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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview with Rahm Emanuel; Interview with Rob Portman

Aired November 4, 2012 - 09:00   ET

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


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: The most expensive campaign in history yields Tuesday to the priceless power of the vote.

Today, four more years or time for a change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On November 6th we're going to come together all across the country for a better future. On November 7th we're going to go to work.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've come too far to turn back now. It's time to keep pushing forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The last two days of an endless campaign with Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and Romney supporter Ohio senator Rob Portman.

Plus, 33 Senate seats, 435 House seats and one president seat: an election extravaganza with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, Democratic adviser Steve Elmendorf, Gwen Ifill of PBS and CNN's Dana Bash.

I'm Candy Crowley. And this is State of the Union.

They are ships passing in the night and the day. This day Mitt Romney will be in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, while the president heads to New Hampshire, south to Florida, back up north to Ohio, out west to Colorado.

Monday Romney goes to Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Obama counters with Wisconsin, Ohio, and a closing rally in Iowa.

The biggest surprise in that final 48 hours is Romney's last minute bid in Pennsylvania. Polls in the state favor President Obama, but not by as much as they once did. The Romney campaign calls it expanding the electoral map. The Obama campaign calls it a fairy tale. Welcome to the parallel universe phase of the campaign.

Joining me is Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel let me start by showing our audience a new Franklin and Marshall poll out of Pennsylvania which shows that indeed the president's numbers have been slipping since September. It's now looking like not a four-point race in Pennsylvania, which is inside the margin of error. You all a little worried about that?

EMANUEL: No. I think, look, the campaign is set, I think what people remember going into this election are jobs and you just had a report Friday of 171,000 jobs were created. And, Candy, I think when I saw that number the back to January 2009 when the president first got elected we got the report within ten days about his election, which is on the January numbers which showed 839,840 jobs lost. Now we're 171,000 jobs gain. That's a million job swing in the right direction. And I think people know it's no time to go backwards, no time to go to the policies that led us into the ditch. It has been a hard slog for four years to finally get to 171,000 jobs gain, to get retail sales are moving better than expected, home prices and home construction are moving faster in the right direction. The engine for economic growth is happening, and I think people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Rust Belt, middle of America know that the president's policies are finally starting to pay off and this is not the time to stop on them. They need to press forward on the policies...

CROWLEY: If they bought into that, then why have these polls slipped in Pennsylvania, do you think?

EMANUEL: Well, look, from that poll I don't know what their other prior -- I've seen other polls that have the president in a comfortable margin on particulars, but it comes down to a four-letter word, my favorite one, jobs. And the president's policies are actually producing the types of jobs and economic growth -- not at the pace he wants and the policies he has for going forward are about building on the middle class and not short-changing them like Mitt Romney would do, but strengthening the middle class they can own a home, have a good job, save for their kids' college education, not be won illness away from bankruptcy and make sure they have a secure retirement.

And if you do those four things and have strategies to invest in that, you'll have a strong middle class. And if you have a strong middle class, you will have a vibrant and healthy economy.

CROWLEY: Let me try one more time here. We know that the vice president, Jill Biden has been sent to Pennsylvania doing a couple of early weekend stops. We know that Bill Clinton, who is one of your biggest assets, as you know, is being used in Pennsylvania on Monday. It tells me that you all are a little worried about that or worried about the race in general. Are you saying no?

EMANUEL: No, I think -- Candy, ready, it's a close election. B, you nail everything down. And C, I think Pennsylvania is secure, but you don't take anything for granted, and that means you're going to be -- there's a lot of people going back to Ohio in the next 96 hours multiple times. They'll go to Pennsylvania, but that doesn't mean it's slipping, it just means the natural tightening of the race, but the president is in a strong position because of the policies. CROWLEY: It seems really clear to you, but as you point out, it's a pretty close election, and one of the things that has come up has been what went on in Benghazi. As you know, people have been hammering that pretty hard.

I want to play you something that Rudy Giuliani said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FRM. MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: You know that what happened in Libya is the result at least of incompetence. Do you think if we had elected John McCain president of the United States those people wouldn't have had the full resources of the United States of America there in Benghazi trying to save them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So, the storyline here is that we still don't know what went on in Benghazi. The president has said time and again, has said at least once that this is under investigation, but the president knows what he knew. He knows when he was first told about that. Is it a mistake for him not to say, look, here's what I know, here's what went on in the White House, here's when I found out about it? Why not put some information out there?

