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CBS: Obama Has 'Huge Opportunity' in Hurricane Aftermath; Plays Up 'Edge on Empathy'

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford hyped the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy as a "huge opportunity" for President Obama to display his leadership skills, as opponent Mitt Romney currently hold the advantage in that area in the latest CBS News poll of key battleground states, particularly in Florida.

Crawford also touted that Obama could "build his lead on the question of which candidate better understands people's needs and problems. Voters here [in Florida] give him the edge on empathy."

The CBS correspondent made this assertion at the end of her report on the former Massachusetts governor's "pretty low profile over the past couple of days, as he's been trying to walk this fine line between maintaining a public presence while the East Coast was getting battered by Hurricane Sandy."

Prior to Crawford's report, anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell spotlighted how "Obama leads Governor Mitt Romney by five points in Ohio. That's the same as last week. In Virginia, the President holds a two-point lead. However, his Republican challenger has an edge with independent voters."

The CBS journalist did point out during the segment that Romney "picked up a lot of ground here" in Florida in her network's latest poll. She also noted that the Republican was "in a dead heat with the President, after trailing by nine points just over a month ago."

Later, Crawford outlined that "Romney is now edging out the President among seniors, and has cut his lead with women voter in half....Our polls shows voters here believe he will do a better job working with Democrats and Republicans. More Florida voters also say Romney has stronger leadership qualities than the President."

The full transcript of Jan Crawford's report from Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Now to politics and the race for the White House. A new Quinnipiac/CBS News/New York Times poll focus on three battleground states that could decide Tuesday's presidential election.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: CBS Poll: Obama Leads In Key States"]

NORAH O'DONNELL: President Obama leads Governor Mitt Romney by five points in Ohio. That's the same as last week. In Virginia, the President holds a two-point lead. However, his Republican challenger has an edge with independent voters. And in Florida, Governor Romney has cut the President's nine-point advantage last month to just one point.

[CBS News Graphic: "Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times Poll: Presidential Race Among Ohio Voters: Likely Voters: Obama, 50%; Romney, 45%; Presidential Race Among Virginia Voters: Likely Voters: Obama, 49%; Romney, 47%; Presidential Race Among Florida Voters: Likely Voters: Obama, 48%; Romney, 47%; Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

Jan Crawford is in Tampa covering the Romney campaign. Jan, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Romney Back On Campaign Trail"]

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning to you, Norah. Romney has really been keeping a pretty low profile over the past couple of days, as he's been trying to walk this fine line between maintaining a public presence while the East Coast was getting battered by Hurricane Sandy. But now, we got six days left. He is back on the campaign trail here in Florida. He's got a rally later this morning. You see his campaign plane in the background. He's hoping to build that momentum - continue building the momentum - and, as you said, our poll shows he has picked up a lot of ground here.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): Romney arrived in Florida Tuesday night ahead of three campaign events here today. He'll be joined by Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, as he makes stops just outside Miami and along the I-4 corridor, looking to reach crucial swing voters.

Our new poll now has Romney in a dead heat with the President, after trailing by nine points just over a month ago. Romney is now edging out the President among seniors, and has cut his lead with women voter in half. Today will be Romney's first campaign rally since Hurricane Sandy pounded the East Coast. Tuesday, he was in the key state of Ohio, but focused his attention on the storm, as he helped supporters box supplies for victims.

[CBS News Graphic: "[Romney], 47%; [Obama]; 48%; [Romney] + 11 Senior voters; [Obama] +10 Female Voters"]

MITT ROMNEY, (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's part of the American spirit, the American way, to – to give to people who are in need. And your generosity this morning touches my heart, and I – and I appreciate what you've done.

CRAWFORD: In Florida, Romney is expected to continue pushing a message of bipartisanship. Our polls shows voters here believe he will do a better job working with Democrats and Republicans. More Florida voters also say Romney has stronger leadership qualities than the President.

CRAWFORD (on-camera): But that poll was taken before Hurricane Sandy, and so, now, the President, who's dealing with the aftermath and the response to that storm, has a huge opportunity to try to change those views, and also, to build his lead on the question of which candidate better understands people's needs and problems. Voters here give him the edge on empathy. Norah, Charlie, and Gayle?

O'DONNELL: Jan Crawford, thank you.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.