AXELROD: Absolutely. Not me, forget about me -- every independent fact checker who's looked at it, including the Associated Press last night, after the debate, said he can't back up that number, and his campaign has conceded --
STEPHANOPOULOS: He says that net-net--
AXELROD: I know he says it's a net-net number, and he said I'm a numbers guy. The problem is that neither he nor his campaign can furnish any evidence to support that.
But let's talk about Bain and let's talk about what it was and what he did. His partner said in The L.A. Times, our job was not to create jobs, our job was to create wealth for our partners. And here's what they did. They closed down more than 1,000 plant stores and offices. They outsourced tens of thousands of jobs, and they took 12 companies to bankruptcy. And on those bankruptcies, he and his partners made hundreds of millions of dollars. He says this is the real economy, this is the model for the country. I don't think those are the values that people want to animate our economy. He's not a job creator, he's a corporate raider. Those aren't the values that we want to lead our economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's clear you think that's going to be a vulnerability for Governor Romney. But coming out of Iowa, coming out of the debate last night, going into this primary here in New Hampshire, are you more convinced than ever that he's going to be the nominee?
AXELROD: Well, I don't know what the answer is to that. I mean, it's clear there are a majority of Republicans who are resistant to him. He only got a quarter of the vote in Iowa. This is essentially his home state. He has one of his homes here, and he was the governor of the neighboring state. So we'll see how this process goes.
But his fundamental problem is one of trust. I don't think conservatives trust him and I don't think moderates trust him. And you saw last night him shifting on a whole range of positions from abortion to China to taxes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he's getting the support of Republicans who think he's best able to beat President Obama. Is he the strongest candidate?
AXELROD: Well we'll see, George. I don't think that, frankly, bringing a Bain mentality to this economy, to running this economy makes him a strong candidate. I don't think shifting and moving around on positions, fundamental positions is one that people are going to embrace.
Trust is a big issue in the presidency. I think there's a big trust question when it comes to Governor Romney.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the economy is going to be a big issue as well. But others last night started to take aim at President Obama on the issue of national security and defense. Coming off the announcement this week from the president and Secretary Panetta that the military is going to be downsized, no longer poised to fight two full wars. And Governor Perry was tough on that last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You cannot cut $1 trillion from the Department of Defense budget and expect that America's freedoms are not going to be jeopardized. That to me is the biggest problem that America faces, is a president that doesn't understand the military and a president who is allowing the reduction of the DOD budget so that he can spend money in other places, and it will put America's freedom in jeopardy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Worried they can make that soft-on-defense argument work?