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. Charles

    Watching the debate, I can however see in the gesture and eyes of Obama that he was holding back. As you can see, Mitt had a lot to say but through his gestures, postures, tone, choice of words, you can tell a lot of BS sits right behind all those things during the entire debate. Honestly, viewing how this presidential election is going, it seems like a bunch of kids including the media as well as others who were, after the debate, trying to break down what just happened. For those who are doing so needs to touch on the facts or more so talk about each issues for the general public to understand what these two people of talking about and exactly what they are going to do. An example, deficit, social security, health care, millitary, etc. Not about who can talk better and how you should choose this person because he looked good on TV etc. It really shows what our government is really made of in my own perspective through this presidential election campaign.

    October 10, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. danthefisherman

    When you don't have a clue, I guess being "too nice" is as good of an excuse as anything.

    October 10, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. blake

    You weren't too polite, you were incompetent. It is difficult to defend a failed presidency and a failed socialist ideology.

    October 10, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. larry5

    It does not matter what he says he should have done, it only mattered what he did, and that was crash and burn.

    October 10, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. doug

    I will give the President the benefit of the doubt; running for president or being president is like running a marathon every day. I think both President Obama and Gov Romney where civil during the debate. I think that the debate of ideas is a good thing.
    We need more debate and action in our country not the back log that is happening right now. With the back log it does not matter who wins the election. We need to get over our petty differences and do what is best for the country.

    October 10, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Chris M

    And yet again, the trolls jump to the virtual trough of anonymous posting to relish in inflicting insult and misery upon others; that's reality for you. This is who you people really are; out in the real world, anything else is just an act. I think the internet has provided the greatest insight into just how uncivilized civilization actually is.

    Democrats Republicans, Liberal Conservative, we hate each other because we relish that hatred. And that's why the Union of States needs to dissolve, immediately. There /is/ no reconciliation, we've had 20 years of trash talking and worse on both sides. So yeah, time to break apart the US, cash out, and go our separate ways.

    Good riddance.

    October 10, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. John Mann

    The president needs to realize that much of America has an American Idol frame of mind. If you don't do well during a song (or in this case a televised debate) then they vote you down without a care about anything thing else...like actual positions of the candidates or whether one or the other is telling lies.

    October 10, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. larry5

    Maybe the next debate will be more interesting.......

    October 10, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. ryche

    SO funny.. Our president is so immature.. he can't be more than an 11 year old girl... Geez... I love how he calls Romney a liar... Everyone, media included, are all out there pointing to the splinter in Romney's eye, but for some reason, refuse to see the huge tree trunk, sticking out of obamas eye... why is that... sure politicians lie.. ALL OF THEM... they fudge the truth and stretch the numbers.. ALL OF THEM do it.. obama included... he's been lying or stretching the truth for 5 years now... i accept it, and i expect it.. im an adult... but the one lie i cannot agree with is the lie about Libya... and the resulting death of our amassador and 3 others... That is beyond the pale of a normal lie... This should be an impeachable situation and our president should be removed from office for this reason alone... disgusting..

    October 10, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. Davia55

    Too polite! If you're too polite fight for your job, then I'm sure you are unable to fight for "we the people". You said 4 years ago, if you were not able to do the job, you would quit.

    October 10, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Tree

    When everything that comes out of a person mouth are LIES. You are taken and don't know what to say.......Okay next time give him HELL. Romney is not fit to be president for those who just base their vote on the debate alone is foolish.

    October 10, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. SaintM

    Critical thinking, and Romney never lied or manipulated anyone in his life. He is a chameleon. He lives in his father's shadow like McCain and GW Bush. He is not presidential, and the way he's shot his mouth off regarding foreign relations, I doubt anyone will invite him to sit in their presence if he is elected. Romney's makeover is purely facade created and coached by his handlers to swing voters in his camp. Obama tells it like it is, and is not afraid to make mistakes. When Romney makes mistakes with his mouth, he doesn't apologize, he doubles down on his foolishness. He is not a man that will be respected on foreign soil, and he does not have the magic formula of undoing what Obama had the misfortune of inheriting from the last republican president.

