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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

12 Days Left Until Election Day

Aired October 25, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, 12 days and counting, Mitt Romney and President Obama head-to-head on the thing that may decide it all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I want more jobs. My priority is jobs, jobs, jobs.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to put people back to work here in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: John McCain talks Mitt Romney's momentum and blasts the White House on the Benghazi attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: You can't assume anything about either a cover-up or colossal incompetence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Also, he's Bill Clinton's favorite debate sparring partner and the man who helped whipped President Obama into shape after that disastrous first debate. Welcome to lawyer Bob Barnett.

And "Battleground America." Why women hold the key to this election.

Plus, when politics becomes personal. The always controversial Gloria Allred takes on the GOP over this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE, INDIANA: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Our "Big Story" tonight, big changes. That's what Mitt Romney is promising just 12 days to go until election day. Listen to what he told the crowd a little while ago in perhaps the aptly named, Defiance, Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This is a time when America faces big challenges. We have a big election. And we want a president who will actually bring big changes and I will and he won't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The latest CNN poll of polls has Romney with a razor thin one-point lead over the president. New NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist polls have Romney and Obama tied in Colorado and the president up three points in Nevada. Meanwhile, President Obama has got at least one vote in the bag, his own. This evening he voted for himself. He took a brief break from his battleground state marathon to cast his ballot this afternoon in Chicago's Martin Luther King Community Center.

Joining me now, a man who knows more than almost anybody else about running against Barack Obama, it's Senator John McCain.

Senator, how are you?

MCCAIN: Fine, Piers. How are you?

MORGAN: You've been spitting blood all morning about Colin Powell endorsing Barack Obama again. Why are you so angry about it?

MCCAIN: I'm not angry about it. I just wish that he wouldn't call himself a Republican. I mean we Republicans have a habit of supporting Republicans. So that's all. I mean everybody's entitled to their views. Frankly, I don't think it will change one vote.

MORGAN: Let's turn to an interview that Barack Obama has given to "Rolling Stone" magazine and there's been some leaks from this in which the president effectively calls Mitt Romney, and he uses this word, a bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Is that dignified for the president of the United States to use that term about his rival?

MCCAIN: Of course not. And it's not presidential to deride and be sarcastic about his opponent in the debates. You know, he talked about bayonets and horses as if bayonets are obsolete. The Marines train with bayonets in combat zones. They're required to carry them. And of course, talking about aircraft carriers, the president, as far as we can tell, has been on an aircraft carrier once when it was tied up to the pier and they had a charity basketball game.

He's never been on a submarine and he calls our Navy personnel, who are in the medical business, who are called corpsmen, calls them corpse men. I don't know if he was talking to a zombie or not but the fact is that the president shouldn't be bragging about his background and expertise on military matters.

MORGAN: Let's move on to where we are with the election. Everyone is focusing on Ohio and the polls are clearly tight there and also tight nationally. But Wisconsin is creeping up as very tightening and potentially moving your way.

Could in the end Wisconsin potentially be more important than Ohio here?

MCCAIN: I think it could be. I also see Pennsylvania. There are so many dynamics going on right now and so many too close to call, so many varying polls. So there's a lot of dynamics going on. It's -- one thing is clear. There's some momentum still with Mitt Romney. That first debate was a most -- was the most impactful probably in American political history because it just wasn't on how people looked, whether Nixon needed a shave or not.

It was really about the image that the Obama campaign had very astutely built up a negative advertising for all those months that Mitt was in the primaries, and so the 90 minutes with Barack Obama -- I mean, and Mitt Romney facing each other off shattered that whole illusion that they had carefully built up of unfavorables on Mitt Romney.

MORGAN: Two quick points on foreign policy before we leave it, Senator, if I may.

MCCAIN: Sure.

MORGAN: First of all, Syria. This planned ceasefire starting tomorrow to last four days. Are you pleased with this, does it have significance? What do you make of it?

MCCAIN: Well, it will be interesting to see whether it holds or not, because, you know, there are many disparate groups in Syria now that are fighting against Bashar Assad ranging from jihadists which are pouring in to people who are pro-democracy so I'm not sure it holds. I'd love to see any ceasefire hold because the killing has got to stop. But I'm very skeptical about Bashar Assad.

