Via GOP12, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod promised on MSNBC Thursday morning that the next debate will be one to watch.

"I know the president is very much looking forward to seeing Governor Romney again," Axelrod said. "He's gotten a good look at the Romney routine, and now we'll have another engagement, and I think it'll be really interesting."

Many liberal commentators were upset with Obama for not attacking Romney more. 

"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 in the same interview, but "most people tuning in were more interested in their lives." 

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley chimed in on CNN. “I’ve been in these debates, and always it seems the challenger has an edge in that very first debate,” the Obama surrogate said. 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a Romney supporter, also suggested that the next debate might be different. "I was surprised at how well Mitt did," the 2008 nominee said on CNN. But, he added, Obama is "very smart ... I would not underestimate the president of the United States in the next couple of debates, and I don’t think Mitt will either."

One bright spot for Obama is that while voters overwhelmingly expected him to win the first debate, he will face a lower bar next time around. But he will also be under more pressure to attack, without looking desperate.