TODAY   |  October 05, 2012

Romney basks in glow of debate success

NBC’s Peter Alexander reports on the direction of the race as Mitt Romney tried to capitalize on his campaign’s fresh momentum in Virginia after his first debate. Meanwhile, President Obama fights back on the trail in Wisconsin.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> to start this morning with politics, the presidential race and mitt romney 's newly revitalized campaign. nbc's peter alexander is in virginia this morning where both the president and governor will campaign today. peter, good morning to you.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning to you. both campaigns came into this week circling two important dates on the calendar. first, wednesday's debate and then, second, today's jobs report, the latest update on the state of the nation 's economy. you can expect mitt romney will be pouncing on the strong performance he had this week and the jobs reports numbers and we've learned a huge audience was watching, more than 62 million americans, first to tune into a presidential election since 1980 between president jimmy carter and ronald reagan . late thursday fireworks exploded in the sky, not on the debate stage. in virginia 's heavily conservative shenandoah valuey.

>> last night was an important night for the country.

>> reporter: a confident, reinvigorated mitt romney alongside his running mate paul ryan tried to capitalize on the campaign's fresh momentum.

>> i got a chance to ask the president questions that people want to ask around the country and you heard his answers.

>> reporter: also thursday night, romney made news on a topic he wasn't asked about during the debate. appearing on fox news he repudiated his earlier comments seemingly writing off 47% of americans.

>> now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right. in this case i said something that's just completely wrong, and i -- i absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that i care about 100%.

>> reporter: in wisconsin where the crowds swelled to more than 30,000 thursday, president obama arrived armed with new energy and attack lines against romney that were absent from wednesday's debate. all but calling his opponent a liar.

>> governor romney may dance around his positions. he may do a tap dance and a two-step, but if you want to be president, then you owe the american people the truth.

>> reporter: mr. obama 's top advisers concedes the president needs to come back fighting the next two debates and find a sharper way to sell his message. we'll make adjustments, his top strategist said. president obama took aim at cutting funds to pbs, the home to big bird . that's less than $100 million a year, just a fraction of the overall federal budget .

>> thank goodness somebody's finally cracking down on big bird ! who knew that he was responsible for all these deficits? elmo's got to watch out.

>> reporter: meanwhile, a past presidential nominee , former vice president al gore , who had his own debate struggles, offered this unusual explanation for mr. obama 's uninspired performance, blaming the high altitude in denver .

>> obama arrived in denver just a few hours before the debate started. romney did his debate prep in denver . when you go to 5,000 feet --

>> exactly.

>> -- and you only have a few hours to adjust --

>> that's interesting.

>> -- i don't know.

>> reporter: after hearing those comments and being asked about them last night mitt romney laughed al gore 's answer off. after virginia , savannah, the president will head off to the battleground state of ohio and mitt romney goes to florida where he campaigns this weekend, the president ultimately ending up in california for a fund-raising event including a concert with john bone jovi, katy perry and stevie wonder .

>> peter alexander from virginia , thank