It's show time: Obama, Romney meet in first debate

Primed for a showdown, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney left their practice sessions behind today for a prime-time debate before millions with the power to settle the race for the White House in tough economic times.
AP Wire
Oct 3, 2012

Tonight's encounter (9 p.m. EDT start time) is the first of three for the candidates. By agreement between the rival campaigns, it will focus on the economy and other domestic issues.

Jim Lehrer of PBS drew moderator's duties, with Obama getting the first question and Romney the last word.

The two candidates paid separate visits to the debate hall on the campus of the University of Denver during the day to familiarize themselves with the surroundings.

Five weeks before Election Day, early voting is under way in scattered states and beginning in more every day. Opinion polls show Obama with an advantage nationally and in most if not all of the battleground states where the race is most likely to be decided.

That put particular pressure on Romney to come up with a showing strong enough to alter the course of the campaign.

The sputtering economy served as the debate backdrop, as it has for virtually everything else in the 2012 campaign for the White House. Obama took office in the shadow of an economic crisis but promised a turnaround that hasn't materialized. Economic growth has been sluggish throughout his term, with unemployment above 8 percent since before he took office.

The customary security blended with a festival-like atmosphere in the surrounding area on a warm and sunny day. The Lumineers and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am performed for free, and school officials arranged to show the debate on monitors outside the hall for those without tickets.

There was local political theater, too, including female Romney supporters wearing short shorts and holding signs that said, "What War On Women?" — a rebuttal to claims by Obama and the Democrats.

Both campaigns engaged in a vigorous pre-debate competition to set expectations, each side suggesting the other had built-in advantages.

Romney took part in 19 debates during the campaign for the Republican primary early in the year. The president has not been onstage with a political opponent since his last face-to-face encounter with Arizona Sen. John McCain, his Republican rival in 2008.

Obama and Romney prepared for the evening with lengthy practice sessions. Romney selected Ohio Sen. Rob Portman as a stand-in for the president; Obama turned to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to play the Republican role.

The two presidential rivals also are scheduled to debate on Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have one debate, Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky. Both men have already begun holding practice sessions.

Comments

Wingmaster

So lets see which side shouts insults first at the other in the following days of comments on here! If you can't state your sides views without making slanderous comments about the other...you lose! Good luck!

dyankee

It appears in the headline pic. that Romney is showing Mr. Obama where the telaprompter is.

LessThanAmused

I don't think I have the stomach to watch this circus. Rampant lies, half truths, constant accusations, generalizations and the biggest problem.....neither side will have any idea how to fix the problems that face us these days. Makes me wonder why anyone would want the job when you know you're going to fail. Either way it goes we're all gonna lose more personal freedoms in the next 4 years. We're on that slippery slope and picking up speed.

Wingmaster

Well, seems that Romney has some passion around his ideas. The President seemed flat, almost counting time down to the end of the debate.

Wingmaster

.

Boater

The viewers of this debate saw the real Obama, Void of substance and thought. He needs a teleprompter to tell him what to say. November can't come soon enough. Our country needs a real leader to get us out from under the mess we find ourselves in now. Our debt is going to sink us and we need get spending in control. We can't keep printing money with no way to back it up.

43°North

you must be talking November 2016, because this pig can't fly.

truthhurts

I enjoyed watching the debate. The way the two went back and forth trying to get the last word was great, going way over the allotted time and refusing to shut up. What stood out to me was the lack of precision from obama, he stuttered a lot and ummmm took lots of umm pauses to umm think about what he should say next. Not what I expect from this countries leader especially when he was given plenty of time to prepare...he has been preparing for this the last 4 years! One thing that seems to never change is you never know what to believe or what is truth, basically in my opinion it is all a bunch of lies not matter who is saying what.

Tri-cities realist

Well hopefully we can all agree there is a distinct difference between the 2 men and their vision for our country.

Lanivan

Ok folks, it looks like Romney won big last night. Now we know what Romney on steroids is like - an Artful Dodger, giving up all pretense of honesty while, energetically and with a presidential "air", denied his own tax plan, made up numbers, misstated repeatedly not only Obama's positions (we expect that - he's told whoppers and fibs about Obama for the last several years in his sole job as "campaigner"), but, more importantly, HIS OWN. The fact-checkers can't keep up with his total disregard of the facts - or even his own "facts". You hard-right conservatives had better sit up and take notice - it was breathtaking to watch him flee from the extreme right position that he's held for well over a year on so many issues. In last night's debate, he came off all moderate, walking back on issue after issue - he's starting to look just like the liberal Republican he was when Guv'ner. NOW - which is he - a moderate or conservative? Maybe a little too liberal for some of you? My, oh my - he's a sublime bully - he's stated "Corporations are people"......"I like to fire people".....and now, he's all for firing Big Bird! ( he can't wait to defund PBS, which takes up a whopping 0.012% of the budget, you see...). How presidential is that - soft on Wall Street - hard on Sesame Street! Lie, Deny, Switch & Doublespeak - that's the blatant nonsense we get with Mitt. How perverse is it that Romney is widely judged the winner NOT because of his mastery of the facts, but for his shamelessness in ignoring them? God help us all.

