what about the balance of power in the Senate? FOREMAN: Yes, Wolf, you know, the simple truth is getting any of this done for either of these men will depend largely on what happens in this chamber. The Democrats obviously could hold their advantage. The Republicans might be able to pick up those three blue seats back there, in which case, you would have a tie here and any 50/50 vote would have to be decided by the vice president, either Joe Biden or Paul Ryan.

And maybe, maybe the Republicans might pick up a couple of seats in the Democratic side and have control here, but this is the most important thing for everyone to bear in mind. No matter which party is in charge of this chamber, has the majority here after the vote, the simple truth is there's almost no chance that either party will have a 60-vote majority, which is what you need to defeat the threat of a filibuster.

And without that, that means that both parties would have the same challenge. They must come up with a way to do what they haven't been able to do for quite some time, work across this aisle to produce some kind of agreements, Wolf, or else neither party can get much of anything done.

BLITZER: Excellent report from Tom Foreman in our virtual U.S. Senate. Love that virtual U.S. Senate, Tom. Thanks very, very much.

Hurricane Sandy's impact is a wildcard in Tuesday's vote. One key Republican says the storm stopped Mitt Romney's momentum.

We also have exclusive photos of both candidates behind the scenes during this, the final week of the campaign.


COOPER: We heard from Mitt Romney earlier tonight. Let's play some of what President Obama is saying right now in Cincinnati, Ohio.


OBAMA: I said I would end the war in Iraq. I ended the war in Iraq. I said I passed health care reform. I passed it. I said I'd repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," I repealed it. I said I'd help young people afford a college education, we expanded Pell Grants, lowered student loans.

I do what I say. You know where I stand and you know what I believe. You know I tell the truth. And you know I'll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how.


So when I tell you I know what real change looks like. It's because I fought for it. Because I delivered it. Because I've got the scars to prove it. Because that's why my hair went gray.


And Ohio, after all we've been together, we can't give up on it now. We got to keep on going and bring some more change to America.


We've got more work to do. So let me tell you over the next four years, here is what change is, change is a country where every American has a shot at a great education. Yes. Government can't do this alone. Parents have to parent. Students have to study.

Bear Cats, I want to you hit the books. Now don't just have fun here.


But don't tell me that hiring more teachers won't help this economy grow. Of course it will. Don't tell me that students who can't afford college should just borrow money from their parents.


That wasn't an option for me and I'll bet it's not an option for a lot of you. That's why I want to cut the growth of tuition in half over the next 10 years. That's why I want to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so our kids don't fall behind the rest of the world.


That's why I want to train two million Americans in our community colleges with the skills that businesses are hiring for right now. That's my plan. That's what change is. That's what we're fighting for in this election.


Change is when we live up to this country's legacy of innovation and I'm very proud that I bet on American workers, American ingenuity and the American auto industry, but I'm especially proud because we're not just building cars, we're building better cars here in Ohio, here in the Midwest, here in America. Cars that by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas, that helps our environment, that helps our economy, that helps our national security.

But we don't want to just stop at cars. We want to advance manufacturing all across this country. There are thousands of workers building long-lasting batteries, building wind turbines, building solar panels.

I don't want a tax code that simply subsidizes oil company profits when they are making money hand over fist. I want to support energy jobs of tomorrow. I want to support the new technology that will cut our oil imports in half. I don't want a tax code that rewards company shipping jobs overseas. I want to reward companies investing here in Ohio, manufacturing with American workers. That's my plan for jobs. That's the future I see.


Change is turning the page on a decade of war so we can do some nation building here at home. You know, as long as I'm commander-in-chief, we will pursue our enemies with the strongest military the world has ever known. But it's time for us to use some of the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and winding down, transitioning in Afghanistan to pay down our debt, to rebuild America.

Let's put some folks back to work right now, repairing roads and bridges and there's a bridge right here in Cincinnati that needs some work. Let's make sure we've got schools that are state-of-the-art all across this country. And let especially hire our veterans because if you fought for this country and its freedom, you shouldn't have to fight for a job when you come home.