EMANUEL: Candy, first of all, on this and in the larger foreign policy, and let me just address what Rudy Giuliani just said. You know, when we got into the Oval Office we were in two wars, one of the them in the longest of the American history. We have ended our presence in Iraq, brought Americans home to start investing here at home not in Iraq.

Second...

CROWLEY: Sure, but basically on Benghazi.

EMANUEL: On Benghazi, also the president has done exactly what a president should do. I want to report an investigation of what happened. I want to know who is responsible, and we're going to bring them to justice just like he did with Awlaki and just like he did with Osama bin laden. And that is exactly also what he plans to do in a campaign of 2008, and he did it -- he is a man of his word, and he showed the leadership even when people said don't go try to spend everything you can to get Osama bin Laden. The president said i will go, and I will even go to Pakistan to do it, and he was right,

And in Benghazi, let's not politicize this. Get the investigation done. Let the chips fall where they may. Find who is accountable. Bring them to justice. And a mistake, if it was made in any other agency, then you fix it, and that's what leadership is. It's not trying to point fingers. It's trying to get to the bottom of something.

CROWLEY: We haven't got much time, I want to ask you something about what's going on with the House of Representatives. When you left there, it was a Democratic majority. You had a lot to do with that yourself, recruiting candidates, et cetera. And then you lost the majority in the House, and it now looks as though the Democrats are not going to be able to reclaim that majority this year. What is happening to House Democrats?

EMANUEL: Well, first of all, I'm not ready to -- I think all these elections are right on a bubble. I can see it right here in the greater Chicago area. We have about four races that are, you know, nip and tuck. One of them is clear for the Democrats, but are nip and tuck. I would not be ready to predict -- and I don't know all the races. I don't study it like I used to -- all the races. But if you look at the House and Senate, I think the Democrats are in a strong position in a number of Senate races and strong position in a number of House races.

This election, the president wins and elections have consequences will determine a great sense on how we deal with strengthening Social Security and Medicare, how we deal with tax reform to strengthen the Middle Class, and I think that it's better to also have a congress and a senate that wants to reach bipartisan compromise with a president who wants to strengthen the middle class. And I do think the consequences of an election matter on the contours of how you're going deal with all these challenges that are known in Washington as the fiscal cliff, but to the rest of the country they're known about fairness to middle class families who are trying to basically have a tax code that works for them, rather than against them, health care and retirement security. And there will be reforms in changes.

You also have to have a president and a congress that has the right values for the middle class. And I can go back to remembering what happened in 1996. We had a healthy debate. Nine months later we had a balanced budget agreement, and it was different because the president of the United States was able to lead.

And I think with the House Democrats, there are races throughout the country as there are in the Senate, and I think they are very, very close. And I think on a close election there may be a little push where I think the president's strengthens is.

CROWLEY: Just two words if I can. Your compatriot in arms, at least in this election, David Axelrod has said he is utterly confident of victory. Are you?

EMANUEL: Well, David is close to it. Yes, I am, because I think people know a core basic point. And that is the president has shown the leadership over four years in tough times to make -- move America through those difficult times to a different point than what the country was he inherited.

CROWLEY: Chicago mayor, former White House chief of staff for President Obama Rahm Emanuel, thanks you for joining us today.

EMANUEL: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: Mitt Romney tries to squeeze out a victory at the heart of Obama's Midwest fire wall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Ohio, you're probably going to decide the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Romney right-hand man and Ohio Senator Rob Portman joins me next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Joining me is Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman. Thank you so much for being with us, Senator.

Let me start with exactly where you are, which is Ohio. Obviously this has become the place to be in the final days of the campaign. What we had on Friday was a jobs report showing strengthening in the number of hires. We have an increase in consumer confidence. You have in Ohio a jobless rate that is better than the nationwide jobless rate. And you have an auto bailout that the president put in place that's highly popular.

What is it in this state that make you think that President Romney can -- sorry, Governor Romney can overcome those particular statistics and -- and the feel of the voters?

PORTMAN: I like you Freudian slip on President Romney. That -- that -- that sounded good.

Look, Ohio's economy is not doing well. People don't feel like it's doing well. Our wrong track numbers, which is something that's polled constantly are as bad as the rest of the country.

I think the job numbers last week were really disappointing. I heard Rahm Emanuel bragging on them, too. But, it showed the unemployment number going up not down. In fact, unemployment is higher today than it was when President Obama was sworn in. And the real number's even worse because as you know, a lot of folks have left the workplace.

