Obama admits debate a 'bad night'
President Barack Obama has insisted "fundamentals" of the race for the White House remain unchanged despite a "bad night" for him in a presidential debate that stunned many of his supporters and re-energised Republican rival Mitt Romney's campaign.
The latest round of polls show that Mr Romney has erased Mr Obama's once-substantial lead and made it a dead heat in the final stretch to the November 6th election in the wake of last week's debate, which the Republican was widely judged to have won handily.
"Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night," Mr Obama told the ABC World News programme, according to advance excerpts of his first interview since the October 3rd face-off in Denver.
"It's not the first time I've had a bad night. But I think what's important is the fundamentals of what this race is about haven't changed," Mr Obama said as he sought to play down the overall impact. "You know, governor Romney went to a lot of trouble to try to hide what his positions are."
Pressed for an explanation of what went wrong in the first of three presidential debates, Mr Obama appeared reluctant to offer much insight. "Maybe this is because I played a lot of sports when I was a kid, and still do," he said. "If you have a bad game, you just move on.
"You look forward to the next one. And it makes you that much more determined. The difference between this and sports is that the stakes are so high."
Asked flat-out whether his debate performance had handed the election to Mr Romney, Mr Obama said, "No."
Mr Obama's aides have acknowledged that he will make some adjustments for the next debate - a townhall-style event in Hofstra University in New York state on Tuesday.
They have hinted he will use a more aggressive approach after even his own supporters criticised him for being too passive in Denver.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll released yesterday, Mr Romney has pulled ahead of Mr Obama in the race for the first time in more than a month and leads 45 per cent to 44 per cent among likely voters.
Meanwhile, Mr Romney is on track to win over even fewer Hispanic voters than his party's other recent presidential contenders, according to a poll released today.
A Pew Research Center survey of registered Latino voters found that 21 per cent backed Mr Romney compared with 69 per cent for Mr Obama.
That is 10 percentage points less than Republican nominee John McCain won four years ago and 19 percentage points less than former Republican President George W. Bush won in 2004. Mr McCain of Arizona and Mr Bush of Texas are from states with big Hispanic populations.
"A rising share of Latino voters say that the Democratic Party has more concern for Latinos than does the Republican Party," researchers at the nonpartisan group's Pew Hispanic Center wrote.
Overall, however, other polls show Mr Romney extending his narrow lead over Mr Obama following last week's debate.
More then 60 per cent of Latinos said Democrats were more concerned for them, up from 45 percent last year, according to the poll, conducted from September 7th to October 4th. Ten per cent said Republicans had more concern for them, about the same as in 2011, it added.
Mr Romney's lead ticked up slightly among Hispanics in the nine swing states that are seen as key to winning the election, such as Ohio and Florida. There he has 23 per cent support from Hispanics compared to Mr Obama's 65 percent.