5 Oct 2012

Romney on top in presidential debate

10:19 am on 5 October 2012

Analysts and opinion polls in the United States suggest the first of the televised presidential election debates was won by Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

After his 90 minute duel with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, between 46% - 67% of people in three polls said Mr Romney had the advantage. Mr Obama trailed on 22% - 25%.

The debate in Denver centred on taxes, the deficit and healthcare.

Commentators said Mr Romney, who is often derided as awkward and stiff in public, appeared in command while Mr Obama was hesitant.

Mr Obama has so far led national polls and surveys in the swing states that will decide the election on 6 November.

The BBC reports he appeared subdued, occasionally asking moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS public television for time to finish his points.

Both camps rushed to defend their respective performances.

"The average person at home saw a president who you could trust," Obama adviser David Plouffe said. "That's what the American people are looking for."

But senior Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom said the president had spoken "only in platitudes".

"If this were a boxing match, it would have been called by the referee," he said.

Commentators largely agreed that Mr Romney performed better.

New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman said Mr Obama "did a terrible job in the debate and Romney did well".

Washington Post columnist George Will said Mr Romney's performance "stopped (his slump in the polls) in its tracks".