Axelrod claims Romney debate performance ‘unrooted in fact’

Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod had harsh words Sunday for Mitt Romney's much-lauded performance in the first presidential debate. 

"It was completely unrooted in fact," Axelrod said on CBS. "It was completely unrooted in the positions he's taken before, and he spent 90 minutes trying to undo two years of campaigning."

In his "performance," Axelrod continued, the former governor was "serially rewriting history."  

Romney was widely viewed as besting President Obama in Wednesday night's debate, but the former governor has faced a sharp attack from Democrats who have accused him of flip-flopping on tax, education, healthcare and banking policy.

The Romney campaign has rejected those claims and touted what they saw as a break out moment for the GOP contender. Romney has been running slightly behind Obama throughout the race, but voters who watched the debate said the GOP contender had won according to a CNN/ORC survey. 

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 during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” "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."

On Sunday, though, Axelrod sharpened the Obama campaign’s attacks, describing Romney's debate performance as "absolutely" dishonest. 

"As President Clinton would say, it takes a certain brass to do what Gov. Romney did," Axelrod said. "The basic theory is, 'Say whatever you need to to get the deal,' and that's what [Romney] did that night." 

Axelrod’s remarks echoed those from Robert Gibbs, another senior Obama adviser deployed on the Sunday shows to knock Romney over the debate. 

Obama was pitted against "a clone that looked a lot like Mitt Romney, that had walked away from fundamentally every position [Romney] has taken," Gibbs said on ABC's This Week. 

"If you're willing to say anything to get elected president … how can they trust you if you are elected president?" he added. 

Axelrod also defended Obama’s debate performance, which was criticized by many of his own supporters who found him subdued.

In particular, Axelrod dismissed criticism that Obama should have slammed Romney for an earlier remark saying that "47 percent" were dependent on government. 

"I think the president was earnestly trying to answer the questions that were asked on the topics that were being discussed, and he didn't find the opportunity to raise it," Axelrod said. 

Democrats seized on the remark to paint Romney as out-of-touch. Romney has since backed away from the comments, calling them "completely wrong."

This story was updated at 11:12 p.m.