Axelrod: Republicans Rooting for a Bad Economy

Katy O'Donnell
National Journal

Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance on Wednesday could be chalked up to showmanship and dishonesty, and suggested that Republicans are rooting for a bad economy.

“I understand that for some who support Gov. Romney, it was disappointing that the economy is improving and that that number ticked down,” Axelrod said of Friday's jobs numbers, which showed a decrease in the unemployment rate. “But for the country, it was very good news.”

Echoing other Obama strategists and surrogates, Axelrod characterized Wednesday’s debate – widely seen as a sound win for Romney – as a battle of style versus substance. In addition to accusing Romney of being “dishonest,” Axelrod said that he was reminded of a famous line from comedian George Burns.

“It reminded me of Burns—‘All you need in show business is sincerity and if you can fake that, you've got it made,’” Axelrod said, speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “That's what Gov. Romney has been about this week.”

Axelrod also took the  opportunity to lambaste critics of the Friday jobs report who insinuated the Labor Department cooked the books.

“They can join the lunatic fringe of birthers with that,” Axelrod said. “Every single respectable economist has said that is completely nuts.”

The conspiracy theory sprouted among some on the right Friday, after the September jobs report’s gain of 114,000 jobs matched economists’ projections even as the employment rate bucked those expectations by falling to 7.8 percent, the lowest rate during Obama’s presidency. Economists in both parties have dismissed the theory of deliberate manipulation as ridiculous.

See all NJ’s Sunday show coverage | Get Sunday show coverage in your inbox