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Obama Loses The First Debate?

Obama Loses First Debate?

DENVER (AP) - President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have sparred aggressively in their first campaign debate over taxes, deficits and strong steps needed to create jobs in a sputtering national economy.

Obama accused Romney of seeking to "double down" on the same economic policies that created the economic downturn four years ago. Romney responded that "The status quo is not going to cut it."

Romney said he had plans to fix the economy, overhaul the tax code, repeal Obama's health care plan and replace 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.

Both candidates went over time limits with their responses and wrecked the format of the 90-minute event that was moderated by PBS' Jim Lehrer.

The rivals debate twice more this month.

No one mentioned the "you didn't build that" comment that quickly became a favorite Republican attack after Obama said it to an audience in Virginia. Nor did anyone invoke the "47 percent" of Americans who Romney said in a hidden-camera video don't pay taxes and see themselves as victims.

Neither candidate discussed Obama's endorsement of gay marriage or his decision to halt deportations for some young illegal immigrants. And no one brought up Romney's strong criticism of unions, either.

Romney is softening his usual anti-regulatory rhetoric, saying government rules are essential in a free economy. But he says the Dodd-Frank law that targeted the financial industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis was a mistake.

Romney says the law has "unintended consequences" because it allows banks to grow to the point that they are too big to fail. He says the law's mortgage requirements don't help homeowners.

Obama asks whether anyone thinks the financial crisis occurred because of too much oversight and Wall Street regulation. He says anyone who thinks that was the cause should vote for Romney.

Romney is vowing to repeal Obama's health care law, saying it adds costs to the health system and has led to Medicare cuts.

Romney says that Obama spent his energy pushing through a massive health care law rather than trying to fix the struggling economy.

Romney says it's expensive and expensive things hurt families.

Obama says his administration worked on the health care law at the same time he was working to create jobs. He says the law has helped people with pre-existing conditions and those who have children under age 26.

The president counters that he based the law on Romney's own plan when he was governor.

Obama says, quote, "We've seen this model work really well - in Massachusetts."

Obama says the United States is making progress in repairing the struggling economy he inherited when he took office while Romney says the Democratic incumbent favors a "trickle-down government, if you will."

Obama pointed to progress made in saving Detroit's auto industry and rebuilding the housing market. Romney, meanwhile, says he would take a different path that gets government out of the way for American businesses.

Obama says Romney's plan would cut taxes for high-income workers. Romney says that is incorrect and that wealthy Americans will do just fine regardless whether he or Obama is in the White House.

Romney says that Obama has mischaracterized his tax plan by calling it a $5 trillion tax cut. Obama responded that Romney appears to be backing away from his own plan.

Romney says "everything" Obama said about Romney's tax plan is inaccurate. Most importantly, Romney says his plan will not increase taxes for the middle class, as Obama contends.

Romney says his plan is to provide tax relief by lowering them for all Americans, while eliminating deductions and exemptions in the tax code.

Obama retorts that Romney appears to be saying "never mind" about his own tax plan. Obama says he will lower taxes for middle-class families.