Barack Obama has come up with another excuse for his poor performance in last week’s presidential debate – he now says he was ‘too polite’ towards Mitt Romney.
The President and his allies have suggested a number of explanations for his disappointing display, from Mr Romney’s surprise shift to the political center to even the high altitude of Denver.
But this morning Mr Obama argued that his main problem was that he pulled his punches against the Republican candidate – and promised to be more aggressive in the two remaining debates.
‘I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite, because it’s hard to sometimes just keep on saying, “What you’re saying isn’t true.” It gets repetitive,’ he told radio host Tom Joyner on Wednesday morning.
Speaking to ABC News’ Diane Sawyer on Wednesday evening, Obama denied that his poor showing in their first debate had handed his challenger an advantage in the race to the White House.
‘Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night. It’s not the first time,’ said Obama, who was speaking in his first televised interview since last week’s debate disaster.
Despite Romney surging in the polls following the debate, the ‘fundamentals of what this race is about haven’t changed,’ he said.
The President also compared the debates to playing sport. ‘If you have a bad game you just move on, you look forward to the next one, and it makes you that much more determined,’ Obama told Sawyer.
Yesterday MailOnline revealed that the President initially thought he had won last Wednesday’s debate.
However, over the next few days it became clear that the vast majority of the public and the media disagreed and judged Mr Romney the winner by an overwhelming margin.
On Wednesday morning, Mr Obama spoke to Mr Joyner in an attempt to explain what had gone wrong and how he would improve before the second debate on Tuesday.
The President avoided a number of lines of attack of which many observers expected him to take advantage, such as Mr Romney’s career at Bain Capital or his controversial claim that 47 per cent of Americans are ‘victims’ who are dependent on government.
But Mr Obama appeared to imply that he would not be so timid at next week’s event, as he said: ‘I think it’s fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one.’
He also predicted that Mr Romney would run into trouble as a result of apparently changing some of his previous policies over the last few weeks.
‘Governor 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,’ the President said.
Mr Obama addressed the worries of his supporters who are concerned the debate could carry Mr Romney all the way to the White House, saying: ‘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.
A top Democratic aide yesterday blamed the President’s defeat on his own lack of interest in serious preparation for the debate.
‘President Obama made it clear he wanted to be doing anything else – anything – but debate prep,’ the Democrat said. ‘He kept breaking off whenever he got the opportunity and never really focused on the event.’
During the preparation period for the debate, Mr Obama took time off to visit the Hoover Dam and also joked with a campaign volunteer that his advisers were ‘keeping me indoors all the time’ and ‘making me do my homework’.
It was only after talking to his staff and seeing the media coverage that he released how firmly the public perception had swung towards Mr Romney.
The day after the debate, campaign chief David Axelrod said the Obama camp would take ‘a hard look’ at what had happened and would ‘make some judgements about where to draw the lines in these debates and how to use our time’.
He is understood to have taken charge of debate preparation and be planning on longer, more streamlined sessions with fewer people present.