United States President Barack Obama has fired back after giving a lacklustre performance against Republican candidate Mitt Romney in their first election debate.
The ABC reports Mr Romney defied expectations on Wednesday night, delivering a solid performance that appeared to put the president on the back foot.
Mr Obama shrugged off the apparent loss during a speech in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday telling a campaign rally that his rival delivered a well-rehearsed performance and covered up unpopular positions.
"I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," he told the crowd.
"It couldn't have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year, promising $US5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy.
"The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that. If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth."
Mr Obama also mocked his rival over his plan to cut government subsidies for the PBS television channel that produces Sesame Street.
"Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird - it's about time, we didn't know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit," he said.
About 58 million people watched the debate on television, according to preliminary figures by Nielsen TV ratings service.
Mr Romney on Thursday pursued attacks on what he portrayed as the president's continuing expansion of government.
''I saw the president's vision as trickle-down government and I don't think that's what America believes in. I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom."
An opinion poll, taken by Reuters/Ipsos is ssued after the debate, showed Mr Romney gaining ground on the president.
The ABC reports it showed Mr Romney is now viewed positively by 51% of voters, the first time he has enjoyed a net positive in the presidential race.
Mr Obama's favourability rating remained unchanged at 56%.