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US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)
Who won Wednesday night's debate?
An informal poll of NBC 5 viewers voted 1,946 to 933 that Gov. Mitt Romney prevailed.
They weren't the only ones. Some analysts called President Barack Obama's performance lackluster and wondered what happened to the key points of his Chicago-based campaign, with no mention of the "47 percent" or Bain Capital.
Senior adviser David Axelrod said the president accomplished his goals in the face of a fact-less "performance" from Romney.
"I think he treated the American people like adults and he told them the truth, which was a fundamental distinction between him and Gov. Romney last night," Axelrod told NBC's Savannah Guthrie Thursday.
When asked if the president was satisfied with the performance, Axelrod said he's "never satisfied, he's always challenging himself."
Axelrod said Romney put more preparation into the debate "than they did into the Invasion of Normandy." The downfall, he said, was a gap in truth from Romney, who Axelrod said debated that he'd cut taxes and increase defense spending without explaining how he'd do it.
"I expected a strong performance, I got a strong performance, but that's what it was, a performance," Axelrod said. "The underlying facts remain the underlying facts. He denied what has been the centerpiece of his campaign, a $5 trillion tax cut, he again refused to offer any way to pay for it."
Ed Gillespie, Romney top advisor, said the governor explained himself and more, providing a "fact-based critique of the failure of Obama's policies."
"I think the American people saw Gov. Romney's plans for the future," Gillespie told David Gregory. "We didn't hear much, frankly, from President Obama about any second-term agenda, didn't have a very credible defense of his first-term agenda, and I think the American people saw that."
Gillespie pointed to Romney's promised repeal of Obamacare and said the governor plans to replace it with "market-oriented reforms that would hold down costs through competition." Gillespie also said Romney thinks there is a role for government in health care, to ensure people with a pre-existing condition who have health coverage can maintain that coverage.
"What they saw was someone who had command of the facts, who understands what we need to do to get this country moving again," Gillespie said.
As for what happened to Obama's mention of the "47 percent?"
"He made a decision to discuss the fundamental issues facing this country," Axelrod said.
The next debate is scheduled for Oct. 16.