Tuesday night's debate solidified Mitt Romney's status as the front-runner in the Republican presidential primary -- a development apparently not lost on President Obama, whose senior adviser, David Axelrod, launched a sweeping offensive against the former Massachusetts governor Wednesday.
In a telephone call with reporters, Axelrod hammered the line of attack that largely torpedoed Romney's 2008 campaign, accusing him of being a serial flip-flopper.
For good measure, Axelrod added that despite Romney's protests, the health care law he signed in Massachusetts "was in fact a model for much of what we did on our health care plan.''
The pretext for the phone call with reporters was Romney's stated opposition during Tuesday's Republican debate in New Hampshire to extending the payroll tax cut. Romney dismissed Obama's proposed reduction for temporary reductions in the payroll tax as a "temporary little Band-Aid'' and said he favors "permanent changes to the tax code.''
Axelrod contended the tax cut will "put money in the pockets of middle-class and lower-income Americans'' and would save the United States from another recession.
"The most appalling thing about it was, just two months ago, Gov. Romney was adamant in support of extending this tax cut,'' Axelrod said.
Asked for evidence that Romney previously supported the payroll tax cut, the Democratic National Committee pointed to an interview he did with Neal Cavuto of Fox News. Asked if he would favor a temporary extension, Romney said, "I'm all in favor of keeping taxes down and keeping burdens down in American businesses and employers. I want employers and entrepreneurs to have every incentive to open businesses and to start creating jobs.''