The Washington Times - October 4, 2012, 08:19AM

President Obama’s top campaign adviser on Thursday accused Republican challenger Mitt Romney of being dishonest during the first presidential debate, and also downplayed assertions by many observers and liberal pundits that the GOP nominee won the first matchup between the candidates.

Appearing on NBC’s “Today,” David Axelrod defended the president’s performance during the Wednesday night debate and accused Mr. Romney of glossing over details of his economic plan.

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He also dismissed arguments from many analysts that Mr. Romney controlled the debate, while Mr. Obama stayed on the defensive and failed to follow up on his campaign’s theme of painting Mr. Romney as indifferent to the poor and middle class.

“People know that, and what they were looking for last night were real honest distinctions on the issues,” Mr. Axelrod said. “The president gave those distinctions in an honest way and Governor Romney did not.”

Mr. Axelrod declined to say whether Mr. Obama will answer critics by being more aggressive during the next presidential debate on Oct. 16, but said he is always looking to improve.

“The president is never satisfied with his performance,” he said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “He’s always challenging himself.”