Maybe it's the fatigue of a long campaign day. Maybe it's spin. Maybe it's true. After tonight's debate, as they spun, it really sounded like Mitt Romney's campaign was declaring victory over its "controversial"* ad that quoted Barack Obama quoting John McCain's campaign. The ad, if you missed it.
The offending moment comes when Obama says "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." That was a quote from a way-too-honest McCain adviser that Obama loved to repeat on the trail. By evening, the ad had been attacked, derided, parodied, and ruled "pants on fire" worthy by Politifact. The Romney campaign could have cared less.
"We want to engage the president," explained Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom in the spin room. "We look at him as our rival. It's all deliberate; it was all very intentional."
Romney adviser Ron Kaufman, an RNC committee member and longtime operative, simply said that the ad "worked."
"They always squeal the most when you hold a mirror up to them," he said, "and they overreacted, clearly. All they did was make the ad more effective."
"There was a time when the Obama campaign had real discipline," joked Stuart Stevens, a senior Romney strategist. "Today was a total meltdown. You had the press secretary to the president of the United States talking about an ad that was running on one station in New Hampshire. There was a time when Jay [Carney, a former reporter for Time] wouldn't even have written about this. Total meltdown. It's as if you have somebody on a witness stand, accused of anger management issues, and he jumps off the stand and comes after you."
What about the tough response from Politifact?
"Do you know how many times they did that to Barack Obama in 2008?" he said. "Quite a few. And that's utterly absurd. Did he say this? Yes. Did we say he said it in a certain context? No."
*Who likes this word? I hate this word.