Gibbs: Voters got more out of watching 'Downton Abbey' than GOP debates

Obama adviser and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted the GOP presidential candidates as out-of-touch with the concerns of voters after last night’s GOP debate in Arizona.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt we got more out of ‘Downton Abbey’ than we have out of these 20 debates,” said Gibbs on CBS's "This Morning," in reference to the popular British television drama.

Gibbs said the tone of the debates would only turn undecided voters against the GOP field.


“I think if you’re an independent or an undecided voter, and you ... tuned in to last night’s debate, I don’t doubt at all that you’ve been turned off by the type of nasty negative carpet-bombing distortions on each other and on the president’s record,” he said. “I don’t sense that they're talking about the issues that people care most about — that’s what the president is spending his time talking about.”

During Wednesday night’s debate, GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum ripped into each other as they jockeyed for an advantage ahead of next week’s pivotal Michigan and Arizona primaries. Polls show Romney, the presumptive front-runner, locked in tight races in those states with Santorum, who surged in the polls after a series of upset victories in GOP contests earlier this month. 

During the debate, the candidates were asked about the recent controversy over the president’s birth control mandate and took the opportunity to blast the decision. On Thursday, Gibbs downplayed the issue, saying the economy would be more important in the upcoming election.

“I think the emerging question of this campaign is going to be strengthening this economy, putting people back to work. That’s what the president is talking about. I think the president made a decision of the right tone to protect both women’s health and to preserve religious freedom,” he said. 

Gibbs said the GOP candidates had provided few solutions to the issues concerning voters: “I think if you look at what the Republicans talked about in these debates, they are offering very little in the way of positive vision.

“Mitt Romney spends most of his time rolling out a tax plan that’s a windfall for wealthy Americans and will cost trillions and trillions of dollars and doesn’t even attempt to pay for it,” Gibbs said in criticism of Romney’s tax reform plan unveiled on Tuesday.

“Republicans are doubling down on the disastrous policies that got us into this mess, while the president continues to talk about how to put people back to work and strengthening this economy for the middle class,” he added.

Asked about his reference to "Downton Abbey," Gibbs said he had “watched all those episodes. It’s a wonderful miniseries. I can hardly wait for the third season.”

Asked by host Charlie Rose if, after leaving the campaign, he would like a house like the mansion featured in the hit television show, Gibbs jokingly responded, “Yeah, a couple, sure.”