March 7th, 2012
04:23 PM ET
On a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, senior members of President Obama’s reelection campaign announced that they will be releasing a 17-minute documentary next week focusing on the successes of the president’s first term in office. The short film is directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim, whose relationship with Obama goes all the way back to 2008 when he directed a documentary on the president for the Democratic National Convention.
Wednesday’s conference call came just one day after Super Tuesday, when the four remaining GOP presidential candidates faced off in ten primaries and caucuses across the country. With those contests fresh in their minds, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and senior strategist David Axelrod used the call to offer their interpretation of Tuesday night’s results.
The call focused almost entirely on the demographic weaknesses of frontrunner Mitt Romney. In his opening remarks, Messina pointed to low turnout in many states on Tuesday and exit poll data showing weaknesses among independents to argue that Romney is hurting his prospects for the general election.
“What we saw last night is overall republican primary turnout down 8.8% in the Super Tuesday states,” Messina said, listing off 6 states where turnout was down compared to 2008. “Independents have bailed on Romney just in time for the general election. Romney's gone so far right that it's cost him the independents' support. Only in his home state of Massachusetts did he win independents. He lost independents in every single other state."
Calling Romney’s success in six of the ten Super Tuesday contests “tactical victories,” Axelrod said that the only thing made clear was that the GOP primary was turning into a “kind of death march.”
“Instead of Super Tuesday it became super-glue day for them,” Axelrod said of the Romney campaign. “They're still stuck with Santorum and with Gingrich and with the prospect of a long race here.”
Messina joined Axelrod in dismissing Romney’s victories, arguing that the frontrunner’s significant fundraising advantage meant that he should be winning my much larger margins than he has been.
"He's not winning in these states he’s limping across the finish line,” Messina said. “I mean last night in Ohio he outspent Santorum 4 to 1 and only won by a few thousand votes. In Virginia turnout was down by 50 percent and his toughest two candidates weren't even on the ballot. So I don't think you can look at any of these things and say he's showing any strength here.”
Axelrod was even more critical of Romney’s challenges going forward. Using the public debate over recent controversial comments made by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Axelrod said that such situations are “tests.”
“You're tested every single day in different ways,” Axelrod said of presidential candidates. “The Limbaugh thing was a test of leadership and you have them all the time. You know Mitt Romney's failed those tests in the campaign, and the longer this primary race goes on my guess is he'll have more tests and my guess is he'll continue to fail them."
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