Wingmaster

Obama was there...I think. Why wasn't he effective in rebutting these so called lies you speak of??? The President didn't even look Romney in the eye.

Lanivan

Probably because Romney was hyper-ventilating so hard they couldn't make eye contact?? I don't know why Obama didn't call Romney out on his many whoppers and fibs (actually that was Jim Lehrer's job as moderator, but Jim was struggling with Romney- on- steroids), but it isn't over until the fat lady sings. Perhaps he let Romney lie his way into a corner which might be very dicey getting out of? If I were Romneys base, I would wonder just who and what I was supporting - this guy is a serious serial flip-flopper.

Wingmaster

Think you should read my above rebuttal to your thoughts.

Tri-cities realist

Blame everything on everyone but Obama. In his words "the buck stops with YOU". He was pathetic. Finally people are seeing Obama for what he is.

Lanivan

Thanks for raising a very good point. During the debate, I couldn't believe he didn't call Romney out on all the fibs and whoppers, but the next day, when going over the video, realized how could he possibly - there were so many. Etch-a-sketch Romney was a whole new dude up there, all lefty liberal and reversing himself on taxes, budgets, health care, you name it - whatever it takes. He even threw his buddy Paul Ryan under the bus - should make for an interesting VP debate. Heck - he was even channeling President Obama on several issues!! You see, he was losing ground as the "severely conservative" (his words) on the tired old Tea Party platform, so lets take a sharp turn left. Meanwhile, the point you make about Obama saying "We the People" have the power to move forward is very important. This is our Constitutional right, and I'm not going to like the billionaires investing in the Romney campaign and waiting to get their highest return on their investment - should Romney get elected - take even more control of this country than they already do. As you point out, Obama is what he is - a president for ALL the people. I haven't heard him wipe out 47% of the American population as being no-good bums who will never amount to anything. But NOW, weeks later, after given a chance to walk back from that statement and refusing to do so, Romney says he was "wrong" to say this. He's an Artful Dodger, all right, And Obama broke all records in September with over 10 million small donations under $200.

horst

Interesting Lanivan, I heard a lot of numbers and facts from Romney. Was Obama even there??? Maybe you should become Obama's debate standin. Today all I hear from the libs is Romney was not honest, facts are not lies, show me a lie or two, or quit whining. If they were lies Obama had plenty of chances to rebutt, however he didn't, and he didn't offer any alternatives. As for showing the details of programs, Romney's people are smarter than that after the last election when Obama mysteriously came up with programs that Hillary had been talking about for months before him. Obama's people weren't above stealing ideas from his own party, that groups capable of anything except being transparent. It must have killed you to see Obama move from left to center in the last 4 years then. This country has had enough of Obama's on the job training, we need a seasoned professional in the White house not an amateur. Where's Ron Reagan and Bill Clinton when we need them. Now those guys could get things done....

Lanivan

No it didn't "kill" me because I voted for Obama precisely because he was and is basically a moderate Eisenhower-type of old school Republican, which I identify with much more than the current extreme far right kind of thinking. (Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush Sr wouldn't be welcomed into the party these days). He's pragmatic, centrist, and looks out for the 99% - even you. At least I know what I'm getting with Obama.....Romney, well, the only thing I know with him is he seems to morph from moderate, to slightly liberal, to hard far-right, then back to moderate, then changes his tax plan, and then says he will repeal Obamacare on his first day, but then he's going to keep it, he was pro-choice, now he's pro-life, but then he says............

Wingmaster

A moderate that in his own words wants to redistribute the wealth, and was against gay marriage before he was for it and said he would close Gitmo before he left it open. Ya he is pretty much like Reagan, as I remember well how Reagan apologized all over the middle east for America, escpecially to Gaddfi if I remember correctly!. Thanks for clearing thinks up Lanivan!

dyankee

@Lanivan, Why don't you go hang Big Birds in your maple tree, then? I'm thinking of doing solar panels from Solyndra. We can both sit next to each other once we're both shunned into a Lake Shore Diversity Alliance seminar by the GHT Editorial Board and we can finish this discussion.

