8:57 am Sep. 24, 2012
On Sunday, the usual political morning shows—even the one that hosted Bill Clinton—were overshadowed by dueling interviews with President Obama and Mitt Romney on "60 Minutes."
For Romney, it was a chance to right a campaign narrative after a couple of off-course weeks, and go back on the offensive. But Romney mostly reiterated what he's said on the campaign trail before, declining to fill in the blanks of his tax plan, and again questioning Obama's commitment to Israel.
When Scott Pelley suggested the devil was in the unrevealed details of Romney's tax plan, Romney said: "The devil's in the details. The angel is in the policy, which is creating more jobs."
He rejected the idea, articulated by a significant number of his fellow Republicans, that the campaign needs a reboot.
"It doesn't need a turnaround," he said. "We've got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent president to the United States."
Confronted with Peggy Noonan's criticism that his "47 percent" remarks were signs of an incompetent campaign, Romney shouldered the blame himself.
"That's not the campaign. That was me, right?" he said. "I've got a very effective campaign. It's doing a very good job. But not everything I say is elegant. And I want to make it very clear, I want to help 100 percent of the American people."
Earlier in the day, Republicans had tried a new tack, with R.N.C. chair Reince Priebus and New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte offering a defense of Romney's comments and his derided week.
Ayotte downplayed the comments as "political analysis at a fund-raiser," on "Meet the Press," and Priebus said it was a "good week" for Republicans on "This Week."
Obama aggressively defended his own record and parried the attacks from Romney about his alleged lack of support for Israel.
He also dismissed the idea that he would be pressured by recent public comments from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to establish a "red line" for Iran's nuclear program.
“When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people," he said. "And I am going to block out any noise that's out there.”
Romney has not been entirely clear whether his own red line is Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon, or simply nuclear "capability," and Obama pressed him for specifics about how he would guard against that threat.
"If Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so,” Obama said.
He defended his record on tax cuts and the auto bailout, but essentially conceded the point that the change from his 2008 campaign has yet to come.
“I’m the first one to confess that the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren’t constantly in a political slugfest but were focused more on problem-solving that, you know, I haven’t fully accomplished that. Haven’t even come close in some cases," he said.
The two will debate for the first time, in person, on October 3.