Obama on debate: 'I was just too polite'
October 10th, 2012
01:37 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama on debate: 'I was just too polite'

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's heavily criticized debate performance last week was the result of an overabundance of civility, the Democratic incumbent said in a radio interview Wednesday.

"I think it's fair to say I was just too polite, because, you know, it's hard to sometimes just keep on saying and what you're saying isn't true. It gets repetitive," Obama said on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

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Obama's opponent Mitt Romney was widely considered the winner of last week's debate, held in Denver. Many critics, including some Democrats, said Obama appeared unenthusiastic and unwilling to engage Romney on some of the more contentious campaign flashpoints, including Romney's "47%" remark.

Following the debate, the president's allies acknowledged he lost on style points, but argued Romney win was supported by a series of lies about his platform and Obama's policies.

In the interview Wednesday, Obama stuck to that message, saying the tack Romney took last week would wind up hurting the GOP nominee in the end.

"Gov. 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," Obama said.

He added that at the next face off with Romney, slated for next week on Long Island and moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley, there would be more aggressive rebuttals to his rivals claims.

"I think it's fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one," Obama said.


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Presidential Debate
soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Old Guy

    Too polite? Try out of ideas and rhetoric....

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Brian in DC

    Obama, don't mistake politeness for incompetence.

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. Jake

    Come gather ’round people wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters around you have grown
    And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
    The times they are are changin’
    The Line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
    The slow one now will later be fast
    As the present now will later be past
    The order is rapidly fadin’
    And the first one now will later be last
    For the times they area changin’

    GO ROMNEY

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  4. tim

    One additional point worth mentioning is that fact checkers also have agendas. I personally listened to Andrea Mitchell, (The neutral reporter), explain the facts about small business when in fact the truth was far from the truth. The democrats have attacked Romney from the start since that is there only hope, destroy him with lies and half truths. Then when he finally has a chance to rebut all the nonsense, they say he won because he lied. When will they stop perpetuating these myths and defend their record. The thugs are from Chicago not Utah.

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. tess

    well I KNOW the real reason o'dumbo lost – it was all george bush's fault for making it impossible for mccain to win, therefore allowing o'dumbo to be the one who had to face off against romney! very simple people – EVERYTHING is bush's fault.

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. Pete

    And remember also this new witch hunt that Issas,Chaffetz are on is their own doing because in 2011 both of them and their republican buddies with the urging of Ryan cut security across the board on just these same embassies in budget cuts.So go ahead republicans go hang yourselves again just like in that Eric Holder deal,millions wasted for what,one border patrol agent when it was you and Bushs lies that have killed thousands in two unfunded wars,be proud you ignorent hypocrites,you're not a cat,you don't have nine lives!!

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. nona

    It's not enough that the Democrats make excuses and give explanations for just about everything Obama says ... now he is doing it for himself .... poor Obama ...sore loser!

    October 10, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Underwhelmed by my President

    Or you got your butt kicked. There's less shame in admitting it than cooking up excuses and worse still, sending your minions around to cook them up FOR you.

    October 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Dan

    No, Mr. President, you weren't "too polite". You were as helpless as a newborn kitten without your teleprompter and without a sychophantic media to cover up for you.

    For the first time in your life, you had to actually stand up and defend an actual record against a sharp, articulate, experienced, and emminently well-prepared opponent.

    The results speak for themselves.

    October 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Danimal

    Mitt lies so much I don't think he even knows what the truth is anymore. It's amazing that the brainwashed right would believe and vote for this guy. Wall street profits are at an all time high, housing is up, unemployment is down, all signs that the policies are working yet Rep's want to reverse all the progress that has been made. THat's what I call trying to destroy America.

    October 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Bill

    and Romney did not ask the tough questions such as you suddenly have a plan Mr President? Where have you been for 3 1/2 years? What did you mean by 'I will have more flexibility after the election".

    October 10, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. Bob

    I also love trying to make Romney into some radical conservative when he is far to the left of Bush of all people.

    October 10, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. President Obama, you were totally unprepated..not polite!

    Lets call it as it is, Obama can not justify the unemployment in this country, gas price over the roof and schools failing by the minute. It has nothing to do being polite. By the way I always voted Democrat but not sure this time I will do the same. My family have no work and we lost our house.

    October 10, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. andy

    What Mitt said:
    Cut taxes without reducing revenues or lowering the taxes paid by the wealthy
    Repeal Obamacare and keep everyone insured
    Repeal Dodd Frank and keep strict regulation on Wall Street
    Increase military spending while reducing the deficit
    Cut spending without hurting those who receive benefits of government programs
    Create 12 million jobs through lower taxes and less regulation— but see above, not cut tax revenues or decrease regulation

    It seems Romney doesn’t have enough respect for American’s to tell them that they can’t have it all, and that somewhere there are hard decisions that have to be made, except he did say “big bird” has got to go, even though he likes him.