Could I just say another thing about it, Piers? And that is, you know, if you and I were talking years or so -- maybe 16, 17, 18 months ago, I would have said, by the way, there's going to be 34,000 people dead, killed, massacred, women raped, children, in Syria, you know, don't you think we ought to really do something to try and stop it, and we would have agreed, you know, it's a horrible outcome for the people of Syria.

But it's like the frog in the pan, you know, the boiling water. We become immune to this. It barely gets much attention in the media now and I got to tell you, I'm an emotional person. I almost cry when I think of the massacre that continues there and us, the United States of America, not even getting them arms and equipment with which to defend themselves.

MORGAN: Yes. I totally agree with you. And I think it's a shameful dereliction of duty on the international stage by many countries.

Finally, on Benghazi, there's this development overnight. Hillary Clinton is coming out quite strongly. But CNN has interviewed somebody who claims there was no original posting by the terror group Ansar al-Sharia on Facebook or Twitter which triggered the apparent e- mail which said there had been. Are you comfortable -- having been one of the signatories to the letter based on these e-mails, are you comfortable that there was a posting? Because this group then later denied it. But without that original posting, then the e-mail at the center of your complaint becomes obsolete, doesn't it?

MCCAIN: Well, I think -- I think you have to look at this in its entirety. No, I wouldn't base conclusions on one Facebook but as you know, there was real time depiction of what was happening, there was drones overhead later on that were depicting what was happening. It was very clear that there was no demonstration.

Look, there were warnings, there was an attack on the consulate in August, there was one in November. There was -- there was clearly requests by our ambassador, not Facebook posting, but by our ambassador for better protection. His last message was about that. His diary that was found not by our people but by CNN reporter talked about his concerns.

I think it's a very legitimate question. Why didn't we do something about it? And if we knew that there was danger, why didn't we have forces on alert in case something that would happen and then why did they send out our ambassador to the U.N., why did the president go on these programs and speak to the U.N. and continue to claim that it was a hateful video that triggered a spontaneous demonstration.

You can't assume anything, but either a cover-up or colossal incompetence which is absolutely ridiculous and outrageous.

MORGAN: Senator McCain, as always, provocative stuff. Thank you very much for joining me.

MCCAIN: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: There's one man who can get inside the head of a candidate, it's Bob Barnett. He's handled debate prep for generations of Democrats, playing the role of everyone from George H.W. Bush to Dick Cheney. So who better to talk about President Obama's state of mind with just 12 days to go until the election.

Bob, welcome.

ROBERT BARNETT, SENIOR PARTNER, WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY: Thank you, Piers. Good to be with you.

MORGAN: Now am I right in thinking -- just clarify from the top. Were you involved in all three of the president's debates this time?

BARNETT: I was. I was honored to be included on the team. Thank you.

MORGAN: So what the hell happened on that first one?

BARNETT: Well, President Obama said that Governor Romney had a good night and he didn't, and I have to leave it at that. What I can tell you is that after that first debate, he was determined and practiced and skillful in preparing and executing in the second and third debate, and I think that he was able, in the second and third debate, to present himself in the way he is, which is thoughtful and prepared and forward-looking.

And most importantly, because these debates are most important because of the opportunity first for voters who haven't paid attention to, for the first time sometimes, take a look at both candidates and for both candidates to have the opportunity to compare and contrast themselves, and I think in both those debates, President Obama was able to show what he has done and what he will do, and also, what Governor Romney would do and of course, Governor Romney presented on his own what he would do.

MORGAN: Both Al Gore and John Kerry both suggested it may have been altitude in Denver. I mean --

BARNETT: I --

MORGAN: You go along with that or not?

BARNETT: No, I don't go with that. I'm a poor country lawyer, I do the best I can. I'm not an analyst or someone who is able to determine cause in that way. I just know that in that second and third debate, the president executed brilliantly and I think by all polls and all pundits, won both those debates. And I think that if any momentum was gathered from the first debate, and people will debate that for a long time, I think it was stopped by Joe Biden's performance and it was reversed by President Obama's performance in the second debate. And that further reversal was captured in the third debate.

MORGAN: You've been involved in many campaigns. How do you call it at the moment? It's clearly tightening but depending on which poll you read and which swing state you're looking at, you can draft a very different picture for both candidates. What is your gut feeling about exactly where we are right now?

