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Romney Campaign Confident As Election Nears


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

There is a little over a week left until Election Day and with the race in a dead heat, we invited representatives from each campaign on WEEKEND EDITION to make their case. Yesterday, my colleague Scott Simon spoke with Ben Labolt, from President Obama's re-election campaign. Today, we are joined by Barbara Comstock. She's an advisor with Governor Mitt Romney's campaign.

Ms. Comstock, welcome to the program.

BARBARA COMSTOCK: Good morning. Good to be with you.

MARTIN: So, your campaign has had a lot of momentum in the last couple of weeks. Governor Romney has also picked up a couple of key newspaper endorsements recently. But, as is often the case, this election comes down to independent voters. And there is a perception among some in that group that Mitt Romney has changed his mind on some key issues. So we'd like to walk through a couple of these with you this morning. And I'd like to start with health care.

Governor Romney has said that Day One, in the White House, he will act to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And yet in Massachusetts, as governor he was responsible for a health care plan that was really the model in many ways for President Obama's federal plan. So the question is where does Governor Romney stand on popular parts of the federal plan, like coverage for pre-existing conditions?

COMSTOCK: Well, he has been clear from the start that he is for repealing and replacing, and that is what all the Republicans have tried to do. They had an alternative plan that didn't talk about having a massive government takeover. What Governor Romney has always supported - and I worked for him back in 2008 - was to have states be able to be innovators, the laboratories of democracy; be able to, you know, make decisions themselves. But then, also have things which already are accept - you know, we want to deal with pre-existing conditions. Something like, you know, having children be able to stay - well, children. If you're 26 years old you're not a child. But if parents want to keep their adult children on until 26, the insurance companies have already said, Hey, that's working out great for us. We want to keep that.

MARTIN: So will his plan include a mandate for insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions?

COMSTOCK: Well, there already are pre-existing conditions law in there. If you have insurance you can't be thrown off. So there are going to be combinations on that. I'm not familiar with the exact specifics. But we have always said we want to deal with pre-existing conditions because that's part of what makes, you know, people maybe don't get insured in the first place or aren't able to stay on their insurance.

So that's one of the, you know, you want to have insurance when you are sick. And so, that is something obviously that we want to make sure we could take care of.

MARTIN: I'd like to move...

COMSTOCK: As far as the endorsements and all the other things, in terms of what you're seeing the focus and why you've seen the trend towards Governor Romney since the first debate, is because he has focused number one on the economy, unlike this president who went off on this big, huge health care boondoggle from Washington, instead of allowing us to have reforms in areas, you know, like pre-existing conditions; like, you know, putting adult children on.

There's things you can do on the federal level, buying across state lines, that you do not need to have this massive health care plan that is harming the economy...

MARTIN: I hear you. I'd like to move, if you don't mind, to another issue. I'd like to move to the issue of abortion. In 2002, Governor Romney said, and I quote here, "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose." And in this campaign, his position has been ambiguous. Can you tell us if the issue of abortion will be a priority for Governor Romney if he is elected?

COMSTOCK: OK. Well, again, it seems you're focusing on all the issues that the voters aren't. See, I go out and I talk to voters every day and do grassroots and go door to door, and the issues that they bring up are the economy.

But on abortion, Governor Romney has made clear that he is pro-life, but there's also what you can - the Supreme Court has also spoken on this. So what the federal government can do is largely deal with funding issues. And what Governor Romney has said on funding, when we have, you know, very strong disagreement on the issue of funding abortion that let's, you know, we can agree to disagree on those issues.

But on the vital matters that need to be funded when we have such budget shortfalls, let's not have it be on these things that we very much have, you know, strong disagreements on. Let's focus on jobs and the economy and getting things turned around on the economy, the things we agree on. And that's why people are coming around to supporting Governor Romney.

The Des Moines Register you saw last night...

MARTIN: Yes, has endorsed him.

COMSTOCK: ..hasn't endorsed a Republican in 40 years...


COMSTOCK: saying on the number one issue, which is the economy, that Governor Romney has what it takes to turn this economy around. And that's what you...

MARTIN: And just briefly, we only have a couple seconds remaining. The race is too close to call. What does he have to do? What does Governor Romney have to do to close the deal?

COMSTOCK: Well, what he's been doing and this is why you're seeing newspapers like, you know, even usually Democrat-leaning newspapers and newspapers that endorsed Barack Obama last time, but even more importantly, the American people. You're seeing the gender gap has closed tremendously. It is now in single digits for women, while it is double digits for men in favor of Governor Romney.

So you are seeing the trend go all in our way because of his...

MARTIN: And I'm afraid we'll to leave it there.

COMSTOCK: ...singular focus on the economy.

MARTIN: Barbara Comstock is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and an advisor to the Romney campaign. Thank you so much.

COMSTOCK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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