ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Now, to NPR's Ari Shapiro, who's traveling with Mitt Romney. The Republican flew this morning to Chesapeake, Virginia, for a rally. And Ari, what did he have to say about last night's debate?
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Well, he came out sounding chipper and he relived the moments of the debate that he was proudest of. This was right near the start of his stump speech today.
MITT ROMNEY: I love these debates. You know, these things are great. And I think it's interesting that the president still doesn't have an agenda for a second term. Don't you think that it's time for him to finally put together a vision of what he'd do in the next four years if he were elected?
SHAPIRO: And then Mitt Romney went question by question through some of the people in the town hall audience whose ideas he was pleased with last night. He mentioned immigration, women, gas prices. Interestingly, he did not talk about some of the feistiest exchanges from the debate. Didn't mention Libya, he did not mention China. It honestly felt a little bit like President Obama the day after the first debate, kind of re-litigating some of the points that he'd hoped to make during the debate, but maybe did not land quite as solidly as he would have liked the first time around.
SIEGEL: Ari, more broadly, what are you hearing from the Romney campaign about how their candidate did last night?
SHAPIRO: Well, they're emphasizing the parts of the debate where Mitt Romney did well. They point out that he was effective in talking about the economy, especially in response to a question from an Obama voter from 2008 who said he was disappointed in the last four years. They say whether or not Romney won the entire debate, he succeeded at the issues that are most important to Americans in this election.
But privately, their demeanor is nothing like it was after the first debate when they were exultant. I heard a lot of grumbling from senior aides in the Romney camp about the moderator, Candy Crowley, which frankly is not something that you hear from a candidate who believes that he's won.
SIEGEL: Ari, we just heard from Scott Horsley. He mentioned some of the issues related to women that came up in the debate last night. Mitt Romney has worked hard in the last few weeks to close the gender gap to get some more female support. How might the debate affect that for Romney?
SHAPIRO: We're still watching it play out. I mean, the key phrase, as you heard from Scott, was this "binder full of women" phrase that Mitt Romney used perhaps inartfully as he was talking about his efforts to include women in his cabinet as Massachusetts governor. Democrats, of course, latched onto that phrase like a pitbull.
It's not clear whether it will take hold in a serious way, but as a sign of how important women are in this election, Mitt Romney brought up women again today in his stump speech. He said millions more women are in poverty today than when President Obama took office.
SIEGEL: You're traveling with the Romney campaign in Virginia today. What's on the candidate's plate next?
SHAPIRO: Another debate coming right up. You know, there was a two-week gap between the first two presidential debates and now there's just five days before the next debate on Monday in Florida. Obviously, Florida is a hugely important swing state, not like New York, where the candidates met for last night's debate. So you can expect to see Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, spending some time there over the next few days.
And the candidate is going to be hunkering down to bone up on foreign policy, which is the focus of the next debate and an area where Romney has been criticized at various points during this race.
SIEGEL: Okay, thanks, Ari.
SHAPIRO: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Ari Shapiro, who's traveling with the Mitt Romney campaign in Virginia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.