9:07 am Jun. 4, 2012
Eric Fehrnstrom was recently dubbed "Romney's balls" by GQ, and Stephanie Cutter was christened, slightly more politely, "the aggressive face" of the Obama campaign. ABC's "This Week" also included the right-leaning columnist George Will and the left-leaning economist Paul Krugman.
In the wake of Friday's disappointing jobs report, Fehrnstrom stressed Obama's lack of executive experience.
"This president came into office without any prior experience running anything," he said. "He never even ran a corner store. And I think it shows in the way that he's handling the economy."
The rebuttal was, by necessity, a little defensive. The Obama camp, across the Sunday shows, argued that in areas where Obama can affect policy on his own, such as the auto bailout, there were legitimate gains in the jobs report, and that the overall figure was stunted by the lack of broader congressional action.
"The proposals that we've put forward that have been sitting there for nine months, you know, independent estimates have put those proposals at a million jobs," Cutter said. "So there are a million jobs sitting on that table in Congress right now that they could move on. They need to get off their hands and stop rooting for failure."
But Fehrnstrom said getting Congress to act was part of the president's job.
"The problem is, this president has made it nearly impossible to do that because of the way he demonizes his opposition, his personal attacks against Paul Ryan," he said, adding what might be a bit of revisionist history to Romney's record in Massachusetts.
"Every week, he would invite the Democratic leaders to come into his office," according to Fehrnstrom. "They would discuss agenda items. If they didn't have an agenda to discuss, they would talk about the last movie they saw. But the important thing was to keep those lines of communication open."
(In fact, Romney roped off an elevator for his own use and many lawmakers lamented that, after four years, the governor had no idea what their name was or whether they were in the upper or lower chamber.)
And Fehrnstrom debuted a new defense against the charge Romney was 47th in the country in job creation during his time as governor, saying the state actually went from 51st, if you count D.C., to 30th.
"That's the trend line that you want to see," he said. "That's called a turnaround." (Which also happens to be the name of Romney's book about managing the Olympics.)
Some of the most emphatic defense of the president's record came from Krugman, who was particularly worked up about the Romney campaign's attacks on Solyndra this week.
"This is ridiculous, that we are taking these tiny, tiny missteps which happen in any large organizations, including corporations, including Bain," he said. "Bain Capital had losers, too, right, even from the point of view of its investors? So this is ridiculous."
It was one of the few Bain mentions on any of the Sunday shows, a rather remarkable turn in the narrative, after a couple of weeks spent litigating the fairness of the Obama campaign ads attacking Romney's record.
One of the early Bain-attack critics, former Democratic car czar Steve Rattner, was a guest on "Fox News Sunday."
But, despite the goading of Chris Wallace, Rattner wasn't lured into any anti-Obama comments, issuing a strong defense of the president and laughing at Romney's economic plan for its unanswered questions about how the candidate would close the deficit while offering large tax breaks.
"Romney would cut taxes 20 percent across the board without specifying a single mechanism for paying for that tax cut, which we can't afford," he said.
"Well, he does say that there would be mechanism," Wallace offered up in defense.
"Yes, sure. OK, fine," he said. "But he's been specific about the tax cuts and completely vague about how he would pay for the tax cuts."
On "Face the Nation," Bob Shrum, the former campaign manager for John Kerry, defended Obama's tough advertising against Romney by saying that the president would probably lose a referendum, but that he could easily win a "choice" election.
"If this is simply a referendum on the condition of the economy and the country, people aren't happy yet. The president said that. We've got a lot more to do," Shrum said. "So they have to be given a choice. The Romney campaign has made it very clear that they want this to be a referendum."