In the wake of poor reviews of President Barack Obama’s performance during the first presidential debate, Democrats have poured out over the airwaves in defense of the president. Former vice president Al Gore went so far as to blame the high altitude of Denver for the president’s experience during a broadcast on his own Current TV.
“I’m going to say something controversial here,” Gore warned his listeners. “Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today – just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust – I don’t know…”
Seemingly sharing Gore’s sentiment, Gore’s guest, comedian and political commentator John Fugelsang, chimed in on his own mile high experience. “The first time I ever did stand-up in Denver, I had the same exact effect,” he said. “I flew in that day and your lungs aren’t acclimated to that kind of air, yea, it makes you drawn, it makes you off. The president had an off night.”
Those not looking to shift the blame criticized Obama’s lack of vitriol in attacking Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as he stuck to campaign rhetoric. Though Wednesday’s debate was just the first of three between the two candidates, Romney made his presence felt as a serious contender, while analysts felt that the president seemed too reserved.
“Obama’s performance was so disengaged,” wrote David Frum, a speech writer for former president George W. Bush. “I was left to wonder: had that Daily Caller/Fox News tape got inside his head? Was he so determined not to look like an angry black man that he ended up looking … kind of like a wimp?”
Even after taking an apparent loss in the eyes of the media, Obama’s camp has chalked the president’s approach up to strategy. During a call with reporters on Thursday morning, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod suggested that the president had chosen to speak directly to voters, rather than the opposing candidate.
“[Obama] made a choice last night to answer the questions last night that were asked and to talk to the American people about what we need to do to move forward,” Axelrod said, “not to get into serial fact checking with Governor Romney, which can be an exhausting, never- ending pursuit.”
The next debate between the presidential candidates is scheduled for October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, at a much lower altitude.