JUDY WOODRUFF: The first presidential debate is behind them, but the two sides went at it again today. Republicans said their man took it to the president in the Denver duel. The Obama camp charged the truth got trampled in the process.
On the morning after in Denver, Republican Mitt Romney was cheered lustily in a surprise appearance at the Colorado Conservative Political Action Conference.
MITT ROMNEY (R): Last night, I thought was a great opportunity for the American people to see two very different visions for the country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MITT ROMNEY: And I think it was helpful to be able to describe those visions. I saw the president’s vision as trickle-down government, and I don’t think that’s what America believes in. I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Romney’s reception at the event was reinforced by instant polling that he won last night’s encounter by more than 2-1.
But at an Obama rally in Denver, the president charged Romney had repeatedly misrepresented his own positions on jobs and taxes.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So, you see, the man on stage last night, he doesn’t want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been saying for the last year.
And that’s because he knows full well that we don’t want what he’s been selling for last year.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA: So, Gov. Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president’s campaign hit that note again and again, insisting Romney had not changed the dynamics of the race, even as they argued he had played fast and loose with the truth.
Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod spoke on MSNBC.
DAVID AXELROD, senior Obama Campaign strategist: The problem isn’t with his debate performance. The problem is with his underlying theories and some fundamental dishonesty that we saw last night.
The president came in, treated people like adults, talked about what we need to move the country forward and rebuild the middle class, and rebuild this economy, and Governor Romney came in and basically played a shell game.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But Romney campaign officials dismissed the criticism as damage control. And senior adviser Ed Gillespie said the Republican now has the momentum.
ED GILLESPIE, former Republican National Committee chairman: I do think there’s a sense of, you know, a dynamic shift in the campaign. And I know there’s a lot of talk about the style, and Gov. Romney was clearly very much in command of the facts last night and had solutions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Indeed, Romney appeared to relish the chance to go directly at the president during the debate moderated by the NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer.
MITT ROMNEY: Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.
Look, I have got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I will believe it.
I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For his part, President Obama didn’t bring up Romney’s now famous 47-percent comments, his record at Bain Capital, or his stances on immigration or abortion.
But the candidates did cover a range of other issues, sparring repeatedly over tax cuts. The president singled out a bipartisan analysis that concludes the Romney plan would cost $5 trillion over 10 years.
MITT ROMNEY: I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I have said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one.
So there’s no economist that can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.
BARACK OBAMA: Well, for 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is, “Never mind.”
And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you described, Governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s — it’s math. It’s arithmetic.
JUDY WOODRUFF: With the first debate behind them, the president headed on to Wisconsin and Romney to Virginia.
Their next face-off comes October 16 in Hempstead, N.Y.