GOP debate spin: Romney looked presidential; the president did not

Despite an emerging consensus that President Obama bested Mitt Romney in the third and final debate of the 2012 presidential election, the GOP is not ceding an inch in the post-debate spin war, arguing that Romney's measured, circumspect performance passed the "commander-in-chief test," and that the President's sustained assault on Mitt Romney was "not presidential."

The evening's victor, at least according to the snap polls conducted just after the event's conclusion, is not in much dispute. According to a CNN poll, 48 percent of registered voters scored Obama the winner, compared to 40 percent for Romney. And a CBS News poll of undecided voters gave Obama a 2-to-1 victory, with 53 percent of respondents declaring an Obama win, and only 23 percent saying the same for Romney.

By comparison, after the first debate, widely considered a strong evening for Mitt Romney, the same CBS poll reflected a 46 to 22 percent victory for the Republican, a sizable margin that was nonetheless smaller than the president's yawning 30-point lead in last night's snap poll.

But to hear the GOP's post-debate spin, you'd think that Romney had a stellar evening. There was none of the pandemonium and hand-wringing that gripped Democrats and their allies in the media after Romney's commanding performance in the first debate.

Instead, Romney's campaign claimed victory as surrogates and conservative media figures circled the wagons.

"Last night, Mitt Romney convincingly won the debate, because the American people saw an experienced executive and leader with a strong command of foreign policy who could be the next commander-in-chief," said Romney's campaign in a Tuesday morning statement.

"Obviously a very good night for Governor Romney," declared Romney senior advisor Ed Gillespie in the spin room after the debate. "The momentum will continue. The American people saw someone who had serious policies to help make our country be stronger when it comes to our foreign policy and our national security."