Gibbs: Mitt Romney delivered ‘dishonest’ debate performance

Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday accused Mitt Romney of delivering a "fundamentally dishonest" performance during last week's first presidential debate.

Gibbs said President Obama ended up debating against "a clone that looked a lot like Mitt Romney, that had walked away from fundamentally every position he has taken."

"If you're willing to say anything to get elected president…how can they trust you if you are elected president?" he said, during an interview on ABC's "This Week.".

ADVERTISEMENT
Gibbs conceded that the president's own debate showing came up short, but insisted that the first face-off between the candidates had not altered the dynamic of the 2012 race.

"Fundamentally, I don't think the campaign has changed," he said.

Romney senior campaign adviser Ed Gillespie accused the Obama camp of acting childish in lobbing such charges at Romney after his strong debate showing.

"The debate performance on Wednesday was not a matter of style, it was a matter of substance," he said. "The Obama campaign reminded me a little bit of a seven-year old losing a checkers game and... they sweep the board off the table."


Gibbs and Gillespie continued the latest battle between the two campaigns, over the president's debate charge that Romney is pushing a $5 trillion tax cut. The Romney campaign has called that attack dishonest, pointing out that Romney has said he would eliminate credits, loopholes, and deductions that would equal the revenue lost by his broad plan to lower taxes across the board.

But Gibbs pointed out that Romney has not pointed out what deductions he would eliminate to make up for the $4.8 trillion his tax cuts are estimated to cost, and suggested they would never materialize.

"We've seen this movie before," he said. "There's no answer…Mitt Romney's solution is he just decided there wasn't math involved in this problem, and that's absolutely crazy."

Gillespie maintained that Romney's plan would allow for the tax code to be lowered while broadening the base, and promised that Romney would not increase the deficit via his tax plan.

"He's not going to increase the deficit in bringing down the rates," he said.

Gillespie also defended Romney's claim during the debate that he would eliminate PBS's federal subsidy as an example of spending he would cut to rein in the deficit.

"If you have to borrow money from China to pay for these programs, is it worth it?" he said. "Big Bird would be pretty successful, I suspect, without the federal subsidy."

Gillespie also sought to downplay Friday's jobs report, which found the unemployment rate falling to 7.8 percent, the lowest rate of Obama's first term. He said that if the labor force participation rate stood where it was when Obama took office, unemployment would now stand above 10 percent.

"The fact that you have the White House celebrating an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent... tells you a lot about the failure of this administration's policies," he said.