Lanivan

Now dyankee....of course you know the federal grant going to Solyndra originated during the Bush years, it was a bipartisan vote, and congress had allocated over 2 billion out of many billions for businesses that didn't make it - only 3 out of many bit the dust, and the money lost - unfortunate as it is - didn't amount to a fraction of the amount allocated for loss. Some you win, some you lose. Of course, you know how hard it is to compete with the Chinese - they heavily subsidize their renewable energy start-ups, which in the case of Solyndra, allowed the Chinese to sell the solar panels less than Solyndra's cost. But I digress.......For once you are actually humorous with your suggestion of hanging Big Birds from my trees!! Hilarious - however, since Big Bird will forever be linked to Romney in my mind, and hanging an effigy of Romney from a tree seems extreme and offensive to me, I will entertain the notion of putting a Big Bird with it's neck slashed out by my Obama sign.

AtomicRooster

It don't take a professor from another planet to figure out that Grand Haven and surrounding cities is pro-republican and always has been and always will be. Nothing has changed in decades. I will keep my thoughts to myself here to avoid all of your negative feedback. The people will speak in November.

Lanivan

Are you referring to the moderate Eisenhower Republican Party or the current hard right John Birch Society-style of Tea Party Republican Party? Or the moderate disenfranchised pro-Obama Republicans? As opposed to the old-school far-left liberal Democrats, or the pragmatic Progressives of the centrist Democrat Party? Times are a-changin', AtomicRooster - think twice before saying "always has been and always will be"!

Wingmaster

Now isn't it funny how there has not been a follow up publication, article or anything here from the Tribune regarding Mitt Romney and his dominating debate. Hmmm, even those on the left acknowledge his performance. What's up Tribune staff? Bias....er I mean cat got your tongue.

Lanivan

Be careful what you wish for, Wingmaster. Perhaps it's because, although the general consensus is that Romney won in the "theatrical division", upon closer inspection of his words, it turns out that Romney, that Artful Dodger and Master of the Etch-a-Sketch, actually told 27 provable outright lies in 37 minutes of debate. His audacious whoppers and fibs in front of 60 million people might make him look the winner in your eyes, but his walking back from his "severely conservative" (his words) platform to embracing his much more moderate, left-leaning persona as Guv'na during his "performance" debate, has got people wondering - "Mitt, just what do you believe?" The answer - whatever it takes in the moment. He denied his own tax plan, made up numbers, and misstated his positions held through most of the last 2 years. Yes - he did dominate the debate, shamelessly, with outright rudeness and disrespect for the president, the moderator, and the American people. The bigger story here is why didn't Obama or the moderator call him out on the lies?? Were they tongue-tied at the Lie, Deny, Switch, & Doublespeak Mitt in front of them? Was it his desire to kill Big Bird to save 0.00012% of the budget???? Perhaps it was his sublime bullying and shameless blatant nonsense.

Wingmaster

Keep restating those talking point lies until someone believes them!

Lanivan

Are you calling me a liar? Of course, I don't think you would want to infringe on my freedom of speech by calling my statements lies. Unlike some, I make every attempt to stick with the facts. Everything in my response to your comment can be quickly and objectively verified. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are just flinging mud for the heck of it.

Wingmaster

No I'm accusing you of repeating the lies from the left. Careful, about that free speech thing, it belongs to all citizens right or wrong. So calling you a liar would be covered by free speech. Besides, it is entertaining to watch your liberal views get posted for all of us to see and chuckle about.

Lanivan

In some ways, I understand your need to call the facts "lies from the left". It's so much easier and simpler to just blame everything on Obama and the left, even though the facts do not support this. Are you saying that Romney, who was pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-Romneycare (Obamacare), pro-tax increase while guv'na of Massachusetts, then turned "severely conservative (his words)" and became anti-choice, anti-gun control, anti-Romenycare (Obamacare), and anti tax increase for the past 2 years of campaigning, but on the night of the debate, suddenly threw the Tea Party base of the GOP (and his VP Ryan) under the bus, by walking back on almost if not all of his Tea Party platform, all the while telling whoppers and fibs that any thoughtful person could objectively research and find them to be blatant lies, is not playing his base? (Very different from playing TO his base). If you feel a little like you are standing on shifting sands, you are. Of course, the powerful forces behind Romney (the super rich and political drivers) are winking and nodding at Romney through his performance - they could care less about you and me. Only do anything and everything to get him elected so they can make sure they hold onto the money and power. If for one minute you actually think that any of these shameless power and money-hungry players give two hoots about you, me,our future, our elderly parents future, or our children's future, you are sadly mistaken. This is not pleasant to reflect on - I understand the need to just blame Obama - it's so much better than really confront the reality, isn't it?

Wingmaster

....and four years into Obama's administration it's better? Time for a business man and experienced leader with a proven record to lead. If he doesn't change it for the better in four years, he goes too! See that's the difference between you and me, I don't blindly drink the Koolaid!

Wingmaster

You are just foolish if you believe your politician or any do not change positions. You really do not want me to run down Obama's list do you? You really need to come out of your liberal fog.

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