Obama team reconsiders strategy

Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 01:00

On the campaign trail yesterday, president Barack Obama demonstrated the humour and aggressiveness that had eluded him in his first television debate with Mitt Romney.

Mr Obama said that when he went on stage the previous evening, “I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. 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. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”

When the crowd booed at Mr Romney’s name, Mr Obama urged them: “Don’t boo – vote.”

Twelve hours after losing the debate to Mr Romney, Mr Obama delivered his rejoinder: “So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been selling for the last year. So Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.”

Mr Obama mocked Mr Romney for saying he would eliminate funding for public television. “Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird,” he said to laughter. “It’s about time. We didn’t know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit.”

The morning held portents of a difficult month ahead. The weather had turned wintry, cold and grey overnight. Mr Obama’s motorcade passed a prison, the former Invesco stadium, where he accepted the Democratic nomination in 2008, and an anti-Obama billboard. A protester at his rally held a sign saying: “Trade Vote 4 Work”.

Mr Romney received a standing ovation at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Denver, where he continued his criticism.

“I saw the president’s vision as trickle-down government, and I don’t think that’s what America believes in,” Mr Romney said. “We have two very different courses for America: trickle-down government or prosperity through freedom.”

If supporters knocked on doors and persuaded former Obama voters “to see the light and come join our team”, Mr Romney continued, “we’ll all be able to come together and have a wonderful inauguration celebration in January”.

Mr Obama was to hold a rally in Wisconsin last night, while Mr Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, were to campaign in Virginia.

Mr Obama’s advisers are reassessing his debating strategy in the wake of his defeat. David Axelrod, Mr Obama’s senior campaign strategist, said the campaign would take “a hard look” at his performance and “make some judgments about where to draw the lines in these debates and how to use our time”.

Both candidates used clips from the debate in YouTube videos posted yesterday. In one, the Obama campaign said Mr Romney played “fast and loose” with the truth.

“The sharpest observers saw him . . . tell outright lies . . . at least 12 times,” said the statement released with the video. A Republican video called “Smirk” showed Mr Obama looking down and grimacing while Mr Romney criticised his administration.

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