    October 10, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Lennie Boyce

    Tell me if I am wrong, but were'nt we losing 7 to 800,000 jobs a month when Obama took office? That means that we were dropping that many jobs leading up to him taking office and I am gonna assume that it would take 8 months or so for any new President"s policies to take affect. Seems to me the guy lost 4 to 5 million jobs from the previous administration before he could scratch his behind. He has now regained all the jobs he did not lose and then some. Some of you people fail to recognize that we were not in an ordinary recession. Do your history homework. Every smart economist has said that only the Great Depression tops the economy Obama inherited. Do you really think any one man could turn that around in a little over 3 years? What he has done is remarkable in my eyes when you factor in that congress can not agree on anything. The wars are not Obama's. He did not cause the economic mess. What he did do was stop it in its tracks and start regaining jobs. I know that there are still a lot of unemployed people out there, but we were headed into the grave before he came in and once again, it has only been 3 true years of his policies. Money had to be spent to stop the free-fall. The wars that he did not start are still costing billions. I think many of you are very ungrateful. If you do not like the man personally, just say it and stop with your BS

    October 10, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Rick CT

    Just more excuses and coverup for the real problem, which he won't admit. His policies have been an economic disaster. Look at the Reagan recovery for what a recovery should look like. In 3 years, double the actual increase in jobs, more than double the GDP growth and a faster drop in the unemployment rate with an increase in the labor force participation rate (not the unprecedented decreased as experienced in the last 3 years).

    October 10, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    And, Barry, you should feel honored that mitts tried so hard to copy YOU, with his Big-Government proposals for Healthcare & Education, and NO cuts for the rich. Mitts almost turned into a Democrat for the night. If anyone could believe him.

    October 10, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. MaryM

    Mr President, Call Mitt and lyin Ryan Out on their Lies.

    October 10, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Paul

    Oh snap here comes the Chicago "BeatEmDown" President that Democrats have been looking for. Get ready to see Mitt turn into a stutter fast as he tries to flip flop in prime time!!

    October 10, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. MyshJ

    What are the lies? Candidate A is told by his advisors what Candidate B believes and trusts their input. Afterall he doesn't have time to check the facts himself. So Candidate A passes around carefully crafted statements about what Candidate B's positions supposedly are, and after a while Candidate A repeats this so often he begins to believe that is what Candidate B actually believes. Candidate A is finally face-to-face with Candidate B, and Candidate B denies what Candidates A is saying about him, so Candidate B lays out what his position actually is and Candidate A is not prepared to defend himself because he doesn't have a teleprompter to read from, and must wait until he confides in his trusted advisors as to how to spin all this. People really should do their own primary research and begin to think for themselves. Really!!

    October 10, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. mark

    Romney will , say, do, and s u c k anybody off to be president

    October 10, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. Obama Blows

    This guy is the biggest sore loser on the planet!

    October 10, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. jon

    That is exactly what happened in the first so-called "debate." Romney pulled a number of things from out of his a.....,
    and then the only choice President Obama had was to simply call the Mittster a liar. So in order to at least not waste a lot of time with that approach, Obama tried to present his plan on the topic being discussed. This whole debate thing is goofy.
    Call this Republicans bald-faced liars and then move on.

    October 10, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Kirk in michigan

    Be an informed voter, dont listen to fox news for crying out loud, a blog By criss, and rob,... do yourself a favor and check out factcheck.com,, then you wont sound as though you dont know whats going on.. sounding demanding and spewing lies is entertainment, foriegn policy, and change for the middle class is something else altogether

    October 10, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. John

    The Politeness was not the biggest problem.......it was the last subject, governance, and even more so your summary....You did not look into the camera and address the American people with passion and sincerity.....I am voting for you either way, because Romney has poor integrity, but if you cannot speak to the American people with sincerity and vision, you have a good chance to lose....Fortunately for you, I don't think that will happen next time.

    October 10, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Maria

    Call him a Liar to his face, because that is what the man is.

    October 10, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Jesse Spina

    Obama!! Get over it and move on!!!

    October 10, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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