Polls taken after the nationally televised 90-minute face-off on the campus of the University of Denver give the edge to the GOP presidential hopeful, whose presidential bid desperately needed a shot in the arm after a month of bad news.
The two men shared the stage for the first time on Wednesday evening during what has been a bitter campaign, clashing over taxes, healthcare and the role of government.
Romney was clearly the more aggressive of the two men, often challenging the president on his record to force him on the defensive.
“Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts,’’ Romney said at one point.
The former Massachusetts governor wasted no time going after Obama about the nation’s slow economic recovery and a high unemployment rate that is still above eight percent.
The president retaliated by questioning Romney’s pledge to reduce the federal deficit while promising no additional taxes and an increase in defense spending.
“It’s not possible to come up with enough loopholes and exemptions,” the president said. “It’s math. It’s arithmetic.”
But Obama disappointed some supporters, who expected him to more aggressively go after the former Massachusetts governor on issues such as immigration and Romney’s now-infamous “47 percent” comments in which he disparaged those who received government assistance as victims who felt entitled for government largesse.
His strong performance couldn’t have come at a better time for Romney. Recent pollstaken prior to the debate showed President Obama with a growing lead in almost each of the swing states that many believe will decide outcome of the Nov. 6 election.
The debate was the first of three scheduled in the next four weeks. The two presidential rivals will face off again on Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.
Vice-President Joe Biden and Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, will meet for their only debate on October 11.