So, instead of being 7.9 percent, it's 10 percent or more and, you know, here in Ohio, it's a little lower than that but when you add the folks back in who have left looking for work, it's almost 10 percent, too.

So, things aren't going well there. I've -- I just got done with five events all around this state. The last month, I've been at about 20 of these events where I go and talk to folks about what's going on and what they tell me is, look -- look at the empty storefronts; look at these factories that aren't at capacity.

We've got serious headwinds from Washington. It's not working.

CROWLEY: And -- and yet, Senator, and -- and yet the president in... PORTMAN: The economic policies the president put in place are not working for Ohio. CROWLEY: And yet the president has been leading in polls in Ohio. We are told in part because of the auto bailout which certainly the Obama people have pushed very heavily on the air.

So again, what is it about the atmospherics out there that makes you think you can overcome what's been a pretty steady, if small lead, for the president?

PORTMAN: Well first, all the polls are going in the right direction, so I'm very happy about the polling. We had a poll come out today where we were nine points down and now we're within the margin of error, two points. And the Reuters tracking has been consistently set us three or four points down. It's one point this morning.

So at this point in the campaign, you like it to be going in your direction. I think we've got a better grassroots effort; I know we have the energy and enthusiasm on our side this year so I feel very good about Ohio. It's very close, I agree with Rahm Emanuel, it's going to be a very close race but I like the position we're in. We've got the momentum on -- on our side.

In terms of auto bailout, you're right, there've been a lot of ads played about the auto bailout. They aren't accurate and that's what's made it sort of tough for us to explain to people that the more people know about what happened with the auto bailout, you know, the more they're going to like Mitt Romney and that's why we've got some ads up now explaining two things, very simply, one, it was President Obama who actually took the companies through bankruptcy whereas the ads say Mitt Romney wanted to take them through bankruptcy, that's what he did.

Second, Mitt Romney did have a plan and his plan did include federal assistance.

Look, I supported a rescue package at the time but it's just not accurate to say that Governor Romney did not have a rescue plan, he did.

And then finally, it's Governor Romney's plans that are going to be best for auto workers and auto companies and communities affected by it going forward because he's the guy for tax reform, for regulatory relief, for lowering the cost of energy and health care and to be tough on trade...

CROWLEY: Let me -- while we're on the subject...

PORTMAN: ... all the things the auto companies want.

CROWLEY: While we're on the subject of advertisements, you all, the -- the Mitt Romney campaign has put up an ad that has been found by all the fact checking folks to be false; a GM spokesman has come out and said, wait a second, this is not what's going on; the unions have based it and it suggests in it that Jeep production is going to be sent to China, when in fact, we're -- we're told that -- that nothing close to that is going to happen. So one of the things they -- the opposition said was, well you've been able to unite both corporate American and the unions in this false ad.

Why not take this one down?

PORTMAN: Well first of all the -- the ad is -- is accurate, Bill Clinton was in Pennsylvania yesterday talking about it...

CROWLEY: It's...

PORTMAN: ... he's been in Ohio talking about it...

CROWLEY: You're the only folks who think it's accurate. You all are the only ones who...

PORTMAN: No, Candy, here's -- here's that situation. Look, Candy, it's not GM, it's Chrysler, first of all, because...

CANDY: Sorry, I'm sorry.

PORTMAN: ... Jeep -- Jeep has had -- Jeep has -- Jeep has said they're going to reopen a facility that was closed after DaimlerChrysler, you know, broke apart years ago and it'll be in China to produce for the Chinese market and that's all the ad says. So there's nothing inaccurate about it.

Those Jeeps are now being produced in America and they're being exported to China...

CROWLEY: Right.

PORTMAN: ... in the Asian market.

CROWLEY: Right. But the suggestion that it...

PORTMAN: ... and so look, I'm -- I'm...

CROWLEY: ... that the jobs are being exported...

PORTMAN: ... I'm delighted...

CROWLEY: ... has been denied by the auto companies.

PORTMAN: Well there's, you know, that the suggestion that you might want to make but, you know, that's not what the ad says. So look, I'm delighted Chrysler's making an investment and Fiat's made the investment here in Ohio. I'm very supportive of that. It's great if they want to expand production here, I hope they will.