That's what will keep us strong. That's my commitment to you. And that's what's at stake in this election.

You know, change, change is a future where we reduce our deficit and our debt but we do it in a balanced, responsible way. You know, I signed $1 trillion worth of spending cuts, I intend do more, but if we are serious about our deficit, we can't just cut our way to prosperity, we've also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the same tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was in office.


And the reason, Cincinnati, is because a budget is about choices, it's about values, it's about priorities. No, we can't do everything, we've got to make some decisions in terms of what's important. And as long as I'm president, I won't turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire's tax cut.


I won't throw kids off of Head Start just to pay for another tax cut for me. I don't need it. Those kids need it. I don't need it. So we know what change is. We know what the future requires and we also know it's not easy. It's not easy bringing about change. You know -- you know, back in 2008, when we talked about change we believe in I warned people. Look, I wasn't just talking about changing president, I wasn't just talking about changing political parties, I was talking about changing how our system of politics works.

I ran because the voices of the American people, your voices, had been shut out of our democracy for way too long by lobbyists and special interests and politicians who will say and do whatever it takes just to keep things the way they are. The protectors of the status quo. They're powerful. And they fought us every step of the way in Washington. They spent millions to try to stop us from reforming health care, spent millions to try to stop us from reforming Wall Street.

And when we got all those things through, they engineered a strategy of gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise even on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans used to support, like Obamacare, which started out in Massachusetts under Governor Romney. It worked fine when a Republican was sponsoring it and suddenly, suddenly it was terrible when a Democrat put it forward.

And the reason they've done this, look, it's a strategy. They made a calculation what they're counting on is that you'll be so worn down by all the squabbling, you'll be tired of all the dysfunction, you'll just be fed up and you'll ultimately give up on the idea of change, you'll walk away, you'll leave them in power, you'll decide things can't change. In other words, their bet is on cynicism. But Ohio, my bet's on you.



COOPER: Listening to President Obama speaking in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Just briefly, let talk about -- I mean, both candidates, the closing arguments they are making, do you think they're the right ones, Alex, for your candidate?

CASTELLANOS: I think Mitt Romney has become so much better a candidate since that first debate. He is talking about bringing change to Washington or more of the same for the next four years. Finally, an argument that you can tell someone in an elevator for 30 seconds, why vote for Mitt Romney. And this is the best I've seen Barack Obama since four years ago. So, yes, I think these guys, you know, another couple of years of this election, they'll be right there.


COOPER: Van, what do you think?

JONES: Yes. Well, I mean, this is -- I agree with Alex 100 percent. But I think that Obama has finally found his stride. There is a danger for Mitt Romney. He may have peaked just a bit too early. I think you see Obama now with the enthusiasm and I think a lot of people have been very concerned, you saw it in Florida, those long lines, people wanting to vote. There's a sense now maybe they don't want us to vote, and I think you're seeing a late surge now for Obama and I think he is appealing to that desire to get back on track with his movement.

BORGER: In watching Mitt Romney speak today and in the last couple of days, what has really struck me is that this is the candidate who was so robotic, needed his wife to humanize him. He is now talking about his family. He is talking about his faith. He is talking -- today he told -- you know, is telling a story about his sister and her children and she is a widow, and you know, her down syndrome child.

And it's a completely different Mitt Romney than the one we saw at the beginning of the campaign who could only talk about the economy.

COOPER: And his favorables are up.

BORGER: His favorables are up and I think this is -- this is the reason. COOPER: David?

GERGEN: The most important thing he's done is made a pivot from being a severe conservative to a moderate conservative. And he did that in the first debate and he's carried that right along ever since and is working pretty well for him. And it's a lesson, by the way, if he loses Republicans ought to understand that he gained by going more toward the center right.

COOPER: Do you think that's the message they would get if he loses?

GERGEN: Well, that's not at all clear.


