By Meghashyam Mali - 10/04/12 01:36 PM EDT
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said President Obama’s debate performance could be blamed on four years of interacting with an “adoring media,” which had left Obama unprepared for a tough face-to-face fight with Mitt Romney.
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.
“If it were a fight, they would have stopped it,” joked McCain about the debate, but he also warned Republicans that Obama would prove a tougher debater in the next contest and that his supporters would rally behind him.
“Do not underestimate President Obama. The guy is good — he’s smart, he gives a great speech,” said McCain, who himself debated Obama in the 2008 election as the GOP nominee.
“The next debate is going to be very important. I guarantee you that you’ll see a better performance, but I also think you may see a better performance out of Mitt, even better than the one he gave, which I thought was great,” said McCain.
In a separate interview on CNN, McCain said he was surprised by Obama's widely panned debate 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.
McCain said Romney delivered a great performance and showed voters he's been caricatured in attack ads.
"He came across as the person he really is as opposed to how he has been portrayed by hundreds of millions of dollars of attack ads," McCain said.