The Obama campaign held a media conference call this morning to address the latest polls and the widespread belief that the electoral map is expanding for Mitt Romney. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod led off the call, declaring that the race is a “distinct choice” before going into campaign boilerplate mode, talking about reducing the deficit in a “balanced way” before calling again for tax hikes on wealthier, job-creating Americans. When discussing the latest polls, Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina cited only polls that show them tied or leading in various swing states, despite the fact that some polls show Romney taking slight leads in the same states.
While Axelrod sounded cautious and even defensive on the call, Messina gave off more of an air of confidence. He denied that the map is expanding for Romney but was challenged on that claim when CNN’s Peter Hamby asked him why, if the map is not expanding, is Vice President Joe Biden suddenly spending time in Pennsylvania. That state has not gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and had been thought to be in Obama’s bag this time until recent polls suggest that it could go for Romney. Messina answered that the campaign is not “taking anything for granted.” He then said that both the Obama campaign and Restoring Our Future super PAC are going up with TV ads in Pennsylvania. The fact that both are spending money in PA this late in the game hints of worry. Both Axelrod and Messina claimed to be going after North Carolina and Florida despite polls in both states trending toward Romney. Neither mentioned competing in Virginia. While discussing their bullish take on Ohio, neither mentioned the latest Rasmussen poll, which shows Romney moving to a two-point lead there.
Overall, the call itself and the tone suggested that the Obama campaign is deeply worried and on defense. Messina repeatedly assailed various Romney policy proposals as if repetition is the same thing as offering evidence that they are wrong policies. Messina also repeated “Romney is getting desperate” several times. At one point, Axelrod flatly stated that the map is not expanding for Romney, just before admitting that Romney just made a major ad purchase in Wisconsin.
Interestingly, no one from the mainstream media asked the campaign gurus about sequestration’s possible impact on storm preparation as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the east coast. During the third presidential debate, Obama claimed that sequestration was not his idea and that it would not happen. That statement earned him four Pinocchios last week for being completely dishonest. Sequestration came from his White House. Absent a last-minute deal with Congress, it will happen, and along with the drastic defense cuts, more than half a billion dollars will be cut from the federal disaster programs.