With Election Day just two weeks away, President Barack Obama repackaged his agenda for the next few years while campaign manager Jim Messina and adviser David Axelrod touted their ground game and lead in early voting.
Fresh off an aggressive performance in Monday night’s final debate with challenger Mitt Romney, Obama’s campaign released a 20-page “Plan for Jobs” as part of his second-term agenda, and put out a new television adfeaturing the president talking about investments in education and research, reducing the deficit in a balanced way and winding down the war in Afghanistan.
The ad, which comes after repeated attacks from Romney that the president has not laid out an agenda, is an attempt to reiterate what Obama has already been saying to appeal to the small universe of undecided voters, Axelrod said on a conference call with reporters.
“We’re in the closing argument phase of this campaign and we want to make sure everyone is very focused on the specific things the president is proposing,” he said.
Axelrod said Romney is the one who has been less than clear about how he would pay for his plans for big new tax cuts and defense spending increases.
“I will make you a $10,000 bet that you can’t tell how Mitt Romney is going to balance the budget,” Axelrod quipped to reporters.
Republicans lit into the plan as nothing new.
“As much as President Obama might try, you can’t gloss over four years like the last four. And you can’t fool the American people into thinking you have a real plan for the future when all you are offering is more of the same,” said Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chen in a statement.
The Romney campaign released its own ad, reprising his attack line on Obama’s alleged “apology tour” of foreign countries — a line that Obama called the biggest “whopper” of the campaign during Monday’s debate.
Axelrod and Messina also sought to push back on rumors the Obama campaign was ceding key battleground states, including North Carolina and Florida, while touting recent gains in voter registration and in early voting.
“We are doubling down. We are not pulling back at all,” Axelrod said, noting that the campaign has added millions in ad-buys in Florida and North Carolina.
Messina also said that most voters who have registered in the past three months are under 30 — a group Obama is winning big — and he contended that the electorate will also be more diverse than many expect, with minorities making up as much as 28 percent of the vote.
“It’s going to be a different total electorate than people are expecting,” he said.
Messina said that early voting in particular has helped the Obama campaign, with Democrats beating Republicans in every state that has started voting.
“Every single day now is Election Day,” he said.
Axelrod dismissed some polls that show the president behind — Gallup has shown a sizable national advantage for Romney in recent days — contending that the president has a lead, particularly in key battleground states.
“We’ll know who’s bluffing and who isn’t in two weeks,” he said.
Axelrod also repeatedly lit into Romney on trade with China and the auto bailout, after the GOP nominee argued in the debate that he would have prevented a liquidation of GM and Chrysler, even though he opposed a direct government bailout.
“If he had been the president of the United States, there would not be a GM or a Chrysler,” Axelrod said.
“Bain Capital was not lining up to finance that deal, folks, and Mitt Romney knows it,” Axelrod continued, noting that Romney’s idea was to provide government guarantees for private financing.
He also accused Romney of hypocrisy on China for talking tough now, but opposing Obama’s decision to take trade sanctions against the nation in the past.
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.