"Surplus" by definition means that something was left over. Considering we're talking about government expenditures, a surplus would mean that there was more revenue than expenditures.
1) Expenditures went up (the Government spent more)
2) Revenue/income did not increase as much as expenditures
1+2=3: there was never a surplus
It's not partisan politics, it's cause and effect. I think people who believe there was a surplus either display cognitive dissonance (rabid partisans), have educated themselves into imbecility (scholars who debate specific numbers while ignoring the overall debt), or only get their information from a television.
The only surplus was that of smoke and mirrors (voodoo economics).