Romney barrels out of first debate on offense - Who Won? Vote in our poll
by AP News Now
October 04, 2012 08:00 AM | 6527 views | 28 28 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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DENVER (AP) — Little more than a month from Election Day, Republican Mitt Romney is barreling out of the first presidential debate energized by a solid performance that telegraphed his determination to take it to President Barack Obama with gusto. The president, intent on keeping his momentum from stalling, is warning Americans that his GOP rival's policy prescriptions for a fragile economy are more fantasy than reality.

Standing toe-to-toe with the president for the first time in the campaign, Romney held his own and more at a time when there already were signs that the race is tightening in some of the battleground states where Obama has enjoyed an advantage. Obama kept his cool and signaled that he won't let up on his message that Romney's plans on taxes, health care, the deficit and more just don't add up.

"It's fun," Romney declared well into Wednesday night's 90-minute faceoff, clearly relishing the back-and-forth.

"It's arithmetic," said Obama, hammering at Romney's conspicuous lack of details with far less enthusiasm.

After a few days of relative calm as the candidates prepared for the first of their three debates, the campaign now bursts out of Colorado in all directions, with an itinerary that touches down in some of the most hotly contested battleground states over the next few days: Obama campaigns in Colorado and Wisconsin, then on to Virginia and Ohio. Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are off to Virginia on Thursday, then Romney spends more time in Virginia before moving on to Florida. Vice President Joe Biden is bound for Iowa.

With a 13-day break before their next debate, Obama and Romney have time to hone their arguments while their campaigns continuing to bombard the most hotly contested states with negative ads that go far beyond the more restrained jibes the candidates leveled from their respective podiums. Obama made no mention, for example, of Romney's caught-on-tape remark that he's not worried about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay taxes. Democratic ads, though, have been making hay with the comment.

In next few weeks, Romney is expected to give a number of policy speeches filling in details as he tries to sharpen the contrast with Obama while answering criticism that he hasn't clearly outlined his plans. The Republican challenger begins with a foreign policy speech in Virginia on Monday. Subsequent speeches are expected to focus on his plans for job creation, debt and spending.

Romney has promised to balance the budget in eight years to 10 years, but hasn't explained just how he'll do it. Instead, he's promised a set of principles, some of which — like increasing Pentagon spending and restoring more than $700 billion in cuts to Medicare over the coming decade — work against that goal. He also has said he will not consider tax increases.

Obama argued that it's all too much.

"At some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret because they're too good?" he said. "Is it because that somehow middle-class families are going to benefit too much from them? No."

The president went on to say the nation faces tough problems that defy simple solutions and said his own choices were "benefiting middle-class families all across the country."

Romney maintained it was Obama who was crushing the middle class and getting the numbers wrong, telling him, "Mr. President, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts."

The two candidates planted themselves behind wooden lecterns and faced off before about a crowd of fewer than 1,000 people at the University of Denver. But their policy-heavy debate really was aimed at the tens of millions of television viewers who tuned in, particularly those who are undecided or soft in their support for a candidate. Just the sort of voters who may be less partisan and more interested in hearing specifics.

Karl Amelchenko, an Obama supporter who watched the debate at a storefront art gallery in Raleigh, N.C., thought Romney did himself some good.

"I think he won, unfortunately," Amelchenko said. "I think he might change some minds."

But some voters still aren't ready to commit one way or the other.

Cynthia Gerst, a state worker in Ohio who attended a nonpartisan debate watch party in downtown Columbus, confessed she's "been under a rock, but now I'm ready" to pay attention. She leans Democratic, but hasn't made up her mind.

"I couldn't distinguish who was in the right," she said after the debate.

Senior Obama political adviser David Axelrod acknowledged that Romney "did give a strong performance. But that's what it was, a performance."

Axelrod said on NBC's "Today" show Thursday that the former Massachusetts governor had "big gaps in truth that we saw" and said that Obama will set the record straight. He charged that Romney "refused to offer any way to pay" for the broad-ranging tax cut he advocated.

Ed Gillespie, a top aide to Romney, said that what people saw in the debate was a presidential challenger "who had a command of the facts."

"He had a very fact-based critique of Obama's policies," Gillespie said on NBC, adding that "we didn't hear very much, frankly, from President Obama about a second-term agenda."

Both candidates came into the debate with distinct missions, and largely achieved them: Romney needed to project leadership and dispel the image of an out-of-touch elitist. Obama needed to avoid making any major mistakes and press the case that he still has more to offer.

