Obama: I was "too polite" in debate

Some Democrats describe President Obama's performance during the debate with Mitt Romney as listless and lackluster. Campaign officials are reexamining their strategy for the next debate, reports Nancy Cordes. MANDEL NGAN

President Obama on Tuesday acknowledged he wasn't at his best in last week's presidential debate, telling radio host Tom Joyner he was "too polite" -- but the president pledged that "we're going to go ahead and win" the next one.

"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," the president said, when asked what happened at the debate. "It gets repetitive. But, you know, the good news is, is that's just the first one. Governor 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."

Questioned on why he "had the open shot and ... didn't take it" in last week's debate, the president said "I understand, but you know, what happens though is that when people lose one game, you know, this is a long haul."

"I think it's fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one," he said. "But keep in mind that, you know, the issues that are at stake for folks haven't changed. You know? We've got millions of people who've got health care right now because of our health care bill. And they won't have it if Mitt Romney is elected president."

The president also protested the idea that he had the election locked down going into the debate.

"This is always going to be a close race," he said. "Governor 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. That it was going to tight- it tightened over the last three or four days, but it could have tightened after the convention if they hadn't had such a bad convention."

He added: "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."

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