Axelrod says he’d fire campaign staff who smear Romney

Any member of President Obama’s reelection campaign who works to smear former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) as a general-election candidate risks being fired, senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said Friday.

Amid reports that the president’s campaign was preparing a plan to “kill Romney” as a general-election candidate, Axelrod stressed that no such plan was in the offing. 

“That doesn’t reflect our thinking,” Axelrod said Friday. “We have real, legitimate differences with Mitt Romney.”

{mosads}Politico reported, citing unnamed Democratic sources, that the president’s reelection would focus on how Romney is “weird,” emphasizing his personal eccentricities and his record in the private sector rather than the president’s record. Axelrod called the sources in that story “garbage.”

Asked if he would fire any staff member who engaged in such a campaign, Axelrod said: “I would. If someone used words like ‘weird,’ I would certainly do that.”

Romney’s campaign earlier this week responded harshly to the report, calling it “disgraceful.”

Romney himself on Wednesday lamented the report, saying he anticipated a “real ugly” general-election fight against Obama.

Axelrod said he would prefer to focus on substantive issues. He seized, for instance, on Romney’s words Thursday at the Iowa State Fair that “corporations are people,” too.

And Axelrod pointed to a point in the debate when all the Republican candidates onstage volunteered that they would veto legislation that included a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes.

“Really what they were doing was pledging allegiance to the Tea Party,” he said. “They were not willing to accept one more dime in taxes on the wealthiest Americans.”

Watch Axelrod below.

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Daniel Strauss contributed to this story.

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