1:34 pm Oct. 23, 2012
On a conference call this morning, David Axelrod and Jim Messina, two top advisers to President Obama's re-election campaign, told reporters the recent surge from Mitt Romney puts the race right where they've always expected, and there are no plans to pull out of any battleground states.
"This race has settled into exactly where we thought it would be," said Axelrod. "And it's the race that we prepared for, and the organization that Jim and his team have built in the states, is built for this very race. So we have the ball, we have the lead, we have a great push-off as a result of these last two very strong debate performances."
Whether they have the lead is a matter of increasing speculation, with Romney pulling ahead in some national polls, and others showing Obama maintaining a slim lead. (Both campaigns are now delighted with where they are, if you believe what they're saying. )
"There is an illusion of volatility that is created when you have 90 public polls coming out every day," said Axelrod, adding, "The fact of the matter is that this race has been remarkably stable over a long period of time."
Axelrod said the president gained in September thanks to a weak Republican convention and the infamous "47 percent" video, but that Romney re-gained some of the Republican-leaning voters with his first debate performance.
Messina touted the campaign's early-voting efforts, saying the campaign was mobilizing "sporadic voters," and leading in all the important early-voting states.
Both advisers denied suggestions—most conspicuously from Democratic consultant Paul Begala—that the campaign might as well give up on North Carolina, where Romney appears to enjoy a clear lead.
"We continue to feel like North Carolina is a neck-and-neck race," he said, despite a reporter pointing out that the president hasn't bothered to visit the state since the convention.
Messina contrasted the president's position with that of the Romney campaign, which appears to have shifted resources out of Pennsylvania and Michigan.
"We are tied or ahead in every battleground state," Messina said. "And we’re not leaving any state where we’re tied or ahead."