Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said Friday that in the run-up to the 2012 election, mud-slinging would not be the norm. Or weird-slinging, for that matter.

Axelrod told The Hill Friday that he would fire any campaign staffer he found to be smearing former Massachusetts governor and GOP 2012 frontrunner Mitt Romney.

"I would," he said. "If someone used words like 'weird,' I would certainly do that."

Politico's Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith reported earlier this week that top Obama campaign strategists planned to "kill" Romney by painting him as "weird."

Axelrod panned the story as "garbage" to The Hill.

"That doesn't reflect our thinking," he said. "We have real, legitimate differences with Mitt Romney."

Poll numbers show that translating "weird" to "Mormon," a political attack on Romney's religious beliefs, is not a leap in voters' minds: 36 percent of voters in a June 2011 Quinnipiac poll identified themselves as "somewhat uncomfortable" or "entirely uncomfortable" with a Mormon candidate for the presidency.