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Special Report

Key States for Obama?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure that when you implemented the Recovery Act, your staff briefed you on many of the challenges of the permitting process and the impact on putting Americans back to work. And that's exactly what we see in American business as well.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Shovel-ready was not as sho vel-ready at we expected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama talking about the Stimulus Act today in a meeting with some folks talking about how to create jobs.

Before the break, we asked you what percentage of President Obama's daily activities is geared to his re-election effort, there you see it, 80 percent of those voting said President Obama is devoting 76-100 percent of getting re-elected in our unscientific poll.

We're back with the panel. Let's look at the map here. These are key states as far as electoral votes are concerned. As you take a look at the map. Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa. Somewhere there is a map floating around there, in the ether.

At any rate, Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia are the focus of the -- White House focus in recent days, recent weeks, and there is the map we mentioned. Chuck, what about North Carolina? He is visiting there today. The Democratic convention will be there. Is there hope that North Carolina can turn President Obama's way?

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: Well it did last time. And it was a huge pickup for the Democratic ticket. I think the margin was 14,000 votes or something very, very marginal. So they are working really hard to hold on to it. It's got 15 electoral votes. North Carolina has grown dramatically in terms of population over the years. And I think that given it's a natural red state, it's a conservative southern state. They're probably figuring that if they lose it, their path to 271 electoral is a lot more difficult.

BAIER: Maybe the real back and forth here is to make up for what's going to be a tough run in the rust belt. Some of those states, Ohio, it doesn't look good in the polling right now. Michigan, you can see some problems. Then you have Indiana, which is going pretty red lately. So is Virginia, North Carolina, is that really where they are focusing?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well Virginia is very tough. Spending a lot of time there is easier for the president because it's right here. He did win it, it was also a big win just like North Carolina. And I think he's going to spend a lot of time there trying to see what he can do. That might be more challenging.

In North Carolina, you see an explosion in the growth in the Hispanic population, 111 percent. It's just unbelievable what is happening with demographics there. He sees that as favorable to him. And he is going to work hard to lock those -- to lock those votes down. There is an effort underway by Republicans to stop early voting in North Carolina, as there is in many states, to either restrict it, shave it down by some time, make it more difficult and make the period shorter. And in North Carolina, more African-Americans voted early than they did on Election Day, as did the majority of voters in the state. So they are really looking at holding North Carolina that way. And I think that, that is why you see this trip to Puerto Rico in an effort afoot to do the same in Florida because the demographics are switching. Now, that said, economic growth in North Carolina remains sluggish. And it's not good. And obviously, everything I just said is out the window as we look at the state of the economy in North Carolina and elsewhere, ya know, 17 months from now.

BAIER: Yeah, I mean what about the trip to Puerto Rico, countering an anti-democratic Hispanic effort in Florida?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Sure. He will get, ya know, a day of press about his trip to Puerto Rico. And ya know, people in the Puerto Rican community here in the states will pay particularly close attention in all likelihood to his trip there. So I think he gets a little boost out of it. It probably makes good sense for him in terms of politics.

But if you look at those five states. If you look at Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina and Florida. Three of those, I would say you could argue are basically red states that turned blue for President Obama in 2008. Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina. The other two are probably real legitimate swing states. I would say Ohio leans red it's redder than it is blue. So you -- you've got, this is one of the reasons that Republican strategists are optimistic about their chances against even though President Obama is an incumbent. Before the last job numbers come out, you talk to the Republican strategists who do the electoral math and they say he is playing defense in these areas that are naturally friendly to Republicans.

BAIER: And as we talk about the economy, Chuck, if you have Larry Summers coming out and saying he thinks optimistically they can get to 8 percent by Election Day, you know, no president has been re-elected in recent years with an unemployment above 7.2 percent. So it still is an uphill climb for even an incumbent president.

LANE: I thought Larry Summers had learned his lesson not to predict unemployment rates but I guess not. No, it's all about the trend line in the unemployment rate, less than the specific number. If it's rapidly decreasing as we head into the election and people are feeling that opportunities are opening up, that is clearly a plus for Obama. If it's sorta just stuck in doldrums or, god forbid, rising, then that's trouble for him.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for what looks like quickly expanding investigation.

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