President Barack Obama spent Thursday firing off the lines he missed in his debate with Mitt Romney the previous night, AFP reported.
Obama pounded out attacks at big rallies in Colorado and Wisconsin and was energetic, combative and concise, the opposite of the subdued and long-winded candidate outpointed by Romney on Wednesday night.
The president beseeched voters not to be duped by the suave debater seen by 67 million television viewers, but to focus on the "real Mitt Romney" who he said promised tax cuts for the rich and cared little for teachers.
"If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth," Obama was quoted by AFP as having told supporters anxious not to see him fritter away his opinion poll lead with less than five weeks to go before election day.
He sought to capitalize on openings he missed on Wednesday against the well prepared Romney, including his vow to end government subsidies for PBS television, the stomping ground of famed Sesame Street character Big Bird.
"He would get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's gonna crack down on Sesame Street. Thank goodness somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird," Obama said in Madison, Wisconsin.
Obama also leapt on Romney's comment Wednesday that he had never heard of a tax break for companies that ship jobs overseas, and would need a new accountant if it was true.
"He seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant," he said, poking fun at Romney's complex offshore tax arrangements, which Democrats highlight to press the case he is indifferent to middle-class struggles.
Meanwhile, AFP reported, Romney celebrated his debate victory with a surprise visit to a conservative conference in the Colorado city of Denver, and warned Obama's economic policies would take America down a slippery slope to the fate of debt-laden Europe.
"I saw the president's vision as trickle-down government and I don't think that's what America believes in," Romney said. "I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom."
Obama aides admitted that they needed to have a "hard look" at their strategy before the next debate on October 16.
Obama advisor David Plouffe played down the idea that Romney's slick performance would reset a race in which Obama leads national polls and in the key battlegrounds.
"While Governor Romney might have put forth a performance that's graded as an aggressive one last night, we don't think that that fundamentally alters the race," Plouffe told AFP.
"I would just humbly suggest you cast your gaze to places like Ohio and Iowa and New Hampshire, and see if the race structurally changes," he added.
Analysts have said that Romney was the clear winner of the first debate. An instant CNN poll taken after the first debate found that 67% of Americans agree with the analysts and believe that Romney was the winner.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer praised Romney for his performance during the debate, saying, “Romney won big… He won by two touchdowns.”
“You know when a challenger steps up on the stage, that gives stature, but when he performs the way Romney did, I think it really changes,” Krauthammer told Fox news. “It doesn’t change the game, but it changes the momentum.”