The President and Republican presidential hopeful discussed domestic policy in the opening debate of three
President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney squared off Wednesday night in the first presidential debate of the 2012 election. The event was held in Denver, Colo. and moderated by National Public Radio’s Jim Lehrer.
Obama won the coin toss and made the opening statement of the debate, marking his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife, Michelle, and touting the addition of 5 million private sector jobs over the past 30 months. He argued that he and Romney represented different views of how to better America.
“Now, it ultimately is going to be up to the voters, to you, which path we should take. Are we going to double down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess, or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, ‘America does best when the middle class does best?’”
In response to the president’s comments about his anniversary, Romney joked, “And congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your anniversary. I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me! … Congratulations.”
Moving on to the substance of Obama’s economic remarks, Romney said, “It’s small business that creates the jobs in America. And over the last four years, small-business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business, because new business startups are down to a 30-year low. I know what it takes to get small business growing again, to hire people.”
“When it comes to our tax code,” the president said, “Governor Romney and I both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high. So I want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25 percent. But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States.”
In response, Romney agreed that “we ought to bring the tax rates down … both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions, so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth. With regards to that tax cut … I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the revenues going to the government. My number one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”
In closing, President Obama expressed confidence in America’s future and recounted several anecdotes in support of his point.
“You know, four years ago, we were going through a major crisis. And yet my faith and confidence in the American future is undiminished … And so the question now is, ‘How do we build on those strengths?’ And everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years in terms of improving our education system or developing American energy … all those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination is channeled and they have an opportunity to succeed.”
In his closing, Romney emphasized the differences between the president and him, a theme both candidates returned to repeatedly throughout the debate.
“If the president’s reelected, ‘Obamacare’ will be fully installed … If I’m elected, we won’t have ‘Obamacare.’ We’ll put in place the kind of principles that I put in place in my own state and allow each state to craft their own programs to get people insured. And we’ll focus on getting the cost of health care down … I know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as individuals. It’s bigger than our respective parties. It’s an election about the course of America. I will keep America strong and get America’s middle class working again.”
The vice presidential candidates will meet in a debate Thursday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m.
The presidential candidates will face off for a second debate Oct. 16 at 9 p.m.