The Obama campaign came out charging Thursday, determined to deny Mitt Romney the bounce he is sure to get from the Denver debate.
Obama called Romney’s supposed lies at a string of rallies. The campaign put out an ad enforcing that line and fielded top operatives for a conference call.
They had just one message: Romney lied.
“When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney,” said Obama at a rally in Denver, just a few hours after the debate.
As the crowd of supporters roared, he said Romney lied about his tax plan — that he is not proposing a cut worth $5 trillion for the country’s wealthiest.
“But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney — because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favour the wealthy.”
By the end of the day the media — especially the liberal-leaning lot — had picked up the narrative. One channel led with a segment titled: “The tale of two Mitts.”
The debate, new polls suggest, didn’t change the race much. The Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking number showed Obama’s electability stand at 46% to Romney’s 41%. That’s exactly where the polls were eight months ago.
But questions are still being asked about why Obama had a bad debate. Was he just underprepared? Or just that he is not a good debater, period?
Even conservatives are wondering. They had expected Obama to hit Romney on his 47% remarks — that they don’t pay taxes and vote for Obama.
There is a view getting around in Democratic circles that the president was too cautious, unwilling to rock the boat or shake up a campaign that had gone his way so far.
“We will take a hard look at this,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s top campaign adviser in a conference call. “We will have to make some judgements on where to draw the line in these debates and how to use our time.”