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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Presidential Poll Numbers; Obama's Harsh Words for Romney

Aired October 25, 2012 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast and a big night out on the campaign trail. And they only get bigger from here on out, breaking news all around this evening.

Take a look, President Obama and Mitt Romney with dueling campaign events in the state of Ohio tonight. Governor Romney's event on the right, Mr. Obama's on the left.

Want to go to our correspondents at both rallies shortly and jump in at any point if either candidate make news.

We also have new polling as well tonight, late numbers just coming in tonight and new endorsements, including Colin Powell weighing in today.

Also tonight, a very different look inside the campaign from presidential historian Doug Brinkley, who got an opportunity to watch history being made, as well as overhear what President Obama called Mitt Romney. It rhymes with, well, "shulbidder."

It's causing some outrage on the right tonight. We will explain that.

This, on the other hand, there may be some reason for the Romney campaign to cheer the breaking news. The ABC News/"Washington Post" tracking poll now has Mitt Romney ahead by three points and, more crucially, hitting the 50 percent mark for the first time.

In our own CNN poll of polls, Governor Romney currently enjoys a one-point lead, 48-47. As you no doubt know, the race will boil down to a few key states and tonight, we also have new numbers from the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll in Colorado showing the race there tied. In Nevada, the same poll has President Obama out front by three, whereas, in Virginia, new polling from FOX has Mr. Romney up by two. That's a nine-point swing in his favor since September.

Now, not coincidentally, the campaigns in just the last couple of days have stopped in all of those states. Take a look. How would you like to have this as your flight plan? This is a map of the last 48 hours of campaign appearances for President Obama. Now here's Governor Romney's itinerary, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa and, of course, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.

About the only non-swing state stop, President Obama today, who touched down in Chicago to vote and was asked to show some I.D. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need some I.D.

OBAMA: Oh, you're right.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I have got my driver's license. Here you go. Now, ignore the fact that there's no gray hair in that picture.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, speaking to Chicago campaign workers today, Mr. Obama reminded them to work hard, it's going to be close, he said. "If voters don't turn out" -- and these are his words -- "we could lose this election."

More now on the president, the challenger and their two events today. Jim Acosta is on the campaign trail in Ohio. So is Jessica Yellin. Chief political analyst Gloria Borger joins us as well.

Jessica, President Obama's campaign could not like these numbers. The campaign manager told reporters today that we should ignore national polls, but these are state polls we're looking at. Romney has either closed the gap or is ahead. What do they make of that?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I can feel you smile when I tell you this, but they say they don't look at public polls at all either now.

One adviser told me that there are so many polls out there that they have a broken clock effect now. They are right twice a day. Another told me there are so many public polls out there, soon there will be an Outback Steakhouse poll.

Look, the bottom line is what they are paying attention to, they say, and I'm just reporting here, is they pay attention to their internal polling. Those are the polls that campaign conducts because, and they tend to be much more accurate, to be truthful, than the public polls because they spend so much money and time on them. They get into the granular details.

But we don't know what's really in them. We can just trust what they say. What they tell us is their own polling shows the president remains either tied or ahead in the key battleground states and continues to maintain his edge among women.

They point to Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire, Iowa as key states where he has this lead. How do we know that they're most likely telling the truth? Because they continue to spend big bucks on their advertising in all those battleground states, and I will point out one last thing, Anderson.

To be fair, they did say months ago that they expected the race to narrow to this close, to be a tie the week before Election Day, and they think we in the media are getting a little too caught up in the fact that it's just this tight.

COOPER: We are going to talk to one of those Obama campaign pollsters, Cornell Belcher, coming up.

Jim, Governor Romney hit 50 for the first time in that ABC News/"Washington Post" tracking poll, the national poll. That is a significant number for any candidate, right?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Anderson.

When you look at the independent numbers in those polls -- in that poll right now, it is very interesting because according to that poll, independents are moving in Mitt Romney's direction. He has a 19-point lead among independents in that poll, a 27-point lead among independents when it comes to who would best handle the economy and a 10-point lead in terms of who best understands people's problems.

But I have to point out that the Romney campaign earlier this afternoon put out a memo calling into question a "TIME" magazine poll that came out yesterday showing the president with a five-point lead. So, campaigns tout polls they like, they diminish polls that they don't like.

But I have to tell you, I talked to a senior Romney adviser earlier today who said look at the trend lines in this race, look at where this race stood a week ago, two weeks ago, and look at where it is right now. They feel like that puts Mitt Romney in a very good position right now.

And earlier this evening, Anderson, the pop rock star of yesteryear, Meat Loaf, was on stage in Defiance, Ohio. His song he would do anything for love, right now, Mitt Romney is pulling out all the stops to win this battleground state.

