Romney barrels out of debate on offence
DENVER—Republican Mitt Romney barrelled out of the first presidential debate energized by a solid performance that showed his determination to take it to President Barack Obama with an attack meant to reverse his recent slide in the polls.
The president appeared haggard and uncomfortable, but intent on keeping his momentum from stalling with a month to go before the election.
Obama, who appeared to spend much of the 90 minutes looking at the podium while Romney looked at him, signalled that he won’t let up on his message that Romney’s plans on taxes, health care, the deficit, and more just don’t add up.
“It’s fun,” Romney declared well into last night’s debate, clearly relishing the back-and-forth.
“It’s arithmetic,” said Obama, hammering at Romney’s conspicuous lack of details with far less enthusiasm.
Two debates remain before the Nov, 6 election—on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22. The second will focus on foreign affairs.
The campaigns now head to some of the most hotly-contested states over the next few days. Obama was staying in Colorado today while Romney headed to Virginia.
With 13 days before their next debate, Obama and Romney have time to hone their arguments while their campaigns continuing to bombard those contested states with negative ads that go far beyond the more restrained attacks the candidates levelled in the debate.
Notably, Obama made no mention of Romney’s secretly-recorded remark that he’s not worried about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes.
Democratic ads, though, have been using the comment heavily.
In next few weeks, Romney is expected to give a number of speeches filling in details to answer criticism that he hasn’t clearly outlined his plans.
The Republican challenger begins with a foreign policy speech in Virginia on Monday.
Subsequent speeches are expected to focus on job creation, debt, and spending.
Romney has promised to balance the budget in eight-10 years, but hasn’t explained just how he’ll do it.
The president said the U.S., with its still-weak economy and unemployment above eight percent, faces tough problems that defy simple solutions and said his own choices were “benefiting middle-class families all across the country.”
Romney maintained it was Obama who was crushing the middle class and getting the numbers wrong, telling him, “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts.”
Senior Obama political adviser David Axelrod told NBC that Romney “did give a strong performance. But that’s what it was, a performance.”
Ed Gillespie, a top aide to Romney, told NBC that what people saw in the debate was a presidential challenger “who had a command of the facts.”