To win his lost support from voters back, the Republican candidate was on the offensive throughout the 90-minute encounter with his rival.
While President Obama criticized Romney’s tax plan, he appeared to be unprepared and missed several opportunities to attack.
Romney, in his turn attacked Obama over the weak state of the American economy at the end of his first term, while making an unusually impassioned case for why he, instead, should be elected in November.
“The path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful,” said Romney. He accused his rival of proposing only “bigger government, spending more, taxing more and regulating more”, adding: “That’s not the right answer for America. I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again”.
Obama replied that under his leadership, the economy had been saved from the potential crash, with 5 million jobs created in the private sector, a resurgent auto industry and housing beginning to rise.
“You know, four years ago, we were going through a major crisis. And yet my faith and confidence in the American future is undiminished,” Obama said.
The Republican candidate appeared more relaxed than his Democratic rival, who spent much of his time explaining policies he would likely rather be done selling by now, avoiding looking Romney in the eye during the debate.
With 5 weeks left before the highly anticipated elections, it was unclear whether Romney had managed to change the trajectory of a race that has favored Obama, Reuters reports.
Recent weeks have appeared not the successful ones for the candidate who has been unable to project a consistent message.
“How does it translate into the horse race? That’s unclear,” said Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Minnesota. “Romney should have some momentum. The question is whether he can maintain it.”
Wonder, but President Obama didn’t mention secretly-recorded video showing Romney labelling 47 per cent of the population as feckless “victims.”
James Carville, the top strategist in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, said: “President Obama came in, he wanted to have a conversation. It takes two people to have a conversation. Mitt Romney came in with a chainsaw.”
Instead, Obama focused on repeating his claim that while he would champion the middle class, Romney would return America to the days of George W. Bush in which the highest earners received tax breaks and the country was driven into a catastrophic financial crisis, The Telegraph writes.
“Are we going to double-down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess,” Obama asked, “or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, ‘America does best when the middle class does best?’”
However, it seems like Romney’s campaign has won this battle as in the “spin room” afterward, his advisers hung around for 90 minutes talking to reporters, long after the Obama side had decamped.
A CNN/ORC poll showed 67 percent of registered voters thought Romney won the debate at the University of Denver, compared with 25 percent for President Obama.