Romney pummels Obama in first debate

2012-10-04 07:19

Denver - An aggressive Mitt Romney took the fight to President Barack Obama on Wednesday and the Republican candidate appeared to breathe new life into his struggling campaign with a solid performance at their first debate.

Looking to claw his way back into a race that has seen Obama hold an edge among voters, Romney was on the offensive throughout the 90-minute encounter with the incumbent Democrat as he sought to put his campaign back on a sound footing with under five weeks to go until the November 6 election.

Standing side-by-side for the first time after months of brutal campaign exchanges, the two men clashed over taxes, healthcare and the role of government in ways that reflected the deep ideological divide in Washington.


Appearing poised and well-prepared, Romney zeroed in on weak economic growth and 8.1% unemployment that have left Obama vulnerable in his effort to win a second four-year term. Government has taken on too big a role under Obama, dampening job creation, Romney argued.

"Now, I'm concerned that we're on the path that's just been unsuccessful. The president has a view very similar to the one he had when he ran for office four years ago, that spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will, trickle-down government would work. That's not the right answer for America," Romney said.

A CNN/ORC snap poll said 67% of registered voters surveyed thought Romney won the debate at the University of Denver, compared with 25% for Obama.

Mysteriously, Obama failed to mention issues his campaign has used in attack ads to damage Romney in the polls such as the Republican's now infamous "47%" video, his business record at Bain Capital and previous hard line on immigration.

The debate saw no haymaker punches thrown and not much in the way of memorable one-line zingers. Instead, it was a war of attrition as each man used facts and figures to make his points and stress the differences between them.

Romney, however, did himself some favours with crisper answers than Obama, who sounded professorial and a bit long-winded despite his staff's best efforts to get him to give snappier comments.

Quite often Obama looked downward at his notes as Romney pounced on the president's record. At one point, the Democrat quibbled with debate moderator Jim Lehrer when Lehrer tried to cut him off for going over his allotted time.

"I had five seconds before you interrupted me," Obama said to Lehrer with a smile.

Tax proposals

The White House incumbent did put Romney on the defensive about his proposals for overhauling the US tax system with a 20% across-the-board tax cut. Obama said it would cost $5 trillion and that it would be impossible to make up this amount by eliminating tax loopholes as the Republican talks about.

"The fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you described, governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It's - it's math. It's arithmetic," Obama said.

Romney replied, "Virtually everything he said about my tax plan is inaccurate."

Obama also reminded Americans that Romney was proposing more of the same kind of tax cuts that Obama's Republican predecessor, former President George W Bush, pushed through Congress in 2001 and 2003. Most Americans are willing to concede that Obama inherited an economic mess, but also believe it is his responsibility to bring back the economy.

"We ended up moving from surpluses to deficits and it all culminated with the worst recession since the Great Depression," said Obama.

In the face of attacks from Romney that the Obama healthcare overhaul of 2010 will hurt small-business hiring, Obama basically said his healthcare plan was modelled after the programme Romney put in place as governor of Massachusetts, and it "hasn't destroyed jobs" there.

After arguing for months that the Wall Street regulation legislation known as "Dodd-Frank" should be repealed, Romney was forced to concede under pressure from Obama that he would keep some financial regulations established under the law.

Rocky campaign for Romney

Romney was in need of a victory at the debate to help him put his campaign back on a positive footing after a rocky few weeks.

He was damaged by a hidden-camera videotape in which he said 47% of voters were dependent on government and unlikely to support him. That was among several stumbles that have knocked Romney's campaign off message.

Obama, holding a slight lead in national polls and leading Romney in some swing states where the election will be decided, was looking in the debate to avoid harming his position as the apparent front-runner.

But he may have spent too much time trying to avoid making mistakes and let Romney get the better of him.

The debate was the best opportunity to date to reach large numbers of voters in an unfiltered way, with an estimated television audience of 60 million possible.

Advisers to both Romney and Obama predictably said their man emerged victorious. Obama adviser David Plouffe told reporters in the "spin room" that Romney appeared "testy" at times.

