0

Obama, Romney clash on economy in first debate

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands during 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 during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

DENVER -- In a showdown at close quarters, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney sparred aggressively in their first campaign debate Wednesday night over taxes, deficits and strong steps needed to create jobs in a sputtering national economy. "The status quo is not going to cut it," declared the challenger.

Obama in turn accused his rival of seeking to "double down" on economic policies that actually led to the devastating national downturn four years ago.

Both men made frequent references to the weak economy and high national unemployment, by far the dominant issue in the race for the White House. Public opinion polls show Obama with a slight advantage in key battleground states and nationally, and Romney was particularly aggressive, like a man looking to shake up the campaign with a little less than five weeks to run.

Polite but pointed, the two men agreed about little if anything.

Obama said his opponent's plan to reduce all tax rates by 20 percent would cost $5 trillion and benefit the wealthy at the expense of middle income taxpayers.

Shot back Romney: "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.

The two campaign rivals clasped hands and smiled as they strode onto the debate stage at the University of Denver, then waved to the audience before taking their places behind identical lecterns.

There was a quick moment of laughter, when Obama referred to first lady Michelle Obama as "sweetie" and noted it was their 20th anniversary.

Romney added best wishes, and said to the first couple, "I'm sure this is the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me."

Both candidates' wives were in the audience.

The two men debated before a television audience likely to be counted in the tens of millions. They will meet twice more this month, and their running mates once, but in past election years, viewership has sometimes fallen off after the first encounter.

Without saying so, the two rivals quickly got to the crux of their race -- Romney's eagerness to turn the contest into a referendum on the past four years while the incumbent desires for voters to choose between his plan for the next four years and the one his rival backs.

Romney ticked off the dreary economic facts of life -- a sharp spike in food stamps, economic growth "lower this year than last" and "23 million people out of work or stropped looking for work."

But Obama criticized Romney's prescriptions and his refusal to raise taxes and said, "if you take such an unbalanced approach then that means you are going to be gutting our investment in schools and education ... health care for seniors in nursing homes (and) for kids with disabilities."

Not surprisingly, the two men disagreed over Medicare, a flash point since Romney placed Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on his ticket.

The president repeatedly described Romney's plan as a "voucher program" that would raise out-of-pocket costs on seniors.

He continued, directly addressing the voters at home: "If you're 54 or 55 you might want to listen because this will affect you."

Romney said he doesn't support any changes for current retirees or those close to retirement.

"If you're 60 or 60 and older you don't need to listen further," he said, but he contended that fundamental changes are needed to prevent the system from becoming insolvent as millions of baby boom generation Americans become eligible.

Romney also made a detailed case for repealing Obamacare, the name attached to the health care plan that Obama pushed through Congress in 2010. "It has killed jobs," he said, and argued that the best approach is to "do what we did in my state."

Though he didn't say so, when he was governor Massachusetts passed legislation that required residents to purchase coverage -- the so-called individual mandate that conservatives and he oppose on a national level.

Romney also said that Obamacare would cut $716 billion from Medicare over the next decade.

The president said the changes were part of a plan to lengthen the program's life, and he added that AARP, the seniors lobby, supports it.

Jim Lehrer of PBS drew moderator's duties, with Obama getting the first question and Romney the last word.

Five weeks before Election Day, early voting is under way in scattered states and beginning in more every day. Opinion polls show Obama with an advantage nationally and in most if not all of the battleground states where the race is most likely to be decided.

That put particular pressure on Romney to come up with a showing strong enough to alter the course of the campaign.

The sputtering economy served as the debate backdrop, as it has for virtually everything else in the 2012 campaign for the White House. Obama took office in the shadow of an economic crisis but promised a turnaround that hasn't materialized. Economic growth has been sluggish throughout his term, with unemployment above 8 percent since before he took office.

The customary security blended with a festival-like atmosphere in the surrounding area on a warm and sunny day. The Lumineers performed for free, and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am delivered a pep talk of sorts to Obama's supporters. School officials arranged to show the debate on monitors outside the hall for those without tickets.

There was local political theater, too, including female Romney supporters wearing short shorts and holding signs that said, "What War On Women?" -- a rebuttal to claims by Obama and the Democrats.Both campaigns engaged in a vigorous pre-debate competition to set expectations, each side suggesting the other had built-in advantages.

Romney took part in 19 debates during the campaign for the Republican primary early in the year. The president has not been onstage with a political opponent since his last face-to-face encounter with Arizona Sen. John McCain, his Republican rival in 2008.

Obama and Romney prepared for the evening with lengthy practice sessions. Romney selected Ohio Sen. Rob Portman as a stand-in for the president; Obama turned to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to play the Republican role.

The two presidential rivals also are scheduled to debate on Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have one debate, Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky. Both men have already begun holding practice sessions.


Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt contributed to this story. David Espo reported from Washington.

Comments

Sundance 1 year, 10 months ago

I liked what Romney said about cutting spending using a simple test. "is this something I want to pay for by borrowing money from China?" That is a great way to approach it.

