DENVER — An energetic Mitt Romney launched a series of attacks against President Obama here Wednesday night, calling into question the president’s record on the economy, health care and the deficit, and arguing that he would take the country in a fundamentally different direction.
Obama sought to parry Romney’s criticisms, charging that his presidential rival favors a top-down approach to the economy that would reward the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class and that the details of the Republican’s proposals don’t add up. But he found himself on the defensive repeatedly during their first debate, held at the University of Denver.
Romney came into the 90-minute exchange after several difficult weeks but appeared rejuvenated by the opportunity to take his case directly to Obama and the American people. He was well prepared and aggressive as he hammered the president. The contrast with Obama was striking, as the president appeared less energetic even as he rebutted some of Romney’s toughest attacks.
The debate is likely to give Romney what he needed most, which is a fresh look from voters — at least those who are undecided or open to changing their minds — and will change the conversation about the campaign, which for the past two weeks has been tilted in the president’s favor. Romney now faces the challenge of trying to build on his performance and keep the president on the defensive in the days ahead.