As for Obama's lengthy comments, his campaign manager Jim Messina said, "That's never going to be our strong suit."

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said if the debate had been a prize fight, the referee would have called it for Romney an hour in.

The debate was the first of three such face-offs scheduled in the next four weeks. Biden and Romney's running mate, US Representative Paul Ryan, will debate once, on October 11.

- Are you in the US? Share your experiences of the US election campaign.

  • julius.hond - 2012-10-04 07:38

    whatever, they both report to the same boss...

      matthew.swanepoel.9 - 2012-10-04 08:03

      What on earth are you talking about hond?

      tuco.angeleyes - 2012-10-04 08:05

      yep doesn't really matter who wins when the 'master' is the same group of people.

      greg.meyer.543 - 2012-10-04 08:20

      Romney and Obama's policies are exactly the same. The left/right is just a smoke screen making people THINK they have choice, there is no choice, they are exactly the same and as Julius Said, they are OWNED by corporate sponsors who bet on both sides. The system is broken people, time to catch a wake up...

      man.zanilla.73 - 2012-10-04 08:23

      Ha. Ha. Good comment. Your right. The Illuminati!!!

      J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-10-04 08:23

      The greatest puppet show on earth. The politics of the US is determined by The Council on Foreign Relations and its economics by the Federal Reserve Bank. If there was really democracy there, the cultural resources of the American people - so admirable in themselves - would produce four or five influential parties.

      scheepers - 2012-10-04 08:26

      @ Matthew, house of representatives and the senate

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-04 09:01

      The USA is the most corrupt democracy on earth.I have to give it them though ,they know how to cover their tracks.For example they have cleverly renamed "bribery" as "lobbying". Welcome to the New World Order courtesy of the Illuminati and it's committee of 300 headed by the queen of England.

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-04 09:16

      Watching the US Presidential election campaign is like watching WWE wrestling.It is all staged while the American people are continuously brainwashed in to believing that the candidates have their best interest at heart.Until the US stop being a two party state it will never be a genuine democracy but more a veiled dictatorship.

      mukosit - 2012-10-04 09:30

      Well-done Mitt Romney,I'm your fan. I wish you all the best in your race to the White House. From ex-Mormon member South Africa Pretoria

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-04 09:31

      Let us not forget the US "military complex' which dictates that the USA must constantly be at war so that big corporations can constantly get billion dollar contracts thereby fleecing the country in cohorts with the Military ,Government and federal reserve bank.Can you believe that America has been at war for the past 50 years non stop! Damn ,can you imagine how much those wars have cost? I actually feel pity for ordinary Americans.They have been lied to ,manipulated ,debt ridden and tamed as sheep by their own Government.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-04 10:04

      The boss which is ???? The iluminati ? Amazing , hundreds of thousands of people all in on the biggest secret in the world at the behest of a tiny group but the president can't get a blow job without it being leaked and him being impeached. David Ickes , reptilian overlords theory seems more plausable.

      dylan.sciarappa - 2012-10-04 10:31

      Mathew he talking about there bosses they all report to the same People giant corporations banks oil and the military industrial complex. America is no longer a democracy

      boaz.yarmarkov - 2012-10-04 11:02

      Just watched the debate youtube. Romney kicked butt and I am no fan of either candidate. Obama without a TelePrompTer is just a normal guy in a suit I guess. If this happens again in the next debates I fear the republicans will take this election. Obama seamed weak and uncomfortable - the voting public don’t like weak and oval office in the same sentence. I wish we had debates like that in SA.

      squeegee.pilot - 2012-10-04 11:10

      boax, thank you for commenting. Finally a bit of sanity in a sea of gunk. Obama lost by far. When even the Huffington Post says so you can believe it. Obama holds the same position as the ANC. Pay everyone a grant, huge government, hate successful people, tax the few to look after the grabbers, etc. I'm amazed so many SA complainers don't get this...

      claudia.meads - 2012-10-04 11:30

      Mitt my man, I was absolutely sMITTen - nothing excites a girl more than a real man, real sexy at that, of real intelligence, taking down the slow-thinking communist in drag... More on SLOWBAMA in the link below. MERITOCRACY 1 : PARASITE'S PARADISE 0 ...

