Mitt Romney scores points in presidential debate, but will it help him?
Mitt Romney appeared more at ease and in control than did President Obama at Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver, with experts saying it might have done him 'some good.'
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Both Romney and Obama steamrolled over moderator Jim Lehrer’s occasional attempts to rein in their talking, and in the end, there were just 3 minutes left to discuss the final question, on partisanship in government.Skip to next paragraph
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The economy, as expected, dominated the debate, and so many numbers were lobbed in the first half of the debate that viewers might be excused for thinking they were in a math classroom or a budget committee briefing.
One number that surprisingly didn’t come up: the now-famous 47 percent figure, from Romney’s private talk to donors in which he disparaged the portion of the electorate that doesn’t pay federal income taxes.
Romney, as expected, went to great lengths to show just how much he does care about the middle class, promising tax relief to middle class families, and promising he was not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by the wealthy.
“Middle income families are being crushed,” he said.
His repeated insistence that Obama’s characterization of his tax cuts was wrong, in fact – and that he won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit – finally prompted Obama to retort that “for 18 months [Romney] has been running on this tax plan, and now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying his big bold idea is ‘never mind.’ ”
Obama seemed strangely lacking in energy for much of the debate, though he came on stronger in the final half hour, and repeatedly returned to subjects where he felt he was strong: education, which played a much more prominent role in the debate than many expected, and his compassion for middle-class Americans.
He also scored more effective points when he repeatedly called Romney to task for his lack of details on his proposals.
Romney “says he’s going to close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan … but we don’t know the details,” Obama said. “He says he’s going to replace Dodd-Frank, Wall Street reform, but we don’t know exactly which ones. He won’t tell us. He now says he’s going to replace Obamacare and ensure that all the good things that are in it are going to be in there and you don’t have to worry. And 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?”
Romney, for his part, finally had an answer to how he shifted his stance on health care, from creating the Massachusetts law that is the model for Obama's health-care law – as Obama pointed out several times during the debate – to promising to repeal the law.
“I like the way we did it in Massachusetts,” said Romney, going on to emphasize the bipartisan support the law there had. “What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation state by state.”
Romney also got off a few of the much-anticipated “zingers” one of his aides had promised in recent days, at one point telling Obama, “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts.”