Sunday show roundup

The pundits discuss the debates and the job numbers

Topics: Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, meet the press, 2012 Elections, 2012 Presidential Debates, ,

Last week’s debate was the hot topic on the Sunday shows. Here are the highlights:

- Obama’s campaign advisers took the opportunity to defend his debate performance. On ABC’s “This Week,” Robert Gibbs attacked Romney, saying that in the debate Obama was up against ”a clone that looked a lot like Mitt Romney, that had walked away from fundamentally every position he has taken.”

“If you’re willing to say anything to get elected president … how can they trust you if you are elected president?” Gibbs said.

Gibbs also said that ”it’s not rocket science to believe that the president’s disappointed” in his performance.

David Axelrod had a similar take on “Face the Nation.” “I’m saying [Romney] was dishonest in his answers,” Axelrod said. “You can characterize that any way you want.”

He also added that the ”president is his harshest critic” when it comes to analyzing his debate performance.

- RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was busy managing everyone’s expectations, saying on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he wasn’t sure if the Romney campaign could match Obama’s $181 million fundraising haul in September. “I don’t know if we’re going to match it, but it is an impressive number,” he said.

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Later, on the upcoming vice-presidential debate, Priebus described Joe Biden as a “gifted orator.”

“Joe Biden has of late put his foot in his mouth in very public ways,” Priebus said, but “also I think it’s very important that people understand that, people realize that Joe Biden is a gifted orator, is very good at rhetoric, is very relatable.”

- Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to discuss the most recent job numbers. Unemployment is “lower now than it was in the last full month” of the Bush administration, said O’Malley. “Home foreclosures are at their lowest point in five years. We are making progress.”

“I don’t think there is really any cause to celebrate here,” Ayotte said. “The politics that this president put into place actually made [the economy] worse.”

- Newt Gingrich also had something to say about the jobs report, calling conspiracy theories that the numbers were cooked, “plausible but irrelevant.”

“It rings true to people,” he said on “Meet the Press.” ”You have a president of the United States so deeply distrusted by people like Jack Welch — who is hardly a right-winger, Welch is one of the most successful businessmen in America — that Welch instantaneously assumes this is the Chicago machine.”

On “State of the Union,” a pair of budget experts disputed the “plausible” part of that theory.

“The numbers were collected in a professional way,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director, who also was an adviser to John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “It’s a statistical anomaly, not a conspiracy.”

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, just called the theories “silly.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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