In the first of three debates, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney went toe-to-toe over domestic policy issues Wednesday, in front of an American television audience estimated at nearly 70 million viewers.
In a wide-open format structured within six 15-minute segments, Romney and President Obama began with a litany of economic bullet points.
But domestic energy production quickly entered both candidates’ speeches and their respective verbal jabs.
Obama pivoted his energy discussion towards tax breaks including those destined for oil companies.
PBS Newshour Anchor Jim Lehrer stayed above the fray for much of the discussion…except to move each candidate along to the next question. The format left Romney and Obama to interact back-and-forth over the role of government.
Political pundits and network instant polls identified Romney as a clear winner in Wednesday’s debate – citing a crisp performance against the President. But critics of Romney signaled his distinct move towards the political center after this past year’s Republican primary.
Three more debates, 2 presidential and one between the vice presidential candidates, will take place over the next 30 days leaving many questions regarding the final outcome of the 2012 election until November 6th.