One of President Obama's chief political strategists tried to coin a new nickname for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, thrashing his political positions and what he says the GOP candidate stands for.
David Axelrod called Romney the "25 percent man" during a conference call with reporters Wednesday, referring to the vote total Romney won in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, and the fact he hasn't been able to cross that threshold in national polls or individual states.
"He entered as a weak frontrunner and leaves a weak frontrunner," Axelrod said of Romney's narrow win in Tuesday's caucus. Romney beat out former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by only eight votes in the contest.
In a theme expected to continue into the general election if Romney becomes the Republican nominee, Axelrod painted Romney as beholden to big business and out of touch with American voters.
"His economic vision isn't the vision of Americans," Axelrod said. "At every turn, Gov. Romney stands for an economy rigged against everyday people... Romney symbolizes what concerns most people about this economy."
Though he has engaged with other Republicans, Romney's campaign has generally employed what has been seen as a general election strategy, lashing out at the president an array of issues. During his Iowa victory speech in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Romney accused Mr. Obama of being "in over his head."
His camp continued attacking the administration Wednesday after the president made a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau was born out of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill Senate Republicans had stalled the nomination to protest the bureau. The administration's move put Romney on the attack again.
"This action represents Chicago-style politics at its worst and is precisely what then-Senator Obama claimed would be ‘the wrong thing to do.' Sadly, instead of focusing on economic growth, he is once again focusing on creating more regulation, more government, and more Washington gridlock," Romney said in a statement.
The Obama campaign wasted no time firing back.
"Governor Romney has made clear he has not learned the lessons of the economic crisis, instead, he's giving the most irresponsible financial actors a bright green light to pursue profit at any cost to communities across America," Obama for America Press Secretary Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
Axelrod said while Romney has been attacking the president publicly, privately he has been behind attacks on former frontrunner Newt Gingrich. He charges that Romney called in "the Air Force to carpet bomb" Gingrich and that Santorum's strong Iowa showing means he'll be next. Throwing back to a metaphor he used to describe Newt Gingrich's rise in December, Axelrod said that Santorum is like a monkey that has climbed to the top of a pole and that now, his backside is exposed.
"America will judge whether they like the view, Axelrod said. "Romney will give them a good view."
The negative ads Axelrod describes have been funded by Political Action Committees known as "Super Pacs." While the Romney campaign denies direct involvement with the groups, Axelrod said they're tied together.
Though he pointed to the battle between Republicans, Axelrod spent most of his time focusing on Romney, claiming diverging positions on issues would ultimately benefit the president's bid for a second term.
"There's a real sense that people don't know where Gov. Romney stands today or where he stands tomorrow," Axelrod said. "That's why he's stuck at a quarter of the vote."