Presidential Debate 2012: 5 Things to Know

Five things you need to know about Wednesday night's debate.

ByABC News
October 4, 2012, 3:18 PM

Oct. 4, 2012— -- intro:Missed Wednesday night's presidential debate? Here are the five things you need to know to catch up on the office chatter.

quicklist: 1title: Mitt Romney Won text: After a tough few weeks and disappointing poll numbers, GOP challenger Mitt Romney delivered a commanding performance during the University of Denver presidential debate Wednesday night.

In the aftermath, the Obama campaign acknowledged that Romney might have outmatched Obama on style, but said that his performance lacked substance. "Gov. Romney attacked pretty well. We understand that's what he had to do tonight, but he didn't lay out where he wants to take this country," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said. "The president did win this debate."

Romney supporters were elated and energized by their candidate's performance. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani called it a "knock-out punch."

"Gov. Romney seems to know the facts and what he wants to do. ... And we had another man who was almost incomprehensible in some of his explanations, namely President Obama," Giuliani said. "He has been a failure as a president and tonight he was a failure as a debater."

quicklist: 2title: Big Bird Lost Big text: In a debate lacking any truly memorable events, one big, colorful yellow moment did stand out. "I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS," Romney said. "I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually, like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for."

Romney's pledge to defund Big Bird might have been serious policy, but it set the Internet on fire with satire.

The result, a series of Twitter handles paying tribute to the beloved bird: @BigBird @BigBirdRomney @FiredBigBird.

For its part, PBS declined to jump into the partisan fray. After all, Big Bird is only 6 years old, and he missed the debate entirely, "Sesame Street" tweeted. His bedtime is 7:45 p.m.

quicklist: 3title: Mitt Romney's New Title: Debate Moderatortext: Never mind that PBS's Jim Lehrer has now moderated 12 presidential debates. Mitt Romney didn't hesitate to interrupt the newsman several times to make his point.

Romney and Lehrer negotiated whether he or Obama would have a chance to start first in the next segment. And Obama compounded the problem by going well beyond his allotted two-minute response time, at one point scolding Lehrer for interrupting him with five seconds left on the clock.

In the end, a debate that was structured in six 15-minute segments bore no resemblance to that format. All three segments on the economy ran over their allotted times. And the final two segments, which were supposed to be about the candidates' view of the role of government and their governing philosophies, were dramatically shortened. The last segment was only three minutes long.

If Twitter chatter is any indication, Romney, not Lehrer, decided the format and tempo of Wednesday night's debate.

quicklist: 4title: Simpson-Bowles and Dodd-Frank text: Try as they might, Obama and Romney couldn't help but get into the weeds on tax policy, entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, and the budget.

Millions of viewers were left scrambling to their keyboards to decipher exactly what they were talking about. By the end of the night, the two phrases were among Google's top-five search terms.