3

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

My favorite line was when Romney told Obama, (paraphrasing)' "as president you are entitled to an airplane, and a house, but you're not entitled to your own facts.".

One of the nicest ways I've ever heard of telling obama what a liar and fraud he actually is.

0

buck 1 year, 9 months ago

It's amazing to me that Obama says "the AARP supports Obamacare" when they are the people who are going to financially benefit from it by selling Medicare insurance.They have sold us out!

1

Frustrated 1 year, 9 months ago

It was funny how Obama kept trying to repeat throughout the debate how Romney was going to raise taxes even though Romney said it was not true. Seemed like that was the only card Obama had to play. I hope people see through his smokescreen and make him a one term president.

0

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

Obama wasn't just "off his game" as the old media is trying to claim. We saw the real Obama last night, without his adoring media to shill for him, and, without his crutch - the TelePrompter.

1

BrentLuNae 1 year, 9 months ago

I love the way all of yall are spitting out all these ugly remarks about Obama. I feel sorry for you and your relatives with household incomes of less than $50,000 per year if Romney is elected. (Average household income for Conyers is probably around $40,000 per year) He is going to eat you alive along with all your relatives. It is so funny to pass by a trailer park with Romney signs in the yard. Do you REALLY think this man can relate to you in your trailer park? Really? Let us not forget, you have relatives (if not yourself) on welfare, too...OKAY! He CANNOT relate to poor people and could care less about you. He hates gays and I know some of yall have gays in your family, too. The fact checkers said Romney lied about a lot of issues last night but I don't hear yall mentioning that! You think he is God and is going to solve all of your problems! HE IS NOT!!!

1

smshep5 1 year, 9 months ago

What you seem to be missing is that the Republican Party's interest are to enable people to move out of the trailer park and off welfare. The Democrats would prefer you stay where you are, dependent on them and their policies to keep you on the government payroll. It also gives them a guaranteed constituency. I'm not sure about you but I would prefer people pay for their own groceries, cell phones, and housing. If you are on an entitlement program be real and admit that this is a TAX PAYER subsidized program and you are fine with your hard working fellow Americans paying your way for you.

0

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

People in trail or parks don't want a Marxist for a president either.

You can play your little obamaesque class envy games all you want, but obamas socialist policies are probably what put those folks in the trailer parks that you look down upon in such disdain.

The "trailer park people" putting up Romney signs also blows your theory that Romney is "only for the rich., too.

The only "fact checkers" saying that Romney lied in the debate are Obama supporters, and Obama, himself (today at a campaign stop).

Actually, Romney caught Obama in severals lies during the debate, and called him out on them. Obama just pouted and hung his head.

Obama got his derrière handed to him on a silver platter in that debate, and you libs just can't accept it.

You need a good dictionary to learn the difference between "facts" and "talking points".

And finally, why would Obama "eat alive" people with incomes in the $40k to $50k income brackets, that's nearing poverty levels...do you mean this man-child president is against the poor.

You haven't convinced me of anything, you need to do your homework before you start bloviating.

1

will 1 year, 9 months ago

Elmo from your great comment it looks like BrentLuNae also go his derriere handed to him. I bet BrentLuNae is looking down right now because his entitlements are about to run out.

1

will 1 year, 9 months ago

BrentLuNaeNae, you need to shut the ol pie hole you sound so stupid. If you think Hussein obama has done a good job you need a reality check. Hussein obama should get a thank you note from the second worst leader of this country Mr. Jimmy Carter. The fact checkers also said Hussein obama lied but I did not see that in your comment. Do you think Hussein obama can relate to welfare leeches, trailer park dwellers and the poor, heck no. When he vacations and thats often where does he go, can you say 5-star resorts. Well he did go to Kenya to worship he dad who saw him only once, now thats gonna get you dad of the year.

0

BrentLuNae 1 year, 9 months ago

I rattled your cage, didn't I.

0

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

Brent, you couldn't rattle a squirrel cage filled with ping pong balls. All I've seen you do so far is pull the string on your chest and recite DNC talking points.

Before you break your arm patting yourself on the back for your prowess at the keyboard, I might remind you that a little substance in your rants might be better received.

So far, all you have done is insult low income people and insult the intelligence of those who disagree with you. How liberal of you.

But, name-calling, and the race card are hallmarks of the "debating skills" of liberals. The use of those tactics is oh, so important when you run out of arguments.

So, go rattle your cages and leave the heavy lifting up to the adults.

You're a legend in your own mind.

1

johndoemo_ 1 year, 9 months ago

But the people with zero income will have a chance to get jobs through economic growth.

0

pressman7 1 year, 9 months ago

POTUS looked down most of the debate. I thought the purpose of hope and change was looking up. I guess he doesn't really believe in his last campaign mantra.

