'This Week' Transcript: Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you explain why the gap has closed so much?

CUTTER: George, we can look at these polls a million different ways. They all say something different. At the end of the day, what we are focused on is getting the president out across this country, meeting as many voters as possible, but also implementing that ground game that we've invested so heavily on. Our people are coming out. Ohio, Florida, the first day of early voting in Florida yesterday, record numbers of people are coming out to vote. It's something like we've never, ever seen. And that's a sign. That's a sign that there is momentum behind the president's re-election. There is energy on the ground. We're a little over a week out, and we're confident.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're also seeing a raft of newspaper endorsements come out overnight on the weekend. President Obama getting the endorsement of the New York Times, several newspapers in Ohio. The big surprise, though, this morning, the Des Moines Register hasn't endorsed a Democrat since -- Republican since 1972, Richard Nixon. They endorsed Mitt Romney, saying he offers a fresh economic vision.

I want to read a part of that endorsement right here. It says, "Barack Obama rocketed to the presidency from relative obscurity with a theme of hope and change. A different reality has marked his presidency. His record on the economy the past four years does not suggest he would lead in the direction the nation must go in the next four years." How much does this hurt?

CUTTER: Well, you know, they endorsed Mitt Romney in the primary, so this was not much of a surprise. It was a little surprising to read that editorial, because it didn't seem to be based at all in reality, not just in the president's record, but in Mitt Romney's record. It says that he'd reach across the aisle, which he'd do the exact opposite. It's the exact opposite of what he did in Massachusetts.

And, of course, over the course of running for president over this last six years, he's never once stood up to the far extreme right wing. Just this past week we saw it, when he wouldn't take down his ad for Richard Mourdock, who had -- you know, it's a now famous comment that it's God's will if a woman gets pregnant through rape. He's not willing to stand up when it matters.

So the fact that he's going to bring people together and work across the aisle is just nonsense. And in terms of newspaper endorsements, you know, we feel pretty good about where we are. This morning brings the Miami Herald, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the New York Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Toledo Blade, the Youngstown Vindicator. I could go on. We feel good. There is momentum. There is movement out there with people wanting a second term of an Obama presidency. We feel good about where we are.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, let's get into the impact of Hurricane Sandy. We've already seen President Obama cancel trips to Virginia and Colorado. You all have invested so much in the ground game to get out the vote. How much does the hurricane hinder your efforts there?

CUTTER: Well, we have to -- we have to see how it goes. You know, of course, we're all hoping that the hurricane doesn't have huge consequences for people's safety. We've taken every precaution that we possibly can. The president took down a couple of stops so that he could be at the White House to monitor the situation. And, of course, he's, you know, given every resource he can to state and local partners to ensure that people are safe. So we -- we just have to see how this goes. And, of course, we're all hoping for the best and for -- for people's safety.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Stephanie Cutter, thanks very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's turn now to the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, thanks for coming in this morning. You just heard Stephanie Cutter right there. She believes their campaign is ahead in Ohio, that the early vote is coming in for President Obama in those key battleground states. Your response?

GINGRICH: Well, I think you put your finger on it with the Des Moines Register. Here's a newspaper that has not endorsed a Republican in 40 years. And now -- they were for Obama four years ago. They've switched. I think the fact is, the paper in Florida this morning did the same thing, had been for Obama, it switched.

In Ohio, we clearly have gained ground. I think across the country we have. And if you look at the internals of the Washington Post poll, I doubt very much if Obama is going to carry Virginia. I think the poll way oversampled Democrats.

But the bigger issue is, whether it's unemployment or it is what's happened in Benghazi, where we've had this strange story over the weekend that the secretary of defense apparently refused to obey the president's order. If the president is telling the truth and he actually instructed his assistants to get aid to Benghazi, we're now being told that the secretary of defense canceled that.

