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Obama advisor David Axelrod skeptical of Herman Cain's chances

October 17, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain appears on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain appears on NBC's… (William B. Plowman / Getty…)

President Obama’s strategist-in-chief, David Axelrod, doesn’t sound too worried about the prospect of his candidate taking on Republican insurgent Herman Cain next fall.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Axelrod called Cain “an intriguing personality” but made it clear that the president’s reelection campaign has its sights trained on Mitt Romney.

“When you look at the resources,” he said, “[Rick] Perry and Romney are likely to be duking it out at some point here."

Prompted by host Joe Scarborough, Axelrod slammed Cain’s celebrated “9-9-9” tax plan, which would scrap the federal tax code in favor of a 9% tax on individual and corporate income along with a 9% federal sales tax.

“I think his plan deserves scrutiny. I don’t think it’s a very good plan for most Americans,” Axelrod said. “I think you add the 9-9-9 up and get to 27 [percent] because that’s probably what poor and middle class people will end up paying once the thing gets implemented.”

The Obama campaign has stepped up its criticism of Romney in recent days with the apparent expectation that he will be the GOP nominee once the dust settles.

Axelrod said the former Massachusetts governor has a “history going back 20 years” of “moderate and liberal” positions on gay rights, abortion and health reform.

“Now he’s done a 180 on all these things,” Axelrod said.

Of course, it’s that view, which is also shared by many Republicans, that explains why a conservative such as Cain has come out of nowhere to challenge Romney in the first place.

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