But the fact is that we now make Jeeps here in Toledo, Ohio that we're proud to send to China, to Asia; we export about 25 percent of what we make here and so if they're going to start production facilities overseas, obviously we're going to lost some of our exports here. So that's -- that's all the ad says. But look, here's -- here's the big thing about the auto industry attack ads, it isn't true. Mitt Romney actually had a plan.

Now look, I -- I supported a rescue at the time. But the president said in the debate, as you know, that there was no federal help in the Romney plan. All the fact checkers looked at it and all of them came out the same way, which was that President Obama was wrong, he was not telling the truth that Romney had a plan.

You can argue about which plan was better, but both of them had a plan. And again, to me, if I'm an auto worker, or I'm in the company in -- in a management position, I want someone as president who's going to put in place the tax reforms that they're all dying to have.

I mean they come to me as a U.S. Senator and say look, we've got to have tax reform to be competitive globally. We've got to have lower energy costs, we've got to have lower health care cost. We need regulatory relief. We need trade that's fair and a level playing field.

As you know, those are all the things that Mitt Romney's been talking about, not just recently but for months in this campaign.

So I think what he's got is a positive proactive approach to the economy and that's going to make the difference in Ohio, not just with...

CROWLEY: OK.

PORTMAN: ... auto companies and other manufacturers, but with folks who are frustrated with where we are...

CROWLEY: All right.

PORTMAN: ... that seems to make a difference at the end of the day and -- and...

CROWLEY: Let me as you...

PORTMAN: ... and we're seeing that in the polling results so I'm optimistic.

CROWLEY: OK, let me ask you -- I don't think we're going to get it, we're on the ad and the truthfulness or lack thereof of it.

So let me -- let me move you to Hurricane Sandy and something that Karl Rove, who as you know, was the architect of the Bush campaign and the deputy White House chief of staff for George W. Bush, and he said to the Washington Post, "if you hadn't had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his -- meaning Governor Romney's -- advantage." Do you think that Hurricane Sandy or Superstorm Sandy and the president's handling of it stopped Mitt Romney's momentum and helped the president?

PORTMAN: You know, I don't know. I can't judge that. I have been here in Ohio watching on TV some of the scenes, including on your network yesterday, of people who are really frustrated, which is, you know, typical of the natural disaster like this. Our hearts go out to those folks, but it's tough for government to be able to respond. So I don't know how it plays honestly.

I know that right now if you are in the northeast and you're without power and you can't get back to your home or you're stuck in your home, you know, you're frustrated. And that's understandable. And that's probably what most people are seeing on their TV sets these days.

CROWLEY: I think most people have said, look, here's the president being in command, looking presidential. It did turn the campaign conversation into a storm conversation. Therefore, it would affect voters in Ohio. You have seen no evidence of that?

PORTMAN: No. We really haven't. As I said, the polling is trending our direction, has continued to. But by the way, the president is on the campaign trail. And those folks in the northeast are having a tough time, so I really don't know how that - and I'm not sure anybody does, to be honest, Candy.

CROWLEY: And finally, I want to read you something that the senate majority leader had to say. This was in the National Journal on Friday, and Senator Harry Reid said, "Romney's fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his severely conservative agenda is laughable. Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he lacks the courage to stand up to the Tea Party kowtowing to their demands time and again. There is nothing in Mitt Romney's record to suggest that he would act any differently as president."

Would you like to respond to that?

PORTMAN: Well, I think it goes to the point that Mitt Romney has been making on the campaign trail. You know, Washington is broken. The partisan gridlock has to be broken. And that's what he intends to do. He did it in Massachusetts. He actually had a lot more Democrats in the legislature there than we have in congress, even if we keep the status quo, And he said he is going to reach across the aisle and find common ground.

And to have that kind of response from the Democrats in congress is discouraging, but, look, I think at the end of the day even Harry Reid and even the Democrats who might take that point of view at this point are going to say we've got to solve these problems. We have record debts and deficits that have to be dealt with. The economy is weak. It needs to be strengthened by pro-growth policies. Everybody acknowledges that. And so I'm hopeful that those are just political comments made in the heat of the campaign and that once this election is over, and I believe Mitt Romney is going to win Ohio and, therefore, I think he is likely to be our next president.

CROWLEY: It's dangerous for me - it's dangerous for me to ask a senator for a one-word answer, but if I could, is there a way for Governor Romney to win this election without winning Ohio?

