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Final Election Push; In Swing States, Non-Stop Campaigning; The Impact of Attack Ads; Obama Campaigns in Ohio; Ballot Issues May Affect Presidential Race

Aired November 5, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a grueling and very tight presidential race entering its final hours with the candidates campaigning right down to the wire. We're watching all of their final rallies. We're going to hear from President Obama in Ohio in a little while.

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

It's election eve in America, 26 hours to go until the first polls close, as voters pick the next president of the United States. And the unparalleled coverage we have brought you all through the campaign certainly continues today.

Our CNN correspondents are trailing the candidates. They're diving into the issues. They're talking to voters in every critical battleground state as we count down these final hours to Election Day.

Let's begin our coverage this hour, covering Mitt Romney. The Republican nominee is campaigning his way up the East Coast today, his latest stop, Virginia, with 13 critically important electoral votes. President Obama took them in 2008. President Bush took them in 2004.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is traveling with the Romney campaign. He's joining us now from George Mason University in Virginia.

What's going on? What's the latest, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney is wrapping up what will be his final campaign stop in the battleground state of Virginia. His top campaign officials are predicting a clear and decisive victory tomorrow night.

But just in case, they're pulling out all the stops, including some campaigning on Election Day to reach what they're calling the last few undecideds.


ACOSTA (voice-over): After his long five-year run for the presidency, Mitt Romney is sprinting to a finish line that is finally in sight, a contest the GOP nominee says is between two competing visions, a brighter future...

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow.

ACOSTA: ... or more storm clouds on the horizon, he warns, if the president wins a second term.

ROMNEY: That same path means $20 trillion in debt. It means continuing crippling unemployment. It means depressed home values, stagnant take-home pay and a devastated military. Unless we change course, we may be looking at another recession as well.

ACOSTA: His election eve campaign stops in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire are critical. While they carry a combined total of 62 electoral votes, any one of them could make or break his chances. And he's not finished yet.

A top campaign official confirms he will make more stops on Election Day back in Ohio and in Pennsylvania, a state Romney suddenly sees moving his way. But complicating his message, his final targeted states feature unemployment rates that have plummeted in recent months.

Florida's Governor Rick Scott says that's no thanks to the president.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: The biggest drop in unemployment in the country is in our great state of Florida. And you know what? Government didn't do it. You did it.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we see now is an administration and a presidency littered with broken promises.

ACOSTA: Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, who's largely stayed out of the spotlight in the final days of the campaign, has started to ratchet up the rhetoric. On a conference call with religious conservatives, Ryan warned the president is leading the nation down "a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian values that made us such a great and exceptional nation."

A campaign spokesman said Ryan was talking about religious liberty and Obamacare, topics he has mentioned frequently during the campaign.


ACOSTA: And there is no rest for this campaign. Mitt Romney will wrap up his night tonight where his campaign began, in New Hampshire, at an event where Kid Rock will be performing. Then he gets up in the morning with his wife, Ann, and goes to vote near his home in Massachusetts. Then it's off to those Election Day stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Wolf, I talked to a senior Romney adviser about those stops. They will not be big campaign rallies. They won't be rallies at home. He's going to be thanking his supporters and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get him elected -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly will. Thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta.

Let's go to Philadelphia right now. The former President Bill Clinton, he is out there campaigning for President Obama right now.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then he repeated the charge. Oh, but this time, he made it juicier. He said, because Chrysler is owned by Fiat, his last charge was, the president is secretly working with the Italians to move jobs to China.


CLINTON: I'm telling you, folks, he is coming after the Irish next week and I am toast. I am in real trouble.


CLINTON: You're laughing, but who wants a president that will knowingly, repeatedly tell you something that he knows is not true? And when all this happened, they put it on television. They ran an ad.

And the more they were criticized, the more they upped the ad buying. When I was a kid, if I got my hand caught in a cookie jar, where it wasn't supposed to be, I turned red in the face and I took my hand out of the cookie jar. You have got to give it to Governor Romney. When he gets his hand caught in the cookie jar, he just digs down for more cookies.


CLINTON: I want you to send him a message tomorrow. You don't have to be from Ohio to want your president to tell you the truth when it comes to jobs for the American people.


