Team Obama recalibrates, attacks
October 4th, 2012
01:50 PM ET
6 years ago

Team Obama recalibrates, attacks

(CNN) – Amid a flurry of post-debate speculation over where President Barack Obama's debate sparring gumption was Wednesday in Denver, the Democrat's campaign wove a narrative of a president attempting to keep the debate civil, sticking to answering the questions concerning American voters.

But while Team Obama credited the incumbent with acting collected and presidential, the campaign itself wasted no time in delivering sharp attacks on the substance of Romney's remarks.

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"I expected Governor Romney to do well, he's a very good performer in debates – we saw that in the primaries," senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. "Partly because he's completely untethered from the truth."

The consensus from post-debate viewer polling and political analyst musings deemed Romney the winner of Wednesday night's debate. According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.

Asked why Obama did not use Romney's notorious "47%" comments or other proven effective attack lines from the campaign trail, Axelrod said "He made a choice last night to answer the questions that were asked."

"(Romney) came to Denver and we were interested to see what he would say and not surprisingly what we learned is he'll say anything that makes him effective short term but vulnerable in long term," said Axelrod, later invoking an apparent switch from the GOP primaries where Romney called himself a "severe conservative" to touting bipartisan cooperation while governing in the historically blue state of Massachusetts.

"Governor Romney came to give a performance and he gave a good performance and we give him credit for that," Axelrod said. "The problem with it was none of it was rooted in fact, much of it was rooted in deception from his very first answer when he tried to disown his $5 trillion tax program."

Obama campaign policy director James Kvaal said on the call that many of Romney's were claims last night were "fraudulent," criticizing the Republican's tax proposal.

Early in the debate, Obama charged that the former Massachusetts governor's plan calls for a $5 trillion in addition to an extension of the Bush era tax cuts plus $2 trillion in military spending. The president questioned how Romney would pay for the cuts without placing a heavy financial burden on middle income Americans.

Romney hit back that he didn't have $5 trillion in tax cuts and, in turn, attacked the president's current policies as detrimental to middle-class economic security.

But with the next presidential debate just under two weeks away, will Obama's campaign alter their strategy to combat a potential bump for the Republican challenger?

"Obviously, moving forward we will take hard look at this and make judgments where to draw lines in debates and how to use our time," said Axelrod adding that Obama is "eager" for the next debate.

Ben Labolt, Obama campaign press secretary, added they will continue to focus on what they bill as the GOP nominee's perpetual "dance" around important issues.

Without missing a beat, Team Romney issued a counter-response to the Obama campaign's debate reaction, likening the Obama campaign conference call to the president's debate performance.

"The campaign, like the President, offered no defense of the President's first term record or vision for a second term, and instead, offered nothing but false attacks, petulant statements, and lies about Governor Romney's record," said Romney Campaign Spokesperson Amanda Henneberg.

President Obama campaigns Thursday in Denver and Madison, Wisconsin while Vice President Biden – who will gear up for his one and only faceoff with the opposing ticket in a vice presidential debate October 11 – stumps in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Romney and Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan are scheduled to campaign in Virginia. Romney also spoke Thursday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

–CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • David Axelrod • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Presidential Debate
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Bob

    So we did see a lot of the "Real Romney". Most everything he said about jobs, his tax plan, and Medicare have been shown to be completely false by every non-Koch-controlled news organization. And his big idea for saving money? Take the few millions in partial subsidy from Public Television (the thing that has taught generations of kids the basics of reading and numbers) but not end the tens of billions in subsidies to companies that do nothing but pollute and have record profits. So no money for Big Bird, but billions to Big Oil and Big Tobacco.

    October 4, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. rosco

    Im glad things are back to normal Obammy point and blame and Axeldorf lies. thank goodness i was worried there for a while that just maybe Obammy was going to work on creating jobs, well i guess we dont have to worry anymore

    October 4, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. truth hurts

    Team Obama recalibrates, attacks

    recalibrates??? Are they going to find somebody to fill that empty suit they sent to the debates last night?!!

    attacks??? But this is all they have done for a year now. The bad news is that Obama is believing his own drivel and that drivel gets force fed back to you when you try to lie in a debate.

    October 4, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. RealPolitics

    Did anyone really watch the debate last night if they think Romney was clearly not paying attention or just plain ignorant. Romney continues to forcefully boast his lack of experience and no specifics to his proposals or plans and presenting them like the new iphone! It is like what Obama said last night his plans and proposals must be to good to be true because we haven't heard them yet. Come one America wake up and start doing some research before the election because Mitt Romney needs to go back home, enjoy his millions and his grandchildren waiting for them to have children.