COOPER: Pulling out Meat Loaf.

Gloria, you have been digging down into the internals of the ABC poll. What can you tell us about it?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In addition to what Jim said about independent voters, the economic numbers there about how voters feel about Mitt Romney and the economy are very interesting to me, that he leads the president by nine points about who would do a better job handling the economy, but the number that I find of particular interest is what they call the economic empathy question, which Mitt Romney has been doing terribly on, which is do you understand the problems of people like me?

And now the president is beating him still, but only by two points, 48-46. So you see that on that ground, he's really done very well. I think you would have to say on this "Wall Street Journal" -- I mean, this "Washington Post"/ABC News poll that he's really made up a lot of ground during the month of October, and I think you would have to say it's probably because of the presidential debates, particularly the first one.

COOPER: You know, Jim, it's interesting now because we heard this new addition to Governor Romney's closing argument today, and suddenly now he is saying he's the candidate of change, which, of course, the phrase a lot of people associate with President Obama back in 2008.

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. I lost count earlier today when I was trying to count the number of times Mitt Romney was using the word change and it was not just the word change, he was saying big changes. He's going to bring big changes to the White House, that he and Paul Ryan represent big change coming to Washington.

And you're right, that was President Obama's slogan, hope and change, four years ago. Mitt Romney is trying to present the president now as the candidate of the status quo, of business as usual, and this is essentially a line of argument that the Romney campaign and Mitt Romney have settled on in the final stretch of this campaign, and that is he has a plan to turn around the economy, that the president does not, that that pamphlet he released earlier this week, in the words of one Romney adviser is just a glossy panic button.

COOPER: Jessica, at this point in the race, a candidate's ground game is what it's all about. What is President Obama's strategy for turning out votes and obviously for turning out women voters and particularly in Ohio, how does his ground game compare to that of Governor Romney's? Because Ohio is critical.

YELLIN: Yes. Ohio is what -- they won't use the word, but it's sort of the Obama firewall. That "TIME" magazine poll which Jim just referenced did show the president with a healthy lead here in the state.

So the president is on this multistate blitz because he is working on sort of ginning up the ground game to work -- sort of to be in action. First they are trying to energize the voters who are already Obama voters, so people like Latino voters who lean Obama, but might not vote anyway, they're trying to get them energized to go out and vote, union voters and then women who are already leaning to Obama.

The second point is to get early voters out to the polls because that's where the Obama team feels like their machine, their ground game, actually makes a difference. They think they have the numbers. The question is can you get them there on Election Day, if not, get them out early?

That made a big difference in several states in 2008. They're trying to do it again this year. Then you mentioned women voters. This is where they think the margin of difference can come in. There are a lot of undecided women voters, or they think a margin of them and they are trying to turn them at the very end. One way they are going to do it, Bill Clinton is hitting the trail with the president next week on Monday, the first time the two men will stump together, going to three battleground states. We will see that effort in action next week, Anderson.

COOPER: Jim, Gloria, Jessica, thanks.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper.

Let's tweet about what you just heard. The polls, do you believe the polls at this point, particularly in Ohio?

"Keeping Them Honest" tonight, a pair of Romney campaign claims that keep coming back, along with the same questions about how they stand up to the facts. We're "Keeping Them Honest" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now on a pair of Romney campaign ads that, well, they bend the truth, frankly. Both come from the Romney campaign and both repeat distortions and really outright falsehoods that have been debunked again and again, time and time again. Here's one titled "Apology Tour."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president began with an apology tour of going to various nations and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness. The reason I call it an apology tour, you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq, and you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's Mitt Romney repeating a charge that he's been making since the campaign began. The actual words came from the final debate this week in Florida and just like all the other times, fact- checkers have called the charge flat-out false. PolitiFact calls it Pants on Fire false, four Pinocchios from "The Washington Post" fact- checker, and this on debate night from our own fact-checker, John Berman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what are the facts here?

When the president took office he did travel to several countries talking about American foreign policy. In France, for example, he said America has shown arrogance and had been dismissive, even derisive, though he also criticized Europe in that very same speech.

And in none of these speeches, none of them, in Europe or the Middle East or here at home, did President Obama use the word apology or say he's sorry. So our verdict here is it is false to call the president's speeches an apology tour, even if he was critical of past U.S. foreign policy. He issued no apologies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And yet the ad has just come out. Here's a portion of ad number two titled "Highest."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The world needs a strong America and it is stronger now than when I came into office.

ROMNEY: Our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. That's unacceptable to me. This in my view is the highest responsibility of the president of the United States.

