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Transcript: Rick Davis on 'FOX News Sunday'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published November 02, 2008 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Nov. 2, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: And hello again today from FOX News election headquarters in New York City. In a little more than 48 hours, the FOX News team will be reporting from here as America chooses a new president.
And we want to take a look at how both campaigns are using these final hours to turn the election their way. We're joined first by McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, who's about to embark on the final sprint to the finish with Senator McCain.
Rick, let's start with the latest electoral map from Karl Rove. This is a map based on recent state polls. He has — now has Obama leading in leads that are outside the margin of error in states with 311 electoral votes, while McCain leads in states with 160 electoral votes.
Question: How does McCain get from where he is on that map to winning the presidency in just 48 hours?
DAVIS: Well, I think we've seen a significant shift in where the polling data is over the last 10 days. In fact, I would say the southwest and Colorado are really moving into McCain columns.
I mean, we've seen a huge movement in Colorado and New Mexico and Nevada toward McCain. In fact, I would say probably today the race is even, structurally, in those three states.
So if you take that and then move east, we are still very competitive and expect to win Florida. But I think the most important state to watch right now is Pennsylvania. It's a state that Republicans haven't won in a long time, and we're doing great there.
In fact, some new polls out recently show the margin of error is the only thing that separates us from Barack Obama.
WALLACE: Well, let's take a look at the RealClearPolitics average of a number of those state polls and see what they show.
First of all, let's put up Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has 21 electoral votes and Obama currently leads, according to this average of recent public polls, by 7.5 points.
Let's put up the state of Ohio. No Republican has been elected without winning Ohio. Ohio — 20 electoral votes. Obama up by 5.6 votes.
Those are big leads to overcome, Rick, in the final weekend of the campaign.
DAVIS: Well, of course, those are the averages of many polls over the last week to 10 days, and you'll see that Mason-Dixon yesterday showed surveys showing us up in Ohio and within the margin of error in Pennsylvania.
Look, this election is moving very quickly. There is no doubt that John McCain is increasing his margins in almost every state in the country right now.
And I think that what we're in for is a slam-bang finish. I mean, it's going to be wild. I think that we are able to close this campaign. John McCain may be the greatest closer politician of all time.
He's been counted out before and won these kinds of states, and we're in the process of winning them right now.
WALLACE: I can understand, whether it's the truth or whether it's spin, that that's the argument that you would have to make in the final days of the campaign.
But I'm trying to understand, because you're saying one thing and the Obama camp and, frankly, some of the numbers are saying something different. The latest Gallup poll continues to have Obama with a double-digit lead, with his advantage actually increasing.
DAVIS: Well, let's — let's talk about — let's talk about that Gallup poll.
WALLACE: Rick, Rick, Rick...
DAVIS: I think it's a good example because...
WALLACE: ... Rick, I'm not — Rick, I'm not David Axelrod.
WALLACE: Please don't interrupt. But you know, it has the lead increasing.
And also, you've got the Obama camp now saying that some other new red states are moving their way. They've actually started advertising in North Dakota and Georgia and even in McCain's home state of Arizona.
DAVIS: Well, first of all, they really aren't advertising there. They've just done that to express a little bit of interest in the media. And they've done a good job.
I mean, this is the greatest manipulative campaign in the history of American politics. We'll see who's going to win those three states.
But let me just talk about this Gallup poll. Structurally, the Gallup poll is way out of whack with the rest of the country. You know, the rest of the country — there's no difference between about five points between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party as far as voter I.D.
And the Gallup poll has it in the teens. It's never, in — in almost the history of American politics — Lincoln — been that far apart.
So I think that — look, the poll game is a great game to play. I think it's very exciting to play the poll game. We have a lot of people in our campaign who love polls.
But the bottom line is every legitimate poll that has the structure of this race in where the country has been historically has this race closing. It has John McCain on the uptick.
It has Barack Obama on the downtick. Almost every one of these polls show him now below 50 percent, whether in the states or nationally.
And by the way, there have only been three Democrats in our time that have been able to win an election with a plurality, and that was FDR during the Depression, LBJ after the Kennedy assassination, and — guess what? Jimmy Carter. And you know what he was able to accomplish? Fifty point one percent. Now, sure, that's good enough for a win. I think that's going to be John McCain and more.
WALLACE: You know, it's not just a question of the polls, though. Because of this extraordinary early voting, we can already begin to talk about actual votes having been cast.
And the turnout — estimates are that somewhere...
WALLACE: ... between 30 and 40 percent of the actual turnout, total turnout, in this election has already voted early.
And I want to focus on one key state. In North Carolina, more than 2 million people have already voted, and we don't know who they voted for, but we know that registered Democrats vastly outnumber the number of Republicans, 53 percent to 30 percent.
Hasn't Obama, Rick, already banked a big lead in a number of these states in early voting?
DAVIS: Well, I think North Carolina's a really good example for you to use, because if you'll notice, too, in the survey data, if you take out all the early voting people, John McCain is over 50 percent in that state.
So I would rather have over 50 percent of the 70 percent still left to vote than 50 percent of the 30 that's already voted.
What's also interesting about North Carolina is structurally, the early voting really isn't any different than it was in 2004. And in order for Barack Obama to win, he has to structurally change the way this race works.
He has to have new people who have never been involved in this process vote. And what's really happening here is the patterns that are followed in the past are being followed in this election, and that's good for John McCain.
WALLACE: Well, we're going to talk to David Plouffe in a moment. You're saying that there's not going to be an increase in African American voters and first-time voters and young voters?
