NBC: Ohio 'Slipping Away' From Romney After 'Damage From That 47% Comment'

Leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Savannah Guthrie declared the presidential race in one key battleground state all but over: "Tonight, both candidates are in Ohio as a spate of new polls shows the all-important bellwether may be slipping away for the Republican challenger."

In the report that followed, correspondent Ron Allen reiterated that "new polls show Ohio slipping away" from Romney and quickly asserted the cause: "Romney down by ten points in a new poll out this morning, and nearly that in another recent poll, after that video of Romney talking disparagingly about the 47% who pay no income tax."

After touting difficulties for Romney, Allen piled on with attacks from Obama: "..his problem is that President Obama is here, too....and not letting anyone forget that other number, 47%." A sound bite played of Obama proclaiming: "I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who never take responsibility for their own lives."

Wrapping up the segment, Allen parroted White House talking points on Ohio's economy: "...the President has been reminding voters here that the economy in this state is improving and that unemployment is below the national average, he says, because of policies like the auto industry bailout. More reasons why this could be a tough state for Mitt Romney."

Allen didn't bother to offer the alternative explanation that the policies of Republican Governor John Kasich led to the economic improvement.

On Thursday's Today, Guthrie introduced another campaign report by announcing: "Romney looks to repair the damage from that 47% comment that was recorded at a fundraiser."

Correspondent Peter Alexander noted Romney's effort "to show empathy and soften his image" while "President Obama is furiously working to frame his opponent as out of touch. Again, keying in on Romney's comments seemingly dismissing 47% of Americans who pay no income tax."

Like Allen, Alexander eagerly touted Obama lines of attack: "At Kent State University, President Obama even tried to turn a stumble into a stinging critique." In the sound bite that followed, the President jabbed: "I want to see us export more jobs, export more products, excuse me. I was – I was channeling my opponent there for a second."

Alexander concluded the report by emphasizing the importance of the poll numbers, despite being several weeks before the election: "Where they are right now does begin to matter. Beginning today, as many as 30 states are already voting with absentee or early voting. Iowa, the latest state to vote, early voting there begins today."


Here is a full transcript of Allen's September 26 Nightly News report:

7:00PM ET TEASE:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Battleground Ohio. The candidates storm the crucial swing state as polls show one of them getting a commanding lead.

7:01PM ET SEGMENT:

GUTHRIE: There are few things that are guaranteed in presidential elections, but one thing is almost always certain, every four years, the state of Ohio will be a battleground, hotly contested for its trove of electoral votes and the way it has of so often picking the victor. Tonight, both candidates are in Ohio as a spate of new polls shows the all-important bellwether may be slipping away for the Republican challenger. NBC's Ron Allen is on the campaign trail tonight. Ron, good evening to you.

RON ALLEN: Good evening to you, Savannah. Yes, Mitt Romney just wrapped up an event here, it was his third of the day. He's been really trying to pick up the pace, and he's been spending more time here in Ohio than any other state. At every campaign stop, Mitt Romney has hit the same theme: "I care about you."

MITT ROMNEY: These are tough times, even for families with jobs. I know what it takes to get this economy going again. I care about the people of America.

ALLEN: As new polls show Ohio slipping away. Romney down by ten points in a new poll out this morning, and nearly that in another recent poll, after that video of Romney talking disparagingly about the 47% who pay no income tax. Today, from Romney, more compassion in a new minute-long TV ad.

ROMNEY: President Obama and I both care about poor and middle class families. The difference is, my policies will make things better for them.

ALLEN: Romney's problem is historic, no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio. Romney sounded optimistic today in an interview with NBC News. Can you win without winning Ohio?

ROMNEY: I'm going to win Ohio, I'm going to become the next president, in part because I'm going to have support of people in Ohio.

ALLEN: But his problem is that President Obama is here, too. Today, again, his 29th visit since taking office, and not letting anyone forget that other number, 47%.

BARACK OBAMA: I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who never take responsibility for their own lives.

ALLEN: The President made two stops today at college campuses, rallying young supporters. Such a crucial day, both men took the stage at virtually the same moment this afternoon, and almost crossed paths as the President headed to Kent State, and Romney to Toledo, with the clock ticking.

OBAMA: If you're already registered, you can start voting in six days. And this is important because you've got a big choice to make.

ALLEN: Romney got support today from Ohio native and golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. And with a debt clock behind him showing more than $16 trillion, Romney zeroed in on an issue he thinks he can exploit.

ROMNEY: In my opinion, it is immoral for us to pass on obligations like that to the next generation.

ALLEN: For his part, the President has been reminding voters here that the economy in this state is improving and that unemployment is below the national average, he says, because of policies like the auto industry bailout. More reasons why this could be a tough state for Mitt Romney. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Ron Allen in Toledo, Ohio tonight, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC