In a press conference call today, David Axelrod tried to salvage something from last night’s debate, arguing that journalists should focus on Mitt Romney’s “character” and saying that voters who thought Romney had won the debate weren’t necessarily changing their votes.
“He may win the Oscar for his performance last night,” Axelrod said of Romney, “but he’s not going to win the presidency for his performance last night.”
“Governor Romney came to give a performance, and he gave a good performance, and we give him credit for that. The problem with it was that none of it was rooted in fact. Much of it was rooted in deception,” Axelrod remarked, charging Romney with lying on matters like Medicare and his tax plan.
“It was a very vigorous performance, but one that was devoid of honesty,” Axelrod continued later on in the call, “and so today, on the day after, I think the question for you, for the American people is really one of character and whether or not a candidacy that’s so fundamentally rooted in hiding the truth and the facts from the American people in deception is the basis of trust on which you would assign the presidency to a person.”
Again, Axelrod called Romney a “good performer” when it came to debating. “We saw that in the primaries, and partly because he is completely untethered from the truth. And so we came to Denver, and we were interested to see what he would say, and not surprisingly, what we learned is that he’ll say anything and that makes him effective in the short term, but vulnerable in the long term.”
Romney, Axelrod argued, had done the same in the primary. “He ran well to the right of Governor Perry on the issue of immigration to try and win the Republican nomination. He ran to the right of Rick Santorum on issues like contraception. Now he’s trying to find a way to wind his way back from that.”
Seems like Axelrod might have started believing his own spin: Romney wasn’t to the right of Santorum on social issues, and no GOP candidate favored putting legal restrictions on access to contraception.
UPDATE: “The Obama campaign’s conference call today was just like the President’s performance last night,” says Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg in a statement in response. “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.”