And I will not cut our military budget by $1 trillion, which is the combination of the budget cuts that the president asked. That in my view is making our future less certain and less secure. I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. So there are two charges in that ad, one that the Navy is the smallest at any time since 1917, and, two, that President Obama is cutting $1 trillion out of the defense budget.

Second item first. "Keeping Them Honest," those trillion dollars in cuts were what Democrats and Republicans agreed would happen automatically over 10 years, if -- I say if -- neither side could reach a budget deal by year's end.

The Navy claim, that the last time it was so small was 1917, "Keeping Them Honest," every major fact-checking organization, ourselves included, has found that simply is not true. Whether you're making the comparison to 1917 as Mr. Romney now does in that ad, or 1916, which is by the way what he did previously, there were 342 ships in the fleet in 1917. Right now there are 285, which is in fact lower than 342, obviously.

However, it's been below 342 a lot of times before this, including seven years in the 1930s, every year since 2000, in fact. "Keeping Them Honest," we wanted to know why the Romney campaign despite being called out on this time and time again decided to repeat the falsehood in this new ad. It's just not true.

We invited them on the program to give their side. Of course, they declined. Earlier this week, we did manage to ask Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell about these dodgy numbers. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You're well aware that under President Bush the Navy was actually smaller and that surface warships under President Obama have gone up 10 percent.

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: The broader point is -- I don't know how many times we dip below 1916, but there is a broader point, Anderson, and that is if the Defense Department says in their "Quadrennial Review" which is the bible that we need 346 ships and today we've only got 287, and the president at least infers that whether it's technology or anything else, that we still don't need any more, that's factually incorrect.

COOPER: But we're actually building more ships.

MCDONNELL: And protecting American strength around the world that we do need more ships and that's the point.

COOPER: Right.

But we're actually building more ships and again, I mean, just factually, under President Bush, in 2007 there were 278 ships. Right now there's 285 ships. And we already are projected to build -- I think get over 300 in the next seven years. So just factually just not correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And this ignores, of course, all argument over what kind of ships we had back in 1916 and 1917 vs. now.

Anyway, again, the Romney campaign would not provide us anyone tonight on this. The invitation of course remains open. They are welcome, as they are any time.

Back to Ohio. Both candidates have campaign stops there tonight. Looking there live right now, Air Force One arriving there on the left of your screen with President Obama, and Governor Romney is being introduced on the other side of the screen at the event tonight.

More now on the ads, the new polling, the crazy campaign schedule and all the rest with Ari Fleischer, who is an occasional unpaid consultant to the Romney campaign, and Obama 2012 pollster Cornell Belcher.

Ari, I know you say the Romney campaign would not be running any ads at this stage of the game if they hadn't -- if they don't have reason to believe they were effective tactics. But whether they work or not, shouldn't the truth count for something? Just factually, it's just not correct.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Anderson, let's separate the two issues.

On the apology tour, if you are trying to make a literal definition about the word apology, I don't think that makes this ad invalid. What Mitt Romney's point is, is that the president goes abroad and speaks derisively about America, talks about the things America has done wrong in the president's opinion in the past and this is how in 2009 he took office. Call it an apology, call it an excuses tour, call it an America should be different tour, it all gets the same point. I think it's justifiable in politics.

As for the number of ships, look, that's a factual matter. If the facts are wrong, then that portion of the ad needs to be recut and he should put whatever the accurate number is, the lowest number of ships since 1939 or whatever the appropriate year is.

The broader point about what he's saying about the military is an arguable point about who's going to be better on national defense, Mitt Romney or President Obama when it comes to giving resources to the Pentagon. So I don't think either one of these falls terribly out of bounds except for the factual issue if what you said is 100 percent right, and I don't doubt it, about the number of ships.

COOPER: Cornell, you think these ads are aimed at energizing Governor Romney's base and, at this point, is that who the ads should be based at, targeted at?

CORNELL BELCHER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: Well, from a campaign standpoint, two points.

One, from a campaign standpoint, if you're having to do ads in the last two weeks of a campaign to really sort of energize your base, not go after a sort of Middle America swing voters, because, look, because, we all know, I think Ari will agree with me that that woman in Middle America that's sitting around her kitchen table trying to figure out how to pay for her kids' college and buy food isn't counting ships.

So, clearly, I think it's sort of aimed at the base. And if you're doing ads sort of aimed at your base two weeks out from the election that's strictly for your base, you're telling us that you have problems in your base.

The other point I want to make here is that it's not the one thing, it is a pattern here that's sort of part of the narrative here where you have, you know, item after item or thing after thing with the Romney campaign that fact-checkers check and say, well, that's just not true.

And what you have is a whole pattern of sort of, you know, things that -- coming out of this campaign that don't seem to be true and it really does speak to the question of trust. I think Colin Powell hit on this today in his endorsement.

