Denver (CNN) – President Barack Obama fired back at Mitt Romney in his first post-debate stop in Denver Thursday, contrasting the Romney he saw at the debate with the Romney seen on the campaign trail over the last year.
"We had our first debate last night, and when I got onto the stage I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," Obama told the crowd of roughly 12,300. "But it couldn't have been the real Mitt Romney."
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The "real" Romney, he said, has traveled the country promoting tax cuts for the wealthy, education plans that would hurt teachers and was a pioneer of outsourcing jobs overseas.
However, Wednesday night, Obama said Romney reversed those views because he "doesn't want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney" and "what he's been saying for the last year."
The president's comments echoed much of what his campaign has been peddling since the showdown, largely in response to criticism Obama did not bring his A-game to the first debate.
But at the campaign event, Obama said he spent the 90 minute event "trying to hit him down."
He also took on a much talked about moment, when Romney said eliminating funding for PBS, among other programs, would help drive down the debt.
"Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. It's about time," Obama said. "We didn't know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit, but that's what we heard last night. How about that?"
Responding to the crowd, Obama said "Elmo too?"
Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Mitt Romney, defended the candidate's performance, writing in a statement, "Last night, Mitt Romney demonstrated why he should be President, laying out the clear choice in this election."
The Obama event attendees were on the receiving end of a will.i.am DJ fest before hearing from former Transportation Secretary Frederico Pena, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and then the president.
will.i.am., of Black Eyed Peas fame, is an ardent supporter of the president and attended the debate Wednesday night. An aide to the musician said he plans to help the president's re-election effort "as much as we possibly can," adding that he will join the president next in Ohio next week.