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-04 11:38

      boaz.yarmarkov - I believe the same Obama debated against Mccain in 2008 and triumphed him?? I have never understood why everyone was on Obama's case about his use of a teleprompter. I am no fan of Obama but i think his critics just go over board and resort to childish rhetoric instead of sticking to the main issues. The reason for him losing the debate could be any of the following: (1) He wasn't prepared (2) The fact that it happened on his wedding anniversary distracted him (3) It was staged (4) He has a secret weapon up his sleeves and will unleash at the right time It had absolutely nothing to do with him using a teleprompter.We will see how he performs when they go for the second debate.Even though i am not his fan ,i respect him for the fact that he became the first Afro American President despite all the odds against him.Whatever you may think of him ,that is a great achievement and more than many of us will ever achieve our lifetime.

      larissa.goosen - 2012-10-04 14:15

      Good joke. Be nice to America Or we will bring democracy to your country)))

      husaberg.twostroke - 2012-10-04 20:38

      NOBAMA would do . Romney jou doring knap gedaan.

      beverly.young3 - 2012-10-04 21:00

      NO they dont. The Jewish fraternity support Obama. After his last election, he still had $350 million dollars left, out of the $754 million he was donated. Romeny is good, but this is not his time.

      edward.patterson.923 - 2012-10-05 02:19

      Until the US stop being a two party state it will never be a genuine democracy but more a veiled dictatorship. How is a one party state (am assuming if you want US to get rid of the two parties that you want only one) a democracy. A small group of people gather in secret to set forth a group of candidates that are the only option for the people. How is that a democracy. The fact that every two years the content of the House of Representatives can change from one party to the other, that every four years the Presidency can change hands and numerous people can run for their parties nomination and based on the popular vote in each state (everyone over the age of 18 is eligible to vote) the delegates then cast their vote at each parties convention. Then once the candidates are chosen the people vote again. A certain number of senators(33) also stand for reelection every every two years again with primaries where even the incumbent Senators can be challenged from within their own party. This process gives the nation a chance to change direction every two years.

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-05 08:52

      @mukosit: wow, not many people would proudly boast about being a mor(m)on.

  • denny.cray - 2012-10-04 07:43

    Too bad JZ refuses to debate or we could have these too.

      corne.dunn - 2012-10-04 08:14

      Instead of a debate, our candidates would most likely have a "dance-off"

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-10-04 08:45

      I would have like to have seen JZ debate either one of the two. Boy would that be a laugh.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-04 08:54

      Perhaps Zuma could debate, if the debates were conducted in isiZulu!

      kevin.watson.7906 - 2012-10-04 09:17

      Fidel, he cannot debate in isiZulu either because it requires acuity of mind, mastery of the facts and not singing and dancing skills.

      richard.bosmano - 2012-10-04 09:27

      The anc don't debate , they shout and carry on like a chicken hok until you wait for them to quiet down , then you open your mouth to continue and they start again.They do not know how to debate,none of them got through high school ,where debating is taught.

      denny.cray - 2012-10-04 10:23

      @Fidel - Do you honestly believe the issue is a language barrier? The debate could be conducted in any language with interpreters if required. I think it would be a great idea to try force a debate next time in a similar manner to this: The idea being that you raise a lot of money pledges for a charitable institution which is *only* paid across if a debate actually happens. It would make refusing to debate a lot harder when some orphanage/aids clinic etc is deprived of say R1 million as a result.

      diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-04 10:48

      @Denny enough seen and heard when he was delivering his speech in front of the UN council.

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-04 11:10

      At least JZ is better than the current Nigerian president ,Goodluck Jonathan who holds the world record of being the first presidential candidate to debate against himself on National TV.Research it if you don't believe me.