CLINTON: Now, I'm for President Obama because, as Allyson said, he's got a much better plan for the future. He knows what works. What works is what works here.

We had all that cooperation after Sandy. You love that? We have all the cooperation from the community college. You like that? That's the way you create jobs. You look all over America. The places that are doing well have government and business and foundations and universities and colleges working together.

What is Obama's plan? Invest into the new technologies that we know are going to grow, in information technology and biotechnology, in clean energy, in modern manufacturing, in modern agriculture, and train and educate people to do that. He has invested in preschool, in the Race to the Top, and the finest student reform in my lifetime.


CLINTON: Now, next year, if the president is reelected, here's what's going to happen for everybody. You can say win when you make it happen.


CLINTON: Because I want you to know what's at stake here. The good news is we still rank near the top in the world in the percentage of our young people going on to college. The bad news in the last decade is we have dropped to 15th in the percentage of our young adults with four-year degrees.

And we all know why, don't we? The costs went up. The aid didn't keep up. The economy went down and people became terrified that they couldn't borrow enough money to stay in.

Here's what President Obama and the Congress did.

Thank you, Allyson Schwartz.

Here's what they did. They changed the old system where we paid the banks a fee and guaranteed their loans at higher interest rates to a new system in which every college in America that participates in this program certifies the students, they get the loan at lower interest rates. And then this is the most important thing of all. They have -- starting next year, every single student in the United States of America will have the absolute right to pay those loans back at a low fixed percent of their income for up to 20 years.


CLINTON: Now, that will revolutionize the future and will allow people to graduate. Nobody will have to drop out again.

So what's the Romney position? First, he wants to have a $5 trillion tax cut. Then he wants to spend $2.8 trillion on money -- on things the president doesn't want to spend money on, like $2 trillion on the defense budget that the Pentagon says they don't need, and over $700 billion on Medicare insurers, not Medicare recipients, that the AARP says they don't need.

Romney wants to convince every senior in Pennsylvania that he knows what's good for them and the AARP has become their worst enemy. That's a pretty tough sell. He just wants to give the insurers the money that they're not going to need.

So, when you ask him, well, how are you going to pay for that, he says, well, you will just have to see me about that after the election. But, Governor , you just told us the debt was the big problem and you just added over $7 trillion to it. How are you going to pay for it?

We do know some things. He has made a commitment to cut investments in all those things I mentioned, in research and development, in biotechnology, in information technology, in clean energy.

Pennsylvania alone has 4,000 people working in the wind energy business, electrifying 180,000 homes. And you haven't even started with what you could be doing here to own the future, be independent and export our energy, instead of having to import it.


BLITZER: The former President of the United States Bill Clinton, he's making a visit right now to Pennsylvania. All of a sudden, Pennsylvania could be in play at this late moment tomorrow.

Mitt Romney on Election Day will visit Pittsburgh. There's a lot going on. We have a lot to discuss. We are going to continue to monitor what the president is saying -- what the former president is saying.

The current president is getting ready to speak, the first lady getting ready to speak. Later, we are going to hear from Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan. We're watching al of the candidates on this race to the White House.

Much more of our coverage right after this.


BLITZER: Let's get some more on what's going on, Romney's endgame strategy specifically.

Our CNN contributor Ryan Lizza is the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" magazine.

Ryan, were you surprised when you heard just a little while ago that Romney will pay a visit to Pennsylvania tomorrow, Pittsburgh, Ohio, tomorrow on Election Day?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You can fake some money in Pennsylvania and that can be just for show. But when the candidate is going there, that's the scarcest commodity in a campaign, the candidate's time.

BLITZER: Do they really think Pennsylvania is in play, the Republicans?

LIZZA: Well, I think that, look, there was one poll that was very close. And that poll's tended to have a Republican skew.

But I think what they're thinking is, if they can't win in the Midwest, if that firewall that Obama seems to have in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa stays for Obama and they can't penetrate Nevada, those four states, Romney can win with Pennsylvania and then the other swing states.

BLITZER: Then if he gets Virginia.

LIZZA: New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Florida.