BARNETT: Sure. I'll tell you exactly what I think. I've always thought that this would be a close race. I think that in almost all of the seven, eight, nine most important so-called swing states, President Obama is either tied or ahead, and I think that President Obama has a much stronger and clearer path through the electoral college gauntlet than does Governor Romney.

MORGAN: It looks to me like the president is panicking about his dwindling support from women. There's no doubt that it's been dwindling. In the last three, four weeks, in fact, cemented by that first debate, you could see the polls really shrinking down to almost a tie with women.

Suddenly we're seeing a proliferation of abortion ads, social issue ads, hard conservatism ads, all trying to portray Mitt Romney as anti-women. I think Obama used the phrase today putting women back 50 years in one of the ads. Clearly a deliberate strategy some would say born from panic. What is your view?

BARNETT: There is no panic. President Obama has been and will reach out to all constituencies. If you want to focus on women, I think women will look at first and foremost the economy and jobs and the plan that President Obama has just put out this week in 2.5 million copies of a booklet plus on the Web site about what he'll do going forward for the economy. But as to the issues that are particularly of concern to women, I think that means the right to choose and the right to reproductive health and the continuation of Planned Parenthood.

I think there's a dramatic contrast and while certainly women will be voting in great numbers for both candidates, I think when those all-important independent, late-decider women sit down and say, first and foremost, who will do the best for me and my family with the economy, with the deficit, with taxes, with energy, with education, but also with women's issues, women's rights, I think they'll come down strongly in favor of President Obama.

MORGAN: Bob Barnett, pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much.

BARNETT: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: When we come back, another October surprise. Sort of fizzles out. This one from Gloria Allred. We'll talk to her about that and about the big abortion route.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA ALLRED, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Why is she the only person in the United States of America, perhaps the world, who cannot speak about Governor Romney as it pertains to this litigation?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Gloria Allred outside a Massachusetts court today. The second day in a row we have what you might call an unsurprising October surprise. And those Mitt Romney testimony in a 20-year-old divorce case of Stapes co-founder, Tom Stenberg, and his ex-wife, Maureen Stenberg-Sullivan.

And Gloria Allred joins me now.

Gloria, it must have been a disappointing day for you, and not being able to get this story out there properly.

ALLRED: Well, we were very happy that we were able to get Governor Romney's testimony under oath. The transcripts out to the press and to the media, and that I think is important because I think the public has a right to know and that was accomplished. However, we think that looking at those transcripts out of context, because Maureen -- because of the gag order that is still in place, cannot speak about those transcripts, is unfortunate and as we indicated in court today, we are going to be going into court on our own motion to seek to modify the confidentiality order to obtain the right for Maureen to comment on Mitt Romney's testimony and his interactions with her and his statements, and his impact on her life. That's what she would like to be able to do. I think the public deserves that.

MORGAN: Mitt Romney's lawyers issued a statement saying, "These tabloid charges have been shopped around by Gloria Allred, one of President Obama's most prominent supporters, are absolutely false. Every time a court's reviewed the allegations of her client over the last 24 years they have been rejected. There is no new information here."

What do you say to that?

ALLRED: Well, apparently Mr. Romney, Governor Romney, and his attorney are strangers to the truth not only with that comment but with many other comments they've made during this campaign, because, of course, I've not shopped them at all. They have no evidence of that because I have not done that. So there's a complete and utter lie and falsehood. Let's just call it what it is, a bald-faced lie.

In addition, Piers, Governor Romney's attorney today launched a vicious attack on my client, who is a single mom, who had cancer. So I asked Governor Romney, how low can you stoop, Governor Romney, to allow your attorney to launch this attack on a single mom who you know cannot defend herself because she is still under that gag order?

MORGAN: Well, we'll see what happens, obviously, with the legal action here. Let's turn to Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said this. Let's remind ourselves of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOURDOCK: I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize life is a gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Gloria, we talked about this issue before. You were a victim of rape, you had a legal abortion. Does this stagger you that these politicians running for the Senate, second one now, would say such extraordinary things about something as sensitive as rape and abortion and so on?

ALLRED: Well, I wish I could say that it surprises me but it doesn't, because there is that kind of extremism in the Republican Party. We heard it from Todd Akin, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri, when he talked about legitimate rape as though that could be such a thing. It's just outrageous.

