, DENVER, Colorado, Oct 4 – Republican challenger Mitt Romney came out firing on Wednesday in his first presidential debate, attacking Barack Obama for economic policies he said had “crushed” the American middle class.
“I’m concerned that the path we’re on has just been unsuccessful,” said Romney, fighting for his political life as he seeks to turn around a flagging campaign that has him trailing in key states just weeks before election day.
“The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more – if you will trickle-down government – would work,” Romney said.
“That’s not the right answer for America. I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again,” he vowed. “Middle-income families are being crushed, and the question is, how to get them going again.”
Obama hit back by suggesting that Romney will bring in $5.4 trillion in tax cuts, particularly geared towards the wealthy, and said Romney hadn’t been clear about what loopholes in the tax system he would close.
“Governor Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes skewed toward the wealthy and cut back regulations, we’ll be better off. I have a different view,” Obama said, calling for “economic patriotism.”
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, fought back hard against Obama’s claims as the debate saw its first real clash of the night.
“Virtually everything he said about my tax plan is inaccurate. If the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I would say absolutely not,” he said, adding: “I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut.”
This led the Democratic incumbent to accuse his Republican challenger of backing away from his campaign pledges, as what started as a cordial series of exchanges descended into a fierce political exchange.
The president, who appeared the more nervous of the two in the opening exchanges, also sought to remind Americans that he inherited a terrible situation from former Republican president George W. Bush.
“When I walked into the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion dollar deficit greeting me. And we know where it came from,” Obama said.