The open-stage format, with no physical objects between them, placed incumbent President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney face to face and, when they chose, directly in each other's faces. Their physical encounters crackled with energy and tension, and the crowd watched raptly as the two sparred while struggling to appear calm and affable before a national television audience. From the opening moments, Obama was aggressive. He criticized Romney's opposition to the Democrats' bailout of the auto industry and rejected Romney's economic five-point plan proposal as an idea meant to squeeze the middle class.
"Gov. Romney says he's got a five-point plan. Gov. Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules," Obama said. Throughout the night Romney was caught shifting his positions on energy, the economy, and equal morning rights for women. At least twice, Obama accused Romney of being untruthful. The eagerness to get the final word in was understandable, as millions of Americas were watching and neither candidate could afford to have a weak showing on Tuesday. With one more debate on the calendar, next Monday's face-off will deal with foreign policy, a secondary issue in a race that's been dominated by talk of the American economy.
Check out highlights below.
Props: The Grio