LIZZA: So, it's not his best -- it's not where he would want to be at this point in the campaign. But looking at where the polls have been in Ohio all year, I think they think it's worth a shot. It's one more possible path.

BLITZER: Do you think it makes a difference on the last day, the day people are voting for a candidate, to show up in Pennsylvania and Ohio?

LIZZA: Well, here's the thing about that.

In those other states, in most of those other states, early voting is well under way, and most of each sides' votes have already been banked. And they could a little bit of polling and see how they've done with early voters.

Pennsylvania doesn't have a big early voting program. So everyone that's going to vote in Pennsylvania is going to vote on Tuesday. So he might think, maybe this is my chance, I have a captive audience there because Obama hasn't been there much. And I've got more votes that are available to me in Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: We're all spending so much time thinking about Ohio. But is there another state you're looking at closely right now?

LIZZA: I mean, the thing that I'm looking at is some of these states where Hispanics are a rising population. Places like Nevada a little bit in northern Virginia, Florida. I think one of the big stories when this is all over is going to be that demographic story, how much this country's changed in the last four years.

And if Romney loses, I think a big debate in the Republican Party is going to be over how they win the White House again, given their -- up until now anyway, their troubles with the Hispanic community. So, I think Romney's numbers among Hispanics and other minorities are going to be a big story after Election Day.

BLITZER: So, if Romney loses, you would look at that, the recriminations, what they should have done.

LIZZA: That's going to be one of the most important debates in the Republican Party if he loses.

BLITZER: What would be the debate in the Democratic Party if the president of the United States were to lose?

LIZZA: You know what? When either side loses, liberals say the Democrat wasn't liberal enough. Conservatives always say he wasn't conservative enough.

I think a lot of Democrats would say, one, that Obama missed his opportunity in 2009, wasn't aggressive enough on the economy, shouldn't have pursued health care. I don't know if that's the correct analysis. But a lot of people will say that.

And, two, I think they'll look at the debates and say, where was Barack Obama in that first debate? And they'll point to that as the moment he lost it.

BLITZER: That would prove to be the game-changer because the president could have put it away if he could have come out swinging in that first debate. If he would have started talking about the 47 percent, and the Cayman Islands, the Swiss bank account, which he didn't do.

LIZZA: Absolutely. If he had been as aggressive in that debate, I'd say his advertisements had been in the swing states going after Romney might not be -- the election might not be as close as it -- as it is right now.

BLITZER: One debate and people thought debates don't make any difference. They clearly had an impact.

LIZZA: They clearly did this time, the first debate.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens tomorrow. Ryan, thanks very much.

LIZZA: You got it. President Obama's making his last pre-election stop in Ohio. We'll listen to his closing argument in this must-win state.


BLITZER: President Obama getting ready to speak at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. We'll go there when we see him.

Meanwhile, we're going to quickly which can in on three of the battleground states that we expect potentially will decide this presidential election.

Let's start with Ohio. Its 18 electoral votes are crucial. You've heard it a million times by now. But history show that is Republicans don't win the White House if they don't carry Ohio. President Obama won Ohio back in 2008. George W. Bush barely carried Ohio in 2004.

CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us now from Cleveland.

Early voting, Martin, very important for the president. How's it looking where you are in Cleveland right now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at least the CNN polling of the early voters seem to be going very much in President Obama's favor. Let me point out something here. The early voting has finally come to an end in the state of Ohio. And I should say -- the reason I say finally is it began October 2nd. It ended at 2:00 this afternoon.

The complete tallies for the state are not in. But we do know the numbers, at least up until Friday. And here's the way they break down -- 1.6 million early votes were cast. Of that, 1.1 million were absentee ballots. In Cuyahoga County, 282,589 votes were cast, about 240,000 of those were absentee.

But, Wolf, here's the number that could end up haunting the state -- 1.3 million absentee ballots were sent out. So far, 1.1 million have come back, 200,000 absentee ballots still out there somewhere. The worry is that many of those ballots could actually be people who show up to vote on Election Day. They can do that but they'll be given a provisional ballot.

