John McCain’s surprising reaction to Obama’s performance

The pundits didn’t have positive opinions about President Barack Obama’s performance in the first presidential debate, and his former foes were quick to pounce on his lackluster debate.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dubbed Romney’s performance a knockout.

“When you have no record to run on, it’s very difficult as the incumbent to then come out there and combat what Gov. Romney did last night,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I thought the president had no energy. It didn’t look like he wanted to engage Gov. Romney. And the fact of the matter is, you know, you can’t beat the champ on points. Mitt Romney hit a knockout last night.

Sen. John McCain, who faced Obama four years ago, wasn’t as harsh.

McCain told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that Obama has spent the past “four years inside the bubble with an adoring media.”

He attributed Obama’s struggles to rust, and he warned Romney and Republicans not to take too much out of the first debate.

“Do not underestimate President Obama,” he said. “The guy is good, he’s smart, he gives a great speech. The next debate is going to be very important. I guarantee you will see a better performance, but I also think you may see a better performance out of Mitt, even better than the one he just gave, which I thought was great.”

Sarah Palin reacted the harshest out of the three Republicans, saying she “almost felt sorry for” Obama.

“It was a struggle to watch some parts of this,” Palin told Fox’s Neil Cavuto. “As you considered President Obama — with his lack of enthusiasm for his own policies and his lack of conviction — in trying to articulate why it is that he believes that government will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise and happy when you know the vast majority of Americans know government is not the answer.”

Obama didn’t even find friends in his own party.

Andrew Sullivan, a liberal blogger and staunch supporter of Obama, wrote on Twitter that “this is a rolling calamity for Obama. He’s boring, abstract, and less human-seeming than Romney!”

Comedian Bill Maher, who has donated $1 million to a superPAC backing Obama, said Obama “looks like he DOES need a teleprompter.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Dan McGraw