    October 4, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. jeffro

    It is sad that outright lies, half truths and double mindedness meant to pander to the masses ruled the evening according to a majority of Americans. Romney contradicted the foundation of his campaign for 90 minutes on a national stage. What more can be said? The teachings of his mormon religion allow him to lie with abandon. Google "lying for the lord" and find out for yourselves where this man and his religion are coming from. Leader of the free world is a lofty goal that justifies this "church" teaching.

    October 4, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    I vote absentee as a US citizen living outside of the US. Mitt Romney lost my vote today when his surrogate, former Gov. John Sununu, called the President of United States LAZY on Andrea Mitchell Reports. If Mr. Sununu is the type of disrespectful person who Mitt Romney "pals around with", then I'll take the reserve and poise of Mr. Obama. Also, last night, Mr. Romney looked more like a hyperactive, yippy terrier than a candidate with dignity.

    October 4, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Hammerer

    The truth is that last night the real Obama was revealed. An empty suit that was confused when confronted with questions about economics, taxes, job growth and the leadership skills need to solve America's problems.
    Obama showed that he lacks the intellectual skills that the mainstream media has lead the public to believe he possessed. Now you understand the reasons for sealing Obama's education records. He proved to the world that he is nothing more than average, at best, and certainly not qualified to ever be more that a community organizer.

    October 4, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. mds03197

    Many democrats ask: Why didn't Obama use the "47%" or "tax cheat" lines against Romney? Well, here's your answer: Candidates can smear one another in their campaign ads (47%, Bain, taxes on middle class, tax fraud, medicare, social security, Cayman Islands, etc.) but when face-to-face, you cannot lie without getting called out on it. Obama knows this and didn't want the viewing public to withness his entire campaign falling to pieces in one debate. Since he didn't bring it up to Romney's face, he can now continue to use it within his campaign.

    Fellow Americans, what you witnessed last night is your media generated President! Obama has not been called out on his record in the last 3 1/2 years (until last night). Up until the debate, you all have been misguided by the twisted media portraying Obama to be the best President in history and who refused to publish articles degrading his failed policies, lack of leadership abilities and twisted economical figures. Each one of you (obama supporters) are to blame for relying on the media to recklessly form an opinion on Romney. All you have to do is step outside and talk to your neighbors to find out the TRUE shape of our economy and our nation. The media will distort the truth, your neighbors will show you real life problems!

    October 4, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Ann

    I noticed that Romney said he would cut exemptions and credits on income tax. That would kill the middle class people. Your exemptions are mainly personal exemptions of $3700 per person in your family and that would make your income tax much higher. A lot of the credits are for your children, daycare, college tuition etc. People need to look at their tax forms and compare to Romney's speech.

    October 4, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Lionel

    Robme lies lies like a rug. Go check his website. He calls for a 20% tax cut across the board and it's in the Ryan plan.

    The president wanted to keep the debate civil. Next time Robme, watch out.

    Bain, Cayman Island account and Tax Dodger is going to come out.

    October 4, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. rosco

    @real its clear you didnt watch, just like Obammy its got to be explained over and over

    October 4, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Borderless

    Ann, hearing what Obama tells you to hear. He said after a set amount, say 25000 or 50000. You can't have more deductions than that without being very rich. Pay closer attention next time. Class dismissed.

    October 4, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Jane

    You don't need fact checkers to validate the falseness of Romney's campaign.
    You just have to remember the total flip he's done on some of the key issues even from just a month ago.
    Romney's camp is counting on us to have a short memory, short attention span. They are counting on us forgetting all the promises he made in Aug/Sept. Many of which is the exact opposite of what he's saying now.
    I don't trust Romney because of all the back and forth. Seems like he just says whatever to get his voters.
    Once he's elected, he can do whatever he wants. He doesn't have to keep any promises. And we need to remember that. At least with President Obama, we have an idea of what to expect. Not so with Romney.

    October 4, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Rick Florida

    Did I watch a different debate last night than the Democrats. I must have cause the Romney I saw last night had decisive facts and knowledge of what he was talking about. He does his Homework and does it well. Looks like people are running scared right now. Hard choices have to be made and stark realities are the future. A great leader doesn't have all the answers, a great leader needs to know how to seek out the answers amd bring people together. A great leader also takes responsibilities for his actions or lack there of. There was no infighting in Massachusetts with Romney, he worked with the legislature and did get things done. No finger pointing and to this day as he talks about Massachusetts he doesn't complain. He knew what he had to do and how he had to do it unlike our President.