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-10-04 16:06

      Denny, when I watched, I was wondering how a debate between Zille and Zuma would go. Can you imagine for one second. And for everybody who wants to run their mouths off at the USA - have you ever lived there? Or are you so used to the prison you are living in that you are incapable of seeing the freedom the the American people still enjoy. And something else, whoever says that it does not make a difference who comes in - don't show your ignorance please. The people in USA are extremely serious about their politics and America is going to suffer if the Democrats come in again. And for all those who spews their poison - the Democrats are not much different to our ever present/threatening socialistic government.

      mikey.scholtz.7 - 2012-10-04 18:07

      The only debate the ANC understands is mass debate.

      marius.koen.16 - 2012-10-04 21:12

      Spear fighting anyone?

  • phillip.beukes.5 - 2012-10-04 07:47

    To me it is really amazing, that out of a population of nearly 300 million people, they can not find a suitable candidate to represent the USA...

      steve.ritchie.739 - 2012-10-04 08:14

      Same applies in SA

      greg.meyer.543 - 2012-10-04 08:20

      Ron Paul would have been a great president.

      kevin.watson.7906 - 2012-10-04 09:19

      As was explained to me in 1980 when I was in the USA and observred the race for the presidency,"If you spend a life time prostituting yourself in front of the voters you become a prostitute, so whom ever is elected is a prostitute."

  • hauke.liefferink - 2012-10-04 07:50

    A two party state is no democracy. You have a choice between two liars who cannot do math.

      Willie - 2012-10-04 08:03

      Spot on how is Romney going to create 12million jobs.Voters are gullible all over the world.Is worse when you get uneducated population

      merven.halo - 2012-10-04 08:34

      In SA we can choose between liars and idiotic liars, so we are even worst off.

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-10-04 08:48

      Well we are far, far worse of than the USA with our anc, and some 7 other insignificant parties. Just a totally different level of intelect amoungst USA polititians and their voters you connot even compare it to the sircus we have.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-04 09:03

      We are far better than the US, at least in SA there's an ideological difference between the competing parties, a real choice, unlike the US where none of the parties are anti war. The US doesn't have a democracy, but a corporatocracy, with a resemblence to fascism! Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Benito Mussolini

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-10-04 09:27

      Yes we have the corrupt and incompetent, even downright criminals getting 67% of the vote, no how much they have run SA into the ground. Wonderfull choice

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-04 11:14

      The only thing holding SA back is lack of unity.If SA can unite to the level of the Americans,ANC will have not legs to stand on.They (ANC)are currently thriving because of the racial division in the country.

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-10-04 16:09

      Fidel, what ARE you talking about. In SA we are sitting with people claiming they were born ANC. You don't have a choice - actually, you do, it's either Zuma or Montlante.

  • elewies - 2012-10-04 07:58

    Just finished watching the debate. I didn't check the news before watching it and my immediate impression after watching it was that Romney did better. However, I still think Obama will win. He's got huge leads in most swing-states

      gordon.turner.37 - 2012-10-04 08:10

      If Romney told off his extreme right And govern like he did in MA, he would pull the middle to him and the extreme right would still vote for him. Hanging out with crazy people is not helping him.

      africanwolf - 2012-10-04 08:14

      It means nothing the results in the end , is what counts

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-10-04 08:49

      But overall Obama and Romney are tied.

      elewies - 2012-10-04 09:46

      Devon national polls mean nothing. The winner of each states takes all the delegates of the state. Which is why swing-states are important and national polls are useless

  • africanwolf - 2012-10-04 08:07

    Obama = one term president Americans like a strong president, not a puppet.

      elewies - 2012-10-04 08:40

      Wahahahaha! Tell me how Mittens isn't the teabaggers' b#tch?

      morgaenart.farto - 2012-10-04 17:08

      @elewies...sounds like you are already someone's biatch...

