Obama says he was ‘too polite’ in first debate with Romney

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday that he was "just too polite" in his first debate with Mitt Romney—a new explanation for the incumbent's widely panned performance in that prime-time political bout.

"What happened in the debate? Everybody wants to know," radio host Tom Joyner asked Obama. "Was that some kind of genius strategy to rope-a-dope him in?"

The president ducked the Muhammad Ali comparison but said, "I think it's fair to say I was just too polite." He promised to be more combative at the second and third debates, to be held on Oct. 16 and 22. "We're going to take it to him."

Obama sought to reassure panicked Democrats who have watched as postdebate polls seem to show the race now narrowly in Romney's favor in battleground states.

"This was always going to be a close race," Obama insisted. "Gov. Romney kept on making mistakes month after month, so it made it look artificially like this was, might end up being a cakewalk. But we understood internally that it never would be."

"The good thing is that we've got a lead and, Tom, you guys know a little bit about basketball. You know, you have a seven-game series, we're up two-zero and we lose one" he said.

Joyner cut him off: "Yeah, but you had the open shot and you didn't take it!"

"Yeah, I understand, but you know, what happens though is that when people lose one game, you know, this is a long haul," Obama said. "It's very important for folks to just make sure that they understand that as long as people stay focused we will win this thing.

"By next week I think a lot of the hand-wringing will be complete, because we're going to go ahead and win this thing," Obama said.

Obama tried to explain away his subdued performance in the debate.

"It's hard to sometimes just keep on saying, 'What you're saying isn't true,'" he said."It gets repetitive."

"But, you know, the good news is, is that's just the first one," the president said. "And, you know, I think it's fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one."