That was Gov. Martin O'Malley spinning away in Denver Thursday morning, putting the best possible face on a debate performance by President Obama that even his supporters considered a disappointment.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" with Chuck Todd, O'Malley praised Obama's demeanor and command of facts in his face-off with Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
"One of the things you look for in a president is consistency," O'Malley said. "Over the long term, the president is well-served by that dignified command reserve."
Romney's performance, the governor said, was an exercise in "shape-shifting."
Invited by Todd to specify ways in which Obama must improve his performance in future debates, O'Malley wouldn't take the bait and declined to critique the president's performance.
"We have 35 days to continue to make our case," O'Malley said.
The governor seemed to concede that Romney won last night on "stylistic points," but contended that Obama was better on substance. He said some Democratic criticism of Obama's performance -- specifically the president's concession that Social Security might need some shoring up -- was a case of "over-reacting."
"A lot of the Democratic base wanted to see him poke (Romney) in the eye and tear off his face," O'Malley said.
The governor discounted what many Obama supporters felt was the president's failure to exploit Romney's infamous statement that he doesn't worry about the "47 percent" of voters he classified as dependent on government. O'Malley pointed out that the statement had been widely talked about for the last few weeks.
"What the president needed to do last night was to keep pressing Governor Romney on the utter lack of specifics," the Marylander said. It would be "a real test" of the decision-making capacity of the republic, he said, "if we let (Romney) get away with it."
O'Malley is expect to fly back to Maryland Thursday after his quick-turnaround visit to Denver.