Mitt Romney battled back in his uphill drive to oust President Barack Obama on Wednesday with an aggressive debate performance that put his campaign on a more positive footing after weeks of stumbles and knocked Obama off-stride.
In the first of three presidential debates this month, Romney went beyond expectations as the two candidates stood side-by-side for the first time after months of campaigning against each other from long distance. 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 Obama. While the president landed some punches on Romney’s tax plan, he did not appear as prepared as his rival and missed several opportunities to attack.
With under five weeks to go until the November 6 election, it was uncertain whether Romney had managed to change the trajectory of a race that has favored Obama. It is difficult to dislodge an incumbent from the White House. In recent weeks, Romney has lurched from stumble to stumble and been unable to project a consistent message.
In the “spin room” afterward, Romney advisers hung around for 90 minutes talking to reporters, long after the Obama side had decamped.
Romney and Obama clashed repeatedly over taxes, healthcare and the role of government in ways that reflected the deep ideological divide in Washington and that has contributed to political gridlock. Romney zeroed in on weak economic growth and 8.1 percent 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.
“What we’re seeing right now, in my view,
(is) a trickle-down government approach,
which has government thinking it can do a
better job than free people pursuing their
dreams. And it’s not working. And the proof
of that is 23 million people out of work,” Romney said.
Fact checkers took issue with some of assertions by the former Massachusetts governor, like the number of people unemployed, but he appeared more poised and better prepared than his opponent. Obama argued that under his leadership, the economy had been brought back from the brink, with 5 million jobs created in the private sector, a resurgent auto industry and housing beginning to rise.
“You know, four years ago, we were going through a major crisis. And yet my faith and confidence in the American future is
undiminished,” Obama said.
NO MENTION OF THE ’47 PERCENT’
Mysteriously, Obama failed to mention issues his campaign has used in attack ads to damage Romney such as the Republican’s now infamous “47 percent” video, job cuts he made while at Bain Capital private equity firm, his tax returns and previous hard line on immigration.
The 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 between them.
Romney, however, did himself some favors 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 comments. 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 who 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.
Romney’s chances of winning the White House were up by 8.4 percentage points after the debate, although he was still only 34.3 percent assured of victory in November, according to online betting site Intrade.
The incumbent did put Romney on the defensive about his proposals for overhauling the U.S. tax system with a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Obama said it would cost the government $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 insisted his tax plan would not cost
$5 trillion, saying, “Virtually everything he
said about my tax plan is inaccurate.” Obama 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. “We ended up moving from surpluses to deficits and it all culminated with the worst recession since the Great Depression,” said Obama.
In 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 modeled after the program Romney put in place as governor of Massachusetts, and it “hasn’t destroyed jobs” there. After 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.
The debate was the first of three such face- offs scheduled in the next four weeks. Biden and Romney’s running mate, U.S.
Representative Paul Ryan, will debate once,
on October 11.
Culled from : yahoo! news