Thursday, October 4, 2012

In the debate spin room, Team Romney takes a victory lap

Even before Mitt Romney concluded his final statement at Wednesday's debate, his senior staff and top surrogates began streaming into the spin room, all with big smiles on their faces.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney adviser who has worked for the Republican nominee longer than almost anyone on his staff, could barely get his talking points out fast enough.
"If this debate had been a boxing match, it would have been called in the first hour," Fehrnstrom gleefully told reporters. "I would imagine the heels on the president's shoes are worn down after having leaned back on them for 90 minutes."
They were lines Fehrnstrom would use again and again throughout the night, as reporters mobbed around him to get the campaign's review on a debate that, by all accounts, went extremely well for the Republican presidential nominee.
A CNN poll released after the debate found 67 percent of registered voters polled believed Romney was the debate's winner, compared to just 25 percent who thought President Barack Obama won.
A CBS News poll also found positive numbers for Romney. One key finding: 63 percent of those surveyed said Romney cared about their needs—up from just 30 percent before the debate.
But Romney aides, as cheerful as they were about their candidate's performance in tonight's debate, were quick to caution that this is just "the beginning of a conversation with voters," as Romney strategist Stuart Stevens put it.
"We came into this tied, and we have more debates to come," Stevens said.
But aides still couldn't quite resist rejoicing a little. At least 15 surrogates packed into the spin room within the first 15 minutes after the debate—identified with giant red signs that identified their last names.By comparison, Obama aides were initially nowhere to be seen.
And Team Romney lingered among reporters longer than their opponents, with Stevens spotted on the floor more than an hour after his candidate had left the building.
One favorite talking point of Romney's advisers: They repeatedly accused the president of speaking in "empty platitudes"—a criticism, perhaps not coincidentally, that was leveled at Romney last month by Team Obama, which has criticized the Republican candidate for not getting specific enough about what he would do as president.

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