The first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney took place Wednesday night, with the two outlining their domestic policies at the University of Denver on such subjects as job growth, the national debt and health care. It was the first time the pair had debated each other.
Debate moderator Jim Lehrer led off with a question about creating new jobs, but Obama took the opportunity (he spoke first as determined by a coin toss earlier in the evening) to first wish his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, a happy 20th anniversary. "A year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people," he promised.
"I'm sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me," Gov. Romney told the president when it was his turn to speak.
The friendly banter pretty much ended there. For the next 90 minutes, the candidates sparred over tax rates, Medicare and other issues, steamrolling Lehrer's futile efforts to keep the debate on track. Romney repeatedly accused Obama of not accomplishing enough in his four years in office, while Obama maintained that Romney has offered no specifics on the policies he would implement if elected.
Subjects not addressed included hot topics on the campaign trail such as women's issues, immigration policy and Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comments.
Here are key soundbites from each candidate's responses on some of the six major topics that were covered.
OBAMA: "For 18 months, [Romney]'s been running on this tax plan. Now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big, bold idea is 'never mind.' The fact is that, if you are lowering the rates the way you describe ... then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals. ... It's math. It's arithmetic."
ROMNEY: "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans. I will not, under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families."
OBAMA: "The essence of the plan is that he would turn Medicare into a voucher program. ... When you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies."
ROMNEY: "Neither the president nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near-retirees on social security or Medicare."
ROMNEY: "I just don't know how the president could have come into office facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs."
OBAMA: "When Gov. Romney says that he'll replace it with something, but can't detail how it will be in fact replaced ... at some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason that Gov. Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret is because they're too good?"
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
OBAMA: "The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe. That's its most basic function ... I also believe that the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunities and create ladders of opportunities and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed."
ROMNEY: "The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation ... is not the course for America to have a strong and vibrant economy."
THE NATIONAL DEBT
ROMNEY: "You've been president four years. You said you'd cut the deficit in half. ... We still have a trillion-dollar deficit."
OBAMA: "When I walked in the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me. And we know where it came from."
OBAMA: "Does anybody out there think that the big problem we had was that there was too much regulation and oversight of Wall Street? Because if you do, Governor Romney is your candidate."
ROMNEY, explaining why he would repeal the Dodd-Frank bill: "Regulation is essential. You can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation. ... at the same time, regulation can become excessive."
OBAMA: "When he tells a student that "You should borrow money from your parents to go to college," that indicates the degree to which there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle, kids probably who attend the University of Denver, just don't have that option.
ROMNEY: "You're entitled as president to your own plane and to your own house, but not to your own facts."
What did you think of the debate? Do you have a better sense of the candidates? Who do you think "won"?