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Special Report

All-Star Panel: New polls show race tightening after first debate

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MITT ROMNEY, R – PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: People wonder why it is I'm so confident we're going to win.  I am confident because I see you here on a day like this. This is unbelievable. Thank you so much.

That was a good debate. I enjoyed that debate.


ROMNEY: Some of the places we agreed were associated with the fact that we would take America in different directions.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These guys and everybody here is incredible professionals, they're such great friends.  They just perform flawlessly night after night. I can't always say the same.



BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama in California making fun of himself at a campaign event last night. He's out there again tonight. And Mitt Romney today talking about the debate as some new polls are showing a big bounce after debate. The Pew Research Center has a new poll out tonight among likely voters. Look at this bounce, this change. From September 12 to 16, he was down eight, now up four among likely voters. This is Pew. That is looking at again, that's about 1,100 likely voters.

As you take a look at another poll, the Politico/GWU poll choice for president, this is one point President Obama over Romney. This was October 1 through the 4th. So it does not really get a full sense of the October 3 debate. Then you have Gallup. This is post-debate. There you see the before and after, tied. Again, now that is registered voters not the likely voters. Gallup hasn't changed that.

And one more back to that Politico voter look, and this is likely voters. And you see the split among supporters. And again, some of that poll is before the debate. So we're already starting to see some of the effect of what both sides are calling a pretty strong debate performance by Mitt Romney.

Let's bring in the panel about the state of this race, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK Charles, we talk a lot about polls, we talked to and Joe and Karl about the electoral map. Your sense of the state of this race and where things are?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think the macro view and the one that's sort of the simplest, is that Romney got nothing out of Tampa. Obama got a bump, maybe three to five out of Charlotte. And what happened with that debate was Romney got it all back in 90 minutes in one night and maybe even more.

I think it's very telling the Pew poll actually has Romney ahead slightly beyond the margin of error. And we are talking about the ones who are extremely likely to vote. Romney among all the voters extremely likely to vote is up by six. And three weeks ago he was down by three. That is a nine-point swing among people who will surely be out there on election day. So I think right now the race is tied with Romney still I think having some momentum from the debate. And I think the rest of this story will be determined by the remaining debates. Obama is trying to throw money at negating the effect of the debate by calling Romney a liar, which is interesting after a string of other excuses, weak moderator, the stresses of office, and the demands, like appearing on "The View" and raising a lot of money in Hollywood, and, of course, altitude. So now it's that Romney is a liar and Obama was so shocked by the lies that he couldn't speak on his own. So now it's the wit of the staircase expressed in the commercials.


A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I think I agree that Romney has gotten back tremendous momentum that he needed. And I didn't think he was gonna get it until he did something to help himself and not to just keep hacking away at President Obama. And what he did at the debate was he really sold himself as a viable alternative or reasonable replacement for the president, someone with ideas, someone who understands your problems. And he needs to keep that momentum going.

Most importantly, it really energized his supporters. And when you look at these polls the most important factor is that enthusiasm gap. So he does better among likely voters. And that is what matters on Election Day. So President Obama still has an easier path in the Electoral College if you look at the states that matter, the states where Romney is advertising, he is still behind him.  But who are those voters? How are they responding to polls? And will they actually get into the car? They were energized on the Democratic side after Charlotte because of President Clinton and because President Obama to some extent and other Democrats didn't blow it. But now they are feeling deflated. And so the debates and sort of the tactic the president takes in the remaining weeks, is going to be really important to close that enthusiasm gap, because I think that's their greatest challenge.

BAIER: You know Pew, the poll before this, the one in September was criticized by conservatives as being one of these that was leaning Democratic too much and was leaning, being too close to the president's camp.

Look at the internals inside this new Pew poll. Romney now ties President Obama in being regarded as a strong leader and runs virtually even with the president in willingness to work with leaders of the other party. 47 to 40 percent margin, voters pick Romney as the candidate who has new ideas.

On the flipside, President Obama continues to hold lead as the candidate who connects well with ordinary people and takes consistent positions on issues.

And here is a real interesting one, Steve. President Obama leads by ten points, 49 to 39, as the candidate who takes more moderate positions on the issues. This is in this Pew poll.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I find that the most significant and interesting aspect of the finding in this entire poll because it suggests that the Romney campaign has an opportunity. You have seen in this poll a dramatic shift toward Mitt Romney, virtually everything. Even places where President Obama continues to lead, you see a shift toward Romney. He has expanded his gap on things like jobs. He's expanded his gap on things like the deficit. We have seen this shift toward Romney in all these other areas. This is the one place where President Obama has this surprising finding, 49 percent, half of the people polled likely voters think that President Obama is more moderate than Romney. This is a president who ran as a liberal, has governed as a liberal, has done more to expand the government in three-and-a-half years than any other Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson, maybe since FDR. After the 2010 midterm elections he was repudiated he continued to govern as a liberal. He has run for re-election as a liberal, a proud liberal. His convention advertised him as liberal.

I think the Romney campaign has this huge opening in a country that is two to one self-identified conservatives to self-identified liberals to say, you know what, Barack Obama is in fact an activist liberal.

BAIER: Quickly, Charles, to Joe Trippi's point earlier, polls are flashes in time. When you get the call, you say who do you identify with now? Not are you a Republican, are you a Democrat? Which party do you identify with at this moment?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, look, everybody understands it's not a predictor of Election Day, but it tells you if you compare today with yesterday and the week before, and the week before, what you see in the Gallup is Obama was ahead before the convention. And they're now tied. So you see actual -- it isn't only static. It shows the movement if you compare A and B and C. And the movement obviously is to Romney. And if he keeps it up, he will win.

BAIER: Next up, Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech and new revelations about security in Libya.

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Special Report, hosted by Bret Baier, airs on Weekdays at 6PM ET on Fox News Channel.