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On Wednesday night, 67.2 million Americans sat glued to their television sets for a full 90 minutes to hear the two nominees - the incumbent President Barack Obama, for the Democratic Party and Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican Party, talk about their plans for the country, if elected to be the 45th President of the United States of America.
The debate was the first in a series of three that pits the candidates against each other in front of a live audience, where the answers to questions posed and the rebuttals that follow, are unrehearsed. This allows the people of the United States to not only hear their ideas about how they are going to improve the lives of present and future Americans, but also, gives them a chance to see how the candidates react under pressure and more importantly ascertain, if they appear to be trustworthy.
The first and last debates are moderated by a television anchor or political analyst and focus on domestic and foreign policy respectively. The second, which is both fun and chaotic, is done in a Town Meeting setting, which means that selected members of the public are allowed to question the candidates about their biggest concerns, irrespective of whether it is a domestic or foreign policy issue. So how was the first public face-off between the two candidates? Depends on who you ask.
Republicans of course thought their candidate emerged as the clear winner. Erich Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to the former Massachusetts governor says had it been a 'boxing match' instead of a debate, it would have been called in his candidate's favor!
Many political experts seem to agree with this assessment. They thought Mitt Romney while vague about his own plans about tax cuts and improving the economy, was very assertive when it came to attacking President Obama's record and also appeared to be very confident, at ease and generally passed the test every challenger has to, when facing a current fairly popular President. On the other hand, President Obama appeared to be worn out and not his normal feisty self.
The Obama camp begs to differ. They maintain that Mitt Romney was on the defensive the entire time and that he was very shaky on a lot of the details when pressed by the President.
What do the American people think? So far, the consensus is that It was indeed Mitt Romney that won the night and that he played the offense so well that it forced the President into a corner playing defense all night, which is not a favorable position for any candidate to be in, just 33 days prior to Election Day.
But the Democrats and President Obama have two more chances to get it right. As the President's chief strategist David Axelrod succinctly puts it -"He (Romney) may win the Oscar for his performance last (Wednesday) night but he's not going to win the presidency for his performance,". He also said that 'Obama was “very, very eager” for their next showdown', which happens to be a Town Meeting scheduled to take place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on October 16th, 2012 between 9.00-10.30pm (EST). So, stay tuned!