'This Week' Transcript: Robert Gibbs, Ed Gillespie and Bill O'Reilly

PHOTO: Democratic Strategist James Carville, Republican Strategist Mary Matalin, New York Times Columnist and Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman, Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan, and ABC News Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. Just 30 days now until the final vote, and after the most intense week yet of this campaign, Mitt Romney has momentum. National polls show him gaining ground, his crowds have picked up, and last night in Florida, Romney opened up, telling about his last visit with an old friend paralyzed in a tragic accident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: They pushed his wheelchair forward, and he came up, and I reached over, and put my arm on his shoulder, and I whispered into his ear. And I said, "Billy, I love you and God bless you." I got a call from a friend that he'd died the next day after that visit. It's rare that you get the chance to tell someone how much you love them when you still can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Can Romney keep gaining ground, or will President Obama maintain his advantage in those battleground states that matter most? We'll look at the race from all angles this morning, and we'll begin with the campaigns. Ed Gillespie for Mitt Romney, Robert Gibbs for Barack Obama, and Robert, let me begin with you. How much difference did Governor Romney make Wednesday night?

GIBBS: Well, look, George, Governor Romney had a masterful theatrical performance just this past week, but the underpinnings and foundations of that performance were fundamentally dishonest. Look, he walked away from the central tenet of his economic theory by saying he had no idea what the president was talking about. Ten minutes after the debate, even his own staff is walking back his answers on health care and preexisting conditions.

So, look, I don't want to take anything away from what I think, again, was a masterful, masterful performance by Governor Romney, but I don't think Governor Romney's positions have changed, and fundamentally, I don't think the campaign has changed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Robert, what happened to the president on Wednesday night? You've seen all the reviews. I'm sure the president has seen the reviews by now as well. Let's look at that "New Yorker" cover right there. It shows the empty podium next to Mitt Romney. The basic line is, the president didn't show up on Wednesday night. And I just want to know, when did he know he was beat?

GIBBS: Well, look, George, I think the president understood that he hadn't performed up to his own expectations pretty quickly into – after he got off the stage that night. But look, George, I think what's interesting is not – I think it's who showed up on the Republican side. You know, a clone that looked a lot like Mitt Romney that had walked away from fundamentally every position that he'd taken.

You cannot cut taxes by $5 trillion, as he's doing, and simply say, oh, I don't have that tax cut. I'm not going to cut taxes for the wealthy, when the average high-income earner is going to get a $250,000 tax cut.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me stop you right there, because the Romney campaign has a new ad out just on that point. They say the president and his team are lying when they call it a $5 trillion tax cut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UM: President Obama continues to distort Mitt Romney's economic plan. The latest – not telling the truth about Mitt Romney's tax plan. The AP says doesn't add up. ABC News, mostly fiction. Even the Obama campaign admitted it wasn't true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, OK, stipulated, it won't be near $5 trillion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So does the campaign now accept that the cuts will be less than $5 trillion?

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