  • David - 2012-10-04 08:14

    It is impossible for one person to make a real difference, the president has surprisingly little control over what happens in a country

      angela.michaels.73 - 2012-10-04 08:44

      Agreed and didn't Obama's presidency just prove that. He was so full of zeal to effect much needed change but found that nigh on impossible.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-04 09:08

      The US Congress is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporations. Political scientists understand that US electoral outcomes are determined by powerful monied interests that finance the political campaigns and that the bills Congress passes and the President signs are written by these interest groups to serve their narrow interests.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-04 10:19

      @David - the president doesn't walk on to a clean slate , plans and policy require senate and congress approval which makes autocratic moves difficult and ensures representation on these plans. Fidel - Corporations of course , they must be in control. Makes perfect sense now. Which ones? The worlds biggest company , Apple? Wal-Mart ?

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-05 08:40

      Fidel, as conspiracy theory-like as that sounds it is probably true. The massive amounts of money invested into the candidates' campaigns by the wealthy speaks volumes. Nobody with business sense will invest major amounts of money into something that they don't get a real and tangible return on investment from.

  • dieter.muller.942145 - 2012-10-04 08:31

    GO ROMNEY!!!!!!!!

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-10-04 08:51

      Romney is a very impressive debater, he had Obama sweating there a couple of times

      diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-04 10:45

      Yes he must go to hell.

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-05 08:33

      What's so great about Romney?

  • douglas.reid.921 - 2012-10-04 08:54

    Obama still trying to clean up the mess left by Bush.\r\nHard to turn around such a big economy in such a short time. Don't thing Romney will do better but just find more wars to engage in.

      morgaenart.farto - 2012-10-04 17:07

      Oh rubbish!!!!! Obummer has brought the US to the brink of ruin with his spineless leadership and failed socialist policies. Time for the "White" House to be returned to just that....

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-05 08:28

      George Warlord Bush was easily the worst and most damaging president in recent US history. Obama was incompetent and Romney will bring religion into state and give the rich tax breaks and other perks. Clinton was far better than any of these 3 clowns.

  • bart.mitchell.393 - 2012-10-04 08:57

    "Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few." -George Bernard Shaw

  • Eterni80 - 2012-10-04 09:01

    See ya later mass debater.

  • jonathan.jooste - 2012-10-04 09:02

    such a debate with zuma vs zille wil never happen.zille wil kill zuma.coz h cant even read his speech properly nevermind debate

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-04 09:48

      Depends if Zille can debate in isiZulu!

      SNG62 - 2012-10-04 14:39

      Hey Fidel - she may not be able to debate in Zulu, but she certainly could in Xhosa!

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-10-04 17:49

      You cannot debate in an african language. For many concepts there are no equivalents. Can you say typewriter in isiZulu?

  • FeebleGastro - 2012-10-04 09:12

    The poor Obama was probably not allowed his teleprompter...

  • henk.vanrensburg.31 - 2012-10-04 09:20

    Imagine we had the same thing. Madam Zille will eat Jacob up for breakfast!

      werner.pretorius.12 - 2012-10-05 06:21

      Of een tussen Pieter Mulder en Zille. Dan het sy geen media 24 om agter weg e kruip of die feite beter in te kleur nie. Kan ons dit nie reel nie?

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-10-04 09:26

    Romney for President!

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-05 08:17

      You say that like it's a good thing. Fact of the matter is that the US have 2 exceptionally poor candidates for the presidency right here.

  • craig.lott.589 - 2012-10-04 09:53

    Two candidates go head to head in a live televised debate. Hows that for democracy. Remember every American actually votes for the presidential candidate - unlike here in SA where we vote for a "party" - which then appoints the President. Imagine a live televised debate between the ruling and opposition parties in SA. Where the rowdy masses were omitted. we cannot claim to have a democracy until we can see that kind of transparency. Hopeful thinking. Imagine the old National Party taking on the "opposition" on SABCTV 20 years ago!!! Interesting how the wheel has turned ..... ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      ppisciotta - 2012-10-04 14:33

