Axelrod: Romney’s 'brazenness' at debate surprised Obama
October 7th, 2012
01:28 PM ET
10 years ago

Axelrod: Romney’s 'brazenness' at debate surprised Obama

(CNN) – Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday that President Barack Obama was “taken aback at the brazenness” of Mitt Romney’s departure from his past positions during their first debate. The Obama campaign will adjust accordingly for the next debate, he said.

“I think he was a little taken aback at the brazenness with which Gov. Romney walked away from so many of the positions on which he's run, walked away from his record,” Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He said the positions Romney took during Wednesday’s debate were “uprooted” from the Republican candidate’s previous positions.

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“That's something we’re going to have to make an adjustment for in these subsequent debates.”

“What happened was the president showed up with the intent of answering questions and having a discussion, an honest discussion about where we go as a country,” Axelrod said, though conceding that Romney had performed well.

Axelrod said Romney was dishonest during the debate, pointing to a contentious charge Obama waged Wednesday evening about his opponent’s tax plan involving $5 trillion in cuts for the wealthy - a claim CNN has rated as false.

“When he said he never proposed $5 trillion in tax cuts, that was dishonest,” said Axelrod, stopping short of saying the Republican challenger lied during the debate. “I'm saying that he was dishonest in his answers. You can characterize that any way you want.”

Republicans have pushed back on the president’s claim about $5 trillion in tax cuts, with Romney's team releasing an ad Sunday challenging the president's attacks and asserting the GOP nominee's tax plan would not add to the deficit.

Romney has said that his tax plan would close loopholes, though he has not specified which ones, and increase economic activity, resulting in increased federal government revenues.

Much to Democrats’ dismay, Obama did not use the proven-effective attack line about his opponent’s now-infamous “47%” comments. Axelrod explained that Obama didn’t see an “appropriate opportunity” to level the charge.

“The president was earnestly trying to answer questions that were asked on the topics that were being discussed, and he didn’t find the opportunity to raise it. And it’s obviously well known,” Axelrod said.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat, also said Sunday that Romney was being dishonest during the first debate, but predicted that Obama would refute the GOP nominee’s claims and hammer home his own message in the next two presidential debates.

“I've never run for president, but you know, you have to decide - do you want to spend all your time, all night long, refuting someone's lies about your record or even about their own?” Nutter said on CNN’s "State of the Union.”

Filed under: 2012 • David Axelrod • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Presidential Debates
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Lies? I seem to remember very early Obama was asked if he intended to run for president. He said no. I seem to remember Obama promising to halve the deficit in his first term. And didn't he say No one making less than $200,000.00 a year would not have their Taxes raised one dime. And if the stimulus was passed unemployment would be 5.6 percent by now. Obama is probably not dishonest, just lacking.

    October 7, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. skmind

    This is Axelrod goading Mitt into going overboard at the next debate. If he does that, he'll undo all the winning he did at the first one.

    The reason being that the next debate is on foreign policy, Obama's strength in these elections (compared to the economy), and Mitt's tactics will fail.

    Mitt is not going to take the bait. Just as Obama did not take the bait the first time and tried to nail him with his 47% remark

    October 7, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. tom p.

    Why? How did he think it would go? (His party has been criticizing Mr Romney for months, for goodness sake.) You know, I would buy that Mr. Obama underestimated his opponent, or that he was ill prepared to defend his record. But "taken aback" by direct criticism? And, further, unable to adapt, and pull himself together. This is an explanation?

    And for that matter, what the heck does “taken aback at the brazenness” mean? How is one suppose to take that? Is he playing "the victim" for this one? So far, in the USA one can disagree with a President, and, certainly an individual nominated to be considered for his job had better be able to stand up for himself. And you know, the guy with the job ought to be able to take care of business, too. (Mr. Obama has criticized a fair amout of folks in the last 4 years, of course not to their faces.)

    October 7, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. tom p.

    Why, I wonder, how did he think it would go?

    I am surprised he was apparently so ill-prepared. Of, if he was prepared, how poorly he delt with the situation.

    October 7, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Debra from Atlanta

    Called it what you want to Mr Axelrod. This guy is a Liar, and you cannot debate a liar. You simply cannot debate a Liar. John McCain said it when he ran against Romney in 2007. He said " how can you debate a Liar. Romney is a LIAR.

    October 7, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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