Transcript for First 2012 Presidential Debate: How Did They Do?
statistical dead heat with the Let's get to our insiders right now. Matthew dowd. Donna brazile, worked on the campaign for al gore. And nicolle wallace, who worked with the bush campaign. Mitt romney came in, spent a lot of time preparing. And it paid off. There was some criticism he wasn't doing enough events going in. But they made the calculation which was accurate. Moments like this can wipe the slate clean of what's going on in the last month. Barack obama had a great month and a half. In one 90-minute period, this race went from a slight obama lead to a dead-even race. By monday morning, this race will be tied. A lot of people wondering, donna, a lot of the president's supporters. You see it on twitter and in the blogs, on television last night, where was the president? Where was the fight? He was a little rusty. After four years, he hasn't been in a debate situation. He won on poise. He won on grace. He won on substance. Mitt romney came to play hard ball. Mitt romney was on the attack. He was on the offensive. At the same time, he didn't land any big punches on president obama. President obama left a lot of what I call the good stuff in the locker room. The early polls of the viewers who watched said that the president lost. Losing on attacks will not hurt the president for the american people that want to hear the substance. I think on those grounds, president obama did not lose the debate. This is so much like what happened to one of your former bosses, george w. Bush, back in 2004. John kerry came in to the debates behind. Took it to the president. The president recovkocovered over the next few debates. What does the president's team say to him this morning? It's a dicey thing. It's easy to forget that these men are human beings. They're demoralized by a bad night. Buoyed by a great night. You have to build them back up. And the reality sets in pretty immediately, for any candidate. They know when they've done a bad job. They know when they've done a good news. The good news for romney is he didn't just do himself a world of good for republicans. Republicans feel like we have a guy that can win this. He managed to frame the debate that does a world of good with independent voters. Ing this election as a choice. Really, a philosophical debate with the specifics underneath him, of what we know that romney can do about the role in government in american life, which is something that republicans felt would put romney on solid ground. He seemed to reach beyond that conservative base and really talked to independents about issues they care about. I think ultimately, they were speaking to persuadable voters or undecided voters. As mitt romney starts to take leads in some of these battleground states, with my expectation he will, it's not over, a close race. The other thing that happened last night, there's been two factors at play. There's been the environment of the country, the large number of people that think we're on the wrong track. And the perceptions and images of the candidates. What happens last night was the images of the candidates, mitt romney evened that ground. When that happens, people say, when they're roughly even, why wouldn't I take a chance on the new guy? That's the difficult side that president obama has to get. He has to turn this around. He has two more coming up. Donna, you're in the room with president obama today. What do you tell him? Mr. President, have a good night's sleep. But guess what. You have two more debates. Look up and give it to mitt romney. Also, talk about big bird next
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.