OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: After the debate, the deluge

Obama didn’t repeat the mistake of his debate performance — a lackluster show — in his first post-debate appearance on Thursday, coming out swinging at Mitt Romney. “We had our first debate last night,” Obama said at an outdoor event at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver. “When I got onto the stage I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country all year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy. The fellow onstage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”

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Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R), a Romney surrogate, said of Obama: "What people saw last night, I think, was a president that revealed his incompetence, how lazy and detached he is, how he has absolutely no idea how serious the economic problems of the country are, and how he has failed to even begin to address them.”

Liberals and conservatives across the Web and on television slammed Obama for what's been deemed by most a disappointing performance, continuing a conversation that began the moment the spin room opened on Wednesday night.

Big Bird, Jim Lehrer and other components of the Public Broadcasting Service's programming provide an "outstanding return on investment" for the nation and should not be abandoned by the federal government, PBS told Romney on Thursday.

Romney contended six times Wednesday night that a panel established by Obama's healthcare reform law will make decisions about patients' medical care. The charge echoed 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's widely challenged claim about Obama "death panels," though Romney never spoke that phrase during Wednesday's debate.

Obama's campaign press secretary, Ben LaBolt, compared Romney's performance to actor Clint Eastwood's "empty chair” during the GOP nominating convention. "Well, listen, Gov. Romney delivered a great work of performance art last night," LaBolt told Fox News. "Something that I think Clint Eastwood would be proud of. But, on substance, his positions were just as empty as the chair that Mr. Eastwood had on stage."

Former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore suggested the altitude in Denver might be to blame for Obama’s performance. “I’m going to say something controversial here,” Gore said on Current TV following the debate. “Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today, just a few hours before the debate started. [Mitt] Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet and you only have a few hours to adjust — I don’t know, maybe.”

The Democratic National Committee went after Romney's debate performance, saying he was abrasive and off-putting during exchanges with the moderator. "If rude and unbearable is your cup of tea, you would have certainly gotten your fill from Mitt Romney last night," DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was surprised by Obama's "poor" showing. "I was surprised, frankly, at the president's poor performance. But part of it is four years ago, it was about hope and change. Now it's about choice. And the president had a record to defend. And he didn't do a very good job at it," McCain said on CNN.

Speaking on "Fox & Friends," McCain was asked to explain the poor reviews Obama garnered after the first of his three televised debates. “Four years inside the bubble with an adoring media,” McCain responded. 


TOMORROW’S AGENDA TODAY:

President Obama has campaign events in Fairfax, Va., at 10:50 a.m. and one in Cleveland, Ohio, at 2:30 p.m.

Mitt Romney will attend a campaign rally at Pier Park in St. Petersburg, Fla., at 6:15 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY: “Big Bird: My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?” — from Sesame Street’s official twitter account


AD WATCH:

Mitt Romney's campaign released its first post-debate television ad Thursday morning, a spot featuring the Republican nominee speaking directly into the camera about his jobs plan. “Let me tell you how I will create 12 million jobs when President Obama couldn't," Romney says, as stock footage of assembly lines and the candidate speaking with American workers rolls.

Team Obama released a new ad called “Trust” criticizing Romney for not saying how he will pay for his tax plan. The ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

The pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future's newest ad attacks President Obama's economic record. The ad, which went on the air Thursday for a week, has $1.2 million behind it and is running in Wisconsin, the main swing state the group has focused on.


BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE:

FLORIDA: House Majority PAC launched a new ad against Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), targeting him on what it characterizes as his votes to block tax cuts while failing to pay his own taxes. It cites an $11,000 lien from the IRS and multiple more for unpaid bills. The PAC is spending $1.5 million in the district against West.

KENTUCKY: Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) holds only a 3-point lead over opponent Andy Barr (R), according to a new poll from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Chandler leads Barr by 49 percent to 46. 

MASSACHUSETTS: Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) is trying to tie Republican opponent Richard Tisei to Tea Party Republicans with a new ad that focuses on Tea Party policies on women's issues. It charges that Tisei defended the Tea Party when he said "it is what it is" of the party during a local news broadcast, and goes on to highlight Tea Party positions on issues ranging from banning abortion to de-funding Planned Parenthood. The Tisei campaign hit back with a statement from campaign manager Paul Moore questioning whether Tierney has "no shame." "He's beginning to embarrass himself with these lies," Moore says, and touting Tisei's pro-choice views and his willingness to buck the party platform.


SENATE SHOWDOWN:

CONNECTICUT: Republican Linda McMahon holds a 1-point lead over Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), indicating the race for Connecticut's Senate seat is still in flux just over a month out from Election Day. The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute, gives McMahon 48 percent support to Murphy's 47, a lead that's within the 2.4 percent margin of error.

HAWAII: Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is leading former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) by 54 to 37 percent, according to an internal poll from the Hirono campaign. Lingle, a highly touted GOP recruit when she jumped in the race, has trailed by double digits in nearly every public poll of the race.

MASSACHUSETTS: Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, released a new ad on Thursday targeting Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) choice of Justice Antonin Scalia as his favorite Supreme Court justice during their debate this week. The ad highlights Scalia's opposition to Roe v. Wade, and ties a potential Brown win to a Republican majority in the Senate.

MISSOURI: Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) did not include nearly $130,000 in Missouri legislative pension funds he received over the past decade in congressional financial disclosures, according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

MONTANA: Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) raised $2.3 million in the last three months, the largest quarterly haul of his campaign. He has $1.3 million left in the bank for the final month of the campaign. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has yet to release his fundraising totals.

VIRGINIA: Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) continued his prolific fundraising, bringing in $4.5 million in the last three months and outpacing former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who raised $3.5 million in that period.

WISCONSIN: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) leads former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) by 48 to 45 percent in a new poll from the Now or Never super-PAC, a Republican outside group. The result is in line with other recent public polling — and indicates the group could be ready to start spending on the race.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Ann Romney will fill in as a guest host on ABC’s “Good Morning America” next week.

Michelle Obama would cast either Will Smith or Denzel Washington as President Obama in a hypothetical movie about her husband's life.

An ultra-glamorous Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz graces the pages of the October issue of Vogue in a profile just as flattering as the pictures that accompany it.

Mitt Romney celebrated a successful first debate with a surprise pit stop at CPAC Colorado. He received a hero's welcome at the conservative convention, with attendees at the event rising to give him a standing ovation that persisted throughout his short remarks.

Romney has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, his campaign announced late Thursday.

The 2012 presidential exit polls will include only 31 states instead of all 50.

Stocks popped Thursday after a lackadaisical week of trading in what some are wondering could be a "Romney Rally."

A weak September jobs report on Friday could put another dent into President Obama's reelection campaign less than two days after a bruising debate over the nation's ailing economy.


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