The GOP nominee began his charm offensive from the outset, offering 20th wedding anniversary wishes to the Obamas and joking that the debate hall was quite the romantic setting. And then he quickly segued to the campaign's central issue — jobs — and called it "a very tender topic." Obama sketched out his familiar agenda of improving schools, expanding energy sources, increasing tax fairness and paying down the debt, then made a simple but all-encompassing promise: "All of this is possible."

Each candidate wielded studies and experts to buttress his arguments, and each hauled out anecdotes about ordinary Americans to connect with voters. Romney spoke of the woman in Ohio who grabbed his arm and told him she's been out of work since May. Obama recalled the teacher he met in Las Vegas who had students sitting on the floor and using 10-year-old textbooks.

Biden and Ryan were probably two of the most attentive viewers: Their own debate is up next, on Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky. Their rival rehearsals, with stand-ins for their opponents, already are well under way.

Obama and Romney go back at it on Oct. 16, in a town hall-style format at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Their final faceoff, on foreign affairs, is Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

___

Benac reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Allen Breed in Raleigh, N.C., Julie Pace in Denver, Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, and Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Who would you call the winner in the debate?


Comments
(28)
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anonymous
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October 04, 2012
Since most of the people who comment on these sotries on MDJ as east cobbers, I'm not surprised by the comments. Good luck.
Ken Whitehorse
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October 04, 2012
Romney had his facts straight, Obama fumbled his way through 90 minutes of sheer terror, by a challenger, who will send him packing. Obama's dismal talking points, came home to roost, last night, especially because his teleprompter was absent, and he spent too much time on vacations, golfing, fund raising, instead of working. Gov. Romney, has done his homework regarding the economy, foreign policy,ect. Mitt showed total class, whereas, Obama showed no class, looking down like a kid, in deep trouble for misbehaving. Obama is beat, and he knows it now. The bast move for Obama to make is concede the battle and war, and just plan on moving back to wherever he came from. His political career is over, no matter how the pundants, and zealots want to spin it.Liberal media goofs, looked like they were taking their last breaths, afterwards. The manure Obama has given America, hit the proverbial wind device, right back into his face, and he ended up looking drenched in it.
poorjamar
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October 04, 2012
Ha! Jamar7 must be afraid all his free stuff is about to be taken away from him. He might actually have to...gasp...WORK! And who knows what Linnet is thinking. It's called confidence and a backbone. He was hardly bullying. Did you even watch the debate?

I heard one CNN analyst say that Obama looked almost offended at the way Mitt was roasting him in the debate, almost as if no one has EVER talked to him that way.

Best line of the night was from Dennis Miller: Obama had better hope that a KICKED ASS is covered under Obamacare!! Love that guy!
Laura Armstrong
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October 04, 2012
Via my 23 year old daughter, listening to the rap radio station 103 this morning... She said the DJs were speaking positively about Mitt's performance last night and they called on black republicans to give them a call to talk about it.

Now that's a positive sign for Romney.
Local journalist
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October 04, 2012
Why does the MDJ keep changing the headline on this AP story? This appears to be the third one.
Web Editor
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October 04, 2012
The headline is changing with updated AP copy (and updated AP headlines). I am keeping the story in place to keep the comments.

quadcomputers
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October 04, 2012
Obama just stood there with body tilted having one leg crossed behind the other and smiled when his administration failures and losses had been mentioned. Gave no defense for his failures and used the same coined statements he has been using on the campaign trail. Obama is not for medicare his health secretary Kathleen Sibilus was brought before a congressinal investigation board for robbing 400 million dollars out of medicare.
anonymous
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October 04, 2012
some are saying his performance was sub par even for a high school debate, body language being Debate 101. Maybe he missed that club when he was hanging out with the Marxists (as stated in his autobiography).
Laura Armstrong
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October 04, 2012
Please notice all the liberals from outside Georgia who were assigned by the O-Team to comment online on stories around the country, just to make sure there are positives for the president. Completely bogus.

Then do yourselves a favor: if you did not watch the debate, do not read this account of events last evening. This account is, while factually semi-correct, a complete mischaracterization of how Romney dominated the Boy President. He out classed, out-facted and out debated Obama, and even liberals pundits could not hide their immediate surprise and disappointment. Without talking points, they were almost speechless.

