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Obama campaign on Romney: Fake it 'til you make it

The Obama campaign today painted Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper, whose economic plan would benefit the rich and amount to just a $50 tax cut for middle class -- despite Romney’s rhetoric at the debate last night.

“The logic of touting a $50 tax cut for the typical family,” especially since he is in favor of letting the payroll tax cut expire “is lost on me, but isn’t inconsistent” with Romney’s record of being on both sides of a host of issues, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod told reporters on what was the first Obama 2012 conference call singling out any particular candidate.

“You have to do more than recite the word middle class to convince people you are for them.”

It’s notable that the campaign went after Romney, a reflection perhaps of the former Massachusetts governor’s standing in the race for the GOP nomination.

Axelrod, however, demurred when was asked if the call is a reflection that the campaign thinks Romney is the “likely nominee.”

“I’m not going to make that decision for Republicans,” Axelrod said. “No, I’m not willing to designate him as the nominee, and I’m not sure Republicans would grant me that right anyway.”

He joked that the conference call on Rick Perry and Herman Cain will be at “2 o’clock.”

He continued: “No, we’re not saying he’s the nominee, but he does deserve to be scrutinized, and what he’s saying is stunningly inconsistent.”

Axelrod called Romney “all over the lot” on a host of issues. “If this were one instance, you might say maybe it was a momentary lapse,” Axelrod contended, adding, “but it is a pattern time and time and time again.”

And he said that despite Rick Perry’s pledging to take the fight to Romney on his inconsistencies, Perry “hasn’t exactly gotten the gun out of the holster.”

Axelrod also hit Romney on China, health care, and abortion.

“I’ll give him this,” Axelrod said, “He is as vehement and strong in his convictions when he takes one position as when he takes the diametrically opposite position.”

And he even quoted comedian George Burns.

“George Burns once said all you need in show business is sincerity," Axelrod said, "and if you can fake that you’ve got it made."

*** UPDATE *** The Romney campaign sends over this response:

“What we’re getting from this administration in response to the tanking economy are deflections and diversions from what really matters, which is President Obama’s failure to create jobs," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in an email. "President Obama has turned America into an economic disaster zone. The only question is whether we can make it to the election of 2012 before Obama takes us all the way back to 1929."

NBC's Morgan Parmet contributed to this report.