Democratic surrogates in the cable TV spin rooms Wednesday night seemed to have trouble explaining President Barack Obama's weak debate performance. By Thursday morning, however, the Obama campaign had settled on a explanation for why their guy lost: Mitt Romney lied.
"On Wednesday night, some saw Mitt Romney sounding polished," a 4:15 AM press release conceded. "But when the dust settles, Romney's dozen flat-out falsehoods will be the only thing remaining from his debate performance -- because avoiding the truth has been the very definition of Romney's candidacy, and he can't escape that with a single smooth appearance."
An accompanying web video said the former Massachusetts governor had "played fast & loose with the facts."
On cable shows Thursday morning, meanwhile, Obama surrogates touted the same line. Senior adviser David Axelrod told MSNBC that Romney's debate performance was a "shell game" and gave him "an 'F' for being honest with the American people." Martin O'Malley, Maryland's governor, said on CNN that Romney had promised "We can all eat cake and lose weight."
The campaign has a good point: Romney's policy explanations, particularly about how he was going to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts, were vague, misleading and riddled with falsehoods. But he delivered them with conviction. Obama supporters will probably be asking themselves how their candidate failed to rebut Romney during the debate, rather than after, until the next meeting between the two on Oct. 16.