Mike Duncan, chairman of the powerful super PAC American Crossroads, tells Newsmax.TV that undecided voters will make up their minds late in the campaign and elect Mitt Romney as the next president.
He also says he is confident that Republicans will retain control of the House and are within “striking distance” of winning the Senate.
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Duncan served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2007 to 2009, and on the campaigns of five presidents. He is also the president and CEO of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
His political action committee American Crossroads, backed by former presidential adviser Karl Rove, has raised tens of millions of dollars for Romney and other Republican candidates.
The Real Clear Politics Average of polls has President Obama leading Romney in Ohio by 4.8 points, Florida by 2.1 points, and Virginia by 4.7, with fewer than 50 days until the election.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Friday, Duncan was asked what his organization has planned for voter outreach in those crucial swing states.
“We’re going to stick with our plan,” he says.
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“Last year, when we got together and started looking at what could be done this year, our plan was to take the states that we had in 2008, our core states, our core voters, add to them Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida, and right now we’re within striking distance of all of those. In fact, Indiana’s already to put to rest. So you get those and then you add any one other state.
“If you look at the math, we’re in play all over the country. In the Northeast with New Hampshire, in the Midwest with Wisconsin and Michigan, and of course in the West you’ve got Colorado and New Mexico and Nevada, so we’re exactly where we thought we’d be at this point and we’re looking forward to the next 46 days.”
Duncan also says he is not particularly worried about the current polls that show Romney behind.
“Not any one poll. I’ve been around long enough that this is my 11th presidential campaign. I remember 1980 and Oct. 26, the second debate, when Jimmy Carter was ahead by 7 points. So I understand that there are going to be ups and downs in the polls.
“We also do our own polling because we understand that all politics is local, particularly in the Senate and House races, and we understand that they are micro things and macro things involved in politics, and the macro the thing involved in politics this time is the economy.”
Referring to that 1980 Carter-Reagan race, Duncan says: “It was a clear referendum on Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan had to prove that he was ready to be president of the United States and that’s the case that Mitt Romney is making to the American people now.
“Undecided voters decided late in that campaign. They’re going to decide late in this campaign. That’s why Gov. Romney will win the election.”
Conservative commentator Peggy Noonan recently called the Romney campaign a “rolling calamity.”
Duncan comments: “I don’t think that there is a perfect political candidate, nor is there a perfect political campaign. Typical campaign histories are written by those that win and then you’ve got a lot people who are dissatisfied and write histories of those that lose.
“What Ann Romney said yesterday is absolutely correct. ‘Stop. This is hard. We’re doing our best. We have a plan. We will execute our plan.’ Having been around and seeing all the campaigns from Nixon through Senator McCain, I understand that campaign strategy is important, that people are important, but you’ve got to bring it all together and the campaign has a plan and we’ve got to let him execute that plan.”
Turning to the Senate races, Duncan tells Newsmax: “Again, we had our plan. We targeted certain Senate states and we’re sticking with that plan.
“We’ve made some adaptions to it but look around the country. People are going to be surprised on the day after the election on what happens in Ohio. Josh Mandel has a great shot in Ohio, even though the polls are showing him behind at this point.
“Connecticut is a surprise for us. Linda McMahon is a great candidate. Heather Wilson is doing a great job in her state [New Mexico] and could be another surprise for us.
“Then there are the traditional states. Virginia, we know that is going to be extremely close. The polling has shown that it’s close all along and George Allen is experienced. He can make that final sprint at the end to pull that out.
“Indiana’s going to be good for us this time [with candidate Richard Mourdock]. Look at North Dakota [Rick Berg]. Just look around the map and the country. We’re within striking distance and these are all locally-based issue races that will benefit the Republicans.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is reportedly going to campaign for controversial Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. American Crossroads backed off its support of Akin and the deadline for him to withdraw from the race is coming up next week.
Asked if American Crossroads will warm up to Akin if he remains on the ballot, Duncan would not elaborate, but he did say: “I’m always for the Republican candidate in situations like this and Claire McCaskill has done a dismal job representing the people of Missouri and she deserves to be retired.”
Some recent American Crossroads ad buys target Democratic Congressional candidates. Discussing the House races, Duncan says: “There is a possibility, based on redistricting and the sentiment in the country, that Republicans could pick up some house seats.
“That would be going against historic norms, but Republicans will continue to control the House, Speaker Boehner will continue to be the speaker, and we’re tracking about 40 seats all over the country, along with some other organizations that we coordinate with, and you’ll see us playing in some states that may surprise people as we move toward the end.”
As for specific races, Duncan says only: “I keep a watch on several races. Obviously, there’s always one at home back in Kentucky, the [Democrat] Ben Chandler race with Andy Barr. This is the second time that they’ve faced off against each other. Six hundred and something votes the last time. That will be a very close race.”
As CEO of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Duncan is disturbed by the recent news that Alpha Natural Resources, America’s second largest coal company, is closing nine mines and laying off 1,200 employees.
Energy is “going to be a big issue” in the campaigns, he predicts, “because the economy is the issue.
“This is referendum on what Barack Obama has done and not done. A lot of people believe that the EPA is the reason that we’ve lost so many jobs, particularly with coal-fired plants and coal mines. This week, 1,200 jobs, but that’s been going on all over the country and it’s not just with the miners, it’s with the coal plants — 200 coal plants are being forced to close because of EPA regulations. That’s thousands of jobs.
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“More than that, it’s a huge amount of electricity in this country. It’s 31 gigawatts. Now 31 gigawatts sounds like a number out of a movie but it really means something — 43 states produce less than 31 gigawatts. It would be like shutting off all of the electricity in the state of Ohio.
“We just don’t have that excess capacity in this country but the EPA continues to have regulations that cause the coal mines to shut and power plants to shut.
“On a personal basis — I live in that part of the world — I know what it does to local communities when you lose the school tax, when you lose the contributions that these companies make to the local communities. I also know what it means to the individuals who can’t pay their mortgages, who can’t buy that house, who can’t send their children to the school that they want to send them to. This is very real and it’s a big part of America.”
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