And now we're hearing it also from Richard Mourdock, who hopes to be elected to the United States Senate from Indiana. And what's shocking is, again, that Governor Romney is endorsing, perhaps not this comment, but he has endorsed Richard Mourdock for the United States Senate seat from Indiana, and in fact, has a video out there where he's endorsing him.

So we have that old saying that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Well, maybe Governor Romney and the Republicans such as Richard Mourdock believe that extremism in defense of taking away liberties and choices from women is no vice.

I think it's wrong, it's offensive, and Richard Mourdock apologized but he didn't apologize for saying it. He apologized he said if that offends anyone. Well, it does offend me, but he's standing by his comment and apparently Governor Romney and leaders of the Republican Party are standing by this extremist Richard Mourdock.

MORGAN: I mean his argument is that, look, it was -- it's a religious conviction, the sanctity of life applies to an unborn child in that situation. Do you have a respect for people who perhaps don't phrase it such a clumsy way but have a religious conviction about the sanctity of life in any kind of situation like that?

ALLRED: Well, I definitely support his right to have any religious conviction he wants. But when he attempts to translate his religious conviction into laws which are going to be imposed on my body and the bodies of millions of women and make abortion illegal, and that's exactly what they're trying to do, make it a crime, and then many women are going to die or be maimed by illegal abortions like I almost died and was almost maimed by an illegal abortion before '73, before "Roe v Wade" became the law of the land because of the Supreme Court decision, and we're just not going to go back to those days.

So yes, but just don't put your religious convictions on my body because my religious convictions may be different. And are different.

MORGAN: Gloria, as always, provocative stuff. Thank you for joining me.

ALLRED: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: More on this and the controversial new Obama ad by HBO darling Lena Dunham. That's next in "Battleground America."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENA DUNHAM, HBO'S "GIRLS" CREATOR: The first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful -- someone who really cares about and understands women. A guy who cares when you get health insurance and specifically whether you get birth control. The consequences are huge.

My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl, now I was a woman. I went to the polling station and pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: The extraordinary new Obama campaign ad with "Girls" creator Lena Dunham talking about why she supports the president. It's getting a lot of attention, as you can imagine. It comes just 12 days before the election.

And "Battleground America" tonight, let's bring in my all-star panel. Marjorie Clifton, CEO of Clifton Consulting, Chrystia Freeland, author of "Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everybody Else," and Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway.

Welcome to you all. I can see you all watching that obviously for the first time in utter shock, bordering on horror, ladies.

And Chrystia, let me start with you because -- you don't really have a visible horse in the ring here. When you see the sexualization of the polling booth, as a woman, do you feel comfortable with that?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, AUTHOR, "PLUTOCRATS": Well, first of all, I don't have a horse in the ring or dog in the fight because I'm Canadian.

MORGAN: And I'm British. So we're --

FREELAND: So there you go. We're OK.

MORGAN: We can't be blamed for whatever happens.

FREELAND: There you go. I think, Piers, I'm just to old and not hip enough to really understand --

MORGAN: Come on, Chrystia.

FREELAND: -- that kind of an ad.

MORGAN: Please. Shouldn't we jump in --

(CROSSTALK)

FREELAND: Seriously. Seriously.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICANS STRATEGIST: I think you're too smart to be so bamboozled by it. And the more sex we talk about in this campaign, Piers, the more insulting it is to women. I mean they can do the math. Not everything has to be about biology.

Barack Obama should be talking about why the extreme poverty rate is one of the highest ever recorded among women, how women have lost 860,000 jobs since he's been president but he can't do that. He can't talk about the 23 million Americans who are either out of work or have stopped looking for work so we have to resort to going on these talk shows and being a little bit too glib.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: But what is more offensive, him doing that or him continuing to support a candidate for the Senate who thinks it's God's intent for women to be raped and impregnated?

CONWAY: No, that man has apologized. And this is the president of the United States --

MORGAN: He hasn't apologized for what he said. He believes what he said.

FREELAND: Yes. But this is the president of the United States. He should be telling us what happened in Benghazi.

MORGAN: Kellyanne -

(CROSSTALK)

FREELAND: What do you think about the rape comments? Do you think --

CONWAY: I think he apologized and I'm glad he did.

