President Obama on Wednesday said he was “too polite” in dealing with Mitt Romney at last week’s debate.
“I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,” Obama said in a phone interview with the "Tom Joyner Morning Show."
“The good thing is that we’ve got a lead, and Tom, you guys know a little bit about basketball,” he sad. “You know, you have a seven-game series, we’re up two-zero and we lose one.”
“Yeah, but you had the open shot and you didn’t take it,” Joyner shot back.
“Yeah, I understand, but you know, what happens, though, is that when people lose one game — you know, this is a long haul,” Obama responded.
The first debate between Obama and Romney has significantly shifted momentum in the race.
According to Gallup, 72 percent of viewers said Romney won the debate, compared to only 20 percent who said Obama. It was the biggest margin of victory Gallup has ever recorded.
Obama’s flat debate performance left many liberals miffed at not just the lost opportunity, but in leaving an opening for a Romney comeback.
On Wednesday, the president sought to draw attention to the substance of Romney’s debate arguments, which liberals say were untruthful or represent a change in positions.
Earlier this month, The Hill reported on a host of Democratic lawmakers who said Romney was “lying” during the debate, claiming those alleged fabrications will erase any advantage he received from his well-reviewed performance.
“It’s hard to sometimes just keep on saying what you’re saying isn’t true,” Obama continued. “It gets repetitive. But, you know, the good news is, is that’s just the first one. Gov. Romney put forward a whole bunch of stuff that either involved him running away from positions that he had taken, or doubling down on things like Medicare vouchers that are going to hurt him long-term.”
Romney aides have said Obama's charges were simply an attempt to deflect
from his defeat in the first debate, and that they were confident the
strategy would not work.
Obama said on Wednesday he wasn’t concerned that the race had been significantly altered, saying despite his rise in the polls ahead of the debate, his campaign knew the election would never be a “cakewalk.”
“This is always going to be a close race,” Obama said. “The fact of the matter is, is that if people were comfortable they didn’t recognize we’ve just gone through four really tough years. And, you know, Gov. Romney kept on making mistakes month after month, so it made it look artificially like this was, might end up being a cakewalk. But we understood internally that it never would be. That it was going to tight, it tightened over the last three or four days, but it could have tightened after the convention if they hadn’t had such a bad convention.”
The president pointed to the 2008 election when the popular vote was much closer than his decisive Electoral College victory.
“The main thing that everybody needs to focus on is the fact that this was going to be a close election; I only beat John McCain 53 to 47,” he said. “And we had all the tailwinds with us, no headwinds. So this [was] always going to be close."
Obama said he didn’t intend to duplicate his poor performance at next Tuesday’s debate.
“By next week I think a lot of the hand-wringing will be complete because we’re going to go ahead and win this thing,” he said. “And, you know, I think it’s fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one.”