Obama rallies after debate with Romney

2012-10-04 22:22

Denver - President Barack Obama was about a half-day late on Thursday in offering his rebuttal to Republican challenger Mitt Romney after a surprising debate, saying: "If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth."

Obama's remarks at a Colorado campaign event were a sharp contrast to his uncomfortable, low-energy appearance on Wednesday night, where Romney's assertive performance was aimed at reversing his slipping stance in the polls. Republicans who had despaired before the debate quickly rallied to Romney's side.

Obama's campaign on Thursday promised "adjustments" would be made.

And Obama appeared to wake up on Thursday, attacking Romney for offering plans to fix the still-weak economy without saying how he would do it.

"The man on stage last night doesn't want to be held to account ... for what he's been selling for the last year," Obama said. He added, "Here's the truth: Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class."

It wasn't clear whether the debate would sway the less than 10% of Americans who say they haven't yet decided on a candidate. And two debates remain before the November 6 election. Both candidates quickly returned to campaigning on Thursday in the handful of states that will determine the next president.

Romney said the election will be a "close-fought battle" as he made an unscheduled appearance at a conservative gathering in Colorado, where he took the stage to sustained cheers.

Eager for next debate

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod told reporters that the president is "eager" for the next debate. "I'm sure that we will make adjustments," Alexrod added.

As Romney faced the president directly for the first time in the campaign, signs already were indicating that the race was tightening in some of those battleground states where Obama has enjoyed a recent advantage. The election is decided in state-by-state contests and not by popular vote.

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," an energised Romney declared well into Wednesday 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.

Both candidates came into a newly structured debate with distinct missions and largely achieved them. Romney needed to project leadership and dispel the image of an out-of-touch multimillionaire. Obama needed to avoid making any major mistakes and press the case that he still has more to offer to improve an economy that continues to sag.

Notably, Obama made no mention of Romney's secretly recorded remark that he's not worried about the 47% of Americans who don't pay taxes. Democratic ads, though, have been using the comment heavily since it emerged last month.

Asked why the president didn't raise the video, Axelrod suggested to MSNBC that he didn't need to since it has been so widely seen and heard. "The president's belief is that's something that has been very much a part of the discussion," Axelrod said.

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".


Both political parties released sharp videos on Thursday playing off the debate, with Republicans calling theirs Smirk and focusing on Obama's sometimes sour-looking demeanour. The Democrats called theirs Mitt Romney: What a Guy, showing Romney repeatedly interrupting the moderator.

Two debates remain, on October 16 and October 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 on Thursday, while Romney headed to Virginia.

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 years to 10 years but hasn't explained just how he'll do it.

"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?" Obama said, in a rare show of passion. "Is it because that somehow middle-class families are going to benefit too much from them? No."

The president said the US, with its still-weak economy and unemployment above 8%, 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."

  • amanda.victor.92 - 2012-10-05 00:29

    Obama came across as the bumbling fool he is. Without his teleprompter the USA and the world saw exactly why the USA has gone backwards the last 4 years. He is clearly out of his depth and couldn't even look Romney in the eyes. He was voted in on his popularity and no substance. America is clearly suffering as a result. Time to vote for a competent adult America! The world needs a strong America.

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-05 00:58

      But vote for who then... a greedy mormon businessman who's only agenda is to make the rich even richer? Obama is incompetent no doubt; even though he faced an America with massive economic problems when he came to office there was still more he could have done to combat unemployment. Still, in the end Americans can only choose which clown to put into power. Romney would cause even more damage than Obama did.

      fishycraig - 2012-10-05 02:14

      Whatda.fuqbro... people mustn't necessarily judge Romney on who he is if they absolutely don't like him. But rather judge him in comparison to Obama. Like you said, Obama might have inherited a bungled mess (to a degree) but he really could have done more. And I think people saw Romney has a business plan for America. Obama didn't even plan for this debate so how can anyone think he has a plan for America?

      richard.stevens.31508 - 2012-10-05 08:10

      Romney won't win the US Presidential election. He has alienated 47% of all Americans, the elderly, women, the poor, etc. Romney is out of touch with ordinary Americans. On small business development, his siggestion was that entrepreneurs should borrow money from their parents. His "business plan" / economic plan is short on specifics, and essentially relies on tax cuts for the wealthy US$5trillion (a failed trickle down economic theory). On closer inspection, his assertions on alternative energy, health care, defense, and a number of other issues at the debate lacked any factual basis. It's much easier to prepare for a debate when you are the challenger - the incumbent has to run a country...

      richard.stevens.31508 - 2012-10-05 08:11


      charlie.mutombo - 2012-10-05 12:53

      So you think, is all politics mate, let me school you Romney has done nothing all what he said are just stats that are going to happen irregardless who become president on the other hand Obama has been in office for 4 years and has a record, the whole world is on tight squize when it come to finance, the decision the government makes today, you will see the ripple effects in at least 3 years, when did the financial crisis start ??? ask your self that and you will understand if you still unclear, deop me a line to school you further!!

      charlie.mutombo - 2012-10-05 12:54

      office for 4 years and has a record, the whole world is on tight squize when it come to finance, the decision the government makes today, you will see the ripple effects in at least 3 years, when did the financial crisis start ??? ask your self that and you will understand if you still unclear, drop me a line so I can school you further!!

  • yolandi.reichert - 2012-10-05 06:48

    I don't think SA is the only country with a leadership crises!!!

  • terry.burne - 2012-10-05 07:37

    I would take either of these candidates to lead South Africa, in place of the bumbing fool and any of the other wannabes that the ANC have in mind to lead this country. Hell - I would happily make Obama "president for life" of South Africa - instead of facing a long line of useless idiots who will probably end up in 20 years time with Malema .... who will likely then make himself president for life!

  • sandile.makasi - 2012-10-05 07:51

    After watching the Obama vs Romney debate I can't shake the feeling that Obama let Romney dominate so he can grow in confidence, after doing poorly on the campaign trail and think he is doing well then to blast him in the last 2 debates. His strategy is simply to have a strong enough opponent rather than a weakling. Is this good sportsmanship or stupidity? Has Obama received enough guarantees to think that he'll win no matter what? Let's wait and see...

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