FREELAND: But that -- do you think he's right?

MORGAN: He hasn't apologized for what he said.

FREELAND: Do you support --

CONWAY: Apparently he did. I saw the interview with Senator McCain. And Senator McCain said he's apologized for what he said. And he was trying to explain the way he felt.

(CROSSTALK)

FREELAND: I don't know why we're talking about it. Gender gap is narrowing. You guys talk about rape and Mitt Romney is winning women so keep talking.

MORGAN: Well, I think it's interesting topic given the way these Senate candidates keep blurting out ridiculous things about it.

But Marjorie Clifton, what do you think?

MARJORIE CLIFTON, CEO, CLIFTON CONSULTING LLC: Well, I think what this ad speaks to is the fact that 56 percent of voters are women and specifically in this independent swing vote that everybody is clamoring for, that is your demographic, that woman that created "Girls." She is in that 20 something voting bloc that's going to be absolutely critical, I mean, given the ratings of the show, we know it works.

Personally, I would love to see the candidates doing laundry, taking care of my kids. Those are ads that would win my vote.

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFTON: But no, what we do seriously know is that women are won by economic issues but we often -- MORGAN: When you say that, you say that, but let me jump in there. Because although I always presumed that that was probably the case.

CLIFTON: Right.

MORGAN: A recent "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows the most important issues for women in 12 swing states, get this, abortion, 39 percent, jobs 19 percent, health care 18. So actually in the crucial swing states, abortion is the hot issue, which I was surprised about, because a lot of women say to me, you know, it's important but I'm more energized by jobs and the economy right now than I am about anything gynecological.

FREELAND: Doesn't abortion become an issue when abortion rights are questioned? Right? Abortion is not an issue in -- you know, Roe v. Wade, 40 years old. So for my lifetime, abortion hasn't been an issue for American women. But I think abortion does become an issue -- and I think frankly having issues like abortion, having these rape comments come to the fore is a gift for the Democrats.

(CROSS TALK)

CONWAY: Forty years since Roe v Wade. It's an excellent point. In those 40 years --

MORGAN: Wouldn't it be 41 years if Mitt Romney gets in, because people have the suspicion that certainly with Paul Ryan, but Mitt Romney, too, given his positions on this -- and all right, he's flipped all over the place. But they have a basic belief that actually if he got the chance, as he has repeatedly said over the years, he would try and overturn Roe versus Wade. If you are a woman --

CONWAY: There's a best answer to that, Piers. Roe Versus Wade has been around -- as of January, it will be 40 years of Roe Versus Wade. We've had in that time 28 years of Republican presidents, 28 years of Republican presidents appointing people to the Supreme Court. We've had 12 years, if you count Obama's four, of Democratic presidents.

So then tell me, you've had all these Republican years, everybody always fear-mongering and Roe Versus Wade is the law of the land.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Marjorie Clifton, you jump in here. I'm doing your job for you, but what do you want to say to that?

CLIFTON: I think there's another important thing. And the Obama campaign has been doing this. They have been painting reproductive rights as an economic issue, which they are, because when you talk about access to health care, access to birth control, and even this issue of abortion, this ability to control the number of kids we have, it is an economic issue for a lot of women, and affordability of birth control and things like that. So I think that that is where there is an intersection. I think women do care about the economy. But as you guys pointed out, when Roe Versus Wade and things like this come up, this is -- it is a pressing matter. And you know, Mourdock's comments could be kind of a gift to the Democrats.

CONWAY: What do you think women did this week? Did women fill up the gas tank or have an abortion? Can we have a -- can we have the same conversation that America's women are having across the country?

FREELAND: Wait a minute. To live in a world where abortion is illegal, that -- if you are a woman or if, like me, you are the mother of daughters, if it were --

CONWAY: But it's not. It's not. The election is in 10 days.

FREELAND: That's why your comments for me are incredibly revealing. You saying look, Republicans have been presidents. They haven't rolled back Roe V. Wade.

Hang on. Let me just finish my sentence. I do think what Mitt Romney is counting on is that voters will decide he's a sheep in wolf's clothing. He is actually a moderate. He wouldn't actually do this stuff. And that is the message that you are putting forward. That's what Mitt Romney wants people to believe.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Nobody really knows what the hell he really thinks. But let's take a break, because I'm rather enjoying this. We are going to prolong this panel, bring them back after the break for more of this, because they're clearly just about to have a fight.

