US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally in
Denver, Colorado. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President Barack Obama has come out swinging against
Republican rival Mitt Romney after a lacklustre performance in
their first debate forced the Democrat's aides to talk of
"adjustments" to his campaign.
Dressed casually in khakis and a jacket, Obama told a rally
of some 12,000 people in Denver, Colorado the former
Massachusetts governor was untruthful during their 90-minute
debate, which most observers said the Republican won.
"When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow
who claimed to be Mitt Romney," Obama said.
"But it couldn't have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt
Romney has been running around the country for the last year
promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favour the wealthy.
The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything
Obama's campaign has pressed Romney for months over his
support for extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy,
which the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated could cost
$5 trillion over 10 years. Romney rejected that figure at the
debate and insisted his plans would not increase the deficit.
The Democratic president was criticised for not pushing back
aggressively against his rival during the debate. He adopted
an assertive posture on Thursday, however, taking Romney to
task on everything from education policy to outsourcing.
"The real Mitt Romney said we don't need any more teachers in
our classrooms. But ... the fellow on stage last night he
loves teachers - can't get enough of them," Obama said.
"The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were
called 'pioneers' of outsourcing jobs to other countries. But
the guy on stage last night, he said he doesn't even know
that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing."
Obama's senior campaign strategist, David Axelrod, said the
campaign would adjust its strategy as a result of the debate.
"We are going to take a hard look at this and we are going to
have to make some adjustments as to where to draw the lines n
these debates and how to use our time," Axelrod told
"It's like ... playoffs in sports, you evaluate after every
contest and you make adjustments and I am sure that we will
make adjustments. I don't see us adding huge amounts of
additional prep time. I think there are some strategic
adjustments that have to be made and we'll make them."
Obama also zeroed in on Romney's comments about the deficit,
particularly his pledge to cut funding for public television
and a popular children's show character known as Big Bird.
"When (Romney) was asked what he'd actually do to cut the
deficit and reduce spending, he said he'd eliminate funding
for public television. That was his answer," Obama said.
"I mean, thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on
Big Bird! It's about time. We didn't know that Big Bird was
driving the federal deficit."