Dems, Republicans fight to define post-debate opinion, closing weeks of race

The fight to define the final weeks of the election and the impact of the last week’s presidential debate resumed Sunday with Republicans arguing President Obama’s economic policies have failed and Democrats saying Mitt Romney has yet to provide a specific plan to fix the economy.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte told “Fox News Sunday” the recent dip in unemployment was largely the result of jobless Americans taking part-time work and that participation in the U.S. job market is at a historically low rate.

“You cannot support a family on part-time pay,” said Ayotte, R.-N.H., who called Mitt Romney’s performance in the debate Wednesday a “reset” of the presidential campaign.

Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs was among several Democrats who acknowledged Sunday the economy was still growing too slowly.  But he repeated the Obama team’s often-used point about 31 straight weeks of job growth after inheriting an economy losing hundreds of thousands of jobs per month.

“Are we growing as fast as we’d like to?” Gibbs asked on  NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “No. But it takes a long time to dig out of this avalanche of tremendously bad decisions that preceded the Obama presidency.”

Gibbs also argued that the debate showed Romney’s plan “is to go back to a failed economic theory of tax cuts for the very rich.”

Gibbs also said on ABC’s “This Week” that the foundations of Romney’s successful debate Wednesday night were “fundamentally dishonest.”

Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie on the same show said Romney “laid out a plan for turning this economy around getting things moving again.”

He also chided the Obama campaign staffers’ response to the debate.

“They remind me a little bit of a 7-year-old losing a checker game, and then instead of being frustrated at the outcome, they sweep the board off the table,” Gillespie said.

Gibbs, along with Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, also argued that Romney has yet to explain how he will cut taxes by roughly $4.8 trillion without increasing the federal deficit and increasing taxes on the middle class.

Though Romney has promised to close corporate loopholes, they say he has yet to be specific about such a plan.

Ayotte said Romney said in the debate that we would go to Congress for a partisan agreement on how to accomplish his plan.

Election Day is five weeks away, with President Obama leading in the battleground states. However, polls following the debate show that lead lessening.

O’Malley also repeatedly blamed the country’s economic problems on previous Republican President George W. Bush, whom O’Malley suggested left Obama in a long-term mess.

O’Malley said Bush’s “failed policies” -- including entering two wars and an unsuccessful economic plan -- started the record unemployment.