We already know there's a lot of legal wrangling over provisional ballots in this particular state. And those won't be counted until 10 days after the vote, 100,000, 200,000 votes still out there, not counted for 10 days, could make all the difference as to who wins or loses Ohio. It may not be over in Ohio on Wednesday, Wolf.

BLITZER: Can you imagine?

When we spoke a few days ago, Martin, you mentioned how people are simply tired of all the ads. Has anything changed?

SAVIDGE: No, it hasn't. The attitudes on the ads have only gotten worse. The attitudes on the robocalls, those are really gotten people upset -- just absolutely outrageous. I think as I pointed out at that time, really hasn't changed.

But if you sat down and watched all the ads, campaign ads, that have aired in this market since the beginning of October, you would have sat in front of your television for 4 1/2 days watching them back to back to back. It's no wonder people can't wait for tomorrow. They hope it ends then.

BLITZER: I'm sure they're sick of all those ads.

Martin Savidge, thank you. Our next stop is Colorado which has nine electoral votes just like Ohio. It went for President Obama back in 2008 after helping George W. Bush win the White House in 2004.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now from Denver.

Ed, ballots are already being counted right now. What can you tell us?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't been officially tabulated. That can't be done until 7:00 Mountain Time tomorrow night. But across the state, people are continuing to bring in ballots.

Colorado, very unique, Wolf. You can request your ballot through the mail and then literally, it's drive-through voting. You can drive one of these stands across here in the city of Denver, drop off your ballot. So far, 1.7 million votes have been cast here in the state of Colorado.

We spent the afternoon in nearby Jefferson County. And this is where the great deal of the focus will be here in the state of Colorado as the two suburban counties surrounding Denver, Jefferson on the west and Arapahoe County on the east. And these are unique counties because they are divided up equally between Republicans, Democrats and independent swing voters.

In Jefferson County where we were today, 219,000 votes have already been cast. The Republicans have a slight edge in turnout so far. But this is a county that will very likely see 95 percent voter participation. And we're told by the election administrator there this afternoon that it's very likely that by 7:30 Mountain Time, 9:30 Eastern, we will have a very good idea of who will win these swing counties near Denver, which many people will be paying very close attention to, Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.

Let's also check in on Paul Ryan's home state right now, Wisconsin. It has 10 electoral votes. President Obama won it easily in 2008. John Kerry barely carried the state in 2004.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is joining us now from Milwaukee. How does it look right now, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Republicans here on the ground will tell you that they know they have their backs against the wall. All of the recent polling has the president up. One poll has him up by eight points.

But what the Romney/Ryan folks have going for them here in this state is a terrific ground game, which isn't true in other states. Republicans typically lag behind Democrats in terms of ground games. Not true here.

And the reason is that gubernatorial recall with Governor Scott Walker. It was so emotional. And Walker won that, keep in mind, earlier this year. They have everything in place. And they think that will make the difference.

I ran into the governor yesterday after he attended a rally up at Lambeau Field with Packer fans. Here's what he said Republicans need to do to pull this off.


ROWLANDS: You need to make up some ground according to the latest polls. You're confident you can do it. How do you do it?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Yes, you know, in our case, it's turnout. It's places like this. Victory Center is going into our election. A number of polls showed us down in June. We won by almost seven points.

Really, it was the enthusiasm based on voters. Victory Centers like this where tens of thousands of grassroots volunteers helped us get our message out.


ROWLANDS: Early voting has stopped here, Wolf. It ended on Friday. All of the push today from both sides, the phone calls, the canvassing, was to get their base out starting tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands in Milwaukee for us. Lots of Green Bay Packers jerseys in Wisconsin. No doubt about that. Thank you. The candidates aren't the only people trying to get in the last word. Our special panel has advice for voter as well.

And don't forget, we're waiting to hear from the president of the United States.


BLITZER: The 2012 presidential race is down to the final hours and the candidates are campaigning nonstop, trying to visit as many swing states as possible. Here's a quick snapshot.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Hello, Florida! Hello, Colorado! Hello, Ohio! When I say Wisconsin that I know what real change looks like, you've got cause to believe me because you've seen me fight for it.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I tell you, Cleveland really does rock, you know that? That's quite a Des Moines, Iowa, welcome. Thank you so much. What a Philadelphia welcome. Thank you, Lynchburg.

Thank you so much for that Virginia welcome. That's why I'm running for president. I know how to change the nation, how to get it back on course, how to create jobs, how to get a balanced budget.


BLITZER: Let's get straight to our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. She has an excellent panel for us -- Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Wolf. I think we do. Well, hearing those candidates, it's like if it's Monday, it must be Des Moines. Where am I today?

And this is of course the closing arguments. But if you look at our CNN poll, which we released last night, you'll see that these candidates seem to be tied, enthusiasm is the same nationally. Favorability is the same nationally. So after $6 billion, are we --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Money well spent.

BORGER: Are we back where we started, Ana?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: God, I hope not. I hope not. I can't do this all over again. I hope that we are a lot closer to the end. I think -- first of all, let's begin by saying, good afternoon, SITUATION ROOM.

But it's been a long campaign. It's been a long process. I think it's taken a while to get its groove. We had a very small campaign for a long, long time, dominated by issues like Big Birds and dogs on cars and dancing horses and all sorts of small, teeny little things. It's taken a while for us to get to bigger issues and for these candidates to really hit the mark.

GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: We never got to the issues. Frankly, campaigns usually are about values because issues divide. Values unite. And so if you go out on the campaign trail and you start explaining in detail your tax plan, one by one, you start losing people that would support you.

You start talking about your environmental plan, one by one you start losing people. So you talk about values. You talk about big picture. You talk about things that touches your heart. You talk about families. They all do. That's how they win. And that's probably how one of them is going to lose this time.

ROSS DOUTHAT, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": The secret in a way of this election is that in a sense, the governor's right. In this case in particular, everything is unpopular, right, the president's record. It's unpopular.

The stimulus doesn't poll well. The health care bill doesn't poll well. But then on the other side, the big ideas on the Republican side don't poll particularly well either, the Ryan budget, not particularly popular.

BORGER: Tax cuts for the rich.

DOUTHAT: And so we're in a situation where the country is divided because we're in a grinding, slow economic recovery. Everybody's feeling pinched. People don't want to go for sort of big policy changes and so it's been a kind of -- it's been a grim slog.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISOR: But it's very interesting. If you remember four years ago, hope and the level of optimism -- this has not been a hope election on either side. It's been a fear election.

The Republicans claim to be afraid of the big government agenda from Obama. Certainly the Democrats are afraid of what Romney might do, the Tea Party takeover.

I think it feels so long because the -- you're not burning solar. You're not flying. You're burning diesel to get there. I think it's been tough.

BORGER: And then you could ask, what is the effect of all of the negative advertising -- I would argue at this point, they kind of cancel each other out. People would rather watch bars than these ads.

But over the summer, a huge amount of negative advertising which characterized Mitt Romney as out of touch, et cetera, and you could argue that that set the tone for this campaign.

JONES: What I think is interesting now is I wonder if people haven't tuned all this stuff out, tuned out the pundit, tuned out the ads --


DOUTHAT: Think about what you're saying.

JONES: I think they may not even be listening to us. But I think people's pocketbooks may be talking to them now. You have some late improvement in the economy in terms of the housing market. I just can't imagine at this point the people who haven't made up their mind. One more negative ad is going to move it for them.

SCHWEITZER: There isn't people that haven't made up their mind. If you legitimately for a Senate race --

BORGER: Four percent, 3 percent --

SCHWEITZER: I don't think they're undecided. I think they're not voters. I think they're not really going to vote.

NAVARRO: Undecided and uninspired.

SCHWEITZER: Inspire your base. That's what they're doing traveling across the country right now is getting their volunteers to make that last phone call, to get more people to the polls. To make sure your peeps show up. That's all that's going on right now.

BORGER: Because they're talking to the base, right.

DOUTHAT: That's interesting is the last Romney gambit, right, this push into Pennsylvania isn't exactly that. It's not just fire up the base. It's making a pitch for sort of crossover, blue-collar Democrat, Reagan Democrat-type voters.

And I'm kind of skeptical that it's going to be successful, but it is sort of an exception to that rule. Romney isn't just trying to drive up Republican turnout --

JONES: If you're behind in a ball game, you throw the long bomb. That's all that's left.

