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Liberal pundits disappointed with Obama’s performance on debate night

Liberal pundits across the networks were resoundingly negative about President Obama's performance during Wednesday's debate, with most expressing disappointment that he was not more aggressive in the first face-to-face meeting of the two candidates.

MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz, along with a panel of other commentators appearing on the left-leaning network, said the president had failed to respond to Mitt Romney's claims on healthcare.

"I thought the president tonight was disappointing when he allowed Mitt Romney to talk about $716 billion in Medicare and the president did not come out and explain it and go after it," he said.

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Speaking on Current TV, former Vice President Al Gore also expressed concern that Obama didn't answer Romney's claim on Medicare.

“I thought he handled the Medicare answer well but ... he allowed Gov. Romney to make that $716 billion charge that was completely blown away at the Democratic convention, and then, all of a sudden, it is back again, and somebody that just tuned in for the first time might think, oh, well, President Obama is cutting all this money out of Medicare and Romney is going to ride to the rescue,” he said.

The first debate, in Denver, focused on the economy, and most liberal pundits agreed with Schultz's observation that Romney was "in his wheelhouse when he was talking about the economy."


But most expressed stronger opinions on Obama's failure to perform, with left-leaning MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, also speaking on MSNBC, lambasting Obama for "enduring the debate rather than fighting it."

"What was [Obama] doing tonight? He went in there disarmed, he was like, 'An hour and a half, I think I can get through his thing and I don't even look at this guy.' Whereas Romney, I love the split screen, staring at Obama, addressing him like the prey he did it just right," he said, visibly frustrated with Obama's performance.

Former Obama adviser Van Jones also praised Romney for what he said was a strong performance that Obama might not have been prepared for, as it took pages right out of Obama's own book.

“He did not expect Romney to be able to throw that kind of heat,” he said on CNN. 

“Romney was able to out-Obama Obama, on the connection piece, on the authenticity piece, on being able to tell the story. I think that they had the wrong strategy," he added.

Even famously liberal talk-show host Bill Maher was lukewarm on Obama's performance.

"I can't believe i'm saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter," he tweeted.

And former adviser to President Clinton, James Carville, speaking on CNN, said that he had "one overwhelming impression."

"It looked like Romney wanted to be there and President Obama didn't want to be there ... it gave you the impression that this whole thing was a lot of trouble," he said, adding that "Romney had a good night."

That overarching sentiment was summed up by Matthews.

"What was Romney doing? He was winning," he said.