The candidates debated domestic issues in six segments — three devoted to the economy, one to health care, one to governing and one to the role of government.
Here’s the full recap of the debate.
9:04 PM | And we’re off.
Moderator Jim Lehrer opens the debate telling the audience that his questions were not submitted for approval to the candidates or the debate commission.
The first question is about jobs.
9:05 PM | Anniversary shoutout!
Before he gives an answer, Obama shouts out a Happy Anniversary to his wife, Michelle.
“Twenty years ago,” he says, “I became the luckiest guy on Earth.”
9:08 PM | Romney: “I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine. Here with me!”
9:11 PM | Romney says Obama’s economic plan calls for “trickle-down government.”
When asked by Lehrer to respond, Obama avoids the question and begins talking about his plan to fix unemployment.
He says he wants to add 100,000 teaching jobs. He attacks Romney’s tax plan, saying he wants more trillions of dollars in tax cuts that are going to add to the deficit, not reduce it.
9:13 PM | Mitt Romney: “I don’t have a tax cut. … My plan is tax relief.”
Romney responds: “I don’t have a tax cut — on the scale that you’re talking about. My plan is that we provide tax relief
9:16 PM | Here’s Romney’s first pledge of the night…
“No tax cut that adds to the deficit.”
9:18 PM | Romney Zinger!
“Look, I’ve got five boys,” Romney says. “I’m used to people saying things that aren’t true and hoping I’ll believe it”
9:23 PM | Obama’s zinger of a response!
“For 18 months, [Romney’s] been running on this tax plan. Now … he’s saying his big bold idea is never mind.”
Then, a Donald Trump smack: “”Under Gov. Romney’s definition, Donald Trump is a small business. … I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as a small anything.”
9:27 PM | Romney gets testy!
Lehrer tries to end the segment, but Romney points out (fairly) that he should get the last word.
Then he looks directly at Obama and sternly says: “I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not my plan. My plan is not like anything that has been tried before.”
9:29 PM | Romney colorfully regrets his plan to cut PBS’ subsidy…
“I like Big Bird…and I like you too,” he tells Lehrer, who looks, um, a little shocked.
9:34 PM | Romney: “It’s not just Donald Trump you’re taxing…”
Another Romney zinger: “It’s not just Donald Trump you’re taxing,” he says, directly looking at the president. “You raised taxes and you killed jobs.”
9:39 PM | Mitt Romney is killing it with the zingers…
Romney hits Obama on Solyndra: “I had a friend that said you don’t just pick the winners and losers — you pick the losers.”
9:43 PM | Obama: “Social Security is structurally sound.”
Obama looked and sounded completely unprepared for Jim Lehrer’s Social Security question.
He basically said that he and Romney have the same plan, which was different than what the message his campaign has been pushing — that Romney and Paul Ryan want to privatize it.
Then he said this:
“Social Security is structurally sound.”
Then he pivoted to Medicare.
9:49 PM | Obama: “I don’t think vouchers are the right way to go.”
As mentioned in the previous post, Obama pivoted to Medicare when asked a question about Social Security. He then mentioned to go an entire answer without mentioning Paul Ryan, author of the budget that drastically reforms Medicare and has been a major attack of the Obama campaign.
In a follow-up, Obama finally hit the Romney-Ryan plan:
“I don’t think vouchers are the right way to go.”
He later added that Romney will be “putting seniors at the mercy of insurance companies” with a voucher.
9:56 PM | Ben Smith calls the debate for Romney…40 minutes in.
BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith called the debate for Romney…40 minutes into the debate.
His argument: Romney performed better in the first crucial 40 minutes.
“But Romney’s core success was that he won by not losing: He has barely weathered a campaign that reduced him to a smaller figure than President Obama. On stage, they were roughly the same size,” he writes.
9:58 PM | The candidates talk health care…
“Do you want to repeal Obamacare?” Lehrer asks Romney.
“I sure do,” Romney says. “Part of that comes from my experience.” He tells the story of a woman he met in New Hampshire who couldn’t afford insurance.
10:08 PM | Obama and Romney’s deliveries project completely differently…
One thing I’m noticing in the debate: Not only does Romney seem much more prepared, he also seems much more fluent and projectable in his responses.
Obama, on the other hand, seems stammery, sloppy and choppy. Almost like a guy who crammed to memorize his play lines the night before the show.
10:11 PM | Perhaps Obama’s strongest-delivered point of the night…
It comes on the issue of repealing Obamacare.
“There’s a reason why Gov. Romney set up the plan that he did in Massachusetts,” Obama said, hitting Romney on the so-called “Romneycare.”
“It wasn’t a government takeover of healthcare.”
10:24 PM | Insta-reaction: LINE OF THE NIGHT goes to Romney
Here it is: “As president, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts.”
10:26 PM | Bill Maher: “Obama looks like he needs a teleprompter!”
Obama is getting absolutely slammed: