CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Brian Schweitzer
Date: Oct. 3, 2012
Location: Unknown

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GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: First off, Mitt Romney has run a race to this point of just saying, "I'm not Barack Obama." And that's not going to be enough. As it turns out, people like Barack Obama, and I think there's about an 8 percent differential in likeability.

He's got a big problem in Ohio. Let's just talk about Ohio. The auto bailout. In Ohio, Michigan, and some other of these Rust Belt states, those car manufacturing jobs are important.

KING: You want to talk about Ohio, here's the electoral map as we have it right now. Two-thirty-seven strong or leading for the president; 191 strong or leading. You don't have to be a rocket scientist. The race it to 270. So the president's not easy, but he has an easier path to 270.

You mentioned Ohio. That is one of the battleground states right now where the president actually has a lead in most polls outside the margin of error. If you look at Florida, you look at Virginia, there are three or four...

SCHWEITZER: It's slipping away for Romney; slipping away.

KING: Well, if Ohio slips away, and let's hypothetically give it to the president. If -- no Republican has ever won. We have to go back to Abraham Lincoln days, when the Republican Party was founded. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. Can Mitt Romney cede that one to the president, which would put the president at 255, if nothing else changed, and win this election?

SCHWEITZER: Here's what I'm going to predict. I think Florida is going to go for Romney.

KING: All right.

SCHWEITZER: I think North Carolina is going to go for Romney.

KING: OK.

SCHWEITZER: And let's go out west. I know this well. I am the only governor in America that's a graduate of Colorado State University, so we'll talk about Colorado.

KING: I was just there. It's at tight as can be.

SCHWEITZER: Yes, except that Obama is going to win.

KING: You're convinced of that?

SCHWEITZER: I'm convinced. The Latino vote.

KING: Yes.

SCHWEITZER: And if that vote is growing very rapidly, I'm going to give -- I'm going to give Nevada to Romney.

KING: Highest unemployment in the country.

SCHWEITZER: Plus, the houses are upside down, and there's itinerant people out there. So that's going to go with Romney.

Iowa, Obama.

KING: You think Obama?

SCHWEITZER: Yes.

KING: Again out there, the Republicans have evened the registration divide, but...

SCHWEITZER: Michigan, the Ryan bump doesn't exist.

KING: If you give Iowa right there to the president, the president is reelected. Wisconsin is a state where the president right now has a pretty -- you know, six points, but...

SCHWEITZER: He wins. And Virginia is a toss-up. We'll give that to Romney.

KING: What about New Hampshire?

SCHWEITZER: New Hampshire has gotten away. New Hampshire has gotten away.

KING: You're going to give that to the president, too?

SCHWEITZER: I'm giving that to the president.

KING: So you've got him at 284, with Virginia a question mark.

SCHWEITZER: I don't know.

KING: You don't know. Let's give it to Romney. Let's give it to Romney. If you give it to Romney, that's still a pretty convincing win for the president there, especially given this. I want to come back to the other map, because I want to show you. This is -- this is what confounds a lot of Republicans.

No. 1, they say why isn't Romney doing better here, on who would better handle the economy?

They also say look at this. If you look at this historically, this is the first three quarters of GDP in the reelection years. George H.W. Bush actually had pretty good growth. American people just didn't buy it when he told of that. He lost the election.

Bill Clinton had this big second quarter in 1996. Bob Dole was toast from that point on.

George W. Bush got through -- George W. Bush got through what was a pretty struggling economy, but look at this. Look at this, Governor. President Obama's first two quarters -- we don't have a third quarter yet -- dismal even compared to 2004. How is this president -- forget his name, forget his party -- how is this president even in play?

SCHWEITZER: Because the American people are a lot smarter than some folks give them credit for. They know that we went off the fiscal cliff. They know that, when Lehman Brothers went broke on the September 15 of 2008, they were looking at each other all over this country, all over the world: is my bank going to be open tomorrow?

And somebody is believing in this economy. The stock market has doubled. People are reinvesting, and people are more optimistic. They know we've had a tough go. But they also know how we got here, and they don't want to go back to the policies that got us here. They think that Obama has a better idea than Romney right now. That's what your polls show. And they like -- they like Obama more than they like Romney. It's about an 8 percent likeability index difference.

KING: The likeability, and this is something we'll watch tonight, Wolf, as we do watch the debate tonight. You saw Governor Schweitzer's pretty optimistic take there for the president. Governor Romney needs to change that.

BLITZER: Quick question, Governor. Is it true that those who are still undecided normally break for the challenger, because they don't know the challenger as well as opposed to the incumbent? Everybody knows the president of the United States. The undecided at this late, late moment might break for Romney?

SCHWEITZER: Yes, that is a distinct possibility. And that means that we might have the first election since, well, just a few elections ago that the popular vote actually goes to the person who loses. Because these -- these targeted states, these battleground states, if it looks like Obama is going to carry the day, but he may not win the popular vote.

KING: That would be this election you're talking about.

SCHWEITZER: That's this election.

KING: That would be this election, 48-48. Slight advantage in the popular vote. But Wolf, you know how that one turned out. We had to wait awhile for that one.

SCHWEITZER: Let us hope that the Supreme Court doesn't decide this election.

KING: Amen.

BLITZER: Let's hope no hanging chads.

Guys, thanks very much.

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