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David Axelrod defends his telling of Romney-Obama concession call

by Eun Kyung Kim / / Source: TODAY

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David Axelrod, the former senior advisor to President Obama, on Monday defended his claims that Mitt Romney in his 2012 concession call to the president attributed his campaign loss to high black turnout in key cities.

In the book, “Believer: My 40 Years in Politics,” Axelrod wrote that Obama got off the phone with Romney saying his challenger credited him for getting out the vote in places like Cleveland and Milwaukee, "in other words, black people."

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“Well, there were five people standing around the president when he got off the phone. All of them have the same recollection. Several of them have gone public since this started,” Axelrod told Savannah Guthrie.

Axelrod stood by the story despite recent challenges by Romney aides who disputed the account.

“I don’t think the president made that up," Axelrod said. "I don’t think Romney was trying to be ungracious either, but we had just come through a long battle. They saw this through different lenses. It’s natural to have these kinds of reactions.”

The former presidential advisor also wrote in his book about how he believed a lot of Obama’s opposition was rooted in racism: “Some folks simply refuse to accept the legitimacy of the first black president and are seriously discomforted by the growing diversity of our country."

Axelrod said he believes Obama feels the same way.

“Is that the main reason for the opposition to him? No, but has any other resident experienced someone shouting, ‘You lie’ in the U.S. Congress or persistent questions about his citizenship? No, and I think that reflects some attitudes that are deeply ingrained in some people in this country," he said.

During a 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, interrupted an Obama speech by shouting “You lie” when the president was speaking about health care reform.

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