President Obama’s description late in the debate of his governing philosophy demonstrated how much his outlook has changed since taking office in 2009.

Like Mitt Romney tonight, Obama four years ago promised to spend time sitting down with the opposition party, to work through differences and strike common-sense compromises. Many at the time called Obama naive – yet tonight it was Obama essentially assigning that label to Romney.

The Republican would have a “busy first day,” Obama retorted when Romney pledge to reach across the aisle on his first day in office. He noted that Romney would be convening talks with Democrats the same day he would be repealing Obama’s health care plan – a move not likely to be popular with most Democrats. For his part, Obama described a governing philosophy hardened after years of combat with Republicans – a relationship that soured irreparably after he and his GOP foes in Congress failed to strike a grand bargain on the debt.  

“Occasionally you have to say no, to people in your own party and people in the other party,” Obama said. Referring to his push for a health care overhaul, opposed by Republicans, Obama said: “That was a fight that needed to be had.”