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. josh rogen

    maybe they'll allow a TelePrompter in the next debate

    October 10, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. nanner

    I taught third graders for years and the president was VERY rude by not looking at the speaker. Who has poor manners?

    October 10, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. nintex

    Get those boxing gloves on, Mr. President, and let him have it between the eyes! Knock his block off! You have the facts on your side and you can take him apart with them vs. the lies he tells over and over. Don't let him get away with anything! Nail him to the wall! No more Mr. Nice Guy! Go President Obama! (And all this from a fairly peace-loving person!)

    October 10, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. JJ

    Funny (not really) how when they lose "he's a liar" or "I'm too polite" is the excuse (he's never been accused of being too polite before). Now CNN trying to make a story about abortion when all else fails. I heard Romney say numerous times during primary debates (and taking heat for it) that 'rich are doing fine' and he'd cut middle class tax rates instead. He should just play clips of that when called 'liar' on that issue...

    October 10, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. RealityBites

    Obama looked and acted like he didn't want to be there. Clearly Obama believes he has all the right answers, and doesn't need to be questioned by Romney, Congress, the media or you and me.

    October 10, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. David C

    De-nial is not only a river in Egypt Mr. President

    October 10, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Joe Schmoe

    That's awesome. So to win the debate, the President doesn't feel his ideas or record or policies were to blame. All he needs to do to win is be more aggressive and change his style. Policies and well thought out plans are useless. It's all about appearance and style. No wonder America is on such a sharp decline!

    October 10, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. CNNuthin

    We all saw that. But not much you can do when arguing with a man so wrapped up in his lies and imaginary world, brought on by, I suspect too much Ephedra Tea, to even change his prepared statements after it was pointed out 8 times to be false. Romney thinks Obamacare is Romneycare with a Death Council...or he wants the rest of us to believe that.

    October 10, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Just like believing an alcoholic

    Woman forgive their drinking husbands because they think he will change. He says he will but he always goes back and does it again. No different for Mittins. He lies and some people think he means what he says but he wont change. The people of Massachutsetts know he won't change. That's why in his home state he is sooooo far behind in the polls. He is even lying about his record there. Wake up people. We don't need America representative by the Liar in Chief and advocate for the 1% against the 99%. If you think that is not the case than either you are the drinker or the fool that thinks he will change. No more Bush War policies and no more giving poluters and tax cheats a free pass. Obama 2012

    October 10, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. clarke

    It won't make any difference what he does, there are people who just plain don't like him. I really believe because he doesn't look white.

    October 10, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. theINDEPENDENTone

    Really too Polite? Is that the new definition of Lazy and Incompetent?

    October 10, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. RasPutin

    What Obama must learn is that Americans don't like a leader who won't stand up for his convictions. They don't want a compromiser or a consensus maker, they want someone who will follow through on his word.
    Whether they agreed with his positions or not, they expected Obama to:
    – End the Iraq war immediately
    – Close Gitmo
    – pass healthcare with a public option
    – try terrorists in NYC
    – drive through a jobs plan
    and to he11 with the whiners in opposition!

    October 10, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. JM

    Thugs?? Hhmmm – I just saw a story about an actress (african american actress) who is being villified by the thugs on the left for endorsing Romney. The left seems to think it's not thuggery when they villify someone simply because that person dared to disagree with them by exercising numerous of their rights (their right to vote, to free speech, to liberty, etc.) Let's all get a grip and acknowledge that both sides have problems and both sides need to do a better job at being fair and honest.

    October 10, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Rob

    Obama 2012!!

    October 10, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. migeli

    Energy companies got your tongue?

    October 10, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Luke,AZ

    President Obama won the debate, period. Gov Romney based his presentation on complete falsehoods. How can someone win a debate based on lies and rudeness. President Obama was civil,polite and played by the rules of the debate. The strategy for the Obama team was to let Gov Romney flip-flop as much as he wanted. One week after the debate Romney's lack of substance and facts are finally being disected. Do you want a person in the White House who has no core convictions and will say or do anything with his hand on the red button. Rick Santorum said it best, that Romney is the worst candidate to go up against President Obama.

    October 10, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. unknown11

    And now for today's excuse of the day, "I was just being polite."

    Romney was polite too. But he won. If you cannot win and be polite, then maybe you are not much of a leader.

    October 10, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  18. Mark

    America wake up and defeat Obama at the polls – that is where it will hurt this ideology the most – to see Americans actually think for themselves and to believe in prosperity, not dependency. Send a message to the liberal democrats that their philosophy is not America's philosophy. That their ideals are not America's ideals. That their corrupt and dependency driven mantra no longer hypnotizes us!!!!

    October 10, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. GNUNN3

    In my mind the President of the United States should at all time conduct themselves Presidential. Not overly arrogant but if you did know how he was, you could pick the him out just by obsevering the room for a few minutes. I don't need WWF style shenanigans but need some passion. I did not see or hear that in the debates.

    October 10, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. 90909090

    Obama you simply have no substance and your were "a deer in headlights"

    October 10, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. demwit

    Hey! Maybe its related to the White House's newest beer reciept bottled last week.., you know how Obama and Uncle Joe like their beer! Those dirty republican chefs...

    October 10, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. RasPutin

    What Obama must learn is that Americans don't like a leader who won't stand up for his convictions. They don't want a compromiser or a consensus maker, they want someone who will follow through on his word.
    Whether they agreed with his positions or not, they expected Obama to:
    – End the Iraq war immediately
    – Close Gitmo
    – pass healthcare with a public option
    – try terrorists in NYC
    – drive through a jobs plan
    and to heck with the whiners in opposition!

    October 10, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Mark C. Williams

    @Valentina: Thank you, he will, and he'll still look presidential, despite yourself and your comment to the contrary.

    October 10, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. rrd

    A week later Obama is still talking about the debate and bashing Romney. Wonder when he'll start talking about his plans if he's reelected.

    October 10, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I just read a an article that asked "will Romney debate bounce last?

    Well, let me see if I get this right...

    Mitt Romney has gained significant ground in the national polls simply because President Obama did not attack him on Bain Capital? On outsourcing Americans jobs? On laying off American workers? On calling for the auto industry to go bankrupt? On paying less taxes than the middle class? On saying its not his job to worry about 47% of the American people? On saying that he's not concerned about the poor because there's a safety net for them? On saying he likes to fire people? On refusing to say where he stands on equal pay for equal work? On Massachusetts being 47th in job growth? On saying its not worth moving heaven and earth to find Bin Laden?

    So doesn't President Obama get any credit at all for stabilizing the American economy? For saving the auto industry? For creating 5.2 million private sector jobs and saving 2.2 million public sector jobs? For making healthcare affordable for all Americans? For reforming Wall Street and safeguarding against another catastrophic economic meltdown? For ending the Iraqi war? For setting a deadline to end the Afghan war? For working to strenghten the middle class? For governing for women, senios, gays and lesbians, students, our men and women in uniform and all Americans as a whole? For strenghtening our national security by getting rid of Osama Bin Laden and many other al Qaeda operatives?

    Obama/Biden 2012!

    October 10, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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