Sen. Rob Portman on 'This Week'

The Ohio senator on the presidential debates and the 2012 election.
3:00 | 10/14/12

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Transcript for Sen. Rob Portman on 'This Week'
Good morning, welcome to "this week." It's on. I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other. Well, don't take all the four minutes then. Vice president biden brings the heat. With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey. But congressman paul ryan stands firm. I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right bay. The big question. Biden's aggressive approach energized democrats. Did it risk alienating independents? What should we expect on tuesday, when obama and romney meet for the second face-off? We'll ask our headliner, ohio senator rob portman, the man playing president obama in mitt romney's debate prep. And the vice president's son, delaware attorney general bo biden. Insights and analysis from our all-star panel. Former presidential candidates newt gingrich and chris dodd. George will, donna brazile, richard norton smith and the moderator of thursday night's debate -- it was a preplanned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure? Abc's martha raddatz. It's a special discussion about the debates along with our partners at the university of virginia's miller center. Good morning, everyone. George is off today. We're in the home stretch of this campaign. 23 days until the final votes are cast. All eyes are on tuesday's debate in a sign of how seriously the president is taking the second debate, he's spending the weekend not on the campaign trail, but instead, hunkered down for debate prep. His campaign went on the air yesterday with a new ad featuring a familiar voice. Every president inherits challenges. Few have faced so many. There are still challenges to meet. But the last thing we should do is turn back now. Thas actor morgan freeman, of course. As for the republican ticket, they spent saturday fanned out across the critical battleground state of ohio, enjoying favorable press and swelling crowds. Our crowds keep getting bigger and bigger. There's more of a passion about changing washington and getting a new president. we'll cover the campaign and the debates from all angles this morning. The vice president's son, delaware attorney general bo biden is standing by. We begin with ohio, senator rob portman is in romney headquarters in boston, working on debate prep with governor romney. Good morning, senator portman. Good morning, jake. How are you? I'm well. Thank you. As we said in the open, you're playing president obama in the debate prep. Here's governor romney talking about the role you play. He's playing barack obama in these mock debates we have. I don't like him very much anymore. He keeps beating me up. I keep going away shaking my head. This guy's really something. You're lucky to have a guy so bright and capable. And this morning, washington post reporter dan balls called you the romney campaign's most valuable player for your roles as ohio point man and obama stand in. I assume you're thinking president obama will have more pep in his step on tuesday. How do you prepare? I think you're right. I think president obama is going to come out swinging. He'll have to compensate for a poor first debate. They've run a highly negative ad campaign. They've spent hundreds of millions around the country, including a lot in ohio, mischaracterizing governor romney's positions and misrepresenting him. I think you'll see that again on tuesday night. Congressman ryan said something at the debate I would love for you to explain. Here he is. Joe and I are from similar towns. He's from scranton, pennsylva pennsylvania, I'm from janesville, wisconsin. Do you know what the unemployment rate is in scranton today? Sure do. It's 10.5 percent. It was 8.5% the day you guys came in. That's how it's going all around america. This has been weak economic recovery, without question. But it is a recovery. And unemployment is going down, as a factual matter. Why would congress ryan suggest otherwise? Unemployment is higher today than when the president took office. I think ryan is telling the truth. Unfortunately in the meantime, we've created net zero jobs. The weakest recovery since the great depression. I think he's right. We are happy to see some improvement in the economy. But the fact is, the economy is iraq this year than I was last year. It was weaker last year than the year before. We're not heading in the right direction. The administration is being criticized for reaction to and how it dealt with the attacks in benghazi, libya. And saying the attacks are a campaign issue. This is the first time that an ambassador has been assassinated in governor romney's words. The ambassador's father said this morning t would be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue. Does the fact that the ambassador's father doesn't want this to be campaign issue cause you any concern about governor romney bringing it up on the stump? Well, he didn't say it was a campaign issue. He said it was an issue. It's something the american people are concerned about, jake. Look, you have been on top of this. I've seen some of the tough questions you have been asking the white house on it. Folks want to know why wasn't the security there and why did the administration try so hard to create the wrong image of what happened? They went out of their way to try to leave the impression this was because of some video. It wasn't. It was a premeditated terrorist attack. We lost an ambassador and three other brave americans. It needs to be explained to the american people. Folks deserve an explanation. In ohio especially, governor romney is making an issue about cracking down on china and china's cheating. This other issue, governor romney gets a cut of the profits in bain capital's investments in chinese companies. Is there not a disconnect with what the governor wants to do and how he's continuing to profit off the very problems he criticizes? Yeah, jake, no. I don't think there is a disconnect at all. All this stuff is in a blind trust. A lot of americans are invested in international investments. I sure president obama is as well. The issue is what are we going to do about trade? We need to open more markets. I'm the former u.S. Trade rep. It's unbelievable that the united states has sat on the sidelines for the last four years. Hasn't negotiated a single trade-opening agreement. The rest of the world continues to negotiate them. 40 or 50 have been negotiated. Taking away our market share from our worker, our farmers, our service providers. At the same time, we haven't been tough enough on countries not playing by the rules. One is china. As you know, I'm the sponsor of the currency legislation in congress. We think they manipulate their currency. It ought to be addressed. It's a trade issue. It affects the cost of their exports to us. They're lower as a result of it. It makes it more expensive for us to send stuff to them. These are legitimate issues in ohio. And I thing governor romney ought to keep raising them. We have one minute left. I'm turning to ohio. Let's look at the latest poll. From after the first debate. President obama in the lead still, 51% to romney's 45%. That's from after the first presidential debate. Does governor romney have a path to the presidency without ohio? I know you're going to say that he will win ohio. Can he win the presidency without it? He can probably win the presidency without ohio, but i wouldn't want to take the risk. No republican has. We're doing great in ohio. If you look at the average of all the polls, it's about dead even in ohio right now. The momentum is on our side. It's been terrific. I've been to half dozen rallies in the last week. I've never seen this energy and enthusiasm on the ground. We have already made three times more phone calls through the volunteers since 2008. We've knocked on 25 times more doors than 2008. Something is going on on the ground. It's turning our way. The president will continue the attack, not focus on the substances of the issues that the people care about but continuing the attack. Thank you, senator portman. We appreciate your time. Thank you, jake. Now we turn to the vice president's son, delaware attorney general bo biden. Bo, thank you for joining us. Great to be with you, jake.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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