Team Obama isn't about to be left behind when it comes to zinging barbs at Iowa GOP caucus winner Mitt Romney as the former Massachusetts governor sails into New Hampshire, where he enjoys a huge lead in the polls.
In Twitter messages and calls to reporters, the hits on Romney have ramped up, led by the president's heralded strategist David Axelrod. [See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]
Consider some of his tweets (@davidaxelrod) during the Iowa caucus showdown. "Yesterday, Mitt predicted victory. Today, he says 3d would be fine. He can't even stick to the same position on THAT!" he typed the day before the Tuesday election. [Mitt Romney Ekes Out a Win in Iowa.]
"Uh, what happened to that vaunted Republican enthusiasm?" he typed yesterday during the Iowa caucus vote count. He then cited an election poll and tweeted: "Ouch! Mitt losing over 40% of 2008 supporters does show a lack of passion for him that may or may not be a problem in the general."
While the Obama campaign has always believed that Romney would be the eventual Republican nominee, finally having an election and a string of primaries to come in the next two months seems to have opened the doors to a more direct hit on Romney by the president's principal surrogates.
That was certainly on display Wednesday when Axelrod and Campaign Manager Jim Messina (@Messina2012) fielded questions from reporters on a conference call. Both were in fighting form with slaps at Romney, many feeding into the Democratic image of him as a rich guy with few ties to Joe Sixpack. Some examples:
— Mocking how Romney is typically at 25 percent in GOP popularity polls and how he got a quarter of the Iowa Caucus vote, Axelrod dubbed the front-runner "the 25 percent man."
—Knocking so-called super PACs of pro-Romney allies, Axelrod said, "A fundraiser for [Romney's] super PAC is when one of his friends goes from his living room to the study, pulls out his checkbook, and writes a million-dollar check."
—Messina used exit polling to rap Romney. "Romney lost support among middle-class voters, finishing a distant third. Ron Paul beat him 2-to-1 among independents and Romney only got 13 percent of the crucial youth vote. But he did win one category: voters who have their doubts about their candidate. So I guess that's nice for him."
—Axelrod, retelling a conversation with a Romney associate during which the Obama aide suggested the Republican had turned so far right he couldn't come back to the middle. "The guy kind of laughed and said, 'Everybody knows Mitt's full of it. He doesn't believe what he's saying.'"
— Playing up the old flip-flop charge, Axelrod said: "Taking two positions on every issue, one on the left and one on the far right, doesn't make you a centrist; it makes you a charlatan. It makes you unreliable."
-- When Romney mentioned Rick Santorum this morning, Axelrod suggested it was a signal to the Romney super PAC surrogates to attack. "You can read that as a dog whistle to the folks back in the laboratory at the super PAC and you can expect that they will be releasing a torrent on Senator Santorum."