Elections
David Axelrod and Jim Messina - AP Photo David Axelrod and Jim Messina - AP Photo  

Team Obama downplays call for ‘revenge’

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Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Team Obama’s campaign manager is trying to muffle the political impact of President Barack Obama’s call for ballot-box “revenge” by claiming that Gov. Mitt Romney is himself touting revenge.

“The Romney campaign’s message today is revenge, ours is the President’s plan for the middle class,” campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted Sunday morning. “I’ll take that contrast any day.”

The spin follows Romney’s rapid effort to highlight Obama’s startling Nov. 2 call for revenge on Election Day. (RELATED: Romney pushes ‘hope and change’)

“Don’t boo, vote! Vote! Voting is the best revenge,” Obama said Friday at a rally in Springfield, Va.

Romney cited that comment in a speech later that day and has emphasized it over the weekend. The campaign on Saturday released a TV ad using the comment to highlight Romney’s own end-of-campaign themes: “love of country,” optimism, hope and change.

The ad is titled “Revenge Or Love Of Country.”

Both campaigns conduct numerous polls to gauge the impact of each day’s events. Messina’s effort to spin the revenge controversy suggests that it is alienating late-deciding voters in key swing states.

Just by making a claim that associates Romney with “revenge,” Messina is nudging the established media to treat Obama’s comment as merely campaign-trail snark, instead of a gaffe that reveals hostile and divisive impulses.

So far, media coverage of Obama’s “revenge” call has been muted, especially when compared to the coverage of Romney’s “47 percent” comments to wealthy donors.

Asked for a comment about Messina’s statement, Romney’s team responded with heavy criticism.

“With no record to run on and no vision for the future, President Obama is resorting to false, discredited attacks and a cynical closing message urging voters to choose ‘revenge,’” said a statement from Romney spokesman Ryan Williams.

“Mitt Romney wants to bring people together and he wants Americans to vote for love of country. He will deliver real change for a real recovery, creating 12 million new jobs with rising take-home pay and a better future for all Americans,” said the statement.

Both candidates are trying for an upbeat end to their campaign.

Obama is leading with his one-minute “Determination” ad, which ends with him saying, “Together, we can keep moving America moving forward.”

Romney’s campaign is running a one-minute ad that shows him talking directly to the camera, offering to reduce unemployment, the federal deficit and reliance on food stamps.

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