TODAY   |  October 10, 2012

How is Obama responding to the Romney bounce?

Robert Gibbs, a top adviser to the Obama campaign, spoke to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about the latest Big Bird ad and how the campaign hopes to slow Mitt Romney’s momentum with the race tightening in Ohio according to some polls, since the first debate.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> is a senior adviser to president obama 's campaign. robert , good to see you. good morning.

>> good morning, matt.

>> your colleue david plouffe said on "meet the press" over the weekend that if the first debate fundamentally changed the race you'd start to see polling in places like ohio draw to a tie. not a tie just yet but the race in ohio has narrowed considerably. in michigan it's gone from a ten-point president obama lead down to about three or four points. can you deny that the momentum, robert , is firmly on the side of mitt romney right now?

>> well, matt, we always expected this to be a very close race, and we expect it as we got closer to election day that the race would tighten even more. we've prepared for that since the beginning of this. but, look, i think it's a discussion of real issues that are going to be what separates these two candidates. you know, your piece that peter just did mentioned, you know, the fact that one more time we've got an example of mitt romney changing a position in public even though everybody knows what he believes. yes, they are telling "the des moines register " he has absolutely nothing on his agenda to restrict a woman's right to choose when he said in a debate that he'd be happy to sign a piece of legislation that banned all abortions. it's one -- it's one -- look, it's one more thing that we've seen from mitt romney that he's trying to have two different positions as we get closer to voting.

>> robert , i'm glad you say it's about real issu, because i have to be honest with you. i personally was a bit surprised that the campaign released this big bird ad yesterday. i mean, is that the kind of political ad that a campaign releases when it feels that it has ideas and solutions on its side, or is that the kind of political ad a campaign releases when it simply wants to get attention?

>> well, look, matt. i think the ad and the president have an important point on this. youknow, mitt romney took to the debate and said i'm going to get tough by ending downton abbey and go to war with " sesame street " and let wall street off the hook as we go forward with financial reform. look, we can't have a president that does that. certainly part of a very real issue, and it's one more piece, matt, of something that mitt romney said in the debate that he would like to change or is a position that he's going to walk away from.

>> i find it hard to believe that i'm asking this question here this morning, but will the campaign take big bird out of its ads?

>> i don't know of any plans to change -- to change that.

>> all right.

>> andrew sullivan of "the daily beast " assailed the president's performance in the first debate sang the following. i've never seen a candate this late in the game so far ahead just throw in the towel the way obama did last week. how do you erase that printed first image from public consciousness, a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing argument ? so with the second debate just a week away, robert , does president obama understand what he did wrong? does he agree that he took the wrong approach?

>> matt, there's no doubt, and i've said this repeatedly, that the president understands tt he didn't even live up to his own high expectations for that debate, but i think the real issues that we're going to see debate the both in the vice presidential debate tomorrow and coming up as we get closer to this next presidential debate , how are we going to build this economy for middle class america? are we going to do it as president obama and vice president biden want to did it from the middle out, strengthening opportunity and investing in education and bringing manufacturing jobs back overseas or with mitt romney , tax breaks for the rich.

>> how much pressure has that first debate put on vice president biden's shoulders tomorrow now?

>> well, i look forward to watching the vice president tomorrow. i know he's eager to do it. i think he's going to have to be on his toes because my guess is you're going to see what mitt romney tried to do which is paul ryan , congressman ryan walk away from the positions that he's held during this campaign and try to give a much, much different and softer image for the american people .

>> we'll all be watching. robe gibbs, thank you for your time.