Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is trying to inflate the sense of momentum surrounding his campaign, President Barack Obama's re-election team argued Friday.
A senior Obama campaign official told NBC News that their tracking of the handful of battleground states that could decide the election suggests that Romney isn't performing as well as his campaign would have voters believe.
"His momentum narrative does have an impact on how people view the race on the ground in the states," said the official. "And we wanted to correct it."
A series of public national and battleground state polls have shown Romney improving -- or even, in some cases, pulling even -- versus Obama in the aftermath of his successful first debate performance. The NBC News-Wall Street Journal released this past Sunday showed the two candidates tied at 47 percent apiece among likely voters.
In recent campaign stops, the GOP nominee has made an unabashed effort to make the case that momentum is on his side.
"These debates really have propelled our campaign across the country, and in some respects, I think they diminished the Obama campaign," Romney said Thursday in Ohio. "He knows that I’m out there and they’re not making much progress, and so his campaign gets smaller and smaller, focused on smaller and smaller things. Our campaign is about big things."
The Obama campaign argued that their early and absentee voting operation, combined with their analysis of the situation in each battleground, suggests that Romney is bluffing.
"I think over the last couple of weeks, there's been this sense that Romney has this incredible momentum, and it's not borne out by any fact," the Obama official asserted.
Romney's also tried in recent days to cast himself as the candidate of "big change" while painting Obama as representative of the "status quo."
The Obama campaign suggested that the president is preparing to engage Romney on that assertion in the closing days of the 2012 campaign.
"He doesn't have the change message; it's just not believable," the Obama official said. "It's not believable by voters, and actually gives us an opening. Yeah, he does want to change. He wants to go back to the very same policies that crashed the economy."
The official added: "So you'll be hearing that from us pretty heavily over the course of the next week."