How can you trust anything that coming from this campaign? How can you trust Mitt Romney to fight for the middle class? You can't trust anything coming out of this campaign.

COOPER: Cornell, let me just push back though on the idea that Romney has some problem with his base because he's running ads. Jessica Yellin was just reporting that President Obama, one of the things he's out doing on the campaign trail is trying to energize the base and get voter turnout. Is that weakness in his base? BELCHER: Well, yes, that's one thing about ground and it's a whole 'nother thing to be rolling out a brand-new advertisement that's clearly not aimed at sort of persuading that last swathe of undecided voters.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So you're making a distinction. OK.

BELCHER: Yes. Clearly, the last swathe of undecided voters are more female than male.

COOPER: Ari, I want to ask about these new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" swing state polls out tonight. The president leading by three points I guess in Nevada, Governor Romney and the president tied in Colorado. Good numbers for your candidate.

What's it going to take for him to win there? What do you see in these polls?

FLEISCHER: Well, the movement is definitely toward Mitt Romney. I think the previous Colorado poll, Mitt Romney was down by five and in this poll, it's got him dead even.

In Nevada, the previous poll had the president up two, he remains up two. I think Nevada is the tougher state for Governor Romney. I think it's in large part because of the significant number of Hispanic voters in the state of Nevada. The wild card we all have to keep an eye on in Nevada is going to be the Mormon vote.

Is the fact that there's a Mormon candidate running for president going to bring out a lot of people that we just don't really pay much attention to in politics, do we? I think that's a wild card in Nevada. But Nevada's tougher.

Colorado looks like it's moving pretty well into the Romney camp. But, Anderson, all the state polls, the one thing you need to look out for is, is the president under 50 and where are independents breaking down? In Ohio, independents are going for Mitt Romney. In 15 of the last polls, Mitt Romney has a virtual double-digit lead in the state of Ohio among independents. That's a huge issue in that state.

If that holds up, he will take Ohio.

COOPER: And we're looking at a live picture right now of Governor Romney in Defiance, Ohio. He's just been introduced by Governor Kasich.

Cornell, what about what Ari just said?

FLEISCHER: And Meat Loaf.

COOPER: And Meat Loaf, right, exactly.

But, also, Cornell, what are you seeing in Ohio? Because obviously Ohio is critical. BELCHER: Yes, it is critical.

You know, I love sort -- Ari, God bless you. I love the Republicans now. There's all this spin about sort of this momentum. It's really kind of faux momentum.

COOPER: You don't see momentum?

BELCHER: No.

Look at battleground state after battleground state. The president is either tied or ahead. The race remains awfully tight. You could argue that from a structural or dynamic standpoint, the race looks very much like the race looked before the first debates, where you had the president sort of tied or up in a lot of these battleground states.

And here's the problem. If you're the challenger, at some point in these battleground states, you actually have to get ahead of the guy who's the incumbent. If you look at Nevada, I think the same problem in Colorado you have in Nevada, you have a growing population of a diverse population there in Colorado as well. And I think out West, I think you're seeing a growth in sort of diversity in America.

And Republicans are struggling to connect with Hispanic voters in a way that I think this election and certainly in the future when you look at the changes in the population is going to be problematic for them.

COOPER: Cornell, can Romney win Ohio?

BELCHER: You can always win it. I think the problem -- it's problematic.

Look, and I think it goes back to a lot of the sort of talk about the Bain ads early on. Look, in places like Ohio, in Michigan, and even Wisconsin, you know, they get sort of these big Wall Street companies coming down, you know, taking over these companies, laying off workers, stripping workers of their retirement and bankrupting these companies and then rolling away with the golden parachute.

Those voters really get that. Can he win Ohio? Yes, but poll after poll after poll, the blue-collar and some of those working-class voters in Ohio see the president as the one who's going to fight for the middle class and fight for people like them.

COOPER: Ari, obviously, we're seeing the importance of Ohio right here. You have the president now arriving out of Air Force One in Cleveland, you have Governor Romney on the right in Defiance.

Do you agree that Romney can win Ohio and, also, does he have to win Ohio? Do you see a path if he doesn't?

FLEISCHER: Well, there is a path if he doesn't. It really centers around Wisconsin. He needs Ohio, though. But let's go to the numbers. I think that's the best way to figure these things out. In the last three polls in Ohio, all three of which came out yesterday, the president was at 49, 48 and 47. Any time an incumbent is below 50, it's a sign of trouble.

In one of those polls, again, Anderson, that old issue, way oversampling of Democrats. In 2008 in the Democratic landslide, 8 percentage points more Democrats showed up than Republicans. When Bush took the state in 2004, 5 percentage point more Republicans showed up than Democrats.