BASH: My guess is that they wouldn't because you're talking about different points in time. When he is running -- I mean, you remember, this is the Mitt Romney who had a very hard time convincing Republicans that he was really one of them during the primaries. Now he is unshackled, he can run towards the middle, because that's what you do in the general election. So it's easier for him to be the kind of guy that everybody is saying --

GERGEN: But look at --


GERGEN: Look how much more appealing he is to most Americans. His numbers have gone up particularly.

BORGER: And more optimistic.

BASH: Most Americans aren't the Republican electorate.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: Yes. That's right.

BORGER: But one thing I remember from the Republican primaries, and Alex, you may disagree with me, is that it was relentlessly harsh, negative, you know, cheers about people not getting worked on in hospital waiting rooms and that kind of -- remember that? Remember those awful moments during the primaries?

CASTELLANOS: Yes. Well, that --

BORGER: And Mitt Romney had to get away from that and it's taken time.

CASTELLANOS: And time -- and times does that and the campaign does that. My experience has always been that campaigns don't pick candidates, they make candidates and this is the Mitt Romney ultimately that we can see as president. He is as authentic as he was when he started, he's grown through the process.

(CROSSTALK) BORGER: But that's what conservatives were worried about, by the way.

CASTELLANOS: You don't win the middle by compromising yourself. You win the middle by, Gloria, doing what you were saying, being optimistic and explaining how your values are not only right and true, but actually work better in helping the people.


GERGEN: I think that's right. But his problem now is that there are a lot of people who watched the pivot and said, whoa, that was just sort of too rapids, too obvious, it was sort of too much in your face, and it's also caused a certain amount of distrust. If he made the pivot a lot earlier, he might have lost the nomination, but I think he have more --

BORGER: But I think both of the candidates have the same problem, because I think people after four years are not quite sure who President Obama is and who he will be in the next four years. Will he work with Republicans?


BORGER: Same thing with Mitt Romney.

JONES: One thing that's funny, because it sounds like you're saying that Mitt is more appealing. He also did some things this week that were very disturbing to people. He went back to that welfare argument. That seemed like a little bit of a cheap shot. He said something today, we talked about people are getting -- ought to give you free money or free checks to make you vote for me. Those kinds of thing actually I think don't sit well people. So I think --


JONES: A little bit more of a mixed picture for me.

CASTELLANOS: But both candidates have done that and Mitt Romney gets called on it and Obama never does. This week, Barack Obama urged people to vote for revenge. You know, if a Republican had done that --

JONES: Yes, that was -- again --

CASTELLANOS: We'd ban him from the country.


JONES: One of the things about it is that -- again, one of those moments where if you look at the what he said, and look at the way that Republicans find what he said, but here's what I think is true. I think both of these candidates have found their voice. And I think people now, they're watching, tuning in now and get a chance to see the best of both of them.

COOPER: And that's why we're trying to play as much as we can on this evening and will no doubt tomorrow as well.

We've got a CNN exclusive for you, behind-the-scenes photos from each campaign. We'll get glimpses of the presidential candidates like you have not seen before. Be right back.


BLITZER: Stevie Wonder, he's still singing at the Obama rally in Cincinnati. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." There's the president.

Several weeks ago CNN invited each campaign team to submit images from the last weeks of the 2012 presidential campaign. Look at these exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in rare, unguarded moments.

The photos of the president were taken during the past week by the White House chief photographer, Pete Sousa. We see the president in a staff meeting about Hurricane Sandy, hugging one of the victims of the storm during Wednesday's visit to the New Jersey coast and in a Florida hotel room on Friday, getting ready for a joint appearance with former President Bill Clinton.

COOPER: Also the pictures of Mitt Romney come from Eric Draper who also severed as President George W. Bush's personal photographer. This is his staff getting ready for a speech in Ohio, singing along with the Oakridge Boys and hugging one of his grandchildren.

Again, all the images were provided exclusively to CNN. You can see a lot more of them on our Web site, Stay with us for the complete coverage of the final hours of the 20212 campaign.

BLITZER: And don't forget, join us Tuesday, 6:00 p.m. Eastern for "ELECTION NIGHT IN AMERICA".

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.