Romney pummels Obama in first debate
04 October 2012, 11:01
Denver - An aggressive Mitt Romney took the fight to President Barack
Obama on Wednesday and the Republican candidate appeared to breathe new
life into his struggling campaign with a solid performance at their
Looking to claw his way back into a race that has
seen Obama hold an edge among voters, Romney was on the offensive
throughout the 90-minute encounter with the incumbent Democrat as he
sought to put his campaign back on a sound footing with under five weeks
to go until the November 6 election.
Standing side-by-side for
the first time after months of brutal campaign exchanges, the two men
clashed over taxes, healthcare and the role of government in ways that
reflected the deep ideological divide in Washington.
poised and well-prepared, Romney zeroed in on weak economic growth and
8.1% unemployment that have left Obama vulnerable in his effort to win a
second four-year term. Government has taken on too big a role under
Obama, dampening job creation, Romney argued.
"Now, I'm concerned
that we're on the path that's just been unsuccessful. The president has
a view very similar to the one he had when he ran for office four years
ago, that spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will,
trickle-down government would work. That's not the right answer for
America," Romney said.
A CNN/ORC snap poll said 67% of registered
voters surveyed thought Romney won the debate at the University of
Denver, compared with 25% for Obama.
Mysteriously, Obama failed
to mention issues his campaign has used in attack ads to damage Romney
in the polls such as the Republican's now infamous "47%" video, his
business record at Bain Capital and previous hard line on immigration.
debate saw no haymaker punches thrown and not much in the way of
memorable one-line zingers. Instead, it was a war of attrition as each
man used facts and figures to make his points and stress the differences
Romney, however, did himself some favours with
crisper answers than Obama, who sounded professorial and a bit
long-winded despite his staff's best efforts to get him to give snappier
Quite often Obama looked downward at his notes as
Romney pounced on the president's record. At one point, the Democrat
quibbled with debate moderator Jim Lehrer when Lehrer tried to cut him
off for going over his allotted time.
"I had five seconds before you interrupted me," Obama said to Lehrer with a smile.
White House incumbent did put Romney on the defensive about his
proposals for overhauling the US tax system with a 20% across-the-board
tax cut. Obama said it would cost $5 trillion and that it would be
impossible to make up this amount by eliminating tax loopholes as the
Republican talks about.
"The fact is that if you are lowering the
rates the way you described, governor, then it is not possible to come
up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income
individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle
class. It's - it's math. It's arithmetic," Obama said.
Romney replied, "Virtually everything he said about my tax plan is inaccurate."
also reminded Americans that Romney was proposing more of the same kind
of tax cuts that Obama's Republican predecessor, former President
George W Bush, pushed through Congress in 2001 and 2003. Most Americans
are willing to concede that Obama inherited an economic mess, but also
believe it is his responsibility to bring back the economy.
ended up moving from surpluses to deficits and it all culminated with
the worst recession since the Great Depression," said Obama.
the face of attacks from Romney that the Obama healthcare overhaul of
2010 will hurt small-business hiring, Obama basically said his
healthcare plan was modelled after the programme Romney put in place as
governor of Massachusetts, and it "hasn't destroyed jobs" there.
arguing for months that the Wall Street regulation legislation known as
"Dodd-Frank" should be repealed, Romney was forced to concede under
pressure from Obama that he would keep some financial regulations
established under the law.
Rocky campaign for Romney
Romney was in need of a victory at the debate to help him put his campaign back on a positive footing after a rocky few weeks.
was damaged by a hidden-camera videotape in which he said 47% of voters
were dependent on government and unlikely to support him. That was
among several stumbles that have knocked Romney's campaign off message.
holding a slight lead in national polls and leading Romney in some
swing states where the election will be decided, was looking in the
debate to avoid harming his position as the apparent front-runner.
But he may have spent too much time trying to avoid making mistakes and let Romney get the better of him.
debate was the best opportunity to date to reach large numbers of
voters in an unfiltered way, with an estimated television audience of 60
Advisers to both Romney and Obama predictably
said their man emerged victorious. Obama adviser David Plouffe told
reporters in the "spin room" that Romney appeared "testy" at times.
As for Obama's lengthy comments, his campaign manager Jim Messina said, "That's never going to be our strong suit."
adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said if the debate had been a prize fight, the
referee would have called it for Romney an hour in.
was the first of three such face-offs scheduled in the next four weeks.
Biden and Romney's running mate, US Representative Paul Ryan, will
debate once, on October 11.