Denver: In what appeared as a fervent faceoff at the inaugural Presidential debate on Wednesday night, US President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued vehemently,
with the later sounding more aggressive, unleashing a flurry of attacks and counterattacks in an evening dominated by US economy.
An assertive Romney appeared to be a notch above Obama while launching attacks on the incumbent President and successfully managed to dodge Obama’s attempts to pin him down.
While Obama’s attitude throughout the debate was professorial and cautious, seemingly reluctant to challenge Romney over many points.
A CNN/ORC poll released just after the 90-minute presidential debate moderated by Jim Lehrer of the PBS news showed that 65-year-old Romney was way ahead of 51-year-old Obama in impressing the voters.
The 90-minute debate held at University of Denver was the first of three presidential debates ahead of November 06 election.
The head-to-head began at 19:00 local time and continued uninterrupted for 90 minutes, zeroed in on domestic policy, including economy and healthcare and particularly what each candidate would do to bring the sputtering economy back on track.
With just 34 days to go for the US Presidential Elections, the debate would serve as a crucial tool to help the Americans decide on their votes.
The debate is supposed to have drawn a television audience running in the count of tens of millions.
Obama, who as the polls suggest, has been enjoying a narrow lead over Romney just before the debate attacked the Republican challenger on his tax plans, saying that his opponent's plan to reduce all tax rates by 20 percent would cost USD 5 trillion and benefit the wealthy at the expense of middle income taxpayers.
Romney defended himself saying, “Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate."
The former Massachusetts governor and businessman added that Obama's proposal to allow the expiration of tax cuts on upper-level income would mean tax increases on small businesses that create jobs by the hundreds of thousands.
Romney said he had plans to fix the economy, overhaul the tax code, repeal Obama's health care plan and replace with a better alternative, remake Medicare, pass a substitute for the legislation designed to prevent another financial crash and reduce deficits — but he provided no new specifics despite Obama's prodding.
In a bid to sound aggressive Romney lashed out, "The status quo is not going to cut it”.
Retorting back Obama said, “At some point the American people have to ask themselves: Is the reason Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret, is it because they're going to be too good? Because middle class families benefit too much? No."
Obama also accused Romney of seeking to "double down" on economic policies that actually led to the devastating national downturn four years ago.
Thanks to a leaked sectret video of Romey, Obama enjoys a slight advantage in key battleground states and nationally according to pre-debate opinion polls.
A video showed Romney ridiculing Obama supporters as being the victims living off the government handouts.
The video must have dented Romney’s campaign but it didn’t deter him from being aggressive in the 90-minute long debate.
The former Massachusetts governor virtually lectured Obama at one point after the president accused him of seeking to cut education funds. "Mr. President, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts," he said.
At times the debate turned into rapid-fire charges and retorts that drew on dense facts and figures that were difficult to follow. The men argued over oil industry subsidies, federal spending as a percentage of the GDP, Medicare cuts, taxes and small businesses and the size of the federal deficit and how it grew.
Obama sometimes seemed somewhat professorial. Romney was more assertive and didn't hesitate to interrupt the President or moderator Jim Lehrer.
Despite the wonky tone of the debate, Romney managed to make some points by personalizing his comments with recollections of people he said he had met on the campaign trail. In another folksy reference, Romney told Lehrer, a veteran of the Public Broadcasting Service, that he would stop the federal subsidy to PBS even though "I love Big Bird."
Generally polite but pointed, the two men agreed about little if anything.
The two presidential rivals also are scheduled to debate on October 16 in Hempstead, New York, and on October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida.
(With Agency Inputs)
First Published: Thursday, October 04, 2012, 09:11