0

BrentLuNae 1 year, 9 months ago

First, let's be clear, Elmo. I do not look down on anybody. I have worked hard all my life. I started working and RECEIVED a paycheck when I was 14 years old, thank you very much. I don't believe in hand-outs and believe everybody should work hard and earn their keep. I cannot stand people who try to beat the system. There are a lot of people out there (black and white) who are barely scratching out a living and honestly need governmental assistance and you know this. Those are the people I care about and I do my part by being a volunteer. But I have no use for those who try to beat the system. No matter what I may think about Obama, I am not going to write 50,000 comments on this page about him as if he can walk on water. But hey, we all have a right to our opinion.

2

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

Well Brent, the tone of your post - singling out people and judging them to be on some lower scale because of where they live, sounded a whole lot like Obama class warfare to me.

It doesn't matter if you've been working since you were three, no one has to fit a mold that you prescribe.

Judging people by their wealth - or lack thereof - or the type of home the live in, is an elitist attitude on your part. Maybe it's because you've been earning a paycheck since you were 14 that puts you into such a frame of mind.

Maybe you've been infected by the idiots out there who take Obama at his "word" about watching out for the "poor" while he hobnobs with no one but movie stars, and the uber rich.

Now you want to huff up, and all sanctimonious on us. Typical liberal reaction, no surprises there.

Remember one thing...the people that the Obama economy has driven out of their homes, and into "trailer parks", will also be voting November 6th, and their vote counts just as much as yours.

1

ClaytonBigsby 1 year, 9 months ago

Spot on, Elmo. Whatever "BrentLuNae" may say to the contrary, he/she has written about trailer parks with dripping derision more than once, while ballyhooing the virtues of his/her subdivision. I'd just about rather live in a trailer park than one of these Rockdale county subdivisions...

0

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

Clayton, thanks. Having grown up in The Conyers area, it has always had some snobs and elitists, and being a "linthead", I've encountered a few of them along the way.

But, since then, having lived in several other towns, and states, I can attest that Conyers has no monopoly on people of that bent. Like an "alternate universe", I've met the same types wherever I've lived.

A person's choice of where s/he lives is dependent on many factors, some on personal ambition, some on status, and some purely on affordability. Some place their priority on fine cars, some on fine clothes, and others on a three-story house in a subdivision.

There are the practical ones, who prefer the less worrisome life in a mobile, or modular home. Rather than be imprisoned for 30-years by gargantuan mortgage payment and the stress and worry that often accompanies it, they prefer a different lifestyle.

There's no shame associated with that, at all. Some of the finest folks I have met live in smaller homes, or mobile homes. But then, I take folks based on their character, honesty, and morals, and not their purported wealth.

People who crawl after those with money remind me of the little "sucker fish" that hang onto sharks, purely in hopes of getting the leftovers of the shark's next meal.

With the zillions of "subdivisions" in this country, there's no astuteness to living in one, I live in one myself. But, it suits my needs, and my means, so I'm good with it.

But - make no mistake - if I happen to win the lotto, I'd be in a house on a lake somewhere, secluded and private. But until that happens, I'm as happy as Brent at an Obama rally right here.

1

BrentLuNae 1 year, 9 months ago

See, see... that is what I mean. "as happy as Brent at an Obama rally". That is a good one but as usual, you have misunderstood everything I have said. You can dish it out but you can't take it. I must end with this, any of my comments that appeared hurtful were not intentional and that is to everybody. Will I stop posting here? Probably not unless The Citizen kicks me off.

0

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

Unlike the Obama worshippers, I believe in free speech for everyone, even if I don't always agree with them...so I could care less if you post, or not. However, I shall not sit idle while you throw people under the bus because of where they live either.

1

VPublicola 1 year, 9 months ago

I'll be voting against Obama.

0

BrentLuNae 1 year, 9 months ago

Will oh Will oh Will, you have lost your mind and throw in Elmo and Clayton with you. It will be a sad state affairs for yall when your man Mitt ain't elected not to mention if Oz and Oden get re-elected. I will go ahead now and call the men in the white jackets to be ready to pick yall up and haul yall to the nearest mental institution. All of you are about to bust a gasket. It is hilarious! LOL!!!! (LOL stands for "laughing out loud" Clayton. You seem to be the slow one of the bunch). LOL!!!

0

Elmo 1 year, 9 months ago

In your case, LOL could stand for Loud Orificed Liberal

1

will 1 year, 9 months ago

BrentLuNae, I rattled your cage, did'nt I. LOL that means Living on Lies just like OBAMA stands for ONE BIG ARSED MISTAKE AMERICA. Brent remember Hussein obama is half white so remember that when you vote.

1

ClaytonBigsby 1 year, 9 months ago

Speaking of cage rattling, I laughed out loud (LOL) at being characterized as "the slow one of the bunch". Thanks, Brent--you just told me I've succeeded in getting under your skin. The sad part? I used to think you were "good people" and genuinely concerned about our community. The whole trailer park thing told me you are a snob, and your support for B. Hussein Obama...well, enough said.
You really did make me smile! The real "Clayton Bigsby" ain't slow, but he's blind. I think a lot like him, even though I don't look like him!

0

Sign in to comment