NAVARRO: Let me give you some perspective as somebody from Florida, somebody from a swing state. Yes, the saturation of negative ads and even positive ads have been tremendous.

When you start being able to recite these ads by memory, you know you have a problem. When you start seeing one negative ad on one issue that's completely negated with a contradictory ad immediately afterwards it almost becomes --

DOUTHAT: But the one good news in all that is that it's a sign that actually adding an extra $500 million to the process, it doesn't actually buy the election because voters are if not smarter than that, at least weary --

NAVARRO: In this election, money's not been an issue. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

BORGER: Well, but if you look at Mitt Romney's favorables, they were under water before the Denver debate. So you had a lot of negative advertising. You have the Denver debate, suddenly his favorables started going up. So what does that tell you?

DOUTHAT: The debate mattered.

BORGER: Well, or did the campaign begin late?

SCHWEITZER: No, the parties were coalescing around these candidates. That's what actually happened. Finally the parties have coalesced -- Obama had the Democrats to begin with. Romney didn't have all of them. Today he does, 90 percent of Republicans are going to vote for their candidate.

DOUTHAT: But they both have approval ratings over 50 percent.

JONES: That's a huge achievement for Romney. I think there's one dynamic we haven't talked about, which is this fence in some of the swing states like Florida and Ohio that it's tough to vote, that laws have been passed -- this voter suppression thing.

And I think you're starting to backlash. I'm hearing from African- American who are saying they are prepared now to wait until 2:00 in the morning to vote. People are insisting.

You called it before anybody else. That ballot down in Florida is ten pages long. It is a huge mess. But I think you may see a backlash, a more determined African-American electorate.

NAVARRO: That's a huge problem we're having in Florida. I really have to tell you honestly, out of my heart, it is not voter suppression. The problem we are having is that we have this crazy long ballot that's an extraordinary ballot. We've never seen anything like that.

BORGER: Have you not learned anything?

NAVARRO: We're slow learners. That's why you're seeing the problem in the largest counties in Florida because it also has county and municipal -- you're not seeing problems in Leon County, for example.

Not seeing problems in the smaller counties. Let's also remember, there are a lot of states that don't even have early voting. When Democrats ruled Florida and dinosaurs ruled the world --

BORGER: That's why Romney's out.

NAVARRO: There was no early voting in Florida. And I think voting tomorrow in Florida might be a lot easier than early voting because the ballots are going to be pre0printed as opposed to being printed on demand, which is what happened in early voting.

BORGER: One thing about Romney in Pittsburgh. By the way, we were talking about Romney going there. I was told by somebody in the Romney campaign that actually Romney does better with Democrats in Pittsburgh than anywhere else in the country. And they don't early vote. So they're trying to get them out on Election Day, which is a gambit. It's late. DOUTHAT: And it testifies to the fact that Romney has actually, again, only in the last month, made himself an attractive candidate, like the idea that he could be winning blue-collar --

JONES: That he could run to Pennsylvania and come up short --

BORGER: Both are true. But we were talking about the divided country, the kind of election we've had, which all of us would say has not risen to the highest heights.

What does this say, no matter who wins because we're not going to predict who's going to win, but what does this say about where this leaves us? We head into -- we may end up with the status quo, certainly in the Congress --

JONES: Heading in the fiscal showdown. I think this is going to be important. I think for the Republican congress in particular, the obstruction they've been part of, the filibustering, et cetera, you still have to work with these guys. I hope it brings out the best in the Republican Party. I'm serious.

DOUTHAT: I'm smiling in the spirit of bipartisanship --

NAVARRO: Listen, it takes two to tango and it takes two not to tango. I hope it brings out the best in the Republican Party and I hope it brings out the best in the Democratic Party. Where it leaves us is in a very divided country.

And I think where it leaves us with need of a leader who makes one of his first priorities the need to unite this country, making that a priority.

homever wins, Gloria though, look, if Mitt Romney wins, he wins with the least ever percentage of minority vote. If Barack Obama wins, he wins with the least percentage ever of white vote. You know what? We've got a problem.

BORGER: And I think you're right. I think that's the key, what we ought to be looking for election night.