The "TIME" magazine poll of Ohio which had the president up five had plus-nine Democrat. They're saying that 2012 is a bigger landslide than 2008. We all know that's not going to happen.

COOPER: You're saying the numbers...

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: A lot of the polls, there's oversampling of Democrats, there's a skewing and a bias toward Democrats. And that's why I went to the independent votes.

Romney's up 12 among independents in the last 15 polls in Ohio. State's over if that's the case.

COOPER: Cornell, just briefly, I want to get your take on that.

BELCHER: Well, real briefly, quickly, the problem is you can make the same argument.

Look, you're not going to weight your way in a poll to victory. The problem is you can make the same argument when you look at sort of core Democratic groups, younger voters, minority voters, more transient voters, those people are always...

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: You really think they will show up more than '08?

(CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: ... in the polls.

If Republicans are basing their victory on the ideal thinking that the base of the Democratic Party being minorities just aren't going to turn up like they did in '08, I got to tell you, it's fool's gold.

COOPER: Interesting.

So you think the levels -- but, Cornell, are you're saying the levels will be the same as 2008 in those groups?

BELCHER: I don't think you will see dramatic drop-off among Democratic base voters. I think that's a fallacy. And I am looking forward to coming back on your program the day after the election and talking about this issue.

COOPER: All right, we will save the tape. Cornell Belcher, Ari Fleischer.

FLEISCHER: That is the big issue. That's it.

COOPER: Yes. It seems like it. All right, you guys agree. We will end it on that.

Thank you.

Both campaigns are pulling out all the stops, taking off the gloves. President Obama used some pretty salty language to describe Mitt Romney in an interview for "Rolling Stone." The guy who did the interview, historian David Brinkley, joins me to talk about the remark and also the rest of his Oval Office interview -- Doug Brinkley.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. You're looking at live events in Ohio tonight, on the left, obviously President Obama speaking in Cleveland, Governor Romney speaking on the right in Defiance, Ohio, just a sign of just how important Ohio is for both of these candidates, a must-win state.

President Obama himself has admitted he botched the first debate with Mitt Romney. His performance was widely seen as pretty passive, disengaged. Many of Governor Romney's claims went unchallenged.

Eight days later, though, the gloves were off, and at the end of the interview for "Rolling Stone" magazine, Mr. Obama described Romney as a "B.S.-er," only he used the full version of the insult.

Historian Doug Brinkley conducted the interview. It's the cover story of "Rolling Stone's" November 8 issue. It's out tomorrow. The "B.S.-er" comment has got a lot of people talking. You've probably seen it today all over the Web. I spoke with Doug Brinkley earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So the B.S.-er comment is getting a lot of attention. Walk us through how that happened, where he said it.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN: Well, I did a 45-minute interview in the Oval Office of the president. Then we had a little bit of loose banter time both before and afterwards talking about the Chicago White Sox or whatnot.

He made a joke with Eric Bates, "Rolling Stone" editor, who was simply joking with the president about his daughter saying, you know, "My daughter asked what I should tell you, and she said, 'You can do it.'

He said, "That's all I need. I'm great with that demographic, 6 to 12, I do well with kids." And with the follow-up, "Why don't you lower the voting age?" The president made the joke and just said, you know, "The kids can tell when the other guy is a B.S.-er."

COOPER: Is -- did you sense a personal animosity between -- with President Obama toward his opponent?

BRINKLEY: I think the word meant nothing to me. It's -- I have no sense of political correctness and everybody uses it.

But I do think that there's a frustration with what Colin Powell said today, you know, there's one Romney foreign policy in one debate, and then here's what he said back then and what he's calling Romnesia up there. And that's hard to -- how do you pin down a politician that's like mercury. I think there's a frustration a little bit with that.

But I also felt the president was in fine form, almost clicking his heels ready to go, and he has an extraordinary amount of energy as we're seeing from this nonstop, you know, travel.

COOPER: And yet, this interview was done pretty soon after the first debate.

BRINKLEY: It was. It was done October 11, so I didn't know what kind of mood he was going to be in after Denver, but he had obviously regrouped and I've read that he is able to do this. He kind of comes on now like a bit like a tidal wave. And you can feel the kinetic Obama on the campaign trail right now.

COOPER: What do you take away from him?

BRINKLEY: Some historians, I'm one of them, we've had dinners, with Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Bob Carroll, a group of us go to once in a while. Just he's deeply schooled in history. He's very serious, but he has a great sense of humor. I don't think the humor gets on display much. Now he'll go on Jay Leno or one of those shows and do these lines.

But underneath it all, I think he's just somebody who really wants to be one of the gang in many ways. In that artificial bridge of being president, sometimes a little tough for him. I do get the feeling he'd like to be able to just walk around D.C. or drive a car or do things that he can't do. He said yesterday, I mean, he can't even carry a cell phone with him.

