PoliticsOhio: What Implication Does First Debate Have In Ohio?

Oct 5, 2012

For this special edition of PoliticsOhio, Emily McCord talked to two spokespeople for the national Republican and Democratic parties to get their take on the debates, what will it mean for Ohio, and the rest of the country. For the Democrats, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee spoke to Emily as she spent time in Ohio campaigning for the President. To talk about Mitt Romney's performance, former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu joined Emily on the phone from New Hampshire.

McCord: Welcome to PoliticsOhio I'm Emily McCord.

This week a special edition to PoliticsOhio in the aftermath of the first presidential debate. I talked to two spokespeople for the National Republican and Democratic parties to get their take on the debates and what it will mean for Ohio and the rest of the country. First, my interview with Congresswomen and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is in Cleveland this week campaigning with President Obama.

M: Most people are saying that Mitt Romney won Wednesday's debate and some Ohioans and even some that support The President are saying he lacked passion how do you think The President did?

Schultz: Well, I think The President spoke directly to voters about his vision for an economy that we are growing from the middle class out. While Mitt Romney, essentially, spent the night lying about his plans and The President’s record and doubled down on the same bad ideas that crashed the economy. The style points that some are giving him don't change the fact that his plans don’t add up and he didn't provide any details and the broad strokes that he did, essentially lied and when fact checked about his own plans were proven to be untrue.

"The Mitt Romney that showed up on the debate stage is a completely different Mitt Romney than has been out there on the campaign trail for the last year and a half."

M: But what about The President’s performance how do you think he did?

S: The President spoke directly to the American people about his vision for an economy that we grow from the middle class out and was serious and focused about making sure that he continued the conversation that he began with the American people during our convention about his plans for the next four years, the progress that we've made since he took office where we were hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month, in Ohio things were really in pretty bad shape. Thanks to President Obama, the decision to rescue the American automobile industry we we've been able to get things turned around the 1 in 8 jobs that are tied to the auto industry were saved here in Ohio. So, I thought the President was very clear and specific and did a good job of laying out where we've been and where we are going over the next four years and Mitt Romney essentially painted a completely untrue picture of what the vague outlines of his policies would be.

M: And after Mitt Romney’s winning of the debate how confident are you that this wasn't a game changer or a reset that the Romney Campaign needed to win Ohio?

S: I mean this was one debate, you know, one event in a very long, what is a very long campaign we have and are proud the Obama campaign stood up the largest, most significant, most dynamic presidential campaign in history. We have a very significant grassroots operation early voting has begun in Ohio, on October 2nd and so every day is Election Day here in Ohio from now to, till, November 6th. And we are focused on making sure that we expand our ground game and while Mitt Romney’s campaign continues to have a handful of billionaires trying to buy him the Whitehouse we are doing the thousands of door knocks and phone calls and outreach and field effort that is going to help carry The President to victory and I think in Ohio, in particular, the reason The President is significantly ahead is because Ohioans recognize that there is a president in the Whitehouse in Barack Obama whose been fighting for the middle class successfully and fighting for working families successfully. And in poll after poll when people are asked who do they think is more likely to go to bat for the middle class they choose President Obama time and again and I think that's why President Obama has been ahead in Ohio and why he'll win in Ohio on November 6th.

M: There are two more debates of course, how will the President's performance in the first debate affect the strategy moving forward into the next two?

S: Well the next debate is on foreign policy so that’s obviously a completely different set of issues and I think President Obama, while doing his day job remember, I mean, Mitt Romney can spend all the time in the world in preparation while the President is making sure he can be the Commander in Chief and continue to do his job as The President. But he is going to be prepared and ready, President Obama particularly on foreign issues has a remarkable record keeping our nation safe from harm, making sure that we brought Osama Bin Laden to justice, so I think the next debate is going to be an opportunity that, not just President Obama’s really significant accomplishments in the area of foreign policy but also how utterly unprepared Mitt Romney is to be to be Commander in Chief or do anything on the world stage.

M: That's Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with the Democratic National Committee. I also, spoke to former [New Hampshire] Republican Governor John Sununu who joined me on the phone from New Hampshire. And we spent some time talking about taxes.