    October 4, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. truth hurts

    Darla (Edmonton, Canada)
    I vote absentee as a US citizen living outside of the US. Mitt Romney lost my vote today when his surrogate, former Gov. John Sununu, called the President of United States LAZY on Andrea Mitchell Reports. If Mr. Sununu is the type of disrespectful person who Mitt Romney "pals around with", then I'll take the reserve and poise of Mr. Obama. Also, last night, Mr. Romney looked more like a hyperactive, yippy terrier than a candidate with dignity.
    oh honestly... more lies just like Obama. Based on your last statement, Romney never had your vote. Obama's campaign manager called Romney a felon and his SuperPAC implied he killed a woman. I guess that wasn't over the line in your book?

    October 4, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. km4candles

    Ann, Romney did not say he would eliminate all exemptions and credits. He said he would cap them. There is a difference. If he caps them, then the people that own 2 or 3 homes, etc. will not be able to take the mortgage deduction for all three for exzmple. In doing that, the "rich" as the liberals like to spout, would have to pay more in taxes. But he also said that he as President would sit down with both sides and work together to get this country moving again. That is what I wanted to hear. The country is a a deadlock and if someone doesn't start working together it's going to continue to slide. This administration better quit blaming Bush for everything and do something, or they will be out on the street in January.

    October 4, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. gt

    ah yes team obama keeps it dirty .....sure does not sound like a canidate who wants to unite america....its slash and burn...just like shermans march to the sea....wipe out every one and every thing as long as you win....sad...

    October 4, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Jeannine

    mitt thinks if he lies and evades the truth some will follow him. Like his wife said if he's elected she's worried for his mental health. I've worked in the tax field most of my adult life and people do not understand that the exemptions are there to help decrease your tax liabilities. Families rely on these to help offset their taxes mitt relies on the public not understanding what they're giving up by voting for him to help people who did very well during the recession. I'm still angry over loosing half my pension thru the greed of wallstreet.

    October 4, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Common Cents


    Why didn't Obama use the "47%" or "tax cheat" lines against Romney? Well, here's your answer: Candidates can smear one another in their campaign ads (47%, Bain, taxes on middle class, tax fraud, medicare, social security, Cayman Islands, etc.) but when face-to-face, you cannot lie without getting called out on it.


    The 47% comment was Romney's videotaped statement. How did the President lie about it when all they did is play it for the American people? Furthermore, Romney claimed Medicare would not change for current recipients and than literally 5 minutes later he said he's going to reduce the benefits of wealthy recipients. The man is flip flopping in the middle of the debate. No wonder the President can't attack him, his policies are like jello.

    October 4, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. rosco

    lionel,, stop kidding yourself what we witnessed was a good old fashioned whooping

    October 4, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Baddasskittty

    I thought the debate was a little too safe, and the time allotted to each participants were not enough. Romney did seem a little bit more prep, but that doesnt mean he was telling all truth. I was more concerned about the medicare(althought am not old enough to be qualify yet. But a time will come when I will be. I dont think a voucher is a good idea at all. "What if the voucher is not enough, and I live to be 105, then what, they are gonna wheel me out and abandon me on the streets. And like Obama stated, what if the insurance companies decide to fine loopholes and change the rules, then what?

    October 4, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. texan

    Wow. I have never been on the CNN site before, but now I see what I have always heard. Totally tilted to the left, completely biased for Obama/Democratic Party! I thought a news organization was supposed to stay unbiased. No thanks, CNN, I'm out and will spread the word. What a joke, the President got killed last night in that debate and this is your report? Byebye

    October 4, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Baddasskittty

    I am still not a believer, I dont care how good a debater Romney is, I could never cast my vote for him and his. And if he does get a bump in the polls, the real deal is in Nov. @ the polling booths. So all this hoopla is unnecessary, the media is to be blamed for pushing and warbating. We still have 5 wks left to decide.

    October 4, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Borderless

    The shrill cries of "Liar" from Obama's Supporters have surpassed ridiculous. They're a bunch of magpies, shrieking and squawking their meaningless noise. They're spoiled school children screaming "They cheated!" every time they lose. Time to grow up, Obamakins. Grow up and join the discussion in a meaningful adult way.

    October 4, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. Geordie

    Obama was finally exposed as the empty suit he really is,
    He looked like a school boy who had not done his homework. , indeed he looks a lot more comfortable on talk shows and the golf course.

    October 4, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
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