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Al Gore: Altitude threw Obama off at Denver debate

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Former Vice President Al Gore on a high-stakes debate stage himself in 2000, debating then-Gov. George Bush at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. (CNN)

Former Vice President Al Gore on a high-stakes debate stage himself in 2000, debating then-Gov. George Bush at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. (CNN)

(CNN) – Former Vice President Al Gore’s analysis of President Barack Obama’s debate performance Wednesday: the Mile High City may be to blame.

Pundits and a CNN poll of those who watched the debate both found GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s showing to be stronger than Obama’s, who some described as appearing tired and long-winded.

“I’m going to say something controversial here,” Gore began. “Obama arrived in Denver at 2 pm today, just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver.

“When you go to five thousand feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust, I don’t know,” Gore said, as other panelists in the post-debate discussion chimed in.

The video of Gore on his television channel, Current TV, was posted online by several right-leaning websites, as well as media-watching websites.

Obama flew on Sunday from Washington, D.C. to Henderson, Nevada, where he held a rally that evening. Between Sunday and his Wednesday flight to Colorado, Obama and his debate team prepared for the big night in a hotel ballroom there.

Henderson reaches just shy of a half mile up from sea level, according to the Henderson Executive Airport’s website, while Denver stretches a mile above sea level.

Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod defended his candidate on a Thursday conference call with reporters, saying he would leave evaluation of Obama’s “performance” alone because he is no “theater critic.”

“While Governor Romney had a very crisp performance, both candidates got points across,” Axelrod said. “Both candidates got something out of the debate.”

Romney, meanwhile, arrived in Denver Monday evening and also held a rally before hunkering down with advisers for his preparations.

Both candidates rewarded themselves with field trips between study sessions. Obama visited the Hoover Dam on Tuesday and stopped by a Nevada office for his campaign on Monday. Romney and Sen. Rob Portman, who was aiding in his debate preparations, stopped in at a Chipotle restaurant on Tuesday.