The debate over what President Barack Obama did — or didn't do — for Wisconsin Democrats is dead. Long live the debate over what the Republican romp there does for the embattled incumbent in November.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday pointed to exit polls to argue that Wisconsin's voters believe the president's policies "are the right policies to protect the middle class" while working to put some distance between Obama and the results.
How much distance? Asked for the president's reaction to the No. 1 news story in American politics, Carney told reporters: "I didn't have much of a conversation with the president about Wisconsin."
The press secretary then played down the potential peril for Obama, who carried Wisconsin by 14 points but saw the candidate he endorsed, Tom Barrett, lose by 7 points.
"The President supported and stood by Tom Barrett, but I certainly wouldn't read much into yesterday's result beyond its effect on who's occupying the governor's seat in Wisconsin," Carney said in a question-and-answer session aboard Air Force One. "What you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once, in which he outspent his challenger by a magnitude of 7 or 8 to 1, with an enormous amount of outside corporate money and huge donations, and you got essentially the same result," Carney said.
Carney said that voters in November would be "substantially different" from the makeup of the electorate on Tuesday, but added that those who cast ballots in the recall "said they believed that the president's policies are the right policies to protect the middle class."
Carney's comments came after top Obama reelection strategist David Axelrod said the Wisconsin results amounted to "a bad night" for Romney, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that "Despite the disappointing outcome" the vote "sent Scott Walker a message that his brand of divisive politics is offensive and wrong," and the Obama campaign's Wisconsin state director, Tripp Wellde, said the results sent a "strong message" to Walker.
That all proved a bit much for the Republican National Committee spokesman Tim Miller, who compared Team Obama's response to Saddam Hussein's delusional — and/or dishonest — spokesman during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
"The Obama campaign's response is reminiscent of Baghdad Bob spinning the fall of Baghdad. We've only lost 21 points in 4 years! Seriously guys, all is well!" Miller joked to Yahoo News.