President Obama’s top re-election strategists said today that Super Tuesday’s results won’t shift a methodical focus on Mitt Romney as their top Republican target heading into the spring campaign.
“Nothing happened yesterday to change our plan,” senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said of the strategy on a conference call with reporters.
“Romney wanted to put it away. Instead Super Tuesday became Super Glue day for them,” he added. “They’re still stuck with Gingrich and Santorum.” Team Obama still expects a drawn out primary campaign.
Axelrod said exit polls from across 10 states revealed “super-sized” shortcomings in the GOP presidential field, with voter turnout down from four years ago in many places and frontrunner Romney failing to win over independents in every state except Massachusetts.
Romney’s response to the Rush Limbaugh contraception debate of the past week — already the subject of intense scrutiny by Democrats — illustrated a major weakness in his candidacy, Axelrod said.
“If you don’t have the strength to stand up to the most strident voices in your party, how are you going to stand up to Amadinejad?” he said.
Romney said talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s reference to a Georgetown law student as a “slut” for advocating for contraception coverage in employer health plans was “not the language I would have used.”
“The Limbaugh thing was a test of leadership,” Axelrod said. “The longer this primary race goes on, he will have more tests and that he’ll continue to fail them.”
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul called Axelrod’s comments an attempt to distract from the president’s economic record and a comparatively low turn out in Democratic primaries Tuesday.
“Obama was on the ballot in Oklahoma and received just 57 percent of the vote in the Democrat primary and, even in Boston, fully 10 percent of voters who cast Democrat ballots left it blank for President and refused to vote for President Obama,” Saul charged.
Meanwhile, Obama’s national grassroots organizing operation continues to focus on states that will matter most in November, said campaign manager Jim Messina on the call.
“What you saw in Ohio was Barack Obama getting more votes than any candidate on the ballot,” he pointed out.
Obama for America now has outposts with paid staff in every state and new offices opening weekly, aides say. Supporters are reportedly registering volunteers by the thousands, with a particularly strong effort in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Vice President Joe Biden will kick off a series visits to those battleground states, where he will present the “issues that are going to define the election,” Messina said.
The campaign also plans to premier at 17-minute documentary on Obama’s first term produced by David Guggenheim next week.
“We can’t wait to make our case, and frankly whoever the Republican nominee is they represent a bankrupt and bankrupting theory,” Axelrod said. “Whomever the nominee is we know we’ll be facing that theory. So we’re moving forward.”
This post has been updated from an earlier version.