PORTMAN: Probably, but I wouldn't want to risk it. No republican ever has, and I think we're going to win Ohio. I really do.

CROWLEY: All right. Senator Rob Portman, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Happy trails.

PORTMAN: Thank you, Candy. Good to be with you again.

CROWLEY: When we return, President Obama's closing message: trust the one you're with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You want to know that your president means what he says and says what he means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's headlines. The Democratic Party has filed a federal lawsuit to extend early voting hours. Lawsuit argues that inadequate polling facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties led to lines in some cases between six and seven hours long.

Over a million votes have already been cast in the bellwether state of Ohio. Ohio's swing state says absentee voting and early in- person voting has gone smoothly so far this year. Absentee voting is on track to surpass 2008.

House Speaker John Boehner is doing his part to get Ohio voters out to the Republican ticket. Boehner has been on a three-day bus tour in his home state. The speaker says he is relying on long-time Republicans in southwest Ohio from where he is from to deliver the state's 18 electoral votes from Mitt Romney.

A new poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney by five points in Iowa. The Des Moines Register survey finds the president ahead of Romney 47 percent to 42 percent. Iowa, which is considered a part of the president's so-called Midwest firewall, has just six electoral votes, but losing the state would complicate Romney's path to victory.

New Jersey voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy will be able to cast their ballots by e-mail. The state is also allowing residents to vote at their county clerk's office. The deadline for ballots is still 8:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Those are your headlines. Campaign 2012 began a long time ago, but how will we know when it's over?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be over before we even get to the Central Time Zone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: But, first, we look at the last 48 hours of this campaign with former Republican chairman Haley Barbour, Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, CNN's Dana Bash and PBS's Gwen Ifill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me around the table CNN's Dana Bash, former Mississippi Governor and Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour, John Kerry's campaign manager Steve Elmendorf, and PBS's Gwen Ifill -- deputy campaign manager, right -- and also long of the Gephardt group.

So thank you all very much for coming.

I want to talk about two of the things that happened this week. One of them was the endorsement, sort of, of Mayor Bloomberg for President Obama who said in his endorsement, "like so many other independents I have found the past four years to be in a word disappointing. In 2008 Obama ran as a pragmatic problem solver and consensus builder, but as president he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, and deficit reduction. He engaged in partisan attacks and his embrace to divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it." So that was the endorsement for President Obama.

Why did he do it? Why did he endorse President Obama?

BARBOUR: You'll have to ask him. Certainly what you read is no endorsement. It's the way a lot of -- one reason independents are favoring Romney in this election and have for the pretty well the whole time is because they feel exactly like Mayor Bloomberg is the job hasn't gotten done. So, you'll have to ask him why did he it, not me.

Maybe Steve knows.

CROWLEY: Because maybe you do - I mean, because you sat it out last time around, and in the -- it's not like he didn't have anything else to do because he has got, you know, half his city was out of power. It just seemed peculiar timing and phrasing.

STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, if you heard what he said about Mitt Romney, he also had some critical things to say about Mitt Romney.

I think the mayor endorsed him because he watched President Obama during the aftermath of the hurricane and saw how important it was to have him continue to be president. And I think when you pair it with the Colin Powell endorsement and with the -- not quite endorsement of Chris Christie, but the time spent with Chris Christie, I think it was a good week for Obama to show that people outside of the mainstream Democratic Party were moving towards him. GWEN IFILL, PBS: Candy you wouldn't have cared a bit about Mike Bloomberg had it not been for the week that he had. What we know about Mike Bloomberg is he has gotten very involved in putting a lot of money into races around the country. He has got an eye on his legacy as well. He knew he had the spotlight on him and that he could make a difference, or at least be heard this week. And that's what he decided to do.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The other thing that he said was that he thinks that President Obama is better on the issue of climate change and that the whole hurricane, the superstorm was a reminder of - from his perspective -- what's going on with the climate.

CROWLEY: And he also closed with a whole bunch of social issues.

BARBOUR: But you know, Candy, that wasn't the best thing that happened to Barack Obama this week. The hurricane is what broke Romney's momentum.

CROWLEY: You think that as well?

BARBOUR: I don't think there's any question about it. Any day that the news media is not talking about jobs and the economy, taxes and spending, deficit and debt, Obamacare and energy, is a good day for Barack Obama.

When you had a blackout, you had a blackout on all of those issues that started about last Saturday, and lasted until about yesterday, that is what really was good for Barack Obama.

