Presidential candidates spar on taxes, jobs, economy; Ayotte praises performance
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney battled over economic issues Wednesday in a 90-minute presidential debate at the University of Denver.
Obama argued his plans would ultimately lead to strong job growth, while Romney charged the President';s policies had failed to turn around the economy and make a significant dent in 8.1 percent unemployment.
';Governor Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes skewed toward the wealthy and roll back regulations, that we';ll be better off. I';ve got a different view,'; Obama said.
Romney laid out a five-point economic plan and accused the Democrat of relying too heavily on big government.
';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 repeated his accusation that Romney would return to a ';top down'; approach that would decrease taxes for those with high incomes.
';Governor Romney';s view is to cut taxes primarily to benefit the wealthy,'; the President said.
Romney immediately called Obama';s assertion false.
';I';m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people,'; Romney said. ';They';ve been doing just fine in this economy. I know it';s something you and your running mate like to keep saying, but it';s not true,'; he said.
Romney said he would bring an approach that relies on a smaller government. He turned around Obama';s ';top down'; comment by calling the President';s approach a ';trickle-down government.';
An audience of up to 60 million was estimated for the debate, which was moderated by PBS anchor Jim Lehrer.
Romney said portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — which he said labeled five banks as ';too big to fail — essentially wrote the banks a blank check.
';That was the biggest kiss we could have given to New York banks,'; Romney said.
';If anyone thinks that the economic collapse happened because of too much regulation on Wall Street, then Governor Romney is your candidate,'; Obama countered.
Obama said the inspiration for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the Massachusetts universal health care plan signed into law by Romney while he was governor.
';There is a reason Governor Romney did what he did in Massachusetts,'; Obama said of the Republican, who has promised to repeal the President';s signature health care law.
Romney said there were key differences between the Massachusetts plan and the federal plan, in that the Bay State';s plan was a bipartisan effort — he said just two state legislators voted against it — while the federal law was ';rammed through'; without a single Republican vote.
';What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation — state by state,'; Romney said.
After the debate, U.S. Sen. Kelly A. Ayotte, R-N.H., who is a surrogate for Romney, praised Romney';s performance.
';Mitt Romney';s confident, articulate performance tonight laid out the big choice this November in the clearest terms yet,'; Ayotte said in a statement. ';President Obama has an abysmal record and no second-term agenda — meaning voters can only expect another four years of job-killing policies, budget-busting spending, and government-centered health care funded by our hard-earned tax dollars if he is re-elected.
';A Mitt Romney presidency, on the other hand, will foster upward mobility and success by championing job creation, implementing market-based health care reforms, reining in federal spending, cutting taxes for middle-class families, and protecting American interests abroad.';
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff Writer Tim Buckland contributed to this report.