DENVER, Colorado -- Wednesday night featured the first in a presidential debate series leading up to the election now less than five weeks away. The topics included job creation, tax breaks, health care and other domestic policy issues.
The debate quickly turned to finger pointing and both candidates calling each other out on policy decisions and past promises, often interrupting or asking the moderator for more time. The debate began with a question on job creation, and both candidates quickly turned to tax policy.
"Gov. Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes, skewed towards the wealthy and roll back regulations, that we'll be better off," President Barack Obama said.
"Under the president's policies, middle income Americans have been buried. They're just being crushed," Governor Mitt Romney said.
Romney explains his tax policy, fights misinformation
Romney fought what he said is misinformation that he'd reduce taxes on the wealthy or raise taxes on the middle-class. He says both points are untrue.
"I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They'll do fine whether you're president or I am. The people who are having a hard time are middle income Americans right now. Under the president's policies, middle income Americans have been buried. They're just being crushed," Romney said.
Romney continued, saying he would be trying a new tax plan that would help Americans across the board while working on lowering the deficit.
"My plan is not like anything that has been tried before. My plan is to bring down rates, but also bring down deductions and exemptions and credits at the same time, so the revenue stays in, but that we bring down rates to get more people working," Romney said.
Obama: Middle class needs help, wealthy can afford to help
Obama countered, accusing Romney of changing his tune on tax policy just as the election nears.
"For 18 months, he's been running on this tax plan, and now, five weeks before the election, and now five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big, bold idea is never mind," Obama said. "The fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you describe, Governor, it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class."
Obama says middle class Americans need breaks, and the upper class can pay more to help balance the budget.
"I believe that the economy works best when middle class families are getting tax breaks so that they've got some money in their pockets, and those of us that have done extraordinarily well because of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can do a little bit more to make sure we're not blowing up the deficit," Obama said.
KTVB analyst weighs in
"This first debate is always important, and it's particularly important for the challenger," KTVB Political Analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby said. "The governor was prepared, and the president wasn't."
Weatherby says overall Romney seized the opportunity of a national debate and stood out more. Romney often jumped in or interrupted the moderator to counter points made by the president. Weatherby says that aggressive style made him the winner of Wednesday's debate, though he points out it remains to be seen if it will boost his poll numbers.
"Clearly, I think Governor Romney had the decisive edge. He was more aggressive, without probably not being offensive, he did talk quite a bit and dominate a lot, but he was much more at ease, and I think his statements were far clearer and more succinct than President Obama," Weatherby said.