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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

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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 doinCROWLEY: 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.g 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: 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: 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: 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.

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