WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Campaign advisers to President Barack Obama promised on Sunday he would be more aggressive and energetic on Tuesday in his second debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney after a passive, heavily criticized performance in their first showdown.
Since that first debate in Denver on October 3, polls indicate Romney has erased Obama’s lead heading into the November 6 election. Obama and Romney debate again on Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The third and final presidential debate will take place on October 22 in Florida.
“Obviously, the president was disappointed in his own performance. He didn’t meet his expectations,” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs told the CNN program “State of the Union,” referring to the first debate.
“He knew when he walked off that stage and he also knew as he’s watched the tape of that debate that he’s got to be more energetic. I think you’ll see somebody who’s very passionate about the choice that our country faces – and putting that choice in front of voters,” Gibbs added.
The Romney team sounded unimpressed. “Well, the president can change his style. He can change his tactics. He can’t change his record. And he can’t change his policies. And that’s what this election is about,” Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie told CNN.
“I think the race is very close. I think the wind is at Governor Romney’s back, and there’s clearly momentum. You can see it on the trail, you can see it in the data,” Gillespie said in a separate appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
In contrast to Obama’s listless debate performance, Vice President Joe Biden was far more assertive in his debate on Thursday night with Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan in Danville, Kentucky.
Another Obama campaign adviser, David Axelrod, told the “Fox News Sunday” program: “I think he’s going to be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country, a country that’s built around a growing, thriving middle class, not this top-down theory that Governor Romney has.”
“But the other thing he’s going to certainly do – I mean, we saw Governor Romney sort of serially walk away from his own proposals – certainly the president is going to be willing to challenge him on it as we saw the vice president challenge Paul Ryan,” Axelrod said.
(Reporting and editing by Vicki Allen and Will Dunham)