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8 Key Debate Moments: Who Won? [POLL]

October 3, 2012 / File Photo


An estimated 50 million Americans tuned into President Obama and Mitt Romney’s first debate at the University of Denver. The overall consensus in the social sphere, echoed by a CNN snap poll, is that Romney came out of top.

Here are some of the inflection points that spurred online conversation:

1. The debate coincided with Obama and the first lady’s 20th wedding anniversary. Romney’s quip, “I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine here — here with me,” delighted his supporters and prompted a smile from the president.

2. The debate, which favored detail over zingers, did have some sharp lines. Obama scored early on by accusing Romney of backing away from an earlier position on taxes: “Five weeks before the election his big bold idea is, ‘Never mind.'”

3. Romney delivered a line no one expected to hear in a presidential debate: “I love Big Bird,” he said while discussing  his plan to institute PBS budget cuts.

4. “Obamacare,” once a mean nickname for the Affordable Care Act, has evidently lost its sting. Obama told his opponent he’s now “become fond of this term.”

5. The detail-driven discussion elicited cries of “boring!” from online viewers as Obama and Romney dug deep into policy concerning taxation,  healthcare and the deficit.

6. Romney accused Obama of favoring a “trickle-down government” responsible for “spending more, taxing more, regulating more.” Obama’s riposte, that Romney’s policies amount to “top-down economics” that will burden the middle class, did not have quite the sting.

7. Obama didn’t bring up Romney’s “47 percent gaffe,” baffling his supporters and surprising his detractors.

8. While Romney came out on top, according to many viewers the real loser of the debate was moderator Jim Lehrer. Though the veteran journalist ended up managing both candidates to almost equal speaking time (Obama 39 minutes, 52 seconds; Romney 36 minutes, 28 seconds, according to CNN), he often seemed to nearly lose control of the conversation. “I’m not going to say I did a poor job,” Lehrer remarked near the end of the debate. Plenty online said it for him.


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