Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said the president was determined to mention Mittt Romney’s 47 percent comments, but hadn’t necessarily planned to wait until the end to do so.
“I think he was unwilling to accept Governor Romney’s explanation that this long explication in front of a closed door audience on the 47 percent was simply some sort of misstatement,” a beaming David Axelrod told msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell after the town hall debate. ”The president was determined to raise it but it wasn’t clear where in the debate it would come.”
Audiences saw a sharper, more confident President Obama on stage at the second presidential debate. In an energetic and, at times, tense 90-minute exchange, the president visibly rattled Republican rival Mitt Romney on Libya and got the last word on those 47 percent comments.
Team Obama did not anticipate the awkward exchange between Romney and debate moderator Candy Crowley over the Libya attacks. “Certainly with the attention Benghazi has gotten that this would come up,” said Axelrod. “What we didn’t expect was Governor Romney would try to deny what is a fact which is the president stood up the day after and said this was ‘an act of terror.’”
Obama prepared for the second debate by watching the tape of himself performing at the first debate in Denver, said Axelrod. The “gentle criticism from people like Chris Matthews” also helped him tweak his approach to go after Romney more aggressively the second time around, Axelrod said.
Axelrod summed up the night: “What happened tonight on this and so many other issues is that Governor Romney got called, and he got exposed. And he looked like it, he looked like a man who was back-pedaling all night long.”