Team Obama recalibrates, attacks
October 4th, 2012
01:50 PM ET
10 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. Jane

    Let's face it, Romney has had nothing to celebrate. This is the first big deal he's had. So he will blow it up big. But it won't last, and he'll come down hard and fast. He's a loser.

    October 4, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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