Now, whether it will be good enough remains to be seen.

CROWLEY: Right.

ELMENDORF: I agree with the governor. I think it showed that Barack Obama had something to do. He had a job. He was commander in chief. And Mitt Romney, as any challenger in this situation, didn't really have anything to do and was out of the news.

CROWLEY: I don't know. I just find it hard to make that connection that you are sitting in Ohio and watching the president tour with Chris Christie thinking, now I'm going vote for him.

BASH: You know, I think you're probably right about that, but the other problem for Mitt Romney is that he felt the need, rightly so, to say that he wasn't campaigning.

Now, we know that he stayed put in Ohio, the mother of all battleground states. He didn't have an actual rally, but he had an event where they still played his video and he still had people out there, you know, listening to him talk about getting out food and aid to people out east, so he definitely couldn't talk for a few days about the things that the governor was talking about, the things that were making him -- that were propelling him in the polls.

IFILL: Just one more thing on this, and that's everybody doesn't watch the news the way we do, but there was one juxtaposition which was important in this, and that was the day that President Obama's -- Air Force One drove up to the podium with the presidential seal on it in Wisconsin. He came bounding off the plane wearing the bomber jacket that said Air Force One, and just before that we saw Mitt Romney wearing a blue suit speaking from a teleprompter giving a very effective and compelling closing argument speech.

But you put those two things up against each other, and you see a campaigner versus a president and as the governor said, that will always help the incumbent.

BARBOUR: Don't get me wrong, I don't think Obama -- what Obama did helped him a bit. What happened is the news media absolutely blacked out any coverage of the issues that have been the issues of this campaign.

You know, if this election was held last Friday, the last Friday in October, Romney would have won. If it would have been the last Friday in September, Obama would have won. If it would have been the last Friday in August, it was about even. The last Friday in July, Obama would have won.

Nothing was stopping Romney's momentum. No matter what Obama did, he couldn't stop his momentum. This blackout - and I'm not blaming the news media. Just all the news coverage was about everything but Obama's policies and the results of those policies.

CROWLEY: Let me real quick play you something from the governor of New Jersey that he said this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: The president of the United States and I have now had six conversations since Sunday. That shows to me a level of caring and concern and interest that I think a leader should be giving to this type of situation. This was as comfortable and relaxed an interaction as I have had with the president since I have known him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: For your taste, did he go a little overboard in this -- it wasn't an endorsement, but of this praise of the president.

BARBOUR: I'm not going to characterize it exactly that way. But let me tell you, as a guy who has been through more big disasters and dealt with...

CROWLEY: Katrina included.

BARBOUR: The relationship between the president, whether it's President Obama or President Romney, has just begun. It's going to go on for years and years and years. The easy stuff is what we're dealing with now. The really complicated rebuilding, tough decisions, big authority of the federal government. Christie would have been a fool to poke his finger in Obama's eye. You know, your network criticized me after Katrina for not criticizing Bush, for not saying Bush and him are doing a bad job. Look, a, they did more right than wrong, but, B, when they're going to be your partner for years, you know, you praise in public and criticize in private. That's the way I was taught.

CROWLEY: Did seem -- he could have said the president did a great job, moving along now. But did he take some time.

ELMENDORF: Well, again I think this is a very good week for Barack Obama because he did a good job.

CROWLEY: Was it a good week for Chris Christie?

ELMENDORF: Good government is good politics here. He did a good job.

CROWLEY: Sure, but you know, let's face it, there's still a lot of people in a lot of hurt without electricity who are still cold who haven't -- can't get stuff cleaned off their lawn, so it hasn't been like, OK, it's all done now.

But on the Chris Christie front, isn't there some sort of overwording of this?

ELMENDORF: Well, I think there are in some people who listen to Chris Christie's speech at the convention and thought it was more about him than about Mitt Romney. And I think there are people who watched Chris Christie this week and thought it was more about him than about Mitt Romney. And that may say a lot more about Chris Christie than anything else.

IFILL: Chris Christie is the guy who just a couple of weeks ago was saying Barack Obama couldn't find a light switch in a dark room. So no matter which way he goes, he always overwords.

CROWLEY: The checks will come to New Jersey at any rate.

