Obama on debate: 'I was just too polite'
October 10th, 2012
01:37 PM ET
9 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. SC from Canada

    WOW...I've read a few posts here completely lambasting Obama.

    Do you Americans prefer a person who is trying to get the job say anything that suits the moment. It seems to me that Romney will say whatever it is he needs to say to get elected. It changes daily. This is coming from a Canadian watching this at a distance.

    I will give Obama credit, at least you know what he stands for whether you agree with him or not. If you end up electing Romney, mark my words, you will find a totally different person with a different agenda than the person who campaigned.

    October 10, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Ruthie

    I wouldn't have been as polite as he was, and I'm not fighting for my job and for the nation.

    October 10, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. Detada

    I just don't recall ever being polite to someone I knew was aggressively trying to take my job. Civility has its place and this ain't one of them.

    October 10, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Kathy Mills

    If I was debating the guy and every time he opened his mouth it was a lie; I too would have been taken aback and not sure how to respond. I can not wait until the next debate. Go OBAMA Go! and I have never been so disappointed in the voters in Ohio; that they would vote for Rhomney or the vote would be even close in the polls.....after all the president has done for such ungrateful people. Shame on Ohio the President deserves far better from you!

    October 10, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    And Mittens was "just too false."

    I'll take my chances with polite.

    October 10, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. theTrue

    Win like a man.
    Lost like a man.
    Don't lie.

    October 10, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Dave

    Even Jon Stewart recognizes that Obama needs the teleprompter.

    October 10, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Pete

    Pres.Obama was polite,was presidencial but the gloves are off for the next debate and Romney better be on his game this time..These so called Rinos on these sites get me sick,they're for Romney now but Pres.Obama before because he couldn't correct the screwups in 4 years what your republican so called businessman in Bush did in 8,in denile and are losers as well aren't yah!!Try reading up on your new boy Romney,he's got a pretty bad record in business crippling corporations before scrapping them sending jobs,businesses overseas as he was as a governor of Massachusetts who destroyed his government records,harddrives,wonder what was on those files that he got rid of,just more incriminating evidence that shows he's a loser,a Mormon one at that!!So good luck on your Mormon moron,he's yours and you're stuck with him,losers voting for losers its been inherient since the start of American democracy and you sadly know it!!

    October 10, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. robert

    Polite – You mean by railroading Jim Lehrer when he meekly was asking you to stay within the time limits and you just rambled on well over the allotted time. I saw an arrogance there Mr. President and I actually was upset with Romney as he had a glaze-eyed, angelical look when listening to your responses. I wished that both Romney and Lehrer had pounded you for standing there speaking over the time limits. Hopefully, Romney can once again rise to the occasion and box you into a corner.

    October 10, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. paintpaintpaint

    You got THAT right, Mr. President! Here's some other ways to say "That's Not True".....
    1. "Well, we've heard you say the exact opposite Mr. Romney – which side of your mouth should we believe?"
    2. "AGAIN! Flip flopping didn't help John Kerry, and it won't help you, Mitt..."
    3. "Whoa! Didn't you say the EXACT opposite of that just recently? How can the American People believe ANYTHING you say?
    4. "My mother would have washed my mouth out with soap for lying, Mr. Romney... you should be glad she's not in the audience..."
    5. "How many ways can you bend the truth, Mr. Romney?"
    6. AGAIN!? Stop changing your position – both Democrats and Republicans deserve to know how you feel!"
    7. Your response to the 47% tape sounded a LOT like you were sorry you got caught.

    I could go on and on..... BE there, Mr. President. He's giving you a lot of materials!

    October 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. SJM

    "it's hard to sometimes just keep on saying and what you're saying isn't true". Well, Mitt didn't have any problem saying it to you. It's only "hard" you can't enforce your assertions of "lies" with actual "facts". The fact of the matter is, you hate Romney so much you couldn't even look at him, you are so use to everyone agreeing with you that the first time he said you were wrong, you about fainted. You were so convinced that the picture your campaign had painted was true that you weren't in the least prepared for reality. Time to pull your head out and look up. You're naked and everyone has noticed!

