Obama and Romney face off in first presidential debate

Andrew Clark

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President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had a spirited debate Wednesday.

The debate, sponsored by the Commission of Presidential Debates, took place at the University of Denver in Colorado.

Moderator Jim Lehrer, anchor of PBS’ “NewsHour” tried to follow a format of 15 minute segments, but both candidates ran over their allotted time.

The immediate reaction from liberals and conservatives alike favored Romney.

Bill Galston, a former adviser to President Clinton and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the Wall Street Journal Romney, “almost certainly did himself some good.  He conveyed a sense that was more human, more empathetic.”

Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said on CNN that Romney’s primary battle helped him in the debate, giving the former governor a strong showing against the president.

Here are three topics highlighted in the debate, including candidate excerpts and an independent fact-checker.

Job Creation

Obama said, “Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs. We went from deficit to surplus. And businesses did very well.”

Romney said he wants to create 12 million new jobs after going through 43 straight months of an unemployment rate above 8 percent.

According to the Associated Press and Huffington Post, the most recent jobs report in August stated the national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, but was lower than previous months.  The same article also points out that the report says private sector job gains have gone up for 30 consecutive months.

Tax Cuts

“This is where there’s a difference, because Gov. Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut – on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts – that’s another trillion dollars – and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for,” Obama said. “That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.”

“First of all, I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class,” Romney said.  “But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am.”

Amy Bingham, in-house fact checker at ABC News, said, “So far the only specifics he (Romney) has offered on how to pay for his 20 percent across-the-board rate reduction and collection of other tax cutting measures is to eliminate tax ‘loopholes’ for high income earners.  Without these specifics, an analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimated that his tax cuts would strip $5 trillion from federal revenues over the next decade, or $456 billion per year.  Romney’s tax plan could add $5 trillion to the deficit. But that is an estimate on an incomplete tax plan.”

Health Care

Obama accused Romney of supporting a plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, but according to FactCheck, the former governor’s plan is “structured the same as the system Obama’s health care law sets up for subsidizing private insurance for persons under age 65.”

Conversely, Romney said, “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare. By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it.
But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake.”

However, FactCheck said that “these cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.”

2012 Presidential Debate

President Obama and Mitt Romney discussed domestic policy during the Oct. 3 first presidential debate of 2012. See what people were tweeting about during the debate.

Storified by Daily Sundial · Wed, Oct 03 2012 23:44:35

@BarackObama @MittRomney Welcome to the colorful state of Colorado, we are so honored to have you #debate at @DenverUniversity. Game on!Ryan Park
Tonight’s debate marks only the fourth in-person meeting between Obama and Romney. They last met in 2008. #ABCWorldNews #DebatesABC World News
Obama has previously participated in 22 presidential debates, tonight will be Romney’s 36th. #ABCWorldNews #DebatesABC World News
30 mins til the debate starts. To help us fact-check, find a URL to back up your claim and tweet it with the hashtag #factcheck.Andy Carvin
The #Romney camp just put out this photo http://pic.twitter.com/jvHLV2eU of the candidate backstage playing #Jenga http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19787806BBC News US
#watching#presidential#debate#obama#romney#2012#politics#CNN#HD#jasminechodon
and away we go #debatenina meledandri
Obama says 5 mil new jobs and better housing doesn’t mean work is over… we need economic patriotism #Election2012 #debate2012Daily Sundial
#DEBATEDENVER: Romney says “trickle down government is not the right path for America.” http://4.nbcla.com/O6eJ8LNBC Los Angeles
@MittRomney says middle income Americans are the ones having a hard time right now #debate2012Daily Sundial
We’ve got the first mention of education. @BarackObama promises teacher jobs and low tuition. #DebatesMTV
RT @Obama2012: RT @Obama2012: President Obama: "I want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas."Rose
Romney: I will not raise income taxes on middle income families. I will not lower income taxes on rich families. #ElectionClass #Debate2012Krystie Lee Yandoli
I have 5 boys. I’m used to hearing people say something that’s not true but they keep repeating it, says Romney. #Zinger #KPCCdebate89.3 KPCC
15 minutes in and both candidates have already interrupted the moderator. America is so rude.Dustin Deckard
Romney said he won’t cut taxes on those with higher incomes & won’t raise income taxes for middle income families #debate2012Daily Sundial
Moderator tells candidates hold on, we’re way over 15 minutes! #debate2012Daily Sundial
"it’s small businesses that create jobs in America…" Governor Mitt Romney #marykay #idothateverydayKatie Morris
The last word is always ridiculously important. #PresidentialDebate2012 #PDSLivePatrick Bogans
"I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut…. My priority is putting people back to work in America. They’re suffering," Mitt Romney said.Daily Sundial
Fact check: Romney’s claim that Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare has been repeatedly debunked http://bit.ly/Re3BVg #AskNYTThe Caucus
@BarackObama said #Obamacare was not only bipartisan but also a republican idea at #debate2012Daily Sundial
CBO says 20 million to lose insurance because of #Obamacare. #debates #election2012Jonathon Casalou
"The first role of the federal government is to keep people safe" – @BarackObama at #presidentialdebate #debate2012Daily Sundial
Obama keeps student loans for education low #presidentialdebatesteve mcdonald
@BarackObama said he gave $60 billion for loans and gave millions of students loans and low rates to make #college affordable #debate2012Daily Sundial
The reason I’m in this race is because there are people who are really hurting in this country – @MittRomney #debate2012Daily Sundial
"I will take ideas from anybody, republican or democrat, as long as they make middle class lives stronger" – @BarackObama in #debate2012Daily Sundial
FACT CHECK: Mitt, Massachusetts is NOT ranked #1 in education. It is Maryland #EssenceDebaterolandsmartin
"I’ll get incomes up again…. If I’m president, I’ll help create 12 million new jobs in this country" – @MittRomney in closing #debate2012Daily Sundial
#presidentialdebate informative and everyone played nice. Still haven’t made my mind up yet.Hannah Reid
#Romney came out more aggressive, but #Obama was very clear about his plans in the first #presidentialdebate. #Election2012 #cspan2012Kweschn Media