When we return, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's September prediction for Tuesday's election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: We have a message. We have the messengers. We have money. We have the mobilization. We have a very excellent chance to take back the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Is she going to get the speaker's gavel back? We will ask our panel next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: No matter who ends up in the White House, he will have deal with a U.S. Congress that might look a lot like the one that's there now, a Democratic controlled Senate and a Republican controlled House. It's been a recipe for showdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: WE now know with absolute certainty that the only thing we...

UNKNOWN: No you don't.

UNKNOWN: We are guaranteed is...

UNKNOWN: No you don't.

UNKNOWN: Mr. Speaker the House is not in order.

UNKNOWN: (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

UNKNOWN: Mr. Speaker -- Mr. Speaker -- Mr. Speaker...

UNKNOWN: The House will be in order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has always been bullish about Democrats winning back the House this year. The current Speaker, Republican John Boehner sees it a bit differently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: I'm going to tell you what, nobody's going to get gavel is to pry it out of my cold, stone hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Doubtful Boehner will have to fall on his sword, he has a 50 seat majority now and even many Democrats say it's too high a hill to climb.

Once upon a time, Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell dreamed of a 2012 takeover of the majority in the Senate, but the retirement of main Republican Olympia Snow, and some inept and controversial remarks from Republican Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana have changed the mix enough to suggest, though not guarantee that Democrats will hold on to majority status.

Still the thing about Senate and House races is this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And thank you also to Former Governor of the next United States Senator, George Allen...

OBAMA: ... the Governor, Tim Kaine...

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: A strong showing by a presidential contender can bring home the close ones.

The makeup of the next Congress with our political panel when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We are back with Dana Bash, Haley Barbour, Steve Elmendorf and Gwen Ifill.

Let me just set this up by saying does anyone want to argue that the Democrats are going to take control of the House?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not me.

ELMENDORF: I would not underestimate Nancy Pelosi. I -- I -- I know -- I know there are a lot of disbelievers out there.

CROWLEY: OK, but that doesn't quite answer...

BASH: Not -- no only -- not only that, but -- but at this point, Democrats think that it's possible that they won't even get a net gain of any seat. It could be completely status quo.

CROWLEY: And the reason I ask for a near unanimous vote here, is -- is that when we -- we talk to folks in and around these races, they say they believe that the delegation that will show up, the Republican delegation that will show -- show up and likely still be in the majority will be more physically conservative than the last one.

How does that bode for governance if -- if President Obama should win, let's take that first.

BARBOUR: I don't know that that's true and I will say I don't take anything for granted. I've been around politicians a long, long time. I do think it's more likely the Republicans will keep control. And what's going to happen for the fiscal cliff, for the sequestration and all that, Rahm Emanuel mentioned is the president going to lead? Because it takes a president -- leads like Bill Clinton led, like Ronald Reagan led to make divided government work and we're -- we're probably going to have divided government. We're certainly going to have divided government if Barack Obama's the president. Is he going to lead for a change?

BASH: No that's an excellent point that you brought up because if you look at the number of races that are -- that are really in play in the House, you have a number of conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans who are very likely to lose.

It is hard for people out there to understand that this partisan House will be even more partisan. It might not matter as much because the majority rules in the House. It's not like the Senate, but it is going to be -- there are so few moderates left it's stunning.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, when you look at the totality of Congress, and I -- I -- I think now most people think the Democrats will hold on to the majority if not necessarily the -- the number that they have.

Are there races out there that have surprised you?

IFILL: Well, I -- if -- if someone had told me at the beginning of this cycle that the Democratic (inaudible) and the Democrat in Massachusetts and the -- and even in Virginia would benefit because of the missteps of Republicans in Missouri and Indiana, I would have said, what are you talking about? Because in lots of these cases, it seemed early on that this was -- it was a done deal that Democrats would win in Connecticut and Massachusetts. But it became clearer as it went on that that was not a done deal. But as long -- when this because a obviously enough, at a Senate debate about rape and its providence and all of a sudden, that -- that I think leaked over into people's assessment of Republican candidates elsewhere in the country. So that surprised me.

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

ELMENDORF: I think two senator survived me. First in Ohio. I think the fact that Sherrod Brown is winning in virtually every poll with a decent margin right now after the outside group spent over $20 million unanswered trying to defeat him shows that the candidates matter and how good a Senator and politician you are matters. And he's done a great job. And he's going to win in a state that's going to be razor thin on a presidential level.

And the Wisconsin Senate race is also going to be a big surprise to people. I think everyone thought Tommy Thompson was going to waltz back in and Tammy Baldwin has done a terrific job in that campaign of defining him and putting herself in a position where she's going to win on Tuesday.

