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Obama still trying to 'get the hang of' presidential debates

October 17, 2012|By Christi Parsons

MT. VERNON, Iowa -- President Obama gave himself a modest slap on the back for his debate performance, telling a crowd here on Wednesday that he thinks he’s getting better with practice.

A day after his second meet-up with Republican Mitt Romney, Obama said he thinks he’ll be even better at the third and final debate next week.

“I’m still trying to figure out how to get the hang of this thing,” Obama said, as the crowd at a Cornell College gym laughed. "We'll keep on improving as time goes on."

Obama didn’t explicitly mention his weak performance at the first debate a couple of weeks ago, which marked the beginning of a rise in the polls for Romney.

But the president is clearly feeling his Wheaties on the campaign trail, after a more vigorous performance that most analysts consider at least a draw. Obama emerged from the Marine One helicopter smiling and chatting with his Air Force escort Wednesday morning.

DEBATE QUIZ: Who said it?

He greeted well-wishers when he landed in Cedar Rapids, and then kept a rally waiting while he worked a crowd of 800 in an overflow room here at Cornell.

"I'm gonna shake everybody's hand!" he said, and then gave it a good go.

And as he reviewed the highlights of the Tuesday night debate, he took gleeful shots at his opponent – and at his comment that he came up with candidates for his administration as governor by looking through “binders” full of the names of qualified women.

He got the binders after noticing that there was a shortage of female candidates, Romney said. What he got was "binders full of women," he said.

“We don’t have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified teachers,” Obama said.

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