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. mannycl

    The Democrats should stick to the Big Bird issue. It's much better than the President's record.

    October 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. cccccc

    Who is he going to blame if he gets elected? BUSH?

    October 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. 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 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. al in memphis

    You can still be polite and tell someone they are lying. Romney has already put on record what he said he would do. Even his challengers in the primary were surprise by how he changed but not changed his positions.
    Most of these comments really tell me there should be a third person in this race. Romney, Obama and the anyone but Obama candidate

    October 10, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Abbot

    Polite? He was agitated and angry. He also cut off Jim Leaher multiple times.

    October 10, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. jersey_boy_weeee

    I have never heard of so many excuses for one man's failed performance.
    It really does remind you of the great Costanza lie. (look it up)
    Best one so far was Rev. Al saying Obama and the Dem's wanted Obama to act sleeply so Romney would just say stuff that made no sense. Too funny Rev.

    October 10, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. lindaluttrell

    As hyper as Mittens was in that last debate, yes, go on the offensive and pin him DOWN every time he tries to whip-flop on the issues. He was rude, interrupting like it was the boardroom for a hostile takeover instead of a debate. Look him dead in the eye and S M I L E while you're doing it. Call his hand on the interruptions...and the lies...

    October 10, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. Kareen

    Obama being too polite was my first comment to friends but that doesn't work with Republicans these days.
    Obama/Biden 2012
    All the best from Canada LOL

    October 10, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. rosie

    Sadly when one is polite these days people tend to think you are an imbecile or worse, a Democrat.

    October 10, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Sarah

    Oh please, spare me the whining you are doing. As much as I know you hate to admit it, you already know OBAMA will be win his 2nd term. Get a grip people. Romney is sell you a check that you will not be able to CASH!! You is on the wrong wagon jump off and listen to his crap then you will understand.

    October 10, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. MajorRumpRoaster

    Well I can give a little credit to Obama for fessing up that all he does is lie and constantly apologizes to our enemies.

    October 10, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. Susan

    Obama has never been polite to anyone who disagrees with him.

    October 10, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Andrew

    I want to see Stewart v O'Reilly quality debating by these candidates so Obama better get his act together and Romney needs to stop lying out of his ass.

    October 10, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. jack fitzgerald

    100%? what a crock. "I was too polite." How lamo!! From my perspective, the President was mean spirited and divisive throwing his class warfare quips out, "the rich are not being taxed!" "Exxon is getting huge subisies!" and Romney was very courteous. I don't believe Rmney insulted anyone unlike the President.

    Nice try to spin things Axelrod and Emanual and the rest of the guys spewing bs for the Obama campaign. The bottom line is the President simply was not even close to knowing the issues to where he couls calmly explain his positions. It was not good. It was telling though in that I honestly do not think Barrack Obama in 2012 truly wants to do put the time in which is called for to solve the myriad of complex issues facing our nation today. In other points in our history, a bit of an empty suit/entertainer type President would not hurt us, but our current times are perilous unfortunately and we need leadership and someone willing to work with everyone for the good of the nation and to me, and this is just me, Romney is so much stronger and well reasoned.

    This comment from the President that he was too polite or that Big Bird is mad just typifies that he is an entertainenr, wanting to crack a good joke; not a serious leader preoccupies with solving the significant issues confronting the orld's most powerful country. Right?

    October 10, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. delos

    When your dealing with a smuck, all you have to do is keep calling him on his comments, to explain them, and Rommley
    iis a world class smuck.

    October 10, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Either or....

    Too polite...unconscious. Same thing.

    October 10, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. Anne S.

    Really in polite? That's because he didn't know what to say. Too much partying, running around with his Hollywood croonies, being on TV, etc. Instead of paying attention to his duties. Has nothing between his ears, except pure air. His change is that he don't have any.

    October 10, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |

    You were waaaay to polite Mr. President. If I would have debated Romney I would have mopped the floor with him, his words were all full of holes and no substance on anything. If anything you could have even said that he is trying to take your positions on some things. The guy is a used car salesman that will say and do anything to win, don’t be polite just because he is smiling in your face. I mean, we all have tons of counters for everything he said, I understand you wanted to communicate with us the people by looking into the camera, but when someone attacks with lies, and changes his positions on the fly you call them out on it and defend yourself. The truth will set you free. I am rooting for you and still am voting for you but that debate was terrible, with all due respect.

    Obama/Biden 2012


    October 10, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Hoosier53

    gimme a break – "I'm just such a nice guy, that's why I don't have any ideas, plans, directives of my own... My only compaign plan is to yell 'LIAR.' Romney just confused me so, I didn't know what to say ...'cause ya know – I'm just such a nice guy."

    October 10, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. EdR

    Vote Romney.. and send this country down the crapper like you mean it. Just like his strategy. Say it like you mean it. Doesn't matter if it's the truth, doesn't matter if its the opposite of what you just said. Just say it like you mean it and people will jump on the band wagon because they think you've got courage and conviction. So I say screw it. Lets vote Romney and end the entire debate about whether or not we are past our prime and heading for the likes of the Roman empire. Lets all support Romney, and just flush this place right down the crapper and get it over with.

    October 10, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. FCSL1

    It is unfortunate that they are only allowing pro Obama messages here. None of my posts are getting through just "waiting for moderation".

    October 10, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Dirty Dan

    Whatever. Mitt just looked and sounded better than you. You got outperformed.

    October 10, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Wade

    Oh Please now I have heard everything. Obama too polite to debate! WOW. Obama the master hate monger and liar was too polite. The man who pits one group against another and sells envy and hate like ice cream to children was too polite. At least he is blaming indirectly himself even while trying to pat himself on the back. What a loser he is.

    October 10, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. JJ

    Using a dylan lyric to support romney? You don't see the irony in that? Do a little research and you'll find that he's singing about the cowards at Bain who we're getting away from.

    Also, after digging us out of the massive hole Bush left for us and a Republican Congress blocking every bill for their own political gain, we need someone like Obama who actually has a vision of progress. Romney dissing Obama's clean energy initiatives....now there's progress for you!

    October 10, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. just_a_moderate

    Mitt won that debate. He won a bounce.

    But Mitt basically gave them 2 weeks worth of attack ads. He walked back everything he stood for.

    If that was a rope-a-dope strategy, that was the smartest move ever. Otherwise, it was an ugly debate for Obama.

    Either way, he's basically unrestricted in debates 2 and 3. Whereas Gore came across like a jerk by being aggressive right away with W, Obama now can be aggressive, call out the lies, and not have the normal risks of getting into the trenches with a challenger.

    I think we could be looking at two extremely interesting debates.

    October 10, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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