Jon Stewart on the Debate: Obama ‘Had a Very Difficult Night’

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He didn’t react Chris Matthews–style, but Jon Stewart seemed bemused by President Obama’s lackluster debate performance last night against challenger Mitt Romney. The Comedy Central host, who is promoting his own debate with  Bill O’Reilly this Saturday, appeared on Good Morning America to hash out what went wrong with Obama’s presentation.

“I’m sure President Obama now realizes, ‘Oh, preseason’s over. I should probably familiarize myself with my presidency and learn some of the various numbers and things that go along with it,” Stewart quipped, adding, “Yeah, I thought he had a very difficult night.”

(MORE: Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly to Rumble)

Stewart summed up Obama’s debate by saying that the President “didn’t seem present in the same way.” That sentiment was in line with the pundit consensus that emerged last night: Romney was aggressive and zinger-equipped, while the President didn’t effectively counter the Republican’s claims. TIME’s senior political analyst, Mark Halperin, gave Romney an A– grade and Obama a B– for the first round.

As for the upcoming “Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” with O’Reilly, the Daily Show host said on Good Morning America that he’ll take some cues from Obama: “I’m going to do the same strategy that Obama took: it’s the rope-a-dope, but instead of letting your opponent punch himself out, you just get beat up.”

And Stewart couldn’t help but aim a zinger of his own at presidential-debate moderator Jim Lehrer. “[O’Reilly and I are] gonna have fun, a good substantive conversation. Jim Lehrer is going to moderate, so — obviously — no rules,” he said.

MORE: Obama’s Debate Strategy: Unilateral Disarmament?