Gibbs: Obama ‘disappointed’ by performance in first presidential debate

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Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday acknowledged that the president was unhappy with his performance in last week’s first debate.

"It's not rocket science to believe that the president's disappointed," Gibbs said, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Many reviews of the first presidential debate had panned Obama’s performance as listless and disengaged and polls showed voters picking GOP nominee Mitt Romney as the winner. While the president got a boost from Friday’s jobs report, Mitt Romney's campaign grabbed an edge with a strong debate performance Wednesday.

But Gibbs on Sunday vowed that the president will give a more energetic performance when the two square off again, and accused Romney of "abandoning" positions during the debate he touted during the campaign.

"He did a superb acting job. He did everything but learn tap dancing," he said of the GOP challenger.

Obama will be "ready and willing to call on whichever Mitt Romney shows up," according to Gibbs.

The two candidates will face off again on Oct. 16 in a town hall debate from Hempstead, N.Y.

Also appearing on NBC, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) assigned Obama's disappointing debate performance not to a Romney about face, but a presidential lack of preparation.

"If he had done his homework, if he had actually prepared…why didn't he take Romney head on?" he asked.

Gibbs pressed Gingrich, who accused Romney of being dishonest during the GOP primary, on whether Romney had been consistent on his pledge to cut taxes across the board. 

"I think it's clear he changed," Gingrich said of Romney’s tax stance.

Since the debate, the Obama campaign has launched an aggressive strategy of accusing Romney of lying about his tax reform proposals, which they claim calls for a $5 trillion tax cut.

Romney denied that he was in favor of a $5 trillion cut during the debate, saying that while he intends to cut taxes across-the-board, he would not approve a tax cut if it adds to the deficit. His campaign has insisted that those cuts would be offset by eliminating tax credits, deductions and loopholes.