    He also said that it he was able to work with Democrats to implement universal health care. It turned out that Obama didn’t have much trouble working with Democrats to achieve the same thing. Maybe that’s the solution: we need a Congress that is 85% Democrats.

    October 10, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. DirtyHeat

    This guy is such a clown. I love how Obama continually claims Romney lied when all of his precious fact checkers are even saying that Romney didnt lie. Excuses, excuses and more excuses are all we've heard since the debate.

    This guy cant debate the issues because he doesnt know anything about them! All that his administration got out of all the very important issues from the debate was "ROMNEY HATES BIG BIRD". Its laughable how incompetent all of these nutbags are.

    To be honest I am surprised how well they have done in 4 years. It's miraculous that this country didn't burn to the ground with these morons at the helm.

    October 10, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Jamie

    I cant wait for this next debate!! All the Democrats who have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid over the last 4 years, and talk about Romney "lies".........Just WAIT till things go to the topic of the Middle East!! I can just hear Obamas long winded answer, blah blah blah we didnt lie about that, or trying to say the video caused the attack. Face it, he is a socialist president, American people can see that, and he will go down the same road as Jimmy Carter......one term, NEXT!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. Jack

    During debates sitting presidents should behave like they were the challenger and go after their opponent. Debates are not a contest to see who is more 'presidential', whatever that means. It is to vigorously discuss the issues and for each to strongly point out the flaws in their opponents position. Otherwise whats the point other than seeing who is the better actor on TV?

    October 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. stonesrule

    Between the debate disaster and the unfolding Libyan Embassy disaster, it's FINALLY becoming clear to even the most loyal and optimistic Obama supporters that they have been repeatedly lied to over the last 4 years and this president is incompetent and incapable of running this country. Now they (DEMS) are saying ,"it was the best inteeligence we had at the time" Oh really? Just like the weapons of mass destruction? That, too was the "best intelligence we had at the time" . Dems are squirming everywhere – caught in another and another lie. Romney and Ryan pull out the election in November.....easily.

    October 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. WiseUp

    This administration is by far the worst when it comes to cover ups. Just to name a few, Libya, Fast & Furious, Deruglation (which occured under Clinton), Gitmo, Bin Laden and here are a few quotes for the President himself..If I can't turn this "economy" around than I should be a one-term president, how about, "if you do not have a record to run on, you attack your opponent". Need I continue.

    October 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. curiousmuses

    yes obama too polite. you have to call them out for all their nonsense and lies.

    October 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. curiousmuses

    Obama's Mr. Nice Guy, what do you expect.

    But, I'd rather have Mr. Nice guy than Mr. Snake Oil Salesman.

    Obama/Biden 2012.

    October 10, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Everyman

    You know Romney is lying...his lips are moving.

    October 10, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. emdub

    How sad is it that Americans think the man who lied at almost every point in the debate is a winner?

    October 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Justeeny

    Let's talk about lies. It seems that Obama has based his entire campaign strategy on calling Romney a liar.

    Let's look at this one comment, from a well respected Democrat about Ryan's plan VS Obama's plan:

    Erskine Bowles, co-chair of President Barack Obama's budget-deficit commission had this to say of Paul Ryan.
    _______________________

    "I always thought that I was okay with arithmetic. [Paul] can run circles around me, and he is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion..."

    "The President came out with his own plan and the President, as you remember, came out with a budget, and I don't think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against it 97 to nothing."

    "He, therefore, after a lot of pressure from folks like me, he came out with a new budget framework, and in that new budget framework, he cut the budget deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. And, to be candid, this $4 trillion cut was very heavily back-end loaded. So, if you looked at it on a 10-year basis and compared apples-to-apples, it really was about a two and a half trillion dollar cut."
    __________________________

    So, that's a $1.5 TRILLION DOLLAR LIE.

    Just calling it like it is.

    October 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Underwhelmed by my President

    Statements that the President could have made that would have been more truthful:
    I was underprepared.
    I might have been slightly too arrogant.
    Fundraising as much as I do is exhausting; I just didn't have my "A" game.
    Romney did better than I expected.
    I was busy wondering how to get my people out of the public's doghouse about this Libya thing.
    Honestly, I thought the economy would be better by now, and I wasn't sure how to defend it.
    I'm out of practice at this debating thing; I know the facts, but forgot how to utilize them to my advantage.

    October 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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