Election 2012
2:51 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Romney Reviews Debate Issues During Virginia Stops

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 10:11 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

After their lively town hall debate on Long Island Tuesday night, President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney jetted off in different directions yesterday to rally the faithful and woo the undecided in some key battleground states.

MONTAGNE: The president flew to the Midwest for campaign rallies in Iowa and Ohio. In a moment, we'll hear from Scott Horsley, who's with the Obama campaign. Mitt Romney headed south, for a pair of rallies in Virginia. 2008 was the first time in decades that Virginia voters chose a Democrat for president.

GREENE: And it's a tight race in that state this year. Virginia has really become one of the most important swing states. NPR's Ari Shapiro is traveling there with the Republican presidential candidate, and he filed this report.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Mitt Romney's second debate with President Obama may not have been a clear win like the first one, but in Chesapeake, Virginia, the Republican challenger took the stage sounding like a happy warrior.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

MITT ROMNEY: I love these debates. You know, these things are great.

SHAPIRO: He quickly accused the president of failing to articulate a second-term agenda.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: I just think the American people had expected that the president of the United States would be able to describe what he's going to do in the next four years. But he can't. He can't even explain what he's done in the last four years.

SHAPIRO: Romney went question-by-question through some of his favorite moments in the town hall debate. He mentioned Jeremy, who asked about finding a job after college, Catherine, who spoke about equal pay for women, and Philip, who asked about gas prices.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: And then you heard Lorraine saying: When you promised, Mr. President, to put in place an immigration reform bill in your first term - oh, I guess it was me that asked this question, but it was her idea. She brought up immigration.

SHAPIRO: In front of this friendly crowd, Mitt Romney revisited some moments that didn't go quite right the night before. One of those awkward moments included the phrase: binders full of women. Democrats have attacked Governor Romney for that clunky description of how he sought out women to work for him as governor of Massachusetts. On the campaign trail yesterday, Romney revisited the issue, if not the phrase.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: This president has failed America's women. They've suffered in terms of getting jobs. They've suffered in terms of falling into poverty. This is a presidency that has not helped America's women.

SHAPIRO: This is important because Romney closed the polls with President Obama in the last couple of weeks largely by shrinking the gender gap. And there were other memorable parts of the debate that Romney left out of this stump speech roundup. The debate's two hottest exchanges dealt with Libya and China. Neither came up in Romney's comments yesterday.

Republican voters in this Virginia crowd were muted in their praise of Romney's Long Island performance.

VICTOR MARQUES: I think he did OK. I think he did fine, as far as I'm concerned. Nothing would change my mind, anyway.

SHAPIRO: That's Victor Marques of Newport News, Virginia. Eddie Zapata is even less bullish. He says his candidate did great a couple of weeks ago.

EDDIE ZAPATA: The first one Romney won quite open, but then the second one, Obama kind of defended himself a little better.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHAPIRO: In public yesterday, campaign staffers emphasized the high points of Romney's debate performance. They talked about how strong he was on the economy and job creation. But in private, they grumbled about the moderator and seemed far less jubilant than they were two weeks ago.

In the evening, comedian Dennis Miller introduced Romney to another crowd - a big one, 8,000 people packing a grassy park in Leesburg, Virginia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

DENNIS MILLER: You do hear the word gosh come out of his pie hole once in a while. And you know what? I've had the hipster president. How's about the gosh president? Isn't it time we get back to the gosh president?

SHAPIRO: At this rally, Mitt Romney talked about energy issues, tossing a belated retort to one of President Obama's attack lines Tuesday night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: He said, you know, we've built pipelines that would go around the Earth. And I thought, you know, it's just the one that comes from Canada with the oil that's the one we want, you see? And so that's the one I'm going to get.

SHAPIRO: Romney looked ahead to the next presidential debate, just five days off.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: We have one weekend left before our final debate, and I hope he's able to come up with an agenda over the weekend. So in that last debate, he's able to describe what he'd do if he got four more years.

SHAPIRO: Then Romney added: But that's not likely to happen, so he doesn't need to worry about it.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Leesburg, Virginia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.