Obama team: We’ll adjust strategy for next debate


President Obama's performance got lackluster reviews. (Bloomberg photo)

President Obama's campaign held a conference call Thursday morning to state the obvious: Mitt Romney had a good night. 

But, top staffers for the president argued, Romney only succeeded by being dishonest, and Obama will adjust for the Oct. 16th debate.

Romney "may win the Oscar for his performance last night but he's not going to win the presidency," senior strategist David Axelrod said. Romney "came to give a performance. And he gave a good performance. The problem was none of it was rooted in fact."

Axelrod described Romney as an "artful dodger," which "makes it a more challenging kind of event." For the next debate, the long-time Obama adviser suggested, the president will recalibrate. 

"It is like the playoffs in sports -- you evaluate after every contest and you make adjustments," he said. "And I’m sure that we will make adjustments. I don’t see us adding huge amounts of additional prep time." But, he said, "there are some strategic judgments that have to be made and we will make them."

The president "made a choice last night to answer the questions that were asked ... and not get into serial fact-checking with Governor Romney," he said. "We’re going to take a hard look at this and we’re going to have to make some judgments about where to draw the lines." 

Obama policy director James Kvaal offered some of the rebuttals that Obama did not give last night, noting that Romney was wrong to say that six studies have confirmed that his plan is revenue neutral and that an adviser to the Republican candidate walked back a comment on preexisting health-care conditions.   

The campaign will now "make sure every voter understands the positions Mitt Romney danced around last night."

Our Fact Checker dinged both candidates for some dishonest or misleading remarks.

“The Obama campaign’s conference call today was just like the president’s performance last night," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. "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.”

As he did on MSNBC Thursday morning, Axelrod defended Obama's decision to avoid attacking Romney on his taxes, his business record, or his comments on people who do not pay federal income tax. The president made a choice, he said, "to talk about the things that people were worried about in their own lives." 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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