(CNN) - David Axelrod, senior strategist for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, responded Thursday to GOP attacks against the president from the CNN Arizona Republican Presidential Debate and described the candidates as "all hat, no cattle."
"It seemed like such a negative grinding affair, going after each other, going after the president and certainly going after the country," Axelrod said in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "That was a dispiriting thing to watch."
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made one of the strongest digs against Obama in Wednesday night's debate when he said the president was making unprecedented attacks against religious freedoms.
Hitting back, Axelrod said Romney's remarks was a "preposterous statement" and pointed to the administration's recent "compromise" on the contraception coverage controversy.
"The fact is that Mitt Romney has proven he is willing to say whatever he thinks he needs to say to close the deal with these Republican primary voters," Axelrod said, repeating a line he's used throughout the race.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, argued during the debate that Obama was "afraid to stand up to Iran" and previously opposed sanctions against the country for developing its suspected nuclear weapons program.
But Axelrod countered saying the president has "brought the world along in the most withering set of sanctions against any country" and pushed the Iranian economy into "disarray."
"This notion that somehow the president hasn't stood up to Iran stands in contrast to what Iran is saying and what is obvious from the facts," Axelrod said, adding that none of the candidates suggested they would do anything differently than what the president is doing right now.
"You know we got a lot of this–what do they say down South? All hat and no cattle?" Axelrod said.
In the debate, Gingrich reiterated a line he's used throughout the week, calling Obama the "most dangerous president" on national security grounds in history.
To that, Axelrod said, "I'm sure Osama bin Laden would like to offer a rebuttal to that, if he could. All the leadership of Al Qaeda, two-thirds of which have been destroyed, would probably offer a different testimony to that."
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