COOPER: You say in the article that "Yes, we can" has become "No, he won't."

BRINKLEY: That's my central point. I mean, in 2008 it was "Yes, we can." Now it's like no, you won't. No, you won't undo decades of progressivism. No, you won't overturn Roe v. Wade. No, you won't drill ANWR. No, you know -- no, you won't make Medicaid or Medicare into a voucher system. On and on.

In many ways, he's a custodian of the Great Society and New Deal. And the last of a line of a really major progressive presidents, if Obama care sticks -- and incidentally, he told me he likes being -- thinks it's great that we call it Obama care -- if that sticks, it will be seen as a giant achievement. If he loses, it will get -- Romney/Ryan will go after it from -- the president -- as Governor Romney said, from day one they'll try to undo Obama care.

COOPER: But no, he won't or no, we won't is more a reactive thing, as opposed to a forward vision of what I want to do over the next four years.

BRINKLEY: I think it is. And you know, but we're dealing with unusual politics. In Bill Clinton's day, you still had moderate Republicans. I was with Lowell Weicher last night. He's a Republican from Connecticut. He's for Obama now. Colin Powell we just mentioned. There's nobody in a lot of ways to do business with because the Republican Party's become very strong on the right.

So one of the arguments, I think, of bringing the base out in the last days is, "Even if you're a little disappointed in my performance as president, imagine if I'm not here. This could happen." And it's a way to bring young people, Latinos, the women's vote up, I think.

COOPER: You write in the article that there's this great moment about being at a rally and seeing these two young African-American girls and bringing them up so they could actually meet the president.

BRINKLEY: It was in Momi (ph), Ohio, and I had one -- right behind me was an 11-year-old girl and the other side a 14. And I kind of -- I was with my own kids but I allowed these two young people to come in. And the president's working the rope line, commotion like a Souza band playing, and he -- this 11-year-old wanted her shirt signed with a Sharpie. And he wasn't really doing it. He said, "All right. I'll sign it," and he signed it. But when he got to the 14-year-old, he said, "No, you're too old; 14's too old to be ruining your clothes. You have a nice shirt. You've got to take care of that."

And it was very unusual because most presidential aspirants kiss babies. He's a busy man, and he's standing on a rope line differentiating between an 11- and 14-year-old. That's the father side of President Barack Obama. And I think everybody knows what an extraordinary dad and a husband he is.

COOPER: Doug Brinkley, thanks.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, obviously the Latino vote could top 12 million in this election. It's going to be vitally important. President Obama promised to deliver immigration reform in his first term. Univision journalist challenged Mr. Obama on that, Jorge Ramos, joins me ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hurricane Sandy is making its way to the Bahamas, could be headed to the northeastern United States as a Frankenstorm. A winter storm/hurricane hybrid. We'll get a live update on what to expect when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There was a dust-up this week between an Iowa paper and President Obama. Mr. Obama did a conference call with editors of "the Des Moines Register," seeking their endorsement but on the condition the conversation be off the record.

Later one of the editors blogged about not being able to tell readers what the president said, arguing that keeping the conversation off the record was a disservice to voters. Well, within 24 hours, Obama campaign officials released the transcript of the call.

At one point, President Obama talked about a pivotal voting bloc. He said, quote, "I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community."

President Obama also said he would get immigration reform done if he wins a second term. It is a promise he's made before and broken. There are over 12 million registered Latino voters today, 26 percent more than just four years ago.

In a recent interview, Univision's Jorge Ramos asked President Obama some tough questions about why Latinos should vote for him again. Jorge Ramos joins me now along with Maria Elena Salinas, also an anchor at Univision.

Jorge, it's interesting what the president doesn't say in that interview. He doesn't say if he wins, it will be because of his huge amount of support from the Latino community. Rather, he says that if he wins, it will be because Romney alienated the Latino community. What do you make of that distinction?

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: Well, it's -- the reality is that Republicans have really alienated the Hispanic community. Republicans opposed the anti-immigrant laws in Alabama, in Arizona, in Georgia. Republicans voted against the DREAM Act in the Senate, voted against immigration reform.

So you can see the polls. Most Latinos will be voting for President Barack Obama, and President Barack Obama can't do it alone. He needs Republicans.

The reason why he says he couldn't get immigration reform this year is because -- or the first year when he was in office is simply because Republicans don't support him.

So yes, there's a big distinction. It's not only that Democrats are trying to get immigration reform. Mostly it has to do with Republicans criticizing the Latino community and the immigrant community so much that it's going to be close to impossible for them to get more than 33, 35 percent of the Hispanic vote. COOPER: Maria Elena, the latest polling shows the president, obviously, with strong support from the Latinos. If this election, though, is going to be about turnout, is there any indication, any clues about what Latino turnout is expected to be like on November 6, especially when compared to 2008?

