The Last Attack of the Campaign Aides

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Campaign aides had their final chance to attack their opponents and argue who was really ahead in what battleground state on the Sunday talk shows. Everyone fought over Pennsylvania, and the Democrats think they've got Virginia and Florida in the bag. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel went on CNN's State of the Union ahead of this week's election. While some people are worried the Democrats might be losing Pennsylvania to the Republicans, Emanuel isn't worried. "I think Pennsylvania is secure," he told host Candy Crowley. "I’ve seen other polls that have the president in a comfortable margin," he said. "But it comes down to a four-letter word: jobs." He also defended the President's handling of the Benghazi situation and shot down Rudy Giuliani's ridiculous call for the President to resign.  "The president has done exactly what a president should do," Emmanuel said. He said he was confident the President would find the perps and bring them to justice. "Let's not politicize this," he continued. "Get the investigation done. Let the chips fall where they may... If mistakes were made in any other agency, fix it."

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod was dispatched to appear on Fox News Sunday. He, too, doesn't see Romney as a legitimate threat in Ohio, and dismissed the notion Romney was surging in swing states while making fun of the Republican's latest ad campaign. "They understand that they're in deep trouble," Axelrod said.  "They've tried to expand the map because they know in states like Ohio... They're behind and they're not catching up at this point." Axelrod pointed to Romney's recent Florida and Virginia trips as signs they aren't doing well in traditionally Republican areas. "They understand that the traditional, or the battleground, states that we've been focusing are not working out for them," Axelrod said. "Now they're looking for somewhere, desperately looking for somewhere." In particular, Axelrod is confident the President is going to take Virginia on Tuesday. "I feel very good about Virginia, and I think we're going to win Virginia," he said. "We had a great rally in Virginia last night. It's going to be close. That's one of the earlier reporting states we're going to be looking at."

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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman told State of the Union's Candy Crowley he's confident Mitt will take Ohio on Tuesday. "It’s going to be a very close race," Portman said, but "we’ve got the momentum on our side." Crowley asked whether he thinks it's possible to take the White House without winning Ohio. Portman doesn't really think so: "Probably, but I wouldn’t want to risk it. No Republican ever has," he said. He also took the opportunity to defend Romney's Jeep ad as "accurate" even though it's already been proven to be objectively false. "Jeep has said they're going to reopen a facility ... and it'll be in China to produce for the Chinese market. And that's all the ad says," Portman argued. "That might be the suggestion you want to make, but that's not what the ad says."

Rich Beeson, Mitt Romney's political director, was assigned to be the counterweight to David Axelrod on Fox News Sunday. And he thinks Romney's going to win 300 electoral college votes. "Pennsylvania and Michigan and Minnesota are not past the 270, as Mr. Axelrod would like to purport. Those are past the 300. This is going to be a big election and Governor Romney is going to win it," Beeson said. Chris Wallace, appearing surprised, asked if he was really predicting a 300+ win for Romney. "It's going to be a big win," Beeson said. He also defended the Jeep ad, and connected Obama's response to the New York Times, who endorsed the President last weekend. "I found it interesting that President Obama would attack Gov. Romney on that when they put up an ad saying Gov. Romney said 'let Detroit go bankrupt' when that's a headline from a New York Times op-ed," Beeson said. But, besides all that, and more importantly, Beeson thinks they have a shot at Pennsylvania. "Pennsylvania is very fertile ground for us," he said. "President Obama is well under 50 in a state that he should be well over 50. There are a million more Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans," he said.

Senior White House adviser David Plouffe was assigned to appear on two shows on Sunday: ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet the Press. On This Week, Plouffe dismissed any notion the President's Sandy response was in any way connected to politics. "We're worried about making sure we do the right thing by those who have been affected by the storm," Plouffe said. Plouffe also told former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to stop running his mouth. "Mayor Giuliani is running around the country campaigning for Mitt Romney and popping off," Plouffe said. No big deal. Plouffe also dismissed Romney's stand in Pennsylvania as a last desperate attempt from the campaign to... well, be desperate on This Week. "This is a desperate ploy at the end of a campaign," Plouffe said. "To win Pennsylvania, Governor Romney would have to win two-thirds of the independents.  He's not going to do that anywhere, much less Pennsylvania. So the truth is, they are throwing some ads up and Governor Romney is traveling in the state he's not going to win."

Over on Meet the Press, Plouffe wouldn't try and guess whether the hurricane will play a part in anyone's final decision on Tuesday. The politics of the hurricane are "irrelevant," he said. He also parised Chris Christie for breaking from the party line and praising the President for his handling of the storm. "That’s what leaders should do," Plouffe said. Real leaders work together in times of crisis no matter where they come from, Plouffe explained. "At moments of real challenge and crisis to put other things aside and focus on doing the right thing for the American people," he said. Plouffe is also really confident of Obama's chances in all the battleground states. "If you look at states like Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Hampshire, Colorado ... all these states right now we think the president is win a good position to win," he said. "And we think Gov. Romney is playing defense," he added. "He’s spending his last day in Florida and Virginia on Monday -- states they were telling you in the media a few weeks ago they thought were a done deal. They’re far from done deals. I’d rather be the president today than Gov. Romney in terms of those two states."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was assigned to Meet the Press to dispel any notion the new job numbers reflect a strengthening economy. "The reality is, if 7.9 percent unemployment, if 12 million or so people out of work and 8 million more either underemployed or working part time, if that is satisfactory to you, then this is acceptable, this Obama administration’s performance," Cantor said. "What I will tell you, from the folks that I meet, it is totally unacceptable. This is not good enough for us in America." Cantor was also asked to respond to Chris Christie's praise of the President, but he didn't attack. He understood Christie's position. "Gov. Christie was doing what he had to do," Cantor said. "He still has a challenge ahead of him, and my hat is off to him, to [Newark] Mayor [Cory] Booker... in dealing with the tragedy that occurred," he said. "Our hearts go out to people who do not have lights. Some do not have shelter, do not have fuel to drive their car or to carry on their lives. I think this goes really beyond politics right now and this is an issue of human compassion."

Republican Haley Barbour, not a Romney surrogate, thinks the hurricane definitely snapped Romney's campaign momentum. "The hurricane is what broke Romney’s momentum,” he said on State of the Union. "I don’t think there’s any question about it. Any day that the news media is not talking about jobs and the economy; taxes and spending; deficit and debt; Obamacare and energy; is a good day for Barack Obama." He described the storm as a political media "blackout," and explained why that was bad for Mitt Romney. "If this election had been held last Friday, the last Friday in October, Romney would have won," Barbour said. "Nothing was stopping Romney momentum. No matter what Obama did, he couldn’t stop the momentum. This blackout – I’m not blaming the news media -- all the news coverage was about everything but Obama’s policies." But that doesn't mean he begrudges Chris Christie for praising the President in the wake of the storm. "The relationship between the president – whether it’s President Obama or President Romney -- has just begun," he said. "It’s going to go on for years and years and years. The easy stuff is what we’re dealing with now." He did advise that getting New Jersey back to normal will be more a mountain than a mole hill for Chris Christie. Barbour was the Gov. of Mississippi when Katrina hit in 2005. "Christie would have been a fool to poke his finger in Obama’s eye," Barbour said. "When they’re going to be your partner for years, you praise in public and criticize in private."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.