* Obama insists fundamentals of race haven't changed
* Republicans tie Obama's slide to "bad four years"
WASHINGTON Oct 10 President Barack Obama said
on Wednesday he was "too polite" in a presidential debate that
stunned many of his supporters and re-energized Republican rival
Mitt Romney's campaign, and promised a more aggressive approach
in the two remaining encounters.
The latest polls show Romney has erased Obama's once
substantial lead and made it a dead heat in the final stretch to
the Nov. 6 election in the wake of last week's debate that the
Republican was widely judged to have won handily.
"I think it's fair to say I was just too polite," Obama said
on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" radio program. "But, you know,
the good news is that's just the first one. ... I think it's
fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next
Obama insisted the "fundamentals" of the race for the White
House remained unchanged despite a "bad night" for him.
"Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night," Obama
told the "ABC World News" program in his first television
interview since the Oct. 3 face-off in Denver.
"It's not the first time I've had a bad night. But I think
what's important is the fundamentals of what this race is about
haven't changed," Obama said as he sought to play down the
overall impact. "You know, Governor Romney went to a lot of
trouble to try to hide what his positions are."
The Romney camp said it was not just a single sluggish
performance that explained the president's slide in the polls.
"We heard from President Obama that he believed he had a
'bad night' during the first debate, but in reality, he's had a
bad four years and the American people suffered because of it,"
Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll released on
Wednesday, Romney has pulled ahead of Obama in the race for the
first time in more than a month and leads 45 percent to 44
percent among likely voters.
Pressed by "ABC World News" anchor Diane Sawyer for an
explanation of what went wrong in the first of three
presidential debates, Obama appeared reluctant to offer much
"Maybe this is because I played a lot of sports when I was a
kid, and still do," he said. "If you have a bad game, you just
move on. You look forward to the next one. And it makes you that
much more determined. The difference between this and sports is
that the stakes are so high."
Asked flat-out whether his debate performance had handed the
election to Romney, Obama said, "No."
Sawyer then asked him whether he believed he would win.
"Yes," he said.
"You want it more than the first time?" she asked.
"Absolutely," Obama replied.
Obama's aides have acknowledged he will make some
adjustments for the next debate - a townhall-style event in
Hofstra University in New York state on Tuesday.
They have hinted he will use a more aggressive approach
after even his own supporters criticized him for being too
passive in Denver.