President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, were back on the campaign trail Thursday, the day after a debate which most analysts say Romney clearly won. The president is working to recover from a debate performance that disappointed many of his supporters.
Numerous reviews of Wednesday’s debate said Romney appeared relaxed, confident and energetic, while Obama seemed tired, passive and even annoyed.
So when the president made his first campaign speech after the debate, in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday, he started attacking his opponent almost immediately.
“When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," he said.
Obama charged that the former Massachusetts governor, by denying in the debate that he planned to cut $5 trillion in taxes, was switching his positions.
“But it could not 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 favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he did not know anything about that," said Obama.
Romney said Wednesday he had no plans to reduce the share of taxes paid by upper income Americans. He promised to focus on the middle class, which he said had been devastated during Obama’s term.
“High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They will do fine whether you are president or I am. The people who are having the hard time right now are middle income Americans. Under the president's policies, middle income Americans have been buried. They are just being crushed," said Romney.
Some Democrats have faulted the president for refraining, during the debate, from criticizing Romney’s leadership of Bain Capital, a company they say moved American jobs overseas. Obama resumed those attacks on Thursday, while also taking a jab at the governor’s wealth.
“Never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He said that if it is true, he must need a new accountant. Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney, because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant," he said.
After leaving Denver, the president goes on to Madison, Wisconsin, before returning to Washington. Friday’s schedule includes campaign appearances in the swing states of Virginia and Ohio.
Romney and his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, also returned to the campaign trail Thursday, with a stop scheduled in Virginia.
Polls showing that a large number of voters believe Romney won Wednesday’s debate will add to the pressure on Vice President Joe Biden when he meets Congressman Ryan in their debate October 11.
President Obama will also face increased pressure when he faces Romney for the second of their three debates October 16. The final debate takes place October 22.
Kim Li, a junior at Denver University, watches the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on an outdoor screen at Denver University in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, listens to President Barack Obama during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver.
President Barack Obama smiles at moderator Jim Lehrer during the first presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the University of Denver.
Moderator Jim Lehrer speaks to the audience at the start of the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Denver.
Mitt Romney smiles at President Barack Obama during the first presidential debate.
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver.
Jessica Johnston (holding sign) watches the first 2012 presidential debate on an outdoor screen at Denver University in Denver, Colorado.
Dawn, left, and Randy Cornell, watch the presidential debate at the United Steelworkers Local 4856 Union Hall in Henderson, Nevada.
With a broadcast of the presidential debate reflected in a mirror above the bar, customers at the Havana Social Club in Seattle watch President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney debate.
Harriet Garrett reacts while watching the first Presidential debate between Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and President Barack Obama at a restaurant in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.
President Barack Obama (R) listens as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the debate in Denver.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver.
Mitt Romney and his wife Ann wave to the crowd following the debate.