With Weeks Until Election, What's Next?

Sep 10, 2012



Now that the Democratic convention is over, polls show President Obama pulling ahead of Mitt Romney, not by so much, but the change did show up in several surveys. Let's talk about that and more with Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays.

Cokie, good morning.


INSKEEP: Any surprise in the polls over the weekend?

ROBERTS: Yeah, I think so. Everybody was saying, including the Obama campaign, which was trying to dampen expectations, that they didn't really expect bounces out of conventions anymore, that, you know, that wasn't the nature of the beast. But in fact they do seem to have a little - a little leg up, particularly in Ohio, and of course that is such a key state - no Republican having won the presidency without having won Ohio.

The Democrats had a good convention. It really was strikingly cohesive. It was my 12th Democratic Convention, 20th convention, and seeing how on focus they were, how disciplined they were, with the exception of, you know, kerfuffles over the platform, I think that they really did get something out of it.

It now is kind of up to Governor Romney to get something else to knock his campaign loose, and I guess that's why he's spending a lot of time preparing for the upcoming debates.

INSKEEP: Well, given that Romney's argument is that the economy's going in the wrong direction, wouldn't you have expected him to get something out of the jobs report on Friday which was seen as disappointing?

ROBERTS: Well, and that could still happen. But look - really what we saw at the Democratic Convention was the strategy of the Obama campaign to go after demographic groups rather than after policy issues, and that is an effective strategy. I mean, regardless of the jobs numbers, the president is going to get an overwhelming African-American vote, and I think if he can get them out, he will also get an overwhelming Hispanic vote.

You know, civil rights turned the black community from Republicans into Democrats, and I think now that you are seeing the same thing with immigration and with voting rights with the Hispanic community. And in 1992, when it was the economy, stupid, the minority vote was only 12 percent of the electorate. In 2008 it was 26 percent. It's expected to be 28 percent this time around, and if that's true, President Obama doesn't need to get more than about 38 percent of the white vote.

And so that - and that's the vote that's being fought over. So I think that his strategy is one that's going to be very difficult for Mitt Romney to be able to overcome.

INSKEEP: We've got just enough time to try to sort out something that Governor Romney said over the weekend, trying to explain where he stands. He says, of course, that he would immediately get rid of President Obama's health care law, but he also contends he is for parts of it, and on "Meet the Press" David Gregory asked Romney what his current position is on the president's health care reform.


MITT ROMNEY: I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform, of course. There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.

INSKEEP: Okay. Saying he's going to keep the popular parts of the law, although his aides have issued some clarifications, insisting he's not planning a mandate and trying to clarify exactly what he would and would not keep. What do you make of all this?

ROBERTS: He actually has been saying this. He just said it more directly and in a forum where millions of people are paying now much more attention. But what he says is, is that if you already have health care coverage, that it shouldn't be interrupted. That's a big if. But this will be further examined in the upcoming debates, as will his and his running mate's plans to overhaul the tax system, and yesterday neither one of them would say what kinds of deductions they were ready to get rid of in the tax plan, just saying they'd give the middle class a break. Lots of details still to come.

INSKEEP: Thanks very much. That's Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays. And on this Monday morning we have a little more campaign news. President Obama, we're told, topped Mitt Romney in fundraising during the month of August - $114 million to Romney's $111 million. That is the first time in four months that the Democrats have outraised the Republicans. By some measures Mitt Romney has more money on hand for the fall campaign. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.