With an expected 60 million viewers looking on, Mitt Romney and President Obama dove deep into their policy prescriptions Wednesday night. They also mixed in a few zingers, a couple jokes and a big shout out to Michelle Obama on her 20th wedding anniversary.
Here are some of the top quotes from the candidates' first face-to-face showdown.
|Obama on His Anniversary|
"There are a lot of points I want to make tonight, but the most important one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on Earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me," Obama said. "And so I just want to wish, Sweetie, you, happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people."
|Romney on Big Bird|
"I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS," Romney said. "I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually, [I] like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.
|Romney on the Middle Class Getting 'Crushed'|
"The people who are having the hard time right now are middle-income Americans," Romney said. "Under the president's policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They're just being crushed. Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a tax in and of itself. I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing."
|Obama on Medicare Vouchers|
"If you're 54 or 55, you might want to listen because this will affect you. The idea, which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors and they could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance.
"The problem is that because the voucher wouldn't necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year."
|Romney on Repealing Dodd-Frank|
"Dodd-Frank was passed. ... This is the biggest kiss that's been given to New York banks I've ever seen. This is an enormous boon for them. There've been 122 community and small banks have closed since Dodd- Frank. ... I would repeal and replace it."
|Obama on Massachusetts Health Care|
"The irony is that we've seen this model work really well in Massachusetts because Gov. Romney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model and, as a consequence, people are covered there," Obama said. "It hasn't destroyed jobs. And as a consequence, we now have a system in which we have the opportunity to start bringing down costs as opposed to just leaving millions of people out in the cold." "Gov. Romney said this has to be done on a bipartisan basis," Obama added. "This was a bipartisan idea. In fact, it was a Republican idea. And Gov. Romney, at the beginning of this debate, wrote and said what we did in Massachusetts could be a model for the nation.
"And I agree that the Democratic legislators in Massachusetts might have given some advice to Republicans in Congress about how to cooperate. But the fact of the matter is we used the same advisers and they say it's the same plan."
|Romney on Ending 'Obamacare'|
"When you look at 'Obamacare,' the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance," Romney said. "So it's adding to cost. And as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that, by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. Instead, it's gone up by that amount. So it's expensive. Expensive things hurt families. So that's one reason I don't want it."
|Romney on Working with Democrats|
"I like the fact that, in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together," Romney said of passing health care in Massachusetts. "What you did, instead, was to push through a plan without a single Republican vote. As a matter of fact, when Massachusetts did something quite extraordinary -- elected a Republican senator to stop Obamacare -- you pushed it through anyway." "So entirely on a partisan basis, instead of bringing America together and having a discussion on this important topic, you pushed through something that you and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid thought was the best answer and drove it through," Romney added.