And to you libs from around who are getting paid to sit at your computers and boost this failed president: good try.
por favor
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October 04, 2012
provide us with the facts to back up your claim that "liberals from outside Georgia who were assigned by the O-Team to comment online on stories around the country, just to make sure there are positives for the president."
Jamar 7
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October 04, 2012
lol yall are lame... romney is a liar.. im voting for Obama..
@Jamar7
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October 04, 2012
Is it snowing yet in Detroit, Jamar?

You go ahead and vote for your president, because he's going to need all the help he can get after people get to see him in action a few more times without his teleprompter.

Wow, did you notice that huge, fake smile every time he looked towards the moderator? As if he was crying, "help me stop this guy." And did you notice that each and every time he got stuck, he changed his answer to education, even when it was about the economy? I'm curious to know how he'll "hire thousands of new teachers" to help those with "over forty" students in their classes, when local school boards are suffering without funds in this economy due to job and home losses directly tied to Obama's policies. It's like he doesn't get it at all or is overtly lying.
old timer
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October 04, 2012
I am sorry you want the government to manage your money and life....I vote for freedon....not government.
Drizzit
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October 04, 2012
Romney dismantled the worst president in our history

disenchanted
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October 04, 2012
agreed
Linda Jackson
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October 03, 2012
Obama won the debate
Cobb Dad
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October 04, 2012
You evidently did not watch it or listen to the MSM's horror about how bad Obummer did.
Had Enough
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October 04, 2012
Too much Kool-Aid,Linda
Donna w
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October 03, 2012
Glad to watch from Canada. Interested that Moot Romney thinks his new and improved U.S. will own a pipeline outside of the U.S. jurisdiction???
Linnet
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October 03, 2012
I am so surprised to see that Americans respond more to bully behavior, loud-mouthed, rude and aggressive rhetoric in the pasty image of Romney over someone with integrity, intelligence and detailed answers based in reality. Romney continues to skirt issues, is as vague as ever, seems to make people believe that "he has a plan... his plan will work". What is that plan Romney? Obama asked, Jim Lehrer asked... You didn't even get close to telling us tonight, yet Americans still think he won the debate??? Help.
disenchanted
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October 04, 2012
I didn't feel he was vague at all; if anything, it was The President who was. He wasn't being a bully, he was being assertive. It's encouraged in good debating. Obama was ill equipped to handle speaking without a teleprompter. What surprised me was watching our President stand there and talk about what he would like to do...as if he hasn't had 4 years to do it. Disappointing.
anonymous
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October 04, 2012
You mean Obama the guy who puts his feet on the furniture in the White House has class aye...

Obama is out for only one person....Obama, why do you think he has turned to only using his executive privilge? A bill is currently in the senate to lock down his abuse. I suggest you watch the beating Tony Blair took from his own government....regarding "bully behavior"
morganfj
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October 04, 2012
This is a TACTIC.. trying to make people feel bad for a President who can not stand up to DIRECT OPPOSITION... I do not know what Canadians want in a leader, but we do not want a push over person leading our county.
susanan
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October 03, 2012
I am voting for Romney. He is the one who has the experience in the boardroom and in the governor's office to run the country. Obama just doesn't have the experience or know how. It really showed tonight. It is frightening to think he has been at the helm this long.
@ anonymous
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October 04, 2012
I still have the photo taken by the White House photographer showing Obama with his feet on the desk, soles of his shoes showing like a good muslim, while talking to the Prime Minister of Israel. It was a clear message to his muslim friends of the contempt he feels for that country and its people. Speaking of shoes on the desk....
Paul S Florida
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October 03, 2012
Romney destroyed obama

Thank God we now have a leader AGAIN !!!
Paul S Florida
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October 03, 2012
Romney destroyed obama

no contest
Samuel Adams
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October 04, 2012
It was apparent how Mitt became a self-made millionaire, going from living in a friend's basement as a newlywed, leaving Michigan to strike out on his own and create his business in New England and growing that business from the ground up. You can see how he saved stores like Staples from folding. He listens to people. He's a thinker and problem solver and the narrative about him not caring is simply not true. Nothing will convince those who are black and simply voting for Obama based on that that Romney can help them too. Blacks unemployment is higher than it's ever been, and Obama don't care. He's like the honey badger, lurching ahead with policies that hurt America, in particular his own people (even highlighted by the Congressional Black Caucus months ago before someone shushed them.It was obvius last night that he'd rather be playing another round of golf. At one point, I saw him looking at Romney with a sort of admiration...and then he remembered where he was.
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