SCHWEITZER: Here's the magical part of our system. We have a status quo no matter what because there are so many checks and balances that you can only move the dial about 1 percent and that's what's going to happen no matter who wins this.

BORGER: My children always said to me s that good or bad?

SCHWEITZER: It's good.

NAVARRO: Moving it forward or moving it backward.

BORGER: Like your clocks. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Quick question for the panel before I let all of you go, unsolicited advice first from the governor, do you have a specific piece of unsolicited advice at this very late moment for the president of the United States?

SCHWEITZER: The unsolicited advice for the president of the United States is go home and spend some time with your family. This election is already decided. It's baked in.

The last-minute stuff we're doing right now is base-building. But remember what's important and this is not just for the important, that's for the rest of this country, spend more time with your family and hug them.

BLITZER: Ana, you got some unsolicited advice for Governor Romney?

NAVARRO: Completely the opposite advice. Take your family with you on the road and campaign until the very last minute because what the American voters and the American people want to see if somebody who puts their entire heart and soul in it until the last minute.

BLITZER: All right, let's go listen to the president of the United States right now. He's in Columbus, Ohio and he's speaking to a crowd there.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We will help them rebuild and we'll carry on with a spirit that says no matter how bad a storm is, no matter how tough times may get, we're all in this together. We rise or fall as one nation and as one people.

That spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries. It's carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years. In 2008, we were in the middle of two years and the worst economic crisis since the great depression.

Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs. The American auto industry has come roaring back. Home values are on the rise. We're less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years.

Because of the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is ending. Al Qaeda's on the path to defeat. Osama Bin Laden is dead. We've made progress these last four years.

We've made real progress, Ohio, but the reason why we're here is because we've got more work to do. Our work is not yet done. As long as there is a single American who wants a job and can't find one, our work is not yet done.

As long as there are families anywhere in Ohio, anywhere in the country working harder but falling behind, we're not finished. As long as there's a child anywhere in this country who's languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on.

Our fight goes on, Ohio, because this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class and roads and paths of opportunity for everybody who's willing to work hard to get into the middle class. Our fight goes on because America always does best when everybody gets a fair shot. And everybody does their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules. That's what we believe. That's why you elected me in 2008 and that's why I'm running for a second term for president of the United States.

Now, Ohio, tomorrow you've got a choice to make, although some of you have already made the choice. How many early voted around here? This is not just a choice between two candidates or two parties. It's a choice between two different visions of America.

A choice to the return to the top-down economic policies that crashed our economy or a vision that says, we've got to build a strong foundation based on a strong and growing middle class, an opportunity for everybody, not just some.

As Americans, we honor the strivers and the dreamers and the risk- takers, the businesspeople, the free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world's ever known, that's what we believe in.

But we also know that our system, our economy works best when everybody's participating, not just some. When everybody has a chance to get a great education, when everybody has a chance to learn the skills they need to compete.

Our economy does best when we invest in the common enterprise of basic research to create new technologies and new industries and new jobs. We believe America's stronger when everybody can count on affordable health insurance.

When everybody can count on Medicare and Social Security in their golden years. We think our markets work best. Our economy works best when there are some rules in place to protect our kids from toxic dumping and pollution, to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous credit card companies or mortgage lenders.

And we also believe, by the way, there are some things Washington should not do, for example, we don't need a bunch of politicians trying to control health care decisions that women are perfectly capable of making themselves.

For four years, we had a president who shared these beliefs. His name was Bill Clinton. And it's interesting, when he first came into office. His economic plan asked the wealthier Americans to play a little more so we could reduce our deficit and invest in the skills and ideas of our people.

And at the time, the Republican congress and a certain senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney -- don't boo, vote, vote. You don't need to boo. Folks can't hear you boo, but they can hear you vote. Anyway, this candidate, Mr. Romney, along with the Republican Congress, they all said, Bill Clinton's playing us terrible.

It will hurt the economy. It's going to kill jobs. Turns out, their math was just as bad then as it is now because by the end of Bill Clinton's second term, America has created 23 million new jobs. Incomes were up, poverty was down and our deficit had become a surplus.