      Craig - not quite. Each State has a certain number of memebers in the Electorial College - I believe it is based upon the population. It is the Electorial College who actually votes for the President. Normally if the people vote in a State sway to one candidate, the candidate receives all the Electorial Votes from that State. But members of the Electorial College are not bound to follow that rule. Andrew Jackson tried to eliminate the Electorial College during his Presidency, but it remains. There have been times when the Electorial College didn't follow the people's vote - as in the case of Richard Nixon. It has been argued that the Electorial College is in place to protect American Democracy from the illiterate who may have the right to vote, but who cast their ballots for the wrong reason. I fine similiarity of this in SA with the majority maybe voting by color rather than reason. I'm spending my first time in America right now - and during a Presidential Election. It has been a facinating experience. The topics discussed are so far and above what I've witnessed in SA. SA has a way to go to measure up in the democratic world.

  • Dinesh - 2012-10-04 10:16

    Democracy in its nature is corrupt.

      ppisciotta - 2012-10-04 14:37

      Suggest you move to N. Korea. Or depending upon your religious bent, how about Saudia Arabia or Yemen?

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-04 10:43

    Ah let me repeat myself, they both are the obverse and reverse of the same coin. Obama is just less dangerous and as far as there is no one else to run for presidency he should be a choice.

      denny.cray - 2012-10-04 12:53

      When offered a choice between cutting my leg off at the knee or the ankle I'd typically like to at least be offered another option. How about some wild card entries to these debates from a third party? Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) is on the ballot in all the states. Why not him? I'd even like to see (and would sooner vote for) a fringe party candidate like Green or Constitution Party.

      richard.bosmano - 2012-10-04 16:36

      Ummm nope. Democrats are more socialist, Republicans more capitalist. Personally i'm more fearful of socialists,they take from everyone and give to the laziest. Capitalist take from everyone and reward the smarter of the lot. I'd rather Mit rewards say someone like me ,an accountant for their brain burning labour then say a janitor/dance teacher that was to dumb or lazy to study.

  • jean.rossouwsa - 2012-10-04 11:35

    O hoe mis OBAMA sy telleprompter!!! hahahahahaha

  • ppisciotta - 2012-10-04 14:19

    As a SA now living in the States for the 1st time and the 1st time during a presidential race. This is a very interesting time to be living in America. I can't vote so I can watch the debate and adverts without bias. The democracy in America is quite different than in SA. In the States nearly everyone and everything (except for Supreme Judges) are up for the vote including tax rates and local police officials. I wonder if such a form of democracy could survive in SA. Would it help eliminate some of the corruption I see with so many appointees by the ruling party?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-04 15:41

      Nothing is good for everyone. As a negotiated human construction, democracy is no panacea. It is a system made within the context of history and the diversity of human identities. There are, have been, and can be as many forms of democracy as people need to deliver the reality of human dignity and well-being to all. The most undemocratic thing is to assume you have the complete answer and insist everyone else does democracy your way.

      boaz.yarmarkov - 2012-10-05 06:24

      Some societies are so mired in obscurantism, feudalism, superstition and ignorance - often as the result of the deliberate policies of their governments, in order to stay in power - that universal suffrage would merely mean a census on the size of each tribe. In the Palestinian Authority, elections are merely popularity contests between differing groups of terrorist organisations. In several Arab countries that are presently dictatorships, a full, free and fair democratic election would probably bring pro-al-Qaeda governments into power, and thus the inevitability of sharia law, then dictatorship and then war. One-person-one-vote happening once is not democracy.

  • robert.doyle.712 - 2012-10-04 15:16

    They need Zuma lol.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-10-04 17:53

      It puzzles me how anybody can look up to Zuma or the ANC for that matter.

  • penelope.mthembu.7 - 2012-10-04 20:17

    i think its was jst obama's strategy to lose this round of debates, there 2 more left just when the other guy thinks he has won the battle obama will attack and win the war..

  • werner.pretorius.12 - 2012-10-05 06:10

    Ek sou graag vir Pieter Mulder teen Zille wou sien.

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