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


By:  Mark Warner
Date: Oct. 21, 2012
Location: Unknown


Joining me, Virginia Democratic senator and former governor Mark Warner and former Republican congressman Tom Davis. Thank you, both.

You've got a barn burner in Virginia this time. Give me your best analyst look at the state of play right now.

DAVIS: Well, I'll start. I think Romney is on an upward trajectory. We think he has passed it. The Rasmussen polls shows him up three. It's close, but Obama's turnout model is going to be down from 2008. The kids are not coming out for him like they did before. We think minority turnout will be down slightly just because you can never beat the first time. And in Northern Virginia, we're going to do much better than we did last time.

WARNER: It's clearly a battle state. That means it's going to be close. I think we saw polls yesterday showing the president up two. I think he is going to be successful. I think he has done a great job for veterans. And I think where we can actually pick up versus where we were four years ago against John McCain, and the split on Women's vote in Virginia is bigger than the national trend. We were talking off camera, last year the legislature controlled completely by the Republicans, and it made Virginia the brunt of late night jokes with the so-called invasive ultra sounds. Most recently a week ago our state health director resigned rather than having these restricted abortion requirements put in place.

Frankly, the Virginia party -- right now is not the Tom Davis Virginia Republican Party, and I think the women in Virginia see that and, unfortunately, the Romney-Ryan campaign has adopted that kind of out of the mainstream approach. CROWLEY: Since the senator brought it up, I want -- we do have two ads that are playing now. -- I'm sure you've seen them several times -- both from the Romney campaign and the Obama campaign, both on abortion. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those ads say Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraceptions seemed a bit extreme, so I looked into it. Turns out Romney doesn't oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life.

ANNOUNCER: Banning all abortions?

ROMNEY: I would be delighted sign that bill.

ANNOUNCER: Trying to mislead us. That's wrong. But ban all abortions, only if you vote for him.


CROWLEY: So obviously somebody thinks this is a great way to turn out female voters.

DAVIS: Well, it's worked for Democrats in Virginia traditionally with Doug Wilder's election on that issue, but, look, Romney wasn't anywhere near Richmond when what Mark talked about was going on. Also I just add Obama doesn't have the benefit of having Mark Warner on the ticket with him this time, that's going to hurt him a little bit as well.

CROWLEY: He going to kill you with kindness here.

DAVIS: When Democrats start talking about abortion, they're behind. That's been my experience. They hit me on the same issue. They hit John Warner on the same issues. They hit anybody with the label. It doesn't fit Mitt Romney.

CROWLEY: And frankly, it's still a very conservative state in so many places. And these abortion issues split both ways.

WARNER: Absolutely splits both ways. But Virginia is a mainstream state, and Virginians don't like either political party when they get too far out of the mainstream.

You know, the Mitt Romney that campaigned for Republican nomination was way out of the mainstream. He is trying to -- it is getting close to Halloween, he is trying to change clothes and get back into a moderate view. I think at the end of the day people are not going to respond to that. And I think on top of that where I would -- you know, Tom is an expert on politics, Virginia and elsewhere, but I think at the end of the day the ground game that the president has built will make sure that turnout comes out.

CROWLEY: But what do you say? The congressman says that the ground game is not as muscular as it seems.

DAVIS: They don't have a message behind the ground game this time either.

CROWLEY: Four years ago, and that the momentum at this point seems to be Governor Romney. Would you agree with that assessment?

WARNER: I would say that this state has gotten a lot closer, just as the whole national election has got closer. Again, that's why it's a battleground...

CROWLEY: But going into the last two weeks, you want to be the guy with momentum...

WARNER: Over the last two weeks, we have got twice as much operations in place in Virginia than the Romney campaign. I think the issues in terms of women -- I also think the issue -- the fact is I'm more on the economics side. The Romney numbers just don't add up. We heard the other day, $8 trillion in tax cuts or additional defense spending. You know, Mitt Romney could eliminate capital gains distinction, the mortgage deduction, charitable deduction, and health care exclusion for everybody, and it still doesn't add up to $8 trillion.