FREELAND: No, Piers.

(CROSS TALK)

CLIFTON: If the presidents can do it, we can do it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TINA FEY, ACTRESS: And if I have to listen to one more grave- faced man with a two dollar2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I'm going to lose my mind.

(APPLAUSE)

FEY: I watch these guys and I'm like what is happening? Am I a secretary on "Mad Men"?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tina Fey speaking in New York last night, taking on Republicans Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock over their rape comments. Let's bring back my all-star panel, Marjorie Clifton, Chrystia Freeland and Kellyanne Conway.

We left it all on bit of a knife edge there, quite literally, actually, I thought. It's interesting what she says there. I mean, there is an argument that men should just keep out of this, generally. One of the problems is you got all four of the key players in this election, they're al male. Where is the big female voice in this? Are there enough?

Kellyanne, let me ask you first.

MORGAN: I'm glad you mentioned men because we never talk about the real gender gap that's going on, which is Barack Obama's under performing severely among men, particularly in some of these swing states. Frankly, Piers, if abortion were the galvanizing issue to the persuadable women in these swing states, he would be running away with this election.

The fact is, the more the president and his supporters talk about abortion, the more the gender gap seems to be narrowing, according to all the recent polls.

MORGAN: But is the real issue -- Chrystia, let me ask you. It seemed to me the game changer for Romney was that having been billed as this ruthless, hard, robotic, unfeeling character by repeated attack ads, we saw the first debate and millions of American women went, hang on, he doesn't seem so bad, he seems quite nice.

FREELAND: Yes, no, no, no, exactly. It wasn't just the attack ads. It was also the choice of his running mate. He chose a very ideological running mate. And it was also the positions he took in the Republican primary. And the view always was, as some of Romney's senior campaign people said, that after the primary, he would have to pivot into a more moderate position.

It took him longer to do that than I think he had hoped. But with the first debate, he did that. And I think the reason why -- you know, if the Romney campaign is watching your show tonight, Piers --

MORGAN: Of course they're watching.

FREELAND: They're saying get that British guy to stop talking about rape and abortion. We don't want to talk about it. We like Moderate Mitt. We don't want to talk about these issues. We want women to be focused --

MORGAN: Marjorie Clifton, that is true, isn't it? They would be watching and thinking exactly that, because to them, they went through all this in the Republican nominee race, when Mitt Romney had to suddenly go all right wing to win that nomination. Now he's won it and has to win the general election.

Suddenly we see nice cuddly Moderate Mitt again. Are you falling for it?

CLIFTON: Well, it is a problem on the flip-flopping. The Obama campaign is taking every advantage to highlight this flip-flopping. This is coming down to a trust competition.

MORGAN: Kellyanne, you can laugh. But he is one of the world's great flip-floppers.

(CROSS TALK)

CONWAY: Well, Obama is not a flip-flopper? He changed his mind on marriage. He never closed Guantanamo Bay. It took him forever to get out of Afghanistan. He was going to do it the next day after he was elected.

CLIFTON: Here's the deal. We walked out of the, for example, foreign policy debate and you had two candidates who looked very similar. Jon Stewart did a fabulous job of contrasting them, said, look, their policies are the same, just choose which color you want. You look at the two candidates, there were a lot of similarities.

Here you have these critical swing states. And it's all going to come down really to the ground game in both places. It's a question of really likability. Who do we trust more? Because right now, what you see in the polls is on the economy, the American people are seeing both candidates as almost equally trustworthy in terms of who can move the economy.

So it comes down to, in the end, what do those key swing states think. On the women's issues, I will say, they're not women's issues. They are men and family issues as well, because reproductive justice and opportunities for access to health care, access to birth control, just as much affects men as it does women.

MORGAN: Quite right.

(CROSS TALK)

FREELAND: They don't affect men the same way. Men can't get pregnant. This is a fundamental difference. Come on. Come on.

(CONWAY)

FREELAND: And if a man were to get raped, pregnancy is not a possibility. So let's be careful --

(CROSS TALK)

CONWAY: There were three against one tonight so let's have at it. Piers, when is the last time you ever on your show --

(CROSS TALK)

CONWAY: Seriously, let's have a truce here that we're not going to talk about women's issues. When was the last time you ever heard anybody talk about men's issues? All issues are considered men's issues. Hold on.