MARIA ELENA SALINAS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: When you compare it to 2008, it is expected to be just as high. The enthusiasm and this is measured usually by Latino Decisions and Infer (ph) Media, they have been doing a tracking poll for the last nine weeks. And they do measure the level of enthusiasm. And we've been following that, and from when they started nine weeks ago to today, it has increased tremendously to the point where it is at the same level as it was in 2008.

But you really hit it right on the nail. The answer for Barack Obama, the secret to his success with Latinos, is going to be the turnout.

The latest polls show that 71 percent of Latinos support President Obama while only 20 percent support Governor Romney. But if they do not go out and vote, it won't make a difference. It should make a difference nationally, and it should make a difference in several of the battleground states, particularly in Colorado and in Nevada.

COOPER: Yes. Jorge, you recently challenged the president on the fact that he hasn't lived up to his promise on immigration reform. I just want to play that for our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAMOS: A promise is a promise, and with all due respect, but you didn't keep that promise.

OBAMA: Well, here's what I would say, Jorge, is that -- we've had this conversation before.

There's the thinking that the president is somebody who is all powerful and can get everything done. and so I am happy to take responsibility for the fact that we didn't get it done, but I did not make a promise that I would get everything done 100 percent when I was elected as president.

What I promised was that I would work every single day as hard as I can to make sure that everybody in this country, regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, that they would have a fair shot at the American dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So when the president tells the Des Moines Register he's going to get immigration reform done in the next year, I mean, to your point, that's a promise Latinos have heard before.

RAMOS: Exactly. And many Latinos are disillusioned with President Barack Obama. The reality is that he has deported more immigrants than any other president in the history of the United States and that he broke a promise. He said that in 1008, and it's very difficult for Latinos to believe President Barack Obama.

However, when Latinos have to choose between President Barack Obama, who still supports immigration reform and the DREAM Act, and Governor Romney, who supports self-deportation, who says that he's going to veto the DREAM Act, who doesn't have a plan for 11 million undocumented immigrants, he's saying that he has a permanent solution but hasn't given any specifics. When Latinos have a choice, they still prefer President Barack Obama.

COOPER: Maria Elena, you reinforced this earlier. But when people think of the Latino vote, where it's especially important, people typically think of states, big populations like Florida or California.

But as you said, if you look at a state like Colorado, where the president and Governor Romney are neck and neck, 13 percent of the electorate that's Latino, it could make the difference between winning and losing that state. I mean, that's a huge percentage.

SALINAS: Latino Decisions recently did an analysis of national polls, and they believe that they might be off about 4 percent, because maybe some of these polls are not including Latinos. Latinos in both English and Spanish, because even though of course U.S. citizens that are Latino speak English because they have to pass the citizenship test. But a lot of them prefer to get their information in Spanish.

Therefore, there's a possibility, there's a good possibility according to Latino Decisions, that the polls that we're seeing nationally and in some battleground states are not accurate because they did not measure adequately the Hispanic vote. So it's very possible that that number could be 4 percent more toward President Obama.

So we're expecting that in this election, November 6, approximately 12.2 million Latinos will vote. That's about a 26 percent increase from 2008. But if they go out and vote it will make a difference. If they don't go out and vote, then it won't.

COOPER: Marina Elena Salinas, thank you very much. Jorge Ramos, as well. Great to have you on. Thank you.

Well, it's been called S'Noreast Easter Cane or Frankenstorm and, by our own Chad Myers, the imperfect storm. It's a mix of Hurricane Sandy and a winter storm, and it's headed for the East Coast just in time for Halloween. Chad has the latest on where it could hit and how bad it could be. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: People in the Bahamas are preparing for Hurricane Sandy as people here on the East Coast of the U.S. are starting to hear a lot about what it could bring as it gets closer. What's being called a Frankenstorm, a mix of a hurricane and a winter storm.

Sandy's now a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 105 miles an hour. Damaged more than 3,000 buildings in eastern Cuba according to state television. It's cost lives in Cuba and Haiti and Jamaica. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us now live with the latest.

Chad, where's the storm now and when could it hit and where?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's 285 miles from Miami, not moving toward Miami, moving to the northwest, not to the west, where it would have to be.

Here's Miami itself. There's the Florida Peninsula right through there. Right here, not that far from the Keys, that right there, that's where the center of Sandy is now, about 100, 105 miles per hour. Hurricane hunter aircraft in it, not finding hurricane speeds over 100, 105. That's about it for right now. Still a Category 2. Big storm. Lots of waves.

