By Alicia M. Cohn - 10/19/11 04:05 PM EDT
Obama’s campaign already appears to be running against Mitt Romney, a consistent front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Romney turned in another strong performance at Tuesday night’s GOP debate, which was marked by heated exchanges between the candidates.
In one such exchange over immigration, Rick Perry accused Romney of once employing illegal immigrants. Axelrod called Romney’s response “the most unintentional revealing moment of the debate.”
Romney originally denied the charge, saying, “I don’t think I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life.” He ultimately conceded that he had hired a lawn company to mow his lawn, and it had later been “pointed out” that the company hired illegal immigrants.
“We went to the company and we said, ‘Look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property,’” Romney said. “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.”
Axelrod slammed Romney for his reasoning. “Not that it was wrong or not that it was illegal, [but that] ‘I'm running for office,’” Axelrod said.
“Time and time again, Gov. Romney switches from one position to another,” Axelrod said, doubling-down on his previous criticism of Romney as a “flip-flopper.”
Although Romney has been the main focus of Axelrod’s criticism for the past week, seemingly setting him up as Obama’s main competition in the campaign, Axelrod noted that Romney doesn’t have the nomination sown up just yet.
“There seems to be a resistance to him,” he said. Axelrod identified the resistance as a sense that Romney has “no core.”