This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: In just 23 hours, a debate that could change everything! Will Governor Mitt Romney add to his momentum, or will President Obama stop him in his tracks?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, who says debates don't matter? There were 60 polls in the last week in 27 states. If you look at the 30-day map, there were three status changes, all of them benefiting Romney.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Who did he blame for his bad debate? Oh, that's it, John Kerry. Blames John Kerry. Blames Bush for the bad economy, blames John Kerry for the bad debate. Blaming Biden -- no, they're saying Biden won that debate, if you read it. Obama's begging people, Read the transcript, you'll see that Biden won it..
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he was told to get in there, make some commotion because he had ground to make up for. That's just a fact. And I don't -- I think if you're looking to the vice president to try to save the day, there's a problem.
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: If Obama has a performance like he had a couple of weeks ago, I don't believe it's possible for him to win the election. I don't know how he can possibly have another performance like that and expect to win. How could anybody be so stupid as to vote for him if he does perform like that again?
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: We're moving rapidly to the second and third act to find out how this is all going to play out. The president has got to be on his game in this next debate, or it could slide even more for him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a big choice election, and the fact is, what we saw was -- even if he changes his style and whatever political tactic the president settles on as being in his best interests for this debate, he can't change his record and he can't change his policies. I think the race is very close. I think the wind is at Governor Romney's back. And there's clearly momentum. You can see it on the trail. You can see it in the -- in the data.
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: The reality of the race on the ground is that we're ahead. It's a little bit narrower than it was before the last debate, but we feel good about where we are. And we've got a great ground game going, and we're going to have a great debate on Tuesday and the following week. We expect Governor Romney will a great debate, too. He's a great salesman. That's what he did as a professional, and he's very, very good at it.
REP. PAUL RYAN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Look, I know what your TV screens look like these days. These debates are giving us the ability to cut through the clutter and give people a very clear choice. That's what we're offering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: The race is razor-sharp close. Much is at stake for both candidates as they take to the stage tomorrow for debate number two.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. Nice to see you, sir.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER/FORMERPRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this debate or could it be as critical as I have just suggested?
GINGRICH: It could be. My guess is the president will do somewhat better than last time because it would be almost unimaginable for him to be as bad as he was last time. My guess is Romney will be about as good as he was last time because he's a very trained, very thoughtful person who gets where he's at.
So I think you'll come out tomorrow night either with a tie or with a slight Romney advantage on top what happened. That'll carry the race on for one more week.
If Obama does come in, against my expectations, and is as bad as he was last -- in the first debate, then this is over. I mean, he will not recover from two consecutive disasters.
VAN SUSTEREN: How could he have it as bad as last time?
GINGRICH: Well, you know, first of all, the facts are moving against him. I describe this race right now, the problem for Obama is five words -- unemployment, gasoline, Benghazi and Big Bird. And I think that those five words add up to a very hard sell for him. Benghazi gets worse and worse and worse. The lies get deeper and deeper. And in fact, in the last vice presidential debate, Vice President Biden added lying about Syria to lying about Benghazi. So it just gets deeper and deeper.
Unemployment stays bad. And we now learned that one of the reasons unemployment looked better for one week was that California hadn't filed 33,000 jobs, which is truly weird. Then you look at gasoline prices. California was, I think, peaked at $5.87 a gallon last week.
And then you look at the fact that liberalism has been reduced to hiding behind a TV series which makes $800 million in gross revenue and gets 94 percent of its money from the private sector. And yet that becomes the last stand of Obamaism.
VAN SUSTEREN: The strategy since the last campaign largely has been to criticize Governor Romney, saying he's a liar. And I suspect that what will happen tomorrow night is that the president may come out -- he's not going to say he's a liar, but he's going to do everything to make that the message to the American people.
Can he do that without looking like a bully or petty himself?
GINGRICH: Well, I don't think Obama will look like a bully because I think Romney can stand up to him, so I don't think he has that potential. I think that the challenge he has is that he -- essentially, the Obama case has degenerated to, Yes, the president is inadequate, but Romney would be worse. That's the heart of his basic message.
Romney has a much easier job. I mean, Romney can say, you know, The American people deserve to know the truth about Benghazi. What happened? Why did you send the U.N. ambassador out to five different shows to say something that was false?
And then he's been on campaign trail being that direct. Romney can say the price of gasoline is too high. I mean, Obama (INAUDIBLE) oh, it's the oil companies' fault. But Obama's got to face the fact that if you're an average, everyday American, or if you're a truck driver, or if you buy things at the grocery store, the price of gasoline is too high.
And I think that's why you've seen this race gradually decay from the Obama standpoint. He can't get above 50 percent. The country's had four years to get to know who he is. And if you're the incumbent president and you can't get above 50 percent, you have a big problem three weeks out.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you said -- the unemployment rate has gone down from 8.1 to 7.8. And I recognize the fact that California was late to report and it would have some impact on the numbers. So he has that to point out.
He's got the fact that the -- the auto industry -- he says that he saved the auto industry. You've got the unemployment level in the state of Ohio below the national average, so Ohio, which is such an important state for this, is doing profoundly better than, for instance, the state of Nevada, some other states unemployment. I mean, he does have some things that he can point to.
VAN SUSTEREN: And he goes back to the fact that he says, Look, you know -- and I know we've heard over -- is that -- you know, that he inherited a mess. Nobody denies that. And he says that it takes a while to get out of the mess, but we're trending the right direction. That's his argument tomorrow night.
GINGRICH: Well, but sure, that'll be his argument. What people are going to have to do is look at it and say, All right, do I think four more years of Obama will be better than four years of Obama? And four years of Obama -- this is the worst recovery since the Great Depression. The price of gasoline has gone up $2 a gallon since he became president.
The fact is that Benghazi is utterly inexplicable and that the answers they've given are false and misleading. And now we have him hiding behind Hillary Clinton. I mean, you know, he's hiding behind John Kerry on the first debate. He's hiding behind George W. Bush on the economy. Now he's hiding behind Hillary Clinton on Benghazi.
I mean, at what point, other than being campaigner-in-chief, going to Las Vegas to raise money immediately after an American ambassador is killed -- at what point does Obama take some responsibility for having been in the White House for four years?
VAN SUSTEREN: Then why is he so close in the polls? The picture you paint is of the worst possible president, and no one in his right mind could vote for him, yet the polls are incredibly close.
GINGRICH: I think part of it is, frankly, the weakness of the Republican Party in reaching out to a wide range of minority groups. If -- if you look at values, Latinos are dramatically more conservative than their vote for Obama. African-Americans are dramatically more conservative than their vote for Obama. And part of that's the Republican Party's fault.
Part of it is the residual fact that the elite media has worked overtime to prop up Obama over and over and over again. I think that's why you see a little bit of an argument about Candy Crowley's role tomorrow night and whether or not you ought to be actually following the rules and only having a town hall meeting, not having the moderator try to define things.