Walker and Daniels urge Romney to go beyond an Obama referendum

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On Sunday morning, with President Obama mired in one of the worst weeks of his re-election campaign, two Republican governors cautioned Mitt Romney against trying to run his campaign as a referendum on the president.

"People like Paul Ryan and others and I hope that he goes big and he goes bold," said Wisconsin governor Scott Walker on "Face the Nation". "I think he has got the capacity to do that. I don't think we win if it's just about a referendum on Barack Obama. I think it has got to be more."

The point was echoed by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, a former budget adviser to George W. Bush who is generally known more as a competent conservative than a bold one.

"The American people I think will rightly demand to know something more than he's not President Obama," Daniels said on "Fox News Sunday."

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Meanwhile, Appearing on "This Week" and CNN's "State of the Union," Obama adviser David Axelrod was mostly forced to play defense against several potentially damaging narratives: continued discussion of that subpar jobs report, accusations from Republicans that the administration leaked sensitive information to The New York Times, and, of course, Obama's statement late last week that the private sector "is doing fine."

"There were obvious leaks, but they weren't from the White House," Axelrod told George Stephanopoulos.

He did his best to redirect attention on Romney's own ill-advised comment, made in response to Obama's "private sector" remark, that the lesson from Wisconsin's unsuccessful recall had to do with cutting public spending on policemen, firemen and teachers.

"Governor Romney chose to jump on the word, but what was most interesting is how he reacted to the spirit of the thing, because his statement was 'we don't need any more teachers, we don't need any more firefighters or police. The president is out of touch.'

"Out of touch? We have lost 250,000 teachers in the last 27—couple of years. Every community in the country is feeling it. It's bad in the short term for our economy, because those are good middle-class jobs, and it's bad in the long term for our economy because we're not going to win and our kids aren't going to win unless we invest in education.

"So I would suggest he's living on a different planet if he thinks that's a prescription for a stronger economy."

Bob Schieffer led with a clip of Romney's remark in his questioning of Walker. 

"I think it's slightly different," Walker said of the message. "I think in our case what they wanted is people willing to take on the tough issues not only here in Wisconsin but across the country. And I think Governor Romney has a shot if the 'R' next to his name doesn't just stand for 'Republican,' it stands for 'reformer.'"

Appearing after Walker, Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, the head of the Democratic Governors Association, had a different interpretation.

"Oh, I think the biggest lesson in Wisconsin is that 60 percent of the people do not believe that recall elections were proper for policy differences, short of some criminal offense," said O'Malley. "And right now Governor Walker has only had three people in his administration indicted. He had his top communications person take an immunity deal, but he himself has not been named in that investigation."

O'Malley has shown himself to be more willing than other governors to do partisan battle for Obama, and is currently among the president' most reliable Sunday-morning surrogates.

He did his best to explain the president's remarks on the economy—"for every three jobs created by the private sector, we eliminate a public sector job, teachers, firefighters, police, and that puts a drag on the economy," he said—but he conceded it hasn't been an effective stretch for the campaign.

"We've had better weeks," he said.

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