“I understand that our strong supporters feel very, very, strongly that . . . we should have plowed in on the 47 percent, on his tax returns, on Bain and so on,” Axelrod said. “I think most people tuning in were more interested in their lives, in their future, and that’s what the president was discussing and doing it in an honest way.”
Axelrod said that Obama made the decision to answer the questions that were asked, rather than bring up outside topics like women’s issues, immigration, the auto industry bailouts and Romney’s record in the private sector.
“We are going to take a hard look at this and we’re going to make some judgments as to where to draw the line in these debates and how to use our time,” Axelrod said on a Thursday morning conference call with reporters, adding that it is unlikely that Obama would add a huge amount of prep time.
Stumping in Denver, Obama picked up on some of the themes that supporters said he missed Wednesday night, suggesting there was a “real Romney” who was different than the candidate who showed up for the debate.
“The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called ‘pioneers’ of outsourcing jobs to other countries,” Obama said at an event in Denver. “But the guy on stage last night, he said he’s never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”
The Romney campaign was quick to respond.
“The Obama campaign’s conference call today was just like the president’s performance last night,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. “The campaign, like the President, offered no defense of the President’s first term record or vision for a second term, and instead, offered nothing but false attacks, petulant statements, and lies about Governor Romney’s record.”
According to an average of several viewer polls, incumbent presidents have often lost the first debate. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan lost to Democratic challenger Walter Mondale 54 percent to 35 percent, and in 2004, President George W. Bush lost all three debates to Democratic nominee John Kerry, according to viewers. And in 1992, independent candidate Ross Perot was judged by viewers to be the winner of two of the three presidential debates, with President Bill Clinton winning one debate, according to viewer polls taken at the time and compiled by CNN.