DAVIS: Well, look at the data between the early voting and the absentee balloting. There's no structural change in what the election was in 2004.
Now, understand, 2004 was an historic turnout at that point in time. So it's a — it's a high bar to get over, but the reality is, sure, there'll be more people voting, but there won't be more people of any one particular organization.
WALLACE: All right. You announced on Friday that in the final 10 days of this campaign, McCain is actually going to outspend Obama by $10 million of advertising. That's the good news.
The bad news is that you've had to take some of that money out of your get-out-the-vote operation. It would seem to an outsider that that would indicate that you...
DAVIS: That's not true, Chris.
WALLACE: Well, those are what the reports were.
DAVIS: Yeah. It's just not true. Well, the reports are incorrect. We are spending over $300 million in 60 days to win this election.
And in fact, the truth of it is we've actually increased our get- out-the-vote activity to almost $100 million in 60 days. We're making more calls than has ever been made.
In fact, a year ago this week — or four years ago this week, the Bush campaign, which had probably the state-of-the-art 72-hour program, made 1.9 million calls in one week. We've exceeded 5 million calls this week alone.
In fact, yesterday was almost a million calls in one day, and — calls and door knocks. So believe me, we have not spared any expense at getting the vote out for this election, and it's just not true that we're sacrificing anything to win.
WALLACE: So I just want to make clear, you are not taking money out of the get-out-the-vote operation in this final week or 10 days to put it into more television advertising.
DAVIS: Correct. We have, in fact, increased all along the month of October how much money we've put into the get-out-the-vote program, and we've been able to increase the amount of money that has gone into advertising over at the RNC because they've been raising so much money.
We've had an historic month in October for fundraising and a historic month in September for fundraising at the RNC.
WALLACE: Rick, one of the big controversies in these final days is whether the Democrats are engaged in vote fraud or whether the Republicans are engaged in voter suppression or, in fact, both.
I want to ask you about the allegations of voter suppression. In Colorado, Common Cause says election workers have illegally purged thousands of voters from the voting rolls.
In Ohio, Democrats say the Republicans are trying to prevent thousands of legitimate voters from casting their polls.
How do you respond to these allegations that the Republican Party in general, the McCain campaign specifically, is involved in voter suppression?
DAVIS: Look, I think it's kind of sad. This is going to be a historic election. There's no question that the eyes of the country are on this moment. There's no question that the outcome of this election will determine how our country moves forward in the future.
It is unfortunate that because of the importance of this election so many organizations are playing politics with the election itself. You know, we went through in 2000 a horrendous wrenching of the American public after the — after the recount effort in Florida.
Laws were passed — it's called the HAVA statutes — that were meant to clean up these voter rolls before the election. That's all these people are doing in these states.
But what's happened is a bunch of liberal activist groups like ACORN and others — you mentioned Common Cause — have taken it upon themselves to try and frame this election as anything but honest. In fact, if there's anything to look at, it's the manipulation of these voter rolls before the election that's caused so many problems.
We're not going to stand for it. We think it's unfortunate. We think it's sad that they would take this kind of action right before the eve of an election.
WALLACE: Rick, what do you think are the chances that we're — because there has been this question about voter suppression, voter registration fraud, that we're going to see a blizzard of lawsuits on election night, and we may not know for days or even weeks who the new president is?
DAVIS: Well, we're hoping that we win by such a landslide that that puts to rest all those kinds of issues. But look. I mean, you know, this is going to be a close election. I have no doubt about that. And I don't know how much of that is avoidable.
I mean, but make sure you understand the distinction between organizations like Common Cause causing problems like this and the fact that ACORN is under investigation in 14 states by federal authorities. The FBI is looking into this organization. I mean, there's a huge distinction between these two things.
The reality is, you know, we have every legal remedy that is available to us in the future. But look. We're going to win this election. We're going to win it outright. And I think on Wednesday morning you'll wake up and John McCain will be president-elect.
WALLACE: But I just want to make it clear, you reserve the right if you feel that something has gone down wrong in the polls in any state in the country that you'll go to court.
DAVIS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there's no question that we're going to monitor this election. We have the largest Election Day operation in the history of our party's activities ready to go to ensure that we have a fair and honest election.
WALLACE: Finally, Rick, I asked Senator McCain when I interviewed him in Columbus, Ohio a couple of weeks ago whether he had considered the possibility of defeat and he said yes, he had, and Obama has said the same thing.
If, and I repeat if, you guys should happen to lose on Tuesday, do you think it will be because of any decisions that were made by the senator or your campaign, or is this just an awfully tough climate for any Republican to run in?
DAVIS: Oh, there's no question, Chris, that it's an awfully tough climate. I mean, you look at virtually every factor, and John McCain has had to battle back through all these issues through the course of the campaign, whether it's the economy or the politics of the day.
But the bottom line is look at this guy's tenaciousness. You know, people were writing him off earlier in the year — came back to win this incredibly stunning primary victory from behind.
You know, then we got ourselves started. We were outspent by literally seven or eight to one by Barack Obama. We were able to get our slight lead coming out of our convention only to have the worst financial crisis in our history befall us.
And now he has battled back, and he's battling to the finish line, and frankly, I think he's going to wind up winning this election, and I think he's going to wind up showing the American public what a real comeback is all about.
WALLACE: Rick Davis, I want to thank you not only for answering our questions today but answering all of our questions no matter how much you liked them or didn't like them throughout this long campaign. And safe travels, sir.
DAVIS: It's always a pleasure, Chris, and enjoy Election Day.
WALLACE: You bet. We will.
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