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Roll Call

Democrats Hang Tough on Mitt Romney Debate Bounce

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo

House Democrats are hanging tough and hewing closely to their talking points as new polls show a significant bounce for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney following his performance at Wednesday’s debate with President Barack Obama.

Step one? Attack Romney for mischaracterizing his positions in the debate.

“I don’t think people expected that Mitt Romney would run away so fast from Mitt Romney in this debate,” said House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.). “I believe with two debates, the real mitt Romney will have a chance to surface. The problem of course is, we’re not sure [which] is the real mitt Romney because he says one thing and then does another.”

Step two? Tout the new jobs numbers that came out Friday showing the unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, offering respite for a bruised Obama.

“The president will talk, I believe, continue to talk to the American people about how unemployment has now dipped below 8 percent. More than 5 million jobs created in the last 30 months. And what we’re seeing is, we’re coming out of that deep, dark black hole that we found ourselves in when the president was handed the keys to the White House by George Bush,” Becerra said.

Some liberal pundits are in full panic mode — blogger Andrew Sullivan called a Pew Research Center poll released Monday that showed Romney ahead of Obama among likely voters as “devastating, just devastating” — but Democratic aides said in private conversations they have plenty of reasons to be optimistic overall.

One response, from several sources, was to question whether the Pew poll in particular is an outlier. “What polls?” several aides asked when queried about Romney’s bounce.

In the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll released Monday, Romney has a 49 percent to 45 percent edge over Obama among likely voters. The telephone survey was conducted among 1,112 likely voters Oct. 4-7.

In a similar poll conducted last month by Pew, Romney trailed Obama by 8 points among likely voters.

In Gallup’s latest tracking poll of 2,721 likely voters, conducted Oct. 2-8 and released today, Romney was the choice of 49 percent of likely voters, with Obama that of 47 percent.

That Gallup survey was the organization’s initial survey tallying likely voters.

Democrats noted that it was only one of three debates and that Obama will have low expectations coming into the second and third debates, allowing him to improve his overall image.

They also said the improved jobs numbers were a major lifeline for Obama that couldn’t have come at a better time, politically speaking.

And in the critical swing states, such as Ohio, Obama’s standing was good enough before the debate that he could take a hit and still be in a solid position.

They also continued to hammer Romney for flip-flopping. “I’d say that at the end of the day, Americans are going to know that Romney has changed his position on a number of issues, and they’re not going to be comfortable with that. And that’s going to be reflected come November,” a senior Democratic aide said.

Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said that Obama’s popularity in some of the states that are uncontested at the presidential level will ensure Democrats’ success in House races.

“Republicans began the 2010 election thinking Mitt Romney would help them at the top of the ticket but now the Romney-Ryan ticket is a down-ballot drag. President Obama’s overwhelming strength in states like Illinois, New York and California means House Republicans in those states are likely serving their last term in Congress and his competitiveness in the battleground states has given House Democrats a wind at our back,” Ferguson said.

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