“The status quo is not going to cut it,” declared the challenger.
Obama in turn accused his rival of seeking to “double down” on economic policies that actually led to the devastating national downturn four years ago — and of evasiveness when it came to prescriptions for tax changes, health care, Wall Street regulation and more.
Click to see a debate transcript.
The economy dominated the evening, as it has the race for the White House all year. Pre-debate opinion polls showed Obama with a slight advantage in key battleground states and nationally.
Layla Shipman, public relations director for the Republican Party of Floyd County, said felt like Romney reached some of those undecided voters.
“I think that tonight Romney proved to some of the independents in our party who didn’t know him that well why he is our nominee and why he is the right man for the job,” Shipman said. “I have been excited for this election but I am extremely fired up for it tonight.”
She thought Romney made some great points Wednesday night, including the waste of money that could have gone toward funding a better way for the United States to end its dependence on foreign oil.
With early voting already under way in dozens of states, Romney was particularly aggressive in the 90-minute event that drew a television audience likely to be counted in the tens of millions — like a man looking to shake up the campaign with a little less than five weeks to run.
Romney said he had plans to fix the economy, overhaul the tax code, repeal Obama’s health care plan and replace it with a better alternative, remake Medicare, pass a substitute for the legislation designed to prevent another financial crash and reduce deficits — but he provided no new specifics despite Obama’s prodding.
Said Obama: “At some point the American people have to ask themselves: Is the reason Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret, is it because they’re going to be too good? Because middle class families benefit too much? No.”
Wendy Davis, an officer for the Democratic Party of Floyd County, agreed that Romney was vague and contradictory on his plans for if he is elected president, including the details on his tax cut proposal and how he wants to repeal Obama’s health care bill.
“I think those of us who have followed the election didn’t hear anything new tonight,” Davis said. “But it will be interesting to see those who haven’t been following the election if what was presented tonight will be believable to them.”
For Davis, Romney seemed to be presenting more of the same from his party.
“I found it astounding that he can lack such specificity in his plans and present nothing that past Republican presidents haven’t tried before and got us in the mess that we are in,” she said.
The two presidential rivals are scheduled to debate again on Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have one debate, Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky. Both men have already begun holding practice sessions.
Staff Writer Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.