DAVIS: Obama's numbers don't add up either. Mark knows that as well.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about something that might affect the outcome in Virginia. And there are two things you can pick up on both of them. One of them is that (inaudible) Virgil Goode is on the ballot and as is Gary Johnson, so might that affect the outcome -- and a green candidate is on there as well. But Virgil Goode is likely to take votes away from Governor Romney. And in a close race, does that worry you?

DAVIS: Well, you know, he probably cuts into us more than the other side, but he just is just driving around the state in his truck. We don't see a lot of penetration. There are no Goode signs to speak of. So I think it's really on the margins at this point, and I think our lead is going to be enough to overcome that if we get our vote out.

CROWLEY: And senator, let me ask you, there's also question number one on the ballot which is about imminent domain. And it would limit instances where private property can be ceased by the government for public use. Might that drive out the conservative vote?

WARNER: You know, that issue hasn't gotten a lot of attention. There's been bipartisan supported. I don't hear it talked about a lot. I do think at the end of the day, Virgil who has been a Democrat, a Republican, an independent and now he's running as a constitutionalist, particularly in southside and southwest Virginia, I think he will draw votes away from Governor Romney. CROWLEY: Do you think imminent domain splits?

DAVIS: I don't think it's been high profile -- there's been no money behind it, Candy.

But let me just make this -- if you are an incumbent and the challenger is getting traction as the election is -- you get nervous. I've run a lot of campaigns. I would much rather be Romney than I would Obama in Virginia at this point.

WARNER: I would still take the fact Virginia with 5.9 percent unemployment, Virginia with...

CROWLEY: With a Republican governor.

WARNER: Well, with a -- at the end of the day, even the buck stops with the president as people have always said Governor Romney makes this thing the economy is not coming back. We've seen Virginia's economy do pretty darn well.

CROWLEY: Virginia's economy by and large is is pretty good. You would agree with that, congressman, that cuts for President Obama.

DAVIS: It's certainly good in Northern Virginia, which is carrying, but you go to down to Martinsville and some of these other places, it's still hurting in these areas. I think the president is going to pay a price.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about your senate race there because it's such a great one. This pits -- and I want to show our viewers the latest polling there from ABC News, the Marist poll.

Tim Kaine -- both of these men former governors -- Tim Kaine 47 percent. He is the Democrat. George Allen, 46 percent. He is the Republican.

Does this race depend on the top of the ticket?

WARNER: You know, I think the top of the ticket is going to affect this race. I do think at the end of the day, again, Tim Kaine, who is a great friend of mine. I have known him for 30 plus years. He is my lieutenant governor, I think he is going to be successful. I think he lays out a much more positive ability to come to Washington and actually work with people like the Tom Davises and Mark Warners who want to get stuff done who after the election realize you have got to check your Democrat and Republican hats.

CROWLEY: Congressman, I want you to answer that question as well, but I also want to repeat something that you said that I found fascinating to the Christian Science Monitor on Friday when you said "I am shocked as I am going out and ringing on doorbells on behalf of Republican candidates, people don't know the senate candidates despite their pedigree." These are two pretty high profile guys.

What does that mean when it comes to the end result? DAVIS: Well, I think the presidential race has sucked out of oxygen out of this in terms of the ads and the voter retention, and Northern Virginia in particular where I've been out has a huge turnover, as Mark knows every time. New people coming in all the time.

The presidential race is a very important factor of the senate race, because it's going to dictate your turnout model. If we have a 2008 turnout model, its over. Democrats win. But what we can see is they are dispirited. Republicans turnout was down 3 percent in 2008 from 2004. Republicans are enthused this time. I haven't seen such enthusiasm in this state since Ronald Reagan.

CROWLEY: I have to run, so I need a one-word answer to button this up. As the presidency goes in Virginia, so goes the senate race? Yes or no?

WARNER: I think Kaine wins in either instance.


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