US election: Polls show Romney won TV debate with Obama

 

Highlights from the first US presidential debate between Obama and Romney

US Republican candidate Mitt Romney won the first of three televised debates with President Barack Obama, polls and analysts say.

After the 90-minute duel centring on taxes, the deficit and healthcare, polls gave Mr Romney a 46-67% margin with Mr Obama trailing on 22-25%.

Commentators said Mr Romney appeared in command while Mr Obama was hesitant.

Mr Obama has led national polls and surveys in the swing states that will decide the 6 November election.

The BBC's Mark Mardell says if the gap narrows or Mitt Romney starts moving ahead of Mr Obama, that will be a huge boost for his campaign, and suggest he could win the White House.

However if they hardly budge, then the Republican challenger will be in deep trouble, the North America editor adds.

Stopping slump

President Obama appeared subdued, occasionally asking moderator Jim Lehrer, of US public television network PBS, for time to finish his points.

As theatre, a battle of image and confidence, Mitt Romney was the clear winner. He had obviously practised so hard and so long that he was nearly hoarse. But not quite. Instead his voice was a touch deeper. No bad thing.

He looked Mr Obama in the eyes as he interrupted with animation, overriding the moderator, insisting on a comeback. He didn't seem rude. He did seem in command and to be enjoying the scrap.

President Obama on the other hand looked as though he'd much rather be out celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife. He started out looking very nervous, swallowing hard, not the confident performer we are used to seeing.

Republicans certainly feel that they have used the debate to shift the perception of their candidate, shake up the etch-a-sketch and talk about his passion for job creation and focus on the middle classes.

The next string of opinion polls could hardly matter more. If they narrow or he starts moving ahead of Mr Obama, that will be a huge boost for his campaign, and suggest he could win the White House. However if after an acclaimed victory the opinion polls hardly budge, then it would mean he is in a very serious hole indeed.

The two candidates attacked each other's economic plans, with Mr Obama describing his rival's approach as "top-down economics" and a retread of Bush-era policies.

"If you think by closing [tax] loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney's plan may work for you," he said.

"But I think math, common sense, and our history shows us that's not a recipe for job growth."

Mr Romney derided Mr Obama's policies as "trickle-down government".

"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," Mr Romney said.

"That's not the right answer for America."

Mr Romney pledged not to reduce taxes for wealthy Americans, and said Mr Obama had misrepresented Mr Romney's tax plans on the campaign trail.

Both camps rushed to defend the respective performances.

"The average person at home saw a president who you could trust," Obama adviser David Plouffe told reporters. "That's what the American people are looking for."

But senior Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom said the president had spoken "only in platitudes".

"If this were a boxing match, it would have been called by the referee," he said.

Presidential debates 2012

  • 3 Oct Denver, Colorado. Domestic policy. Moderated by Jim Lehrer (PBS)
  • 11 Oct Danville, Kentucky. Vice-presidential debate. Moderated by Martha Raddatz (ABC)
  • 16 Oct Hempstead, New York. Town-hall style foreign policy debate. Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN)
  • 22 Oct Boca Raton, Florida. Moderator: Bob Schieffer (CBS)

Commission on Presidential Debates

Commentators largely agreed that Mitt Romney had performed better.

New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman said, Mr Obama "did a terrible job in the debate, and Romney did well".

"But in the end, this isn't or shouldn't be about theatre criticism, it should be about substance," Mr Krugman said, defending Mr Obama's statements while charging that "much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie".

ABC News quoted one of its consultants and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile as saying: "Mitt Romney did a lot of good... was a little more aggressive than the president."

Washington Post conservative columnist George Will said Mr Romney's performance had "stopped [his slump in the polls] in its tracks".

A CNN/ORC International poll of 430 people who watched the debate showed 67% thought Romney won, compared with 25% for Obama.

A CBS News poll found a 46% support for Mr Romney, 22% for Mr Obama and 32% saying it was a tie.

And a Google survey gave Mr Romney a 47.8% advantage against 25.4% for Mr Obama.

Clash on 'Obamacare'

Race to the White House

On healthcare, Mr Romney said that Mr Obama's "Obamacare" reform law of 2010 had increased health costs and kept small businesses from hiring.

Even as he pledged to repeal Mr Obama's health law, Mr Romney praised and defended a plan he himself had previously signed as governor of Massachusetts that is widely hailed as the model for the Obama law.

Mr Obama, meanwhile, said his plan had kept insurance companies from denying coverage to sick people.

The University of Denver debate was the first in a series of three presidential forums and one vice-presidential encounter this month.

Running-mates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will meet in Danville, Kentucky on 11 October, before the second presidential debate on 16 October.

 

More on This Story

US Presidential Election 2012

From other news sites

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 965.

    From the get-go, Romney showed more confidence and passion, which Obama was sorely lacking. Obama missed many opportunities to rebut Romney's "facts" and, crucially, didn't mention Romney's damning 47% comment. The "typical" voter probably had a spinning head trying to follow all the arguments, but Romney pulled it off. Please keep the wives and families off the stage! Ugh!

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 850.

    It is entire nonsense to for any media organisation to state who "won" a presidential debate. The idea that people are watching a debate, digesting the scripted responses made and immediately judging who to vote for is a notion constructed by journalists. It doesn't have any real basis in reality. The vast majority are already decided on who they will vote for, this is just media circus.

  • rate this
    -44

    Comment number 523.

    It is not that Romney won, it is that we now see Obama in a position where he must answer for his policies. Those policies have failed. Just ask the unemployed, our veterans, our allies, or our children!

    See you at the voting booth...

  • rate this
    -61

    Comment number 488.

    It is amazing how divided this president and the prior president Bush have made our great nation.. I am reading these comments and must say wake up out of your anger and rage nightmare. It's ok to like Romey's performance last night he did great. In fact he has convinced me to vote for Him as of now. Romney will be the president who pulls us back together as a nation!

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 487.

    Obama came across as annoyed and Romney wiped the floor up with him in this debate. If the next two debates go the same way, Obama will be unemployed come January 1, 2013. No amount of spin can change what happened.

 

Comments 5 of 14

 

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FilmsOnes to watch

    BBC Culture picks nine top films coming out next month

Programmes

  • A computer simulation showing a planned station upgrade in Hong KongClick Watch

    Simulated world - how architects are using virtual and augmented reality to transform our cities

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.