This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Almost exactly two hours and ten minutes from now, Governor Romney and President Obama will be seated at that table on that stage with moderator Bob Schieffer and the third and final debate will begin. The topic is foreign policy. And this is a big deal, because in this election debates matter.
Let's look at the latest polls, the most recent out tonight, Washington Post/ABC national poll, very close. We have President Obama at 49 percent, Governor Romney at 48 percent. Then you look at the national Gallup daily tracking poll. This has Mitt Romney with a big lead, 51 to 45. And then the Real Clear Politics average, this is seven of the most recent national polls, and this has Romney up less than a point. These are national polls, obviously. And we focus on the battleground states a lot.
We're back with the panel. Chuck, your thoughts of where this race stands right now ahead of this debate?
CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, clearly, the momentum that began for Mitt Romney after that October 3 debate has not run out. Although the big question is whether it's going to keep flowing strongly enough to carry him Ohio and get him easily over 270. Within our poll, the Washington Post poll, one of the most interesting findings is that he has basically pulled even with the president on the question of foreign policy and fighting terrorism. So, he at least comes in to this debate tonight on an even footing with the president, which is not really what I would have expected a month ago.
That tells you that in a way that the overall momentum that he's gained since that October 3 debate has spilled over now and is reflecting more broadly on his image. His favorability rating is nearly even with the president's. He is in pretty good shape. Whether it's good enough to actually win, we'll find out.
BAIER: A lot of focus, Steve, on Ohio as Chuck mentioned. The new Suffolk University poll out tonight has it tied 47-47 in Ohio. The Real Clear Politics average of polls in Ohio, and again, this is the seven most recent polls in the state of Ohio has the president with just a slight lead there. It seems like Governor Romney is closing the gap there, even though Democrats have been kind of crowing about Ohio for a long time.
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, it does, and if I were the Obama campaign that is the poll of all the things that come out, both today and over the weekend that concerns me the most, the fact that Suffolk has it dead even there. There was also inside that same Washington Post/ABC poll -- poll of the seven battleground states, which found that Mitt Romney was up 52-46 in those battleground states. Those are the two things that I think would concern me most.
I talked to people on the ground in Ohio over the past several days that says what echoes in part what Chuck is saying. After the first debate, Mitt Romney saw this surge in enthusiasm and energy. People were eager to rush in to the Romney headquarters. They were making phone calls, doing things they had had trouble getting people to do.
There was just, remember, about three weeks ago some talk, loose talk maybe, of Mitt Romney pulling out of Ohio. He wasn't going to compete there anymore. That is gone. And the way that one person I talked to characterized it to me was, what happened was President Obama -- they are running a marathon and with one mile left, Mitt Romney looks up, President Obama is in front of him, and Obama has stumbled. And Mitt Romney now sees he can overtake him if he continues to press his case.
BAIER: Quickly, Charles, one more state, Colorado another swing state. A new poll out by Rasmussen has Governor Romney up 50-46, and the Real Clear Politics average there has Romney up just slightly in the state of Colorado. It's possible also without Ohio that there is a way that Romney wins. What is your take of the state of the race?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That is exactly right. There are now other paths which are not at all terrible long shots that you can substitute for Ohio if he doesn't carry it.
But I think what is happening tonight is that Romney has the momentum. And as long as he draws even tonight, he doesn't even have to win. If he draws even tonight, the momentum continues and I think that would carry him to a victory. So he just has to hold serve. He doesn't have to hit a homerun to make seven scores into one metaphor.
BAIER: Charles, Chuck, Steve, thank you. As always, that is it for the panel. We'll wrap things up here from the spin room after a quick break.
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