(CROSS TALK) MORGAN: I've got the perfect person coming up after the break, John Sununu. One thing's for sure, he will not be talking about cuddly women's issues. I can tell you that.

We have got Ann Coulter tomorrow night. If you ladies want to come back and share a bit of red meat with her, I would be delighted.

CONWAY: All issues are women's issues.

MORGAN: Ladies, thank you all very much.

Coming next, like I said, governor and current advisor to Mitt Romney, John Sununu is live with me after the break. We all know what that means. He'll be on fire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Governor Romney is banking on a big push in the next 12 days. You can be sure he's hoping the swing states turn his way on November the 6th. But can he do it? With me now is Romney adviser and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. John, how are you?

JOHN SUNUNU, SENIOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I'm well. How are you today?

MORGAN: Were you listening to those three feisty ladies going at it just now?

SUNUNU: I was trying not to.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Tell me this. Things are going pretty well, I would say, for the Romney camp, certainly compared to where you sat a month ago. A lot of it propelled by that first debate. The latest CNN poll of polls of likely voters has Romney ahead 48 percent to 47. The Ohio CNN poll of polls, Obama slightly ahead, 48 percent to 45. Colorado tied at 48 percent, Nevada Obama slightly lead.

But this is getting very tense, very close, very exciting. You've been around the Washington block a few decades. What is your reading of it all?

SUNUNU: Well, look, I think last time I was on your program, I said presidential campaigns are like basketball games. In a basketball game, it's the last two minutes. In a presidential campaign, it's the last two weeks. That's where we are now.

The candidates came out of the debates and now you have to look at what their big message is. And Romney's talking about a message associated with creating jobs. He's worried about maintaining our defense posture. He's worried about issues associated with dealing with the entitlement programs and making sure that they're still there.

And unfortunately, I see President Obama talking about Big Bird and Binders still. And then he had his foul exchange with "Rolling Stone." I don't understand it. I would like to see these two candidates talking about the big job issues and letting the public compare their programs.

MORGAN: When he used the B.S. word to "Rolling Stone," although it may have been ill-advised choice of words, the point he was making is that Mitt Romney is a bit of a flip-flopper. He says one thing, then says another. No one's quite sure where he stands on many issues.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Would you accept that charge?

SUNUNU: Yeah, no, I don't. I think he's been consistent with a package of saying that what we need to do is deal with our energy issues in a constructive way. We've got to allow permitting on federal lands for oil and shale. We've got to make sure that we don't destroy the coal industry. It's a very important part of what we have. If we do that right, we'll be energy independent eventually.

Number two, we have to focus on jobs. And jobs are created by people investing. And people invest if there's an incentive. Most of those investments come from the small businesses in America. And so he wants to cut the taxes on small businesses and move forward.

Number three, he recognizes that we need a training program to make -- and education program to make sure we have the people that are there. These are consistent policies he's had from day one. They're the policies he had as governor of Massachusetts.

I understand it is the vogue on the left to try and say there's flip-flopping. But on those fundamental, basic issues, he is rock solid.

MORGAN: But what about when you see a poll which says that the majority of women in swing states who took part in this poll have put abortion as the number one thing they care about, above jobs, above anything economic. And then you have somebody like Richard Mourdock, who wants to be a senator, coming out and saying basically it's God's intent when women are impregnated by rapists, you must groan, don't you?

SUNUNU: I do. Rape is a -- rape is a heinous, vile act and it's horrible. When Mourdock says that, Romney immediately condemned that. So the fact is, Obama is trying to stretch and find -- by finding something somebody else said and trying to put it on Romney's act -- on Romney's back. Why doesn't President Obama try and tell us how he's going to be different in the second term from the first the first term?

The first term has been disastrous, eight percent unemployment, 23 million people under employed or unemployed. You know all the statistics as well as I do. The president won't tell us what is going to be new. It's going to be the same thing over and over again. And Mitt Romney says we can't afford that. MORGAN: Final question, Colin Powell decided to opt for President Obama again, despite apparently still being a Republican. Is it time he left the party, do you think?

