The surprisingly lackluster performance by the president in the first debate has his supporters scratching their heads.
Chris Matthews said, “Where was Obama tonight? I don't know what he was doing out there. He had his head down he looked like he was enduring the debate instead of fighting it.”
The president was back on the campaign trail Thursday, doing damage control. But Governor Romney’s supporters are jubilant.
Rudy Giuliani said, “Governor Romney was the teacher and President Obama was the student taking notes and searching for his teleprompter.”
The president's strategists were left to put the best spin forward.
David Axelrod said, “I'm happy to give Mitt Romney points for energetically attacking the president. Tomorrow he's going to have to explain some of the things he said tonight.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, “This is the American presidency, not American Gladiator.”
Former Vice President Al Gore claimed the altitude in the mile high city put the president off his game.
With all the talk of taxes, health care and the economy, it's a remark about Big Bird that's getting a lot attention.
Mitt Romney said during the debate, "I am sorry Jim, I had to stop the subsidy to PBS. I am going to stop other things. I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I like you too."
The president's supporters quickly went on the attack.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said, “Hey! I grew up watching Big Bird! My kids grew up with Big Bird!”
Sesame Street fans posted a YouTube video of Big Bird's likely reaction. Mock-up pictures were posted online defending the embattled icon. One woman tweeted, “Mitt's got Big Bird strapped to the roof of his car!”
And the president responded on Thursday, "Thank goodness someone is finally getting tough on Big Bird!"
It was a huge night for social media. The debate was the most-tweeted-about event in us political history with an astonishing 11.1 million tweets.
Liberal comic Bill Maher tweeted, “I can't believe I’m saying this but Obama looks like he does need a teleprompter.”
NBC's Al Roker asked, “Where is the president tonight?”
And Chris Rock cracked, “Obama is waiting for the right moment to pull out Bin Laden's skull from behind the podium. Wait for it. Wait for it.”
There was also widespread criticism for moderator Jim Lehrer for not keeping a tighter reign on both candidates.
Chris Wallace said "Jim Lehrer, a man who I have tremendous esteem, seemed to loose control of this debate."
The polls say Romney was the clear winner, with the latest CBS poll showing 46% of voters saying Romney won; 22% saying the president won and 32% calling it a tie.