Axelrod: Romney’s 'brazenness' at debate surprised Obama
October 7th, 2012
01:28 PM ET
9 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. Howard

    Axelrod and Obama are both so corrupt. They both engage in gutter politics.
    The corrupt Obama administration keeps setting up road blocks, to keep our soldiers from getting absentee ballots ... even though they deserve to vote most ... Obama loves to pose for photo ops with our soldiers ... but, he knows that they dislike him ... for sending enemy combatants back to the battle field, to kill them ... gutting our military budget ... making them guard embassies in dangerous countries, without bullets ... leaking military secrets to the enemy ... announcing withdrawl dates to the enemy ... etc., etc., etc..

    October 7, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. SafeJourney

    Mitt, the flip flopping Liar. The Mittbot 9.0 appeared on stage with a programming error and started flip flopping all over the stage spouting exactly the opposite of what it was saying just the week before the debate. But I am sure the Repub campaign have re-programmed the Mitt bot, now 10.1rev and it will be back spewing the repubs talking points of the last 6 months.

    October 7, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Halina

    What would Obama do without Axelrod.??
    He is the evil mind behind the closed doors of the Presidency.
    The debate clearly showed that Obama has little knowledge of economics and the recent events have shown that he knows even less about foreign policies and security.
    After we lost Americans in a terrorist attack he carried on fund raising and had time to go on talk shows to have a laugh.
    That told me everything I needed to know , Obama is not fit to be the leader of our country.

    October 7, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Yonni

    Romney used his used car sales men ability to sale his blathered lies because he has no any moral standard to guide by. He sold his lies to the American people and the media bought it without considering his devastating assault on the facts and truth. I was surprised and sad when he was claimed a victor because this set precedence to our children and grand children that style transcends substance and to lie and win was considered a good thing.

    October 7, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. JMW

    Taken aback my butt. They have spun this nine ways to hell and it still comes up the same. Barack Hussein Obama, being touted as the "smartest guy in the room" can't even put forth a modest defence of his failed policies. Take that telelprompter away and he was exposed for his base as well as the rest of the country as an incompetent. If you had any doubts before, they should be assuaged by now. Wake up people, this is not the right guy unless you don't want a job.

    October 7, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. James L.

    The Obama administration and president Obama himself are bending over backward to be polite about Romney. Calling Romney's act "surprising" is calling it mildly. Romney lied and contradicted himself. He descended into the gutter, inferring the president was a childish liar. The president realized early he was debating a shapeshifting liar and it is impossible to debate that. I could see the president's frustration writing down all the lies and misleading statements from Romney. In a civic debate, using false information to support your point of view is called "cheating" and nullifies the exercise. Only in America can a lying cheat be considered a winner. No one won this debate, but Romney's lies makes America lose.

    October 7, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. rae sunners

    When do the cry babies get over this? Waaaaaaaaa. O needs to go back to his crib and suck on his pacifier and let his stooges kiss his boo boo and tell him everything will be o.k. What a bunch of pathetic , self serving jerks and what a pathetic excuse for a president.

    October 7, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Thomas

    How do you debate a guy like Romney who changes his facts , policy and veiws at his convenance ?

    You give him the rope to hang himself .

    Where was Romney's economic policy back in 07 ?
    He gave no heeding or warning of the oncoming economic recession .

    I want a leader with an honest vision , not a GW Bush who's all look see show .

    October 7, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    It is not brazenness it is "BLATANT LIES". OK. Entire this nation is sick and tired of GOP idiots. Proud of OBAMA12.

    October 7, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Ann

    “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.

    Mr. Axelrod, really? You always counted on voters' stupidity. The problem is that this job is too hard for President Obama who is otherwise a decent man. But he has no practical sense, no understanding of the economy or foreign affairs. Why don't you tell us about Libya Mr. Axelrod.. C'mon, don't walk away from the record.

    October 7, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Russ in Md.

    How much more crying are the democrats going to do. Why can't you just admit that Obama sucked at the debate? That's the problem with you liberals. You can't just accept loosing. You’re like that little league teams that didn't get a trophy even though you were in last place. Boohoo

    October 7, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. rrd

    I'm surprised Axelrod isn't blaming Bush for Obama's performance.

    October 7, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Kreiger

    Seriously, I cannot believe that Ax can say so with such a straight face.

    No amount of spin can correct the fact that teleprompter-less unchallenged President Obama failed miserably during the debate. Period.

    Pres. Obama is a media creation candidate in 2008 and now. Hillary deserved to the be president.

    October 7, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Stellar12

    Everyone who has been listening knows that what Mitt Romney said during the debate is a total departure from his previous position on just about everything. He is embarrassing to watch as he tries to duck and dive and change course every time he is caught saying something disastrous to the campaign. What is sickening is that some people in American pretend not to notice as he flips and flops all over the place. If he has a tax plan, lets here the facts, why would anyone take him on trust? If he wants to claim the President is wrong, show us how and we can vote based on reality, not fantasy. The trouble is, the rest of the world sees all this and how do we think other countries will trust him if we can't ourselves?

    October 7, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. nuke

    Obama walked into a gun fight thinking it was a knife fight. Also, he thought he was fighting campaign Mitt, not old (Governor) Mitt.

    October 7, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. jopocop

    Crony hack Axelrod looks like in this picture that he has not slept in 4 days since the debate disaster.

    Nothing Axelrod can say mitigates the horrible performance of Obama who was unprepared and unable to respond to the tough truth that America is drifting aimlessly with his lack of leadership and fresh ideas.

    We can see how Obama is not prepared to deal with and defend and debate America in the rest of the world too. No wonder China laughs that they out debated Obama every day of the week.

    October 7, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    A man that hides his money in the Cayman Island and Swiss bank accounts to avoid taxing certainly couldn't convience me he has my best interest in mind, I'm just not that stupid. America has been good to these Romneys, our men and women in uniform pay the ultimate price to protect us, and history shows not one Romney has answered or volunteered the call of duty, in fact Mitt Romney is a draft dodger. I think he is brazen to stand in the face of our American men and women and say he wants to be the Commander in Chief, my brother who served in Vietnam would turnover in his grave.

    October 7, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. Bill Wright

    Axelrod is nothing but an apologist for Socialist who will say any lie they can to accomplish their Socialist goal. He cannot be taken seriously.

    October 7, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. lanchealot

    He was obviously astounded because the Press does not do any questioning of his policies whatsoever. He was asked legitimate questions regarding his policies and he was confounded. There was no lying involved just straight forward questions about a horrible agenda.

    October 7, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    So, many Democrats didn't like that Obama didn't challenge Romneys' "47%" issue. Well, if you don't like then you run for president and you can do and say what you want, when you want.....

    October 7, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Romney is a sociopath

    When an egotistical sociopath starts waving his arms, grinning maniacally and smugly proclaiming that the moon is made of cheese, the fact that nobody immediately corrects him does not mean that the moon is really made out of cheese.

    October 7, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. missouri mule

    Mitt must not know or care that his reversals & half truths are readily apparent to anyone having more than a 30 second attention span. in his effort to avoid appearing as an angry, threatening black man, the pres. seemed detached and/or miffed, lest he offend the more genteel members of his coalition. look for more rally-style fire in future appearances.

    October 7, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. jake

    Nothing hides the narcissism and greed that have defined Willard Romney’s life, the prince of the 1%. He comes with his off key songs about America, wearing a make shift mask, a desperate and hurried attempt to resemble the president and to steal Obama’s oneness with us. But the 47% whom he has contempt for and other 52% whom he imagines he can deceive see thru Romney, a man with no country, from off-shore hide outs where he stashes his gains to avoid taxes. Romney tax cut plan is designed to benefit not only the 1% but also their liter's trust funds.

    October 7, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. Woman In California

    I despise Willard but I don't believe this situation calls for making excuses. The American people watched and we all know the president simply did not perform the way he should have and is so capable of doing. When my children make mistakes, I tell them to make a choice: either choose yesterday or tomorrow. The president I'm sure, has chosen tomorrow and will advenge himself of the pathological liar and continue to provide substance, along with the style he severly lacked on Wednesday.

    Go Mr. President as I would never vote for a draft dodging, war mongering potential murderer of OUR children, while he keeps his five useless, healthy abled sons safe and out of harms way.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    October 7, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Woman In California

    Correction: I meant the president will avenge himself of the pathological liar.

    October 7, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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