CROWLEY: Governor it matters wins on the top of the ticket, does it not?

BARBOUR: Well, it does. But, you know, it's interesting to - I am surprised that not only that the presidential races are close, close presidential and senatorial like Virginia, but the races that are close senatorial that are not even vaguely close at the presidential. I think about North Dakota. I think about Connecticut or Massachusetts, or on the other side, Montana.

It's -- I don't remember that happening a lot unless you have some really, really strong incumbent. Most of these are not incumbent.

IFILL: Or even Nebraska.

BARBOUR: Yeah, Nebraska has tightened up some. I would be surprised if we don't pick up Nebraska.

BASH: There are 16 races that we're looking at that a are competitive, some obviously more than others.

CROWLEY: Out of 33.

BASH: Out of 33. And 23 are, you know, the states the Democrats are trying to hold onto. But 16, that's a huge number of senate races. And so many of them are fascinating. And so many of them really are too close to call. You mentioned Montana, that's the one that fascinates me, because all told they have spent about $50 million, that goes, you know this, a long way in Montana. Guess how much it's moved the dial? None, none.

It was a 1 percent race before and about 1 percent race now.

CROWLEY: I've got a minute left so I need from all of you your shortest version of how will you know when you see those returns come back in that it's gone one way or another?

BASH: I know it's a gimme, but Ohio, that's how I know.

BARBOUR: If someone carries Ohio and Pennsylvania, you know it's over. If one person carries both.

CROWLEY: Takes both.

ELMENDORF: It's all about Ohio. When you guys call Ohio and maybe that will be Thursday or Friday, but when you call Ohio, we will know.

IFILL: I will give - I will watch what's happening in Colorado. I will watch what's happening in Arizona, because I want to see -- and even in Iowa to see what happens to the Latino vote, because if the Latino vote tips the balance in states that were necessarily - not necessarily on our front burner that will tell us something about the future.

CROWLEY: Senate going to remain Republican or go - I'm sorry, remain Democratic or go Republican?

IFILL: Right now, the Democrats have the edge.

ELMENDORF: Democrats will win the Senate.

BARBOUR: Close.

CROWLEY: Close generally means that you think the other side. BASH: But it's going to depend on Mitt Romney. Republicans think that really the only way they can win is if Mitt Romney wins at the top.

CROWLEY: Dana Bash, Haley Barbour, Steve Elmendorf, Gwen Ifill, thank you guys so much.

Will it be an early call or an all-nighter? Now stick around for signs that election 2012 is really over.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: And finally a four letter word worth repeated - O-V-E- R. How will we know when it's over?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: One of the first things I'll look at are the margins in the Northern Virginia suburbs closest to Washington, D.C., especially Prince William County.

ROMNEY: We need you, Virginia.

KING: If Governor Romney is ahead or at least in play there, it means Virginia is in play. And we could have a long competitive night. If he's not in play, it could be over before we even get to the Central Time Zone.

OBAMA: If we win Virginia, we will win this election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be in Ohio on election night.

ROMNEY: Now that's an Ohio welcome. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm going to be watching to see how many people have turned in absentee ballots there. Because, you know what, when people who ask for an absentee ballot, but didn't mail it in and decide instead to show up in person to vote, well their votes aren't going to be counted until counted until November 17.

OBAMA: Hello Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course I'll be watching Ohio, which is where I am right now, but I'll also be keeping an eye on David Axelrod's mustache. He's bet his mustache on the president winning Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.

ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: There are two things that are going to tell me this election is over. The first is when my bosses tell me when I can go home, and that never happens. And the second one is when we run out of doughnuts. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll be watching four places in two states, Cleveland, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, and then looking to Florida along the I-4 corridor somewhere between Orlando on a line all the way to Tampa. What happens in the votes in those four places and in between, I think, determines the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one thing bile watching is the exit polls, because as everyone knows, they're never wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I'm going to be watching to see if I have to be up all night. These are all the different ways in which the battle ground states can come together to produce an electoral tie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will think that this election is officially over when the senior lawyers for each campaign make vacation plans for Thanksgiving. RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you when we'll know it's all over -- when Candy tells us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: All good reasons to watch CNN's election night coverage. It begins Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. eastern.

Thank you for watching State of the Union. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

Fareed Zakaria GPS is next for our viewers here in the United States.