This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," October 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," with just 10 days left, the presidential candidates do the swing-state sprint.
Polls tighten amid a new narrative that Mitt Romney's momentum may not be real. Is it?
Plus, the president taking credit on the campaign trail for some positive economic indicators. But is the outlook really that rosy? And what will January's looming tax increases do to those signs of life?
And a measure on the ballot in Michigan could hand unions their biggest victory in years. Will Great Lakes voters make collective bargaining a constitutional right?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
With less than two weeks to go, President Obama and Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail hard this week, stumping in the battleground states of Florida, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado Nevada and Virginia.
Polls continue to show the race in a dead heat nationally, and too close to call in no fewer than 10 swing states. But the Obama campaign and its media allies are questioning whether Mitt Romney's recent momentum is real.
Joining the panel his week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Kim, why don't you wade into this debate and tell us just how real the Romney surge, which has now been going on for about two weeks, is.
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Look, Paul, in those weeks, what we've seen is one side increasing its advantage in both the national polls and the swing-state polls. That's Romney. We have seen money flowing into that side. That's Romney. We have seen him improve his performance among Independents and women.
STRASSEL: That's Romney's side. You can call it what you want, and the media contends it isn't momentum, but I bet the president's campaign is wishing they that that non-momentum.
GIGOT: So you --
STRASSEL: This is all on Romney's side at the moment.
GIGOT: OK, Dan?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST AND DEPUTY EDITOR: And to that point, yes, indeed the Obama campaign wishes it had some of that momentum because, I'll tell you what really going on here. I think the president is flatlining.
GIGOT: You think he's hit a ceiling?
HENNINGER: I think he hit a ceiling because for two reasons. His approval rating had hit a ceiling as far back as April. This president has been around 47 or 48 percent all through the year. There's no lift to the Obama presidency. And now that he and Romney have come together in both the national and these tight swing-state polls, you see no lift at all in the Obama campaign. The question is, where is it going to come from?
GIGOT: Here's the argument they make, James, which is basically, look, we're still ahead in Ohio and Wisconsin. This is the Obama campaign.
We're still ahead in what they call their fire wall. And even if you give Romney all the swing states that they think they're going to win -- Virginia, North Carolina, Florida -- that still only gets him to 248.
Throw in Colorado, 257 electoral votes. Needs 270 to win. So what about that fire wall argument?
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Right. A couple of things about the firewall. One is you have to question, for example, is Obama really ahead in Ohio when everyone seems to acknowledge Romney's big advantage among Independents? This is true of a bunch of swing states.
There's a question about who is really ahead.
But the other issue is this is a well-known incumbent late in the race. He has probably persuaded most of the people he is going persuade and I think his campaign speeches are telling you that. It's a very fiercely partisan ideological message he is delivering as he's traveling to these swing states. He is not talking to Independents.
GIGOT: Let's get a clip of that. We want to give you an illustration of what James just pointed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It turns out it's not a five-point plan Governor Romney's got. It's a one-point plan. Folks at the very top get to play by their own rules, pay a lower tax rates than you do, outsource more jobs, let Wall Street run wild. And if this plan sounds familiar, it's because we tried it. Governor Romney knows this. He knows his plan isn't any different than the policies that led to the Great Recession. So, in the final weeks of his election, he is counting on you forgetting what he stands for. He is hoping that you, too, will come down with a case of what we like to call Romnesia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Romnesia. I've got it. You've got it. So what --
What do you think of that?
DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, what are we looking at here? We have to acknowledge the president is a very angry man. That has been there evidently since that debate. All along --
GIGOT: But he's always -- Dorothy, here's the thing. He's always been such a cool customer. That's been his great appeal to so many people.
It helped him in 2008 against John McCain, who seemed so frenetic with the financial crisis. Obama, Mr. Cool, Mr. Laid Back, looks like he is calm in a crisis. You're saying this is a different Obama we're seeing?
RABINOWITZ: Yes. When the sun is shining, reality is different.