The night has finally arrived for the first 2012 presidential debate, in Denver. In a matter of minutes, Americans will be treated to the first totally unscripted glimpse of their presidential candidates. Tonight’s importance is hard to overstate, as it will be one of only three times voters will be able to see their candidates shed their carefully crafted campaigns, and speak candidly to the people.
I’m Kevin Burns, reporting from WSN headquarters on Broadway. Please stick around for live coverage of questions and answers throughout the show. It’s bound to be an exciting night.
UPDATE: 9:32PM EST.
The candidates walk on the stage.
QUESTION: What is the main difference between the candidates on how they will handle job creation?
OBAMA: Emphasizing economic gains made recently, including the recovery of the auto industry, President Obama admits the nation still has a lot of work to do. “It’s not where we are,” says Obama, “but where we are going.” Obama says he wants to invest in education, and training. He wants to keep tuition low, and hire 100,000 math and science teachers. He further emphasized the importance of the middle class, saying, “America does best when the middle class is doing well.” Furthermore, Obama argues for tax code reform, to close loop holes exploited by companies shipping American jobs over seas.
ROMNEY: After opening with anecdotes of struggling Americans, Romney further emphasizes the middle class, claiming he plans to lower income tax on middle class Americans. Going further, he says his tax plan would make cuts, but not increase the deficit, despite claims made by Obama. Romney also claims under Obama the middle class has had to pay the “economy tax,” saying the poor economy has weighed heavily on middle income Americans. Romney wrapped up with a heavy emphasis on the poor conditions of the current economy, saying under his presidency small businesses would flourish.
UPDATE: 9:48 EST.
QUESTION: How would you handle the deficit?
ROMNEY: Framing the deficit in explicitly moral terms, Romney says, Americans cannot pass a trillion dollar deficit on to younger generations. Romney says he would cut government programs and subsidies, like PBS (after an apology to moderator Jim Lehrer), to avoid “borrowing from China.” Reflecting the hardline attitudes of his running mate, Paul Ryan, Romney claims his approach to the deficit will be “cuts by attrition.”
OBAMA: President Obama emphasizes the size of the deficit when he entered office, saying, Americans were paying for two wars “on the credit card,” while in the middle of an economic crisis. Though his administration had to take “emergency members to prevent the economy from slipping into a depression,” Obama says he will be committed to making responsible cuts to help lower the deficit.
UPDATE: 10:01 EST.
QUESTION: Do you see a major difference between each of you on social security?
OBAMA: Obama says Social Security’s basic structure is sound, but needs tweaks. He cited his grandmother as one of many hard working Americans who knew Social Security is a “floor under which [they] could not go!”
ROMNEY: Romney claims Obama made a $716 billion cut to medicare, to pay for Obamacare, saying he would put that money back in medicare. He also emphasizes the need for competition in health care, saying Americans should have private and public health care options.
UPDATE: 10:09 EST.
QUESTION: Is there too much, or too little government regulation?
ROMNEY: “You can’t have a free market without regulation,” says Romney. Still, he emphasizes that regulation can go too far, saying, the Dodd-Frank bill claimed some banks were too big to fail. Regulations like this, says Romney, stifle competition, and hurt the economy.
OBAMA: Obama retorts, saying reckless behavior across the board (citing credit agencies and banks, among others) caused the financial crisis, and that regulation is key to stability.
UPDATE: 10:20 EST.
QUESTION: How would you handle healthcare?
ROMNEY: Governor Romney again claims Obama’s $716 billion cut to medicare, again saying take that money out of Obamacare, and put it back into medicare. He also claims Obama isn’t doing enough to alleviate health care costs on small businesses, furthering claiming that his plan would.
OBAMA: Obama says his health care plan prevents insurance companies from “jerking Americans around.” He also emphasizes his plans group option, claiming it allows Americans to get more affordable health care by purchasing it in groups.
UPDATE: 10:31 PM EST.
QUESTION: What is the role of the federal government?
OBAMA: “The first role of the federal government,” says Obama, “is to protect the American people.” Claiming the greatest American achievement is the free market system, Obama also says people, “like Lincoln during the Civil War,” have realized Americans achieve great things as a nation. Going on to cite the transcontinental railroad, Obama emphasizes the good the federal government is capable of.
ROMNEY: Governor Romney says the role of the federal government is to uphold the principles of the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He claims he will not cut military. On healthcare, he says, “government is not effective at bringing down the cost of anything.”
UPDATE: 11:05 PM EST.
OBAMA: President Obama expresses faith in America’s future, emphasizing a fair shot, and an equal share in the pay, for everyone. Claiming he has kept his promise to fight “every single day on behalf of the American people, the middle class, and all those who were striving to get into the middle class,” Obama says he will continue to fight just as hard in his second term.
ROMNEY: Governor Romney expresses concerns for America, claiming there are two paths the country can take. His path, he claims, will create 12 million new, higher paying jobs, restore medicare, and end Obamacare. He also emphasizes his commitment to the military, saying he will not cut spending.
As the night comes to a close, and pundits buzz over who won, the American people will have the final word, November 6th. But, before election day, these men will meet twice more, October 16 and October 22, to once again go head to head, in an unscripted battle for the White House.
Thank you for reading.