SUNUNU: I'm not sure how important that is. I do like the fact that Colin Powell's boss, George Herbert Walker Bush, has endorsed Mitt Romney all along. And frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama?

MORGAN: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you are proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.

MORGAN: John Sununu, nice to talk to you.

SUNUNU: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming next, the political term for Billy Ray Cyrus, who right here tonight will come out and endorse somebody. Let's wait and see who it is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

MORGAN: Billy Ray Cyrus has a new album called "Change My Mind." And this year marks your 20th anniversary in the business. I can't believe that. You'll also about the election tonight. We should do a little drum roll build up to the big moment.

But first of all, your daughter, obviously, Miley, very famous. She's 19, turns 20 late November, just Tweeted her support for the president. She's got 10 million followers on Twitter. Are you pleased to see your offspring being so active in this area?

BILLY RAY CYRUS, SINGER: My dad always said there's only two things in the middle of the road. That's yellow lines and dead possums. You have to stand for something, and you got to stand for what you believe in.

MORGAN: That's a great line.

CYRUS: Yes, pretty accurate too.

MORGAN: What is your view of where the country is?

CYRUS: My view is that, you know, America's coming out of a deep hole. When President Obama took over, we were pretty far upside down in a lot of different ways, you know, around the world. And he's only been in four years. And I think the country is making a turn around. It takes time. It takes time. And you can feel that America is kind of getting its balance. And I think the president needs four more years.

MORGAN: You would vote for him again?

CYRUS: I'm going to vote for him again. Yes, I believe in him. You know, I come from Eastern Kentucky, banks of the Ohio River there. I have seen the steel mills shut down. I saw the steel workers lose their jobs when they went overseas. I saw the C & o railroad shut way down, probably 90 percent to what it was when I was a kid. I want to see those steel mills open again. I want see the Ohio River being the life blood of America again.

And it can be. I just think I've seen the president. I've seen the support of the troops. I know that a lot of our veterans are coming home. I think that our country believes in our president. And I think that President Obama believes in our veterans.

And you probably saw the story a couple weeks ago CNN did on the veterans and their hospitalization when they get home and how long some of that red tape is taking for them to get care of. I really believe President Obama supports our veterans.

MORGAN: When you go on tour -- and you're a busy guy. You've got -- the album has come out. You just finished doing "Billy Finn" in Chicago. You have a memoir, a world tour and son. There will be lots of people in the audience in America who are unemployed. There are 23 million Americans unemployed right now.

You have a national debt that has gone from 11 trillion to 16 trillion under Barack Obama. So for all of the good stuff he has done, which is undeniable in many areas, there are these two huge things which he has to try and sell to the Americans, in the way that you have, as give me more time.

CYRUS: I honestly wish that my album wasn't called "Change My Mind." One of the defining factors as I weighed out, just like all Americans, which -- America is a crucial time period right now. We've got to pick the right president. This is a very, very -- the most important election in our country's history.

When I was weighing it out, I just kept seeing Romney flip- flopping. And again, I wish my album wasn't called "Change My Mind," so that I could sit here and say without, you know, the fact that it does happen to be the title of my album. I mean, that's pretty much his theme song.

MORGAN: Dedicating it to Mitt Romney?

CYRUS: I guess I am.

MORGAN: Some would say, look, the president has flip-flopped as well. I remember him standing there four years ago, and saying I will close Guantanamo Bay. And then he didn't. He did it because he thought it would make him popular at the time, and then he changed his mind.

CYRUS: He changed his mind about something else too that I thought was brilliant, the fact that he now supports gay marriage. Sometimes we as human beings, we do change our mind. We think about things. I think the president has shown that he cares about our human race. At this time, in this world, we need a lot more love. There's enough hate to go around.

We don't need to be worried about who loves who. We need to be worried about taking care of our fellow man, making sure that kids got food to eat, get this country back on the path. And America can be great again.

MORGAN: Billy Ray, it's always great to see you. Good luck.

CYRUS: Good to be with you. Thank you.

MORGAN: New album is good. I love the picture. Unfortunately, you always look younger than me each time I interview you, which is why I've got to stop interviewing you. Good to see you. Send my best to Miley.

CYRUS: I will, for sure.

MORGAN: Good to see you. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" Starts now.