Huge, huge waves coming onshore here in Florida, and that will do beach erosion. That will also cause significant rip currents. Can't be in that water tomorrow as we start to move this storm closer and closer to Florida.

And it turns away from America, and then it turns back to America. It's been a very fickle storm, but it's going to be sucked in here into the northeast somewhere as a pretty significant storm. Worst-case scenario, Anderson, this could be -- this could be a $1 billion storm. No question. This could be like the perfect storm was, what, 21 years ago. We'll just have to see where it hits.

COOPER: It could possibly hit New York City, right?

MYERS: Absolutely. No question about it. Let me show you the models here.

Models a couple days ago were all out into the Atlantic and kept turning right. Now they're all turning back to the left. Now, it could hit Maine. It could hit Massachusetts. Could be all the way down into the Carolinas. New York just happens to be in the middle of that cone.

COOPER: OK. And, I mean, what kind of impact are we potentially talking about here? We're obviously going to have high water. There's going to be flooding along the coast.

MYERS: I can't tell you yet. It's still four days away. This could have a significantly bigger impact on New York City, Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, than Irene did last year.

This could be a big storm as it makes that turn and slams directly into where New York and New Jersey come together, the water could really pile up in here. Maybe that problem we thought about last time where water's in the subway, if it gets to be right in New York Harbor, we're talking about that scenario potential again.

COOPER: All right. Chad, we'll keep watching. Thanks.

There's a lot more we're following. Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, HLN ANCHOR: Anderson, a late breaking political story in the making. A top Romney surrogate tonight attributing Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama to race. Here is what John Sununu said just moments ago on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY ADVISER: And frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Defense Secretary Panetta says a drone was overhead during the later stages of the attack last month on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It observed the chaos, he said, but says there simply wasn't enough real-time information to determine exactly what was happening or drive a decision to send in forces. Four Americans were killed in the assault.

Business news now, and Apple says profits jumped 24 percent last quarter, driven by sales of the new iPhone. The company earned $8.2 billion on sales of $36 billion, slightly below predictions.

And after a year of renovations, the Statue of Liberty will reopen on Sunday, the monument's 126th birthday. The improvements will make Lady Liberty easier to navigate. For the first time, visitors using wheelchairs will be able to reach one of the observation decks -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Coming up, how much would you pay to let someone slap you in the face for 15 minutes? "The RidicuList" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Ah, yes, time for the "RidicuList." tonight we're bringing you word of something that has probably been missing from your beauty regimen.

Just speaking in general for a moment here, I don't think it's fair that women -- sometimes men, mostly women -- are made to feel that they have to go to extremes and sometimes painful lengths to look a certain way. The eyebrow waxing, the Botox, the facelifts, that prescription for so-called inadequate eye lashes, whatever that is. There's even a deodorant that's supposed to make women's armpits more attractive. That's right, armpits more attractive. It's madness, all of it.

But at least no one was suggesting that you get punched in the face to try to look younger. Until now.

Yes, there is a place in San Francisco that will slap you in the face in the name of beauty. It's supposed to help wrinkles look smaller and make the skin firmer, and it isn't just for women. On "Good Morning America," reporter Nick Watt tried it out, but didn't seem to notice results so he had to get help from the owners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see the jaw line right here? This side, you don't see a jaw line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: This technique is supposedly a Thai tradition passed down from generation to generation although nick wasn't afraid to cut to the chase on that one. Perhaps because he had just been slapped in the face for 15 minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can say anything's with ancient Thai wisdom and everyone will think it's great when actually it's rubbish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is definitely not rubbish. This is very serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You may be wondering how much it costs to let someone slap you in the face. It's $350 for one treatment. Yes, $350 for one face slapping in a specific area, or for $1,000 you can really treat yourself to a full course of face slapping, choosing from the following styles. Face slapping to look like a celebrity. Face slapping to look younger. And face slapping to charm your significant other.

Of course, the big question is, does it really work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course there is no medical evidence this really works, although doctors concede it might improve circulation and bring on a healthy flush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Look, I don't want to sound cynical because apparently this face slapping thing has been going on for a long time in other parts of the world, and they're not stopping at the face, either. Oh, no.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Thailand for years they've been slapping faces and chests to enlarge and something else that roughly translates as butt punching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's to firm the butt. It's to help shape the butt, make it bigger as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By punching it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. Listen, can we just call the game right here and just admit there's already too much emphasis on looks before we expect people to make room in their budgets for cosmetic butt punching? That's a sentence, by the way, I never thought I would say. Cosmetic butt punching.

Bottom line, there's entirely too much pressure surrounding these unrealistic beauty standards. I, for one, think it's a total slap in the face.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.