During a briefing with reporters today, top officials from President Obama’s re-election team predicted a long, drawn out Republican primary battle, which they said would ultimately bolster Mr. Obama’s chances of becoming a two-term president.
Senior advisers -- including David Axelrod, Jim Messina and Stephanie Cutter -- argued that they have the organizational upper hand over any potential rival. They also were encouraged by the fact that 8 million Americans, who were not old enough to vote in 2008, will be able to do so in 2012. And they touted their ground game. “I think we have more staffers on the ground in Iowa than any of the other campaigns,” Messina said.
Axelrod wasted no time lashing out at both Republican front-runners: Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Referencing Romney’s now-infamous $10,000 bet, Axelrod said, “What was startling to me was that generally his tactic was to bet other people’s money not his own.”
As for Gingrich, Axelrod called him the original “Tea Partier” -- accusing the former House speaker of causing several government shutdowns during the 90s, cutting Medicare and cutting taxes for the wealthy. Quoting a politician he knew years ago, Axelrod said, “The higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt. The speaker is on a high pole, we’ll see how people like the view.”
Axelrod would not venture a guess about which candidate he thinks has the better chance of winning.
Messina mapped out five possible pathways to 270 electoral votes next November -- 1) through Florida; 2) southern states (including North Carolina and Virginia); 3) the Midwest (including Ohio and Iowa); 4) western states (including Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada); and 5) an expansion scenario (by winning Arizona).
Echoing Obama’s argument from "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, the advisers said that Obama has the capacity to beat any Republican candidate because his governing philosophy is fundamentally different.
“The debate is largely the same because the economic theory is largely the same,” Axelrod said.