    October 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. druffmaul

    You certainly were too polite Mr. President, but that was the least of your problems up there. The real problem was that you were practically asleep, and Romney was on fire. Sure, he was spouting lies and bulls*** from every orifice of his body, but the average US citizen doesn't care about that. All they care about is who looked and sounded more confidant and dominant. You lost, sir. Please bring your A game next time.

    October 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. vhalen

    Obama looked like he had no answers...The day after, all he can say is Romney lied. Only after Axelrod pointed out things to point at.

    I say, if Romney lies, challenge it on the spot. Sitting fat, dumb, and happy behind the debate lectern without a clue and a teleprompter...and then suddenly talking big the next day means nothing.

    I don't know who tells the truth and who doesn't cause of spin...what I saw is Obama coudn't challenge anything on the debate stage face to face. Romney looked like he had things to say, had explanations, cited studies, and came across with a stance on issues...vs. Obama's stance of wishing it was over, and or that he had Axelrod speaking to him with an ear piece.

    October 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. God Bless America

    I understand Mr dear President. Politeness was one of the qualities I like in you. But please call him a liar if you have to but make him accountable for all his lies!!

    October 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Obama is comparing himself to RMoney. I would say Obama WAS polite but not TOO polite. RMoney was RUDE. This is why I am in that 9% minority who thinks the debate was a tie. While RMoney was a blowhard, talking over the moderator to finish his forced, canned speeches, Obama was quietly speaking truths when it was his turn to talk. BLOWHARD lies looked MACHO while quiet truths looked WIMPY. They cancelled each other, IMHO.

    October 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Get Real

    Obama looked completely detached from reality at the debate, the sun was in his eyes apparently, what a buffoon.

    October 10, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. BigTBone


    Put these loons in their place, Mr. President.

    You and D ticket all the way down to my effin water commissioner.

    October 10, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. josh

    Do we live in an alternative universe where Romney can deny or change any view , anything he says..is there no videotape ...this guy changes opinions like the rest of us change underwear...I mean facts are facts ..here we have the guy left of Ted kennendy who became the severe conservative who refuses to release his tax returns hides money overseas lowers his donationsso he keep the lie of paying 13% taxes alive, runs on lowering taxes that everyone including him says will cost 5 trillion plus increas defense spending and cannot name one thing he will cut ....prochoice then prolife progay then antigay ...demeans 47% of our society in which many of them find themselves in that group due to the exact policies romney will double down on ...and then healthcare ..where he runs against himself and then oh wait we will have pre existing conditions oh wait no we won't...I must admit I do not know what happened to Obama that debate night ...I could have done better ...but there is no facts or logic in todays politics ..but the country will be worse off with a spineless Romneyin office rubberstamping the antiscience anti knowedge antifreedom right wing wingnuts that were swept in to congress by the foolishness of the american public listening to the cacaphony of right wing liars and spinners

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

    I find it offensive that the winner of the debate seems to be decided by who was the rudest. Romney was a horrible debater, didn't say anything to defend or define his stances, yet he yelled the loudest so he won?

    October 10, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. Newme1

    Mr. President, please do not be polite at the next 2 debates. Take the gloves off and play dirty like Mitt. We are counting on you to fight for the middle class. Besides, Mitt doesn't deserve to be treated politely, he's a full-fledged flip flopping, lying bully.

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

    I agree with Lynn, you can't be polite with thugs. Aggressively stick to the truth and facts of what Mittens is lying about. Oh wait, you'll need a LOT more than 2 minutes.....

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

    ...too polite? ...right – once out of sight you start calling Romney a liar!

    ...you're just too lame!

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

    Anybody that thinks Obama is wimp, stick around.

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

    As Newt Gingrich stated. It's hard to debate Romney when he lies so much. Newt even admitted Romney lied about his tax cut in the first debate. So yea stop being polite. You can't be polite to a liar.

    October 10, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. freedom

    Since when has he ever been polite?? Oh yes – now I remember – to all the countries who want to destroy us.

    October 10, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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