Obama vs. Romney: The First Debate

Inside the first face-off between Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama.
3:00 | 10/04/12

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Transcript for Obama vs. Romney: The First Debate
-- high stakes showdown -- president Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney took the stage in Denver to go head to head for the first time. An estimated sixty million Americans tuned in to watch this critical moment. In an often contentious presidential campaign with the election just 34 days away crucial swing voters still undecided. -- Romney trailing in the polls time running short. Tonight could be his turning port here's how it went down. They came out shook hands ready for the main event but President Obama begins saw very -- shout out to the First Lady. I just want to wish. -- you happy anniversary and let you know that. A year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of forty million people running graciously followed suit with an easy -- Congratulations to you Mr. President on your anniversary I'm sure this was the -- most dramatic place you could imagine here. Here with me so and then they got down his business the subject jobs Romney took it to the president from the get go. Middle income families are being crushed it was clear and -- -- and aggressive. Unleashing earnings -- and ready for a fight hammering away at the grim economic track record of the last -- -- money what the president took office 32 million people on food stamps 47 million in food stamps today. Economic growth this year slower than last year and last year slow -- a year before. They're going forward with the status quo is not gonna cut it for the American people who are struggling today. President Obama seemed at first to wander -- bit but found his footing with an answer that slammed Romney as the air of failed trickle down economic. Matt common sense and our history shows us that's not a recipe for job growth look we've tried this the -- the governor -- talking about. Is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And get it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The body language was fascinated tonight on the spoke directly to the president in his answers Obama spoke mostly to the moderator Jim Lehrer PB. You said you cut the deficit in half it's now four years later we still have trillion dollar deficits the CBO says we'll have a trillion dollar deficit each of the next four years these two men who are virtually strangers to each other personally. -- met in person three times. Before tonight most recently. In essence -- -- debate stage in New Hampshire way back in 2008. When Republicans followed Democrats and debate three days before the -- And there was this brief encounter on the campaign trail in 2007. Obama today her bag and while they have both reached the pinnacle of party politics and for their talent. Has the power. And their debate styles so much at stake on that -- tonight this showdown comes at what might be the critical moment in this campaign. Hinge of political history case polls show the race tightening care just 34 days left in this. And you can already sense in the crowds this special energy of the homestretch. But -- surprisingly. And in contrast to the daily scrap on the trail no zinger no round house punches hardly any humor. Instead long answers sometimes -- arguments. The president struggled to score points on what polls show is Romney's biggest vulnerability most voters believe he favors the rich. In Obama tried to portray the Romney Ryan plan for Medicare in that light. When you moved to a voucher system you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies. And over time if traditional Medicare has decayed or fallen apart. Then there stock. For his part Romney zeroed in on what may be Obama's big vulnerability of the unpopularity. Of his health care plan. And the sense that he took his eyes off the economic ball when he pushed for market I just don't know how the president. Could come into office facing 23 million people out of work rising unemployment and economic crisis at that at the kitchen table. And spent his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obama care instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. President Obama and governor Romney been battling it out on the stump barnstorming the swing state and flooding the airwaves with increasingly negative ads Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare. You wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. In the cross hairs on the stump and in the Obama ads -- -- That infamous -- of Romney seeming to write off millions of American. -- -- -- -- Say hello Aaron -- Astonishingly. In the debate tonight those comments never came up Obama declined an opportunity or simply swift when given the -- When he was asked a broad question on the role of government he ended up talking about. Well something in the middle of the civil war Abraham Lincoln. Said let's help to finance the -- Connell wrote Romney's response was clear practice and forcefully delivered. We have -- responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people and that means a military second to none. At the end they shook hands and -- a moment of togetherness the obamas and the Romney's onstage. But even as they were enjoying a little bipartisanship. Both sides began spinning and readying for the next round.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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