Debate Cliff Notes: 5 Things You Missed

Missed Wednesday night's presidential debate? Here are the five things you need to know to catch up on the office chatter.

Mitt Romney Won

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."

Big Bird Lost Big

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.

Debate Moderator

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.

Simpson-Bowles and Dodd-Frank

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.

Here's a primer.

Simpson-Bowles: The term is shorthand for the deficit-reduction plan that was the product of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, created in 2010 by Obama. The panel was headed by Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and former Democratic White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.

Both Obama and Romney were questioned about whether they agreed with the panel's recommendations, which were never approved by Congress.

Dodd-Frank: Another shorthand term that refers to the financial regulatory legislation approved by Congress, which bears the name of former Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and retiring Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. The bill, which passed in 2010, has been blamed by Republicans for overburdening businesses with regulation. Democrats say it protects the economy from the excesses that caused the financial crisis in 2008.

Lost in Translation: The Facts

Fact-checkers went wild during and after Wednesday night's debate trying to sort out the truth between Obama and Romney's claims on their budget, health care and tax plans. Unsurprising, both candidates ranked poorly on the truth-o-meter scale.

Here's ABC News' fact check of the debate.

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