And I think these kind of things all drag down the Obama campaign. You'll notice he's canceling his trips over the hurricane. He did not cancel his trips over Benghazi. And so you have to wonder, between Benghazi, the price of gasoline, and unemployment, just how much burden the president's going to carry into this last week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He does have a burden, as you point out, with a lot of those stories coming out at the same time. He also has built up a lead in some of these battleground states, according to the wealth of polls we've seen across the country, and it's raised the prospect of the possibility of Governor Romney winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College. Mark McKinnon, who worked for Governor -- President Bush has said that Republicans won't accept that. Is he right?

GINGRICH: I don't know what he means by we won't accept it. I mean, we're a nation of law. We're going to obey the law. I think it's very unlikely, as a historian, that you're going to see Romney win -- I think he's actually going to end up winning around 53-47. And I think it's very unlikely he can win a significant popular victory vote and not carry the Electoral College.

You know, James Carville has a rule: Incumbents get the last poll. Well, there are a lot of states where that last poll means -- for example, in Ohio -- that Obama would lose at least 51-49. You go around the country, there are lots of states where Obama is at 47, 48, sometimes 49, sometimes 46, and James Carville always said, you never get -- if you're the incumbent, you never get a break, because they had four years to decide they're for you, and they ain't doing it the last week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look at the closing arguments from President Obama. He was in New Hampshire yesterday taking aim at Mitt Romney's record in Massachusetts.


OBAMA: Once he took office, he pushed through a tax cut that overwhelming benefited 278 of the wealthiest families in the state, and then he raised taxes and fees on middle-class families to the tune of $750 million. Does that sound familiar to you?


STEPHANOPOULOS: His argument, of course, that's exactly what Governor Romney is going to do if he's president.

GINGRICH: Look, wait a second. The fact is, Barack Obama would trade the job creation of Romney as governor in a heartbeat. He would trade the unemployment rate of -- of Massachusetts under Romney in a heartbeat. He'd love to have had the bipartisan ability -- Romney worked with an 85 percent Democratic legislature. Obama would love to have been able to work with people as well as Romney did.

You look at Romney's record, and it makes, frankly, Obama's presidency look pretty thin and remarkably ineffective. Longest period of high unemployment in American history since the Great Depression. Every person who buys gasoline today is paying $2 a gallon more because of Obama's energy policies. I think Obama, if he had a chance, would love to have Romney's record in Massachusetts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The price of gas is going down in these final weeks, isn't it?

GINGRICH: Sure, because it goes down every fall when the summer travel goes in. It is still the most expensive for this time of year in American history. It is still $2 a gallon more than it was when Obama became president. And we're learning more and more about how much bankruptcies there are in the solar power industry he was taking care of.

So you have a president who badly invested your tax money to distort energy policies, while making you pay $2 a gallon more. That's a pretty tough record to go into Ohio or Florida, or anywhere, and say to folks, "Why don't you keep voting for $2 more on gasoline, because you like Obama so much, you don't mind paying for it?"

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Mr. Speaker, you heard Stephanie Cutter bring up this issue of Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate candidate in Indiana, and saying that Governor Romney is wrong not to stand up to him and say his comments were wrong and to take down his ad endorsing him. Your response?

GINGRICH: Well, my response is, if you listen to what Mourdock actually said, he said what virtually every Catholic and every fundamentalist in the country believes, life begins at conception. Now, this seems to be fixated by the Democrats, but the radical on abortion is Obama, who as a state senator voted three times in favor of allowing doctors to kill babies in the eighth and ninth month who were born, having survived late-term abortion, and the Democratic Party platform, which says you should pay with your tax money for late-term abortion, something which is about a 20 percent issue, but doesn't seem to fascinate the press nearly as much as the Stephanie Cutter...


STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Mr. Speaker, what -- what Mr. Mourdock said exactly was that this life after rape, as horrible as it may be, is something that God intended to happen. You agree with that?

GINGRICH: And he also immediately issued a clarification saying he was referring to the act of conception, and he condemned rape. Romney has condemned -- I mean, one part of this is nonsense. Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape. OK, so why can't people like Stephanie Cutter get over it? We all condemn rape. Now let's talk about whether we also condemn killing babies in the eighth and ninth month.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, thanks very much for your time this morning.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our powerhouse roundtable is standing by. That conversation starts in just 90 seconds.


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