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Public Statements

Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript

Interview

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Senator Portman, let's start with the state I guess most people think may decide the race, and that is Ohio. The Obama camp says that they have the big edge in early voting in your state and they also note that they have 137 campaign offices around the country, and the Romney camp has only 39.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN, R-OHIO: Well, Chris, first of all, you mentioned the "Real Clear Politics" average in Ohio being 2.3 percent, in the president's favor. As of this morning, it's 1.9 percent actually, and that's because the polls are closing.

The latest poll was this morning. It was an Ohio poll by the Ohio newspapers showing the race a dead heat. And that's certainly what I feel. I also feel like momentum is on our side.

I have been at six of the rallies over the last week. I've also been at about a dozen centers around the state and energy and enthusiasm is on our side this year. So, it's really interesting to watch. But, look, we were down probably five to 10 points before the debates. After the debates, we are about dead even and it is moving our way.

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WALLACE: Senator Portman, let me have you weigh in both, on the Obama agenda, for a second term, and his record, and, also, questions about Romney's record and whether it simply returns to the policies of George W. Bush.

PORTMAN: Chris, it is simple why Governor Romney is doing better in Ohio. People are focused on the economy and jobs, and, Mitt Romney has got a plan that's pro-growth, pro-jobs to turn this thing around and, President Obama doesn't.

So, when people look at the last four years, they are disappointed, they must be. I mean, look, we are living through the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. There are 22 million Americans struggling to find work, 3.5 million more women in poverty, take home pay has gone down 4,300 bucks per family on average.

I mean, you know, this is not the right direction. We are headed in the wrong direction.

And then you have President Obama, you are right. He has a glossy new brochure. I've actually looked at that brochure and as you know I played the role of Obama during the debate preps. And it's more of the same.

I mean, you know, you can argue we need to do more of the same but it hasn't worked and hasn't worked by President Obama's own measurements. He said unemployment would be 50 percent lower than it is if we just passed the stimulus package. He said economic growth today would be 2/3 higher than it actually is.

So, if it hasn't worked, the one thing he does have in his now parole is to raise taxes. And, yes, he wants to raise taxes on about a million small businesses, including a lot here in Ohio. That's going to result, according to a study by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, with a 700,000 job loss, which we can't afford.

So, Governor Romney instead has proposed pro-growth policies, including a tax reform proposal that lowers the rate of taxation, but makes the tax code far more efficient, simplifies it and, that's going to result in 7 million new jobs, over the next 10 years.

That's the choice people have and in Ohio, you know, they are choosing Mitt Romney, and that's where the enthusiasm is.

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WALLACE: Senator Portman is another member of the Armed Services Committee. What do you make of Defense Secretary Panetta who says, look, in terms of the criticism that we didn't send troops to break up the attack, that you don't put more U.S. assets in harm's way until you have hard intelligence on the ground as to when they are getting into?

PORTMAN: Chris, I got to tell you, I am member of the Armed Services Committee and I appreciate what my friend Mark Udall just said about not politicizing this.

This is not about politics. This is about a huge national security issue that affects all of us and there was a shocking break down, operationally, not to have the security there in the first place and not to respond to these guys, in their pleas for help for seven hours, during a firefight. It's unbelievable.

And now, we are hearing that the president of the United States, based on his own words, issued a directive immediately after he found out about the firefight, saying, he wanted to be sure those people on the ground were safe and they were getting what they needed. It didn't happen.

This means either that the president's order was not followed, which would be a break down in terms of the White House procedure, or, it means the order wasn't issued. We need to find out about this, it's not about politics. It's is a very serious situation.

After the fact, of course, there has been a lot of confusion about what happened and why it happened. I think the bottom line for us, it shows a lack of leadership. And it shows the policy in disarray and I think it's perfectly appropriate to ask these questions.

As you know, John McCain and I sent a letter more than two weeks ago to Secretary Panetta asking for some of these answers. We haven't heard anything. We sent another letter yesterday, with the additional information. We're now hearing directly from the president about this order that he issued.

Why wasn't it followed? This makes no sense.

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