First Presidential Debate Squares Off Candidates on Economy, Obamacare and Big Government

Presidential incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney participated in the first of three presidential debates last night, squaring off on everything from the economy to Obamacare and big government.

The debate took place at the University of Denver and was moderated by PBS News Hour host Jim Lehrer. Lehrer presented a number of questions to the candidates, who were under time restrictions to provide their answers. However, throughout the night, the candidates repeatedly pushed the envelope to bide more time to continue discussion on the topic at hand.

At one point, as Mitt Romney was outlining his thoughts about the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and wanted to continue the discourse, stating, “Let me mention the other one. Let’s talk the … ,” Lehrer responded with “No, let’s not.”

Similarly, as Barack Obama was speaking about healthcare, Lehrer advised, “Two minutes are up.”

“I had five seconds before you interrupted me,” Obama replied.

“Excuse me, one sec — excuse, me sir.  We’ve got barely have three minutes left. I’m not going to grade the two of you and say you’ve — Your answers have been too long or I’ve done a poor job,” Lehrer stated later in the debate.

While the majority of the debate centered on issues like the economic problems of small business and the middle class, as well as tactics for reducing the deficit, there were a couple of instances where the mention of God was thrown into the mix.

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While Republican candidate Mitt Romney discussed green jobs and education funding, he stated, “[T]he place you put your money makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is,” alluding to Matthew 6:21, which states, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Additionally, as previously reported, while speaking on the Constitution and the “pursuit of happiness,” Romney again spoke of spiritual matters, referencing his belief in a universal god that transcends all religions.

“[I]n that line that says, we are endowed by our Creator with our rights — I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our Creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by one another,” he said. “We’re a nation that believes we’re all children of the same God.”

Barack Obama did not invoke the name of God or make references to religion during the debate.

The two candidates also debated healthcare for some time as each spoke of their own particular plan for the nation.

“I don’t think vouchers are the right way to go,” Obama stated. “Benefits were not affected at all, and ironically if you repeal Obamacare — and I have become fond of this term, ‘Obamacare,’ if you repeal it, what happens is those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 more in prescription care.”

“[T]he best course for health care is to do what we did in my state, craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state. And then let’s focus on getting the costs down for people rather than raising it with the $2,500 additional premium,” Romney stated.

“There’s a reason why Governor Romney set up the plan that he did in Massachusetts,” Obama contended. “It wasn’t a government takeover of health care. It was the largest expansion of private insurance.”

According to the fact-checking website Politifact, both Obamacare and Romneycare cover abortions.

“[Under Obamacare], unless a state exercises the opt-out clause, insurers will be allowed to sell policies on the exchanges that include abortion coverage,” the site outlined. “Because of a 1981 Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Massachusetts, the cost of abortions must be included in publicly subsidized plans.”

Abortion was not discussed during the debate.

The next presidential debate will be held on October 16th at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. However, the event will be preceded by a vice-presidential debate on October 11th at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. There will be three presidential debates in total leading up to the election.

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