TODAY | September 30, 2012
>> now to politics and the question of why we're hearing so little about the war in afghanistan during the race for the white house . let's bring in nbc's david gregory , moderator of "meet the press." david in 2008 candidate obama talked about this war as the war we must win. this time around he notedly talks about winding down the war. mitt romney didn't even mention it in his convention speech. why does this not seem to be a major interest in a campaign?
>> the stakes are so high, lester, as you know being on the ground there. i think there's a couple of reasons. from the republican point of view, they want distance from the bush presidency , particularly the bush foreign policy of engagement in war in afghanistan and iraq . from the president's point of view, he wanted to narrow the focus, talk about al qaeda , defeat al qaeda . the crowning achievement killing osama bin laden . the nation building work in afghanistan is frankly something that became too difficult, too entrenched for the american people to keep up with. we are there longer than the soviets were there. i think there's a recognition that that job was simply too difficult, the notion that we were going to turn around the government, really be able to rebuild the country. there is a phrase that general petreas used, was iraq good enough and now is iraq good enough, safe enough, stable enough so u.s. forces can come home?
>> when you look it at the positions between president obama and mitt romney , is there a lot of daylight in their views of the policy regarding afghanistan ?
>> frankly, there's not. romney will criticize the president for announcing a firm deadline for 0 withdrawal of u.s. forces . it's long been thought by republicans that doing so would allow the taliban , particularly the taliban that's holed up in pakistan and that crosses freely into afghanistan , giving them that heads-up that they can just wait america out and then do their damage. the reality is that there's been a negotiation with the taliban and the coalition forces . the taliban is likely to have some role in ruling afghanistan is disappointing and as tragic as that may be to people around the world, that is a definite possibility as we move forward.
>> david , a quick question about the debates now three days away. right now the latest gallup poll shows the president with the six-point lead. historically how much impact do these debates have on elections?
>> well, they can have a lot of impact. it's a high-profile moment, tens of millions of people watching . as you look at the national number and you look at the spread and you look he battleground state , on the order of seven points that mitt romney has to make up, it's a lot of ground to try to move if you have a smaller pool of undecided voters. that's a big hurdle right now for mitt romney .
>> and what do you have coming up on "meet the press" this morning, david ?
>> the state of the race, governor chris christie , white house adviser david plouffe .
>> david gregory , thank you very