"Romney knows how to negotiated and deal with congress he did it in Massachusetts with an 87% democratic legislature and that's the kind of relationship you need to develop to solve serious problems."

Democrats and some economists have criticized Mitt Romney for not providing details on what deductions he'd eliminate to fulfill his promise to cut taxes without increasing the deficit. We were at a debate party in Dayton earlier in the week with Obama supporters where we met Judith Russell and I played her comment for him as she was echoing the same statement that many democrats are saying.

Judith Russell: [Sound Clip] When Mitt Romney mentioned the deductions that he was going to cut tuition tax credits, student loan interest deductions if you are getting these credits you may lose those. If you chose one candidate or the other and so for me, I know what economic bracket I’m in so I know which candidate I'm going to choose.

M: Why is it that we can't get the specific details as to what tax cuts Romney will propose?

Sununu: Because he is smart enough to know that what he has to do is go and negotiate on a bipartisan basis with Congress as to which  ones will be cut, which ones will be means tested, which ones will be included in caps in the amount people can deduct. You don't put a specific list on the table and say take it or leave it you go in and negotiate. Woodward made it clear in his book that this president doesn't even understand how to negotiate. And so what you have to make sure is that there is enough in the basket, so to speak, to cover the tax cuts, the 20% reduction in rate for the middle class and there is there is more than enough there's about 180% of what has to be in there. And, so Mitt Romney is saying look, take all the things that are considered loopholes, particularly those for the upper income bracket, put them in the basket I'm going down to Congress and I’m saying give me a set of priorities lets negotiate which ones have to be cut, which ones have to be means tested and which ones to be included in the cap for deductions and when you do that you end up with a negotiated tax reform that provides the cut in rates for the middle class and provides it on a revenue neutral basis. It just shows what you have is a not-to-smart president arguing for a list that then would be crammed down Congress's throat, that doesn't work and Mitt Romney saying put everything in the basket and we'll negotiate it.

M: So what do you say when people like Judith are saying, but the figures don't add up the math doesn't work out that way.

S: We'll she's wrong, she's wrong there are at least five studies and I think the number now is up to seven that have analyzed this approach and said there is more than enough the basket to be negotiated into the package to allow for the cuts and with all due respect she mentioned two or three of her favorites with I think are number four and five on the Obama talking point list and that’s fine, but there is more than enough there and  Romney knows how to negotiated and deal with congress he did it in Massachusetts with an 87%  democratic legislature and that’s the kind of relationship you need to develop to solve serious problems.

M: Here in Ohio many polls have been showing a widening lead for The President first of all do you think Mitt Romney needs a game change to win Ohio? And, if so, did that happen at the debate?

S: Well, I don't think game change is the word I would use I think there five hard fought weeks ahead of us and Mitt Romney needs to do the right thing every day I think he did a great thing in the debate in giving about 20-30 of the 58 million viewers that had not seen him before he gave the 28-30 million a chance to see him directly without the filter of the hate ads that Obama’s been running in places like Ohio without it just being a snipet clip that some piece of the media may run at night. This was Mitt Romney for 90 minutes people saw that he knows the issues, he knows them in depth, he knows the facts, he knows how to tie the facts together properly, he knows the problems the country is having with jobs and certainly Ohio is one of the hard hit areas of the Midwest that has jobs concern and I think Mitt Romney showed he knows how to fix the problem.

M: And we know that Mitt Romney was well prepared for that first debate the next one is a town hall style and it could be argued that might be a setting that The President is more comfortable than this first debate so how does Romney prepare for this one? What’s the strategy?

S: Well, it might’ve been argued before the debate, last, two evenings ago that The President might've been more comfortable in that environment too but it turned out he wasn't. I've seen Mitt Romney do town hall meetings in New Hampshire through the whole primary process I think Mitt is going to be fine. Each one is a slightly different challenge he's going to work hard and prepare and I suspect after the debacle of the first debate you might even see a president that decides to work hard.

M: I've been speaking with John Sununu former republican Governor of New Hampshire thank you for being here today.

S: Thank you so much Emily, I appreciate it.