US President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney sparred over federal regulations restricting Wall Street and US financial institutions during the presidential candidates’ debut debate.
After months of campaigning, the two candidates went head-to-head at the University of Denver on Wednesday night (US time) in the first of three televised debates in the run-up to the November 6 election.
The opponents didn’t throw verbal punches at each other, instead choosing to focus on facts and figures in an attempt to win over swinging voters, with issues such as tax, healthcare and the role of government at the forefront.
Romney, on the offensive, opened the debate by highlighting the country’s weak economic growth and 8.1 percent unemployment figure, which has left Obama exposed as he attempts to win a second stint in the White House.
“Now I’m concerned that we’re on the path that’s just been unsuccessful. The president has a view very similar to the one he had when he ran for office four years ago, that spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will, trickle-down government would work. That’s not the right answer for America,” Romney said.
Obama responded by suggesting that if Romney were elected, he would bring $5.4 trillion (4.18 trillion euros) in tax cuts that Obama claimed would be geared towards America’s wealthy.
The president put Romney on the defensive with his plan to overhaul the country’s tax system, adding that Romney hadn’t been clear about which tax system loopholes he promised to close.
Romney, Obama said, was trying to promote a similar series of tax cuts to those for which former President George W. Bush legislated in 2001 and 2003.
“We ended up moving from surpluses to deficits and it all culminated with the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Obama said.