As far as national Democrats have been concerned lately, there’s only one candidate in the Republican race worth their time: Mitt Romney. They’ve gone after him with ads, videos, and press appearances at every opportunity while ignoring virtually the entire rest of the Republican field. Until today that is.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Obama campaign guru David Axelrod offered up a rare jab at Newt Gingrich, who has shot to the top of state and national polls over a stagnant Romney. Asked by Chuck Todd why he was focusing fire on Romney, Axelrod shifted to discussing Gingrich’s recent ad in Iowa.
“I was amused by the Newt Gingrich ad because you talked about he was going to bring the country together to solve problems,” he said. “You’re talking about the godfather of gridlock here, the guy who two decades ago really invented the kind of tactics that have now become commonplace in Washington. So this is a whole new Newt.”
Todd noted that this appeared to be the first attack on Gingrich by Obama’s re-election team.
“Well, I think it may be the public’s case against him,” Axelrod said. “I don’t think people want to go back to that.”
There’s no question what Democrats’ strategy has been so far. As Romney’s team correctly notes, the plan has clearly been to either soften up Romney, the strongest nominee against Obama according to a raft of polls, or — miracle against miracles — help pave the way for one of his rivals to grab the nomination. Axelrod bringing up Gingrich attacks may suggest that Democrats are considering the possibility that Newt might emerge victorious.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.