BOSTON -- The Romney campaign is nothing if not dogmatic about staying on message. Today, they were relentless about keeping one of President Obama's chief surrogates off of his.
In an attempt to highlight economic failures of Romney's during his time as governor of Massachusetts, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod held a press conference outside of the Massachusetts State House. He said that under Romney, Massachusetts was ranked 47th in job creation - whereas now it's 5th - and that while Romney served, government jobs grew at a rate of six times the rate of private sector jobs.
Axelrod called Romney's record "alarmingly weak," and said that his record at Bain -- where he said the main motivation was "making money for yourself and your investors" -- was to blame.
"That's what happens when you try to translate those values and those principles into the governments of a state or a country," Axelrod said.
However, Axelrod's remarks were largely drowned out by Romney staffers and volunteers chanting tirelessly throughout. Though the Obama campaign says that they were always planning to hold such an event when they were ready to roll out this line of attack on Romney, word of the event leaked only late Wednesday night, accidentally. It was not supposed to be made public until early this morning.
According to Romney spokesman Ryan Williams, the campaign, which is headquartered in Boston, sprang into action, holding a conference call last night, organizing a press conference of their own an hour and a half before Axelrod's and turning out scores of supporters to be present when Axelrod spoke.
At their press conference, held on the same steps as Axelrod's, Massachusetts House Minority Leader Brad Jones was flanked by about 40 Romney volunteers and said that the net-net of jobs created under Romney was more than has been during Mr. Obama's entire tenure. After he was done, the Romney crowd more than doubled, and Obama supporters began to trickle in as well.
By the time Axelrod, arrived, the crowds were equal in size, and screaming at each other. Chants ranged from nebulous -- the Obama supporters at one point yelling "Fired up and Ready to go!" while the Romney supporters moaned "Solyndraaaaaa" -- to nasty -- with Obama's supporters chanting "Forward!" and Romney's supporters responding "Off a cliff!"
According to the police, the Obama campaign had a permit for their event, while the Romney campaign did not. The Republican crowd was allowed to stay, however, under First Amendment rights. The Romney campaign had two spokesmen and multiple advance team members on hand, one of whom blew bubbles toward Axelrod as he spoke.
"You can chant down speakers my friend, but it's hard to Etch-A-Sketch the truth away," said Axelrod upon taking the mic. Later, when asked what he thought of Romney staffers heckling him, Axelrod quipped, "I'm glad the governor's finally started creating jobs in Massachusetts."
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith was more critical. "The Romney campaign has embraced juvenile tactics in the past - when they're running around with Donald Trump, it's not surprising that they'd engage in circus-like tactics like this."