Mitt Romney basked in rave reviews yesterday, after his first debate with President Barack Obama, envisioning an inaugural celebration with conservative activists, while Obama tried to rebound by telling his rival, "If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth."
Obama's remarks at a Colorado campaign event were a sharp contrast to his uncomfortable, low-energy appearance Wednesday night, where Romney's assertive performance was aimed at reversing his slipping stance in the polls. Republicans who had despaired before the debate quickly rallied to Romney's side.
Obama's campaign yesterday promised 'adjustments' would be made.
And Obama appeared to wake up yesterday, attacking Romney for offering plans to fix the still-weak economy without saying how he would do it.
"The man on stage last night doesn't want to be held to account ... for what he's been selling for the last year," Obama said. He added, "Here's the truth: Governor Romney cannot pay for his US$5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class."
Romney's spokesman dismissed the criticism as "damage control", while the Republican nominee was visibly buoyed as he headed out of Denver. Romney laughed with aides at the front of his plane, then the entourage broke into clapping and whistles as the pilot announced the control tower commended the governor's performance when the plane was approved for take-off.
It wasn't clear whether the debate would sway the less than 10 per cent of Americans who say they haven't yet decided on a candidate. And two debates remain before the November 6 election. Both candidates quickly returned to campaigning yesterday in the handful of states that will determine the next president.