Obama stand-in reacts to Obama’s debate performance


msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell spoke to Sen. Rob Portman, who played the role of President Obama during Mitt Romney’s debate-prep sessions, to discuss the candidates’ performances in Denver and what to expect in the next two debates.

“The dynamic of the race changes,” Portman said following the big political event. “Gov. Romney did so well and was able to talk about the future in a way that was persuasive to undecided voters — but there are three debates.” He suggested Obama was off his game in the first go-around.

“I thought he seemed a little uncomfortable, to be honest,” he said. “As president, you’re not used to getting asked questions, whether it’s by Jim Lehrer, or Lawrence O’Donnell, or Mitt Romney.”

Some Democrats, including Obama adviser David Axelrod, argued Romney’s admission that he would, in fact, turn Medicare into a voucher program was a major victory for the president. But Portman didn’t think so.

“Mitt Romney did a really good job pointing out that [his Medicare plan] doesn’t affect seniors who are currently on Medicare, at all. In fact, it doesn’t affect folks who are near Medicare. But for those who are younger than that, they’ll have a choice.”

Portman said he plans to continue debate-prep sessions with Romney through the third debate. When asked about the second, town-hall style debate, Portman conceded “it was a good format for President Obama.”

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