We've tried our ideas and they work. How about the other guy's ideas? We tried those, too. After Bill Clinton left office, the Republicans had a chance to try their ideas out. And we tried giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

We tried giving insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street a free license, do whatever you please. And we got falling incomes and record deficits and the slowest job growth in half a century and it culminated in the worst financial crisis that we've ever seen in our lifetime.

So we've tried our ideas and they work. We've tried their ideas. They don't work and this means this should be a pretty easy choice, but you have to give them credit. Governor Romney's a very talented salesman.

And, so, in this campaign, he's tried to repackage the old ideas that don't work and offer them up as change. He's tried to pretend that somehow these old ideas that did not work are new and will work this time.

But here's the thing, Ohio. We know what change looks like. And what he's selling isn't it. Giving more power to the biggest banks is not change. Another $5 trillion tax cut favoring the wealthy, not change.

BLITZER: All right, so the president continuing his speech on this final day of campaigning at least for him before the election tomorrow.

We'll be hearing from Governor Romney later. He's going to be live. He's speaking at a campaign rally event later in Columbus, Ohio, himself. We'll have live coverage of that.

Don't forget, tomorrow he's decided he's going to go to Pennsylvania and Ohio for one last opportunity to try to score some points in those two key states.

Other news we're following including some controversial initiatives on the ballot in several states. We're taking a closer look at how those issues could help turn out key voters that the presidential candidates need in this election.


BLITZER: Tomorrow voters in some states also will be deciding on issues ranging from higher taxes to gambling to same-sex marriage. Those ballot initiatives could bring out key voters sought by the presidential campaigns.

Lisa Sylvester is here. She has a little closer look. What are you seeing over there, Lisa?

LISA SLYVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, this is an issue that has come up before where we have seen ballot initiatives actually play a role and have an influence on the presidential race. Some notable ones that we can point out, health care and Obamacare, it's actually up in four different states, Florida, Alabama, Montana and Wyoming.

Essentially, it's the same question asking whether or not voters want to amend the state constitutions so that businesses and individuals cannot be compelled to participate in the health care system.

Also we've seen it before, it's up again, same-sex on the ballot in four states in Maryland, my home state, in Maine, in Minnesota and Washington state. And again they're asking very similar questions, if gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry.

In Minnesota, the question is slightly different. The question is whether or not there should be an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This is probably the most talked about -- this one is one of the most talked about ballot initiatives.

The question is on marijuana legalization. It is up in three states. We are not talking about de-criminalizing marijuana. Not talking about marijuana for medicinal uses. We're talking actually about legalizing marijuana in Colorado, Washington and Oregon. That would be for anybody over the age of 21 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a fascinating situation that's unfolding right now in the swing states. Are these ballot initiatives more likely to help Governor Romney or President Obama?

SYLVESTER: You know, in Colorado, and that's one of the states we're looking at with marijuana legalization. Conventional wisdom is that this would draw in younger, more progressive voters. And it is very popular in this state.

But it is also opposed by independent moms. And that is a group that really could trend either way that could actually help Governor Romney. Another state that I want to point out is Florida.

We can take a look here because they have a very interesting ballot initiative whether or not public funds should be allowed to be used for abortions with the exception being for rape or in the case of incest or whether the life of a mom is in danger -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So how likely are these initiatives to pass?

SYLVESTER: You know, particularly -- we can go back to the very first one, the health care, Obamacare, this is in four different primarily conservative states. It's very likely to pass.

You can see that other cases, in the case of -- the same-sex marriage on the ballot, there's a very good chance that it could pass in Maine. And that could actually be historic because this is a question that has been put to the voters time and time again.

It's been rejected by the voters time and time again. But there's a good chance, Wolf, that tomorrow we might see that actually pass in Maine. We will see.

And also Colorado, that is also sort of up for grabs. We we'll see what happens there. A lot of people are keeping an eye on that because that is such a swing state.

BLITZER: We'll watch all these initiatives tomorrow night. Thanks very much. Comprehensive report from Lisa.

Coming up, this sounds ominously familiar. We're already hearing reports of voting problems in Florida. We'll have a complete report at the top of the hour.