Obama adviser David Axelrod offered some clear signs that Mitt Romney’s attacks on him are taking their toll, twice referring to reaction he’s received from Romney operatives in Boston in a 75 minute discussion at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan Monday night.
Axelrod, the most visible face on the calm, cool, and collected Obama campaign had been rattled at a press conference two weeks ago on the steps of the Massachusetts State Capitol blocks from Romney headquarters when he faced bubbles and chants of “Solyndra.”
President Barack Obama’s senior adviser and political guru responded to New York magazine's John Heilemann’s poll of the room that all but four people in attendance voted for Obama in 2008 by saying: “We have a very nice room here…not like those folks up in Boston.”
Later, joking about hypothetical Romney trackers in the audience recording his every word, Axelrod added, “At least they’re letting me speak.”
Axelrod’s unprompted asides suggested Romney’s in-person and social media guerilla campaign is taking hold — at least in the cubic foot of space above Axelrod’s shoulders.
Beyond the from the now-infamous press conference, the Romney campaign has deployed campaign staffers to infiltrate Obama campaign events to tweet about empty seats and spin the president’s comments while he’s still in the room. On Twitter, Romney operatives swarm over nearly every Axelrod television appearance to point out flaws and needle him over inconsistencies.
Romney aides frequently brag when Axelrod grows frustrated with their efforts. “We’re in his head,” one staffer said triumphantly after the Massachusetts press conference.
It remains to be seen whether the Twitter wars or surrogate fights will have any impact beyond the tweet-obsessed Acela corridor.
But he Romney effort is part of a larger effort to energize the base by showing the campaign has fight — something conservatives doubted McCain had four years ago. Also, Boston’s theory goes, if they can get in Axelrod’s head, the vaunted Chicago operation might just slip-up.