Related Content: Barack Obama

News Analysis: A Clash of Philosophies

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Somewhere in the wonky blizzard of facts, statistics and studies thrown out on stage here on Wednesday night was a fundamental philosophical choice about the future of America, quite possibly the starkest in nearly three decades. As President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off for the first time, their largely zinger-free styles may have disguised a fierce clash of views not only over taxes, spending and health care, but over the very role of government in American society in a time of wrenching problems.

Romney’s Big Night

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When Barack Obama entered the debate hall at the University of Denver Wednesday night, the air was clear and warm. When he left, the winds where whipping and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees. Coincidentally, that was also the same number of undecided voters who thought the president had a good debate. In two different polls of undecided voters by CNN and CBS, Obama received grim reviews. In the CBS poll, 46 percent thought Romney had done the better job. Only 22 percent thought Obama prevailed. In the CNN poll, 67 percent thought Romney had performed well.

Romney goes on offense, forcing Obama to defend record

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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.

On Economy, Romney Blurs Contrast

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Apparently Mitt Romney likes government regulation, loves Medicare the way it is, agrees fairly regularly with President Obama, and does not, in fact, want to cut taxes very much. Those are gross simplifications of Romney’s economic platform, and ones very much at odds with the antitax, antiregulation, pro-entitlement-reform campaign the former Massachusetts governor has waged for more than a year.

Question 1: What’s at stake in the first debate in Denver?

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First debates usually attract the biggest audience, and so for both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, this is a high-stakes event. But it’s clearly much bigger for Romney.

In 90-minute debate, 2 candidates stand on equal footing

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President Obama will have the first word at the presidential debate. Mitt Romney will have the last word. But even before they step onto the stage and shake hands here Wednesday evening, voters across the country are already starting to have the final word.

The only debate question that matters

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There are plenty of important questions Jim Lehrer should ask Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during Wednesday night’s first presidential debate, but only one Big Question. Lehrer should keep asking it until he gets a real answer, even if it takes all 90 minutes.

Claims likely to surface in debate and facts behind them

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The first presidential debate is likely to focus on economic issues as President Obama and Mitt Romney clash over the size and role of government. Here are some topics that could come up.

How campaigning for president became a socially acceptable thing to do

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In the early days of the presidency, no man worthy of the office would have dared campaign for it. Now, as I write in my series How to Measure for a President, the strength of a candidate’s campaign is used as proof of his fitness for office. Here, with the help of Gil Troy’s See How They Ran is a tour of how we got here.

Before debate, Romney calls Obama weak on foreign policy

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Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney launched a fresh attempt on Monday to paint President Barack Obama as weak on foreign policy, saying he had let U.S. leadership atrophy, while the two candidates prepared for their critical first debate on Wednesday.