October 4th, 2012
12:12 AM ET
10 years ago

From the spin room...

(CNN) – Shortly after the candidates stepped off of the debate stage, their surrogates, spokespeople, and supporters began to spin.

Mitt Romney had a good night, and their representatives arrived first.

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The Obama campaign a few minutes later arrived and acknowledged Romney's good performance, but they said it was not good enough. The Romney campaign said their candidate offered a contrast between his platform and that of the incumbent.

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, said in the spin room, it "wouldn't shock me if he'd (Romney) have some kind of a bounce" coming out of the debate.

But he was quick to say that Obama is doing well in battleground states, a message echoed by other Obama supporters around the spin room.

"I think the only one more frustrated than Barack Obama tonight is David Axelrod," Sen. Marco Rubio, a Romney surrogate, said after Axelrod was interviewed on CNN. "I think it's pretty clear that Barack Obama was incredibly uncomfortable tonight talking about things like taxes, the budget, jobs - happen to be the most important things in America.

"And there's a reason he's uncomfortable," Rubio continued. "For one, he doesn't understand the American free enterprise system."

Sen. Rob Portman, who played the role of Obama in debate rehearsals for Romney, said the GOP candidate had a "terrific night."

"He did exactly what he had to do for the undecided voter in Ohio or around the country," Portman, of Ohio, said. "They were looking for two things: One, a discussion of the last four years and why we can't afford it for the next four, I thought he explained that well. Most importantly, he talked about his own policies and he was able to set the record straight on some of the misleading ads the Obama campaign has put out there about his tax plan about his budget plan, about his health care ideas and so on."

Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Romney "scores points on style."

"Mitt Romney needed to come in here tonight, not just to win this debate, which challengers normally do, let's face it," she said. "He needed to change the entire dynamic of this race. He didn't. He didn't do that because he doubled down on the same policies that have dogged him for the last 18 months."

As far as why Obama did not raise Romney's 47% comment - made at a fundraiser in May and revealed recently when secretly-recorded video was posted online - Obama campaign senior adviser David Plouffe said the "mission tonight was not for zingers."

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters that the president's Medicare argument was one of the highlights of the debate. Romney did not successfully defend his plan to "voucherize" the program, Messina said, which is a liability for Romney in swing states such as Ohio and Florida. He said it will be difficult for Romney to "defend that across the battleground."

In a paper statement he issued later, he said: "The President spoke directly to voters tonight about his vision for an economy that grows from the middle out, while Mitt Romney spent the night on the defensive, doubled down on the same bad ideas that crashed the economy, and got testy when he was pushed on specifics. Romney confirmed that he opposes a single dollar in new revenue from the wealthiest to reduce the deficit and continued to hide the details about how he'd accomplish his plans because he knows they don't add up and are bad for the middle-class. He was unable and unwilling to explain the math behind his $5 trillion tax cut favoring the wealthy, refused to say what rules he'd put in place to protect consumers after repealing Wall Street reform, and didn't offer a single idea to protect families from insurance company abuses after repealing Obamacare. Tonight the American people saw the clear contrast between where the two candidates will take the country in the next four years."

GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also released a statement after the debate, saying, "Americans deserve a clear choice about what kind of future we're going to have, and Governor Romney provided that contrast tonight. Mitt won this debate by effectively articulating his positive vision for a better America and the specific solutions needed to achieve it. The President, meanwhile, offered only more of the same failed ideas that have left those in the middle class – as Joe Biden put it – 'buried.' As we continue to sharpen the focus on the big choice in this election, Americans will see that we cannot afford four more years like the last. We need a real recovery, and Mitt Romney can get the job done."

Filed under: 2012 • Marco Rubio • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Rob Portman
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Big Munny

    Who cares about the little things like accurate facts, avoiding a Depression, saving the auto industry, Medicare, education, Bin Ladin, green energy, and health care, military budget, and so on. They pale in comparison to saving the Winter Olympics.

    October 4, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  2. Gary Lebron

    Not sure what debate Jim Messina was watching but it wasn't the same one I was. Mitt set the tone and maintained it throughout! Same goes for Stephanie Cutter trying to down play a successful Romney debate. Both these folks are counting on the fact the Americans didn't actually watch the debate and will take the words written above as gospel.....

    October 4, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  3. George O

    What I saw at this debate are: possible wall street let loose, tax break for the top 1%, student loan rate hike, voucherized Medicare if Romney is elected.

    October 4, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  4. ray

    Robme is just doing what he did to all those workers at the companies he shuttered. Lying to their faces.

    October 4, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  5. jpmichigan

    Team Romney = choices and less government intrusion and spending. Team Obama = same play book with more government intrusion and spending.

    October 4, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  6. Chris Koffend

    Isn't spin great. There was a very clear victor and a very clear looser in this debate – as both the conservative and liberal pundits have admitted. Watching this debate, but more importantly actually listening in an unbiased manner, revealed some very telling things.

    For me, one of the biggest take-aways from this debate was how Romney was able to succeed in Mass. and get both good (as acknowledged by Obama) and solid legislation passed in a real bi-partisan way. Passing good programs that have proven track records and being in the minority with only 13% of the vote says bi-partisan success was accomplished.

    Over the last 4 years in DC, there has not been ANY bi-partisan success. In fact, even the President couldn't get his own party to support much of what he proposed. His proposed budgets in both the house and Senate got zero votes from his own party!

    October 4, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  7. Joan

    That was a pretty interesting debate. Mitt Romney came in ready to make an impression and he obviously did very well. That is the general consenus on all media outlets. The President made no gaffes but did not challenge in areas where he could have. However, today some of the fact checking is supporting the President and Romney definitely turned off Big Bird supporters. You can bet the Obama campaign is analyzing every statement and will be ready to attack at the next debates and in ads. A big concern is how superficial and fickle American voters can be if they write off a great President just because of one debate. Many reporters have said that Al Gore lost to Bush because of a sigh at a debate. Actually the pro-Conserative Supreme Court had more to do with it but if the voters did rely on the sigh factor, I wonder if they feel guilty about the results. Bush will probably go down as one of the worst, unpopular presidents America has ever had and if Gore had won the world would certainly be a very different place. There may still have been 911, partly due to resentment from the intervention during the Gulf War, but if there had been a war in Afghanistan it would have been fought 100% and probably over a years earlier.. Bush's illegal and immoral war in Iraq would not have happened because Hussein did not try to "kill his daddy". When people listen to the fact checkers and when Romney's statements are really disected by both the right and left, it may not be so clear how it went. He said a few things that really aren't consistent with some Conservative talking points. American politics is like a long, drawn out reality show. It is far from over folks.

    October 4, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
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