After months of campaigning, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney faced off in their first presidential debate, focusing primarily on the economy.
Romney was declared the debate winner by many analysts immediately following the broadcast, but Ohio State political science professor Paul Beck said what independent voters thought of the candidates’ remarks is most important.
“The partisan are going to be persuaded with the candidate in their party in the open debate,” he said. “The real question is what are the independents – many of them are still undecided – going to think of this debate.”
Beck said he thought both candidates performed well but that Romney performed better in the debate than he has been during the campaign.
Beck spoke at a post-debate analysis at the Moritz College of Law after a live viewing of the broadcast alongside Edward Foley, a law professor, and David Stebenne, a history and law professor.
Foley called Romney a “better debater,” and Stebenne said the topics of the debate played to Romney’s strengths. He said however, “they both turned in strong performances.”
Both candidates presented their views on job creation, the deficit, taxes, education and health care.
Obama made his case of why he should be re-elected for another term, and said, “I fight every single day for the middle class.”
However, Romney said he “will keep America strong and working again.”
Obama said that more work is needed to be done on the economy.
“The question is not where we have been but where we’re going,” he said.
While, many issues were brought up in the debate, the candidates’ views on the tax code policy and the deficit was a stark contrast.
Obama said he believes taxes should be increased for families making $250,000 and higher with some spending cuts. This would be a balanced way to reduce the deficit with some spending cuts but would not have a huge impact on the middle class, he said.
However, Romney said he believes taxes should be lowered for all Americans.
“This is about jobs for the American people,” he said, adding that reducing taxes will spur economic growth for the economy, which would reduce the deficit.
Aside from taxes and deficits, both candidates provided different views of what the federal government’s role should be.
“Government has the capacity to create ladders of opportunity,” Obama said.
“Government should not substitute itself for the rights of individuals,” he said. “(We need) leadership in Washington to get the job done.”
Several OSU student groups held parties where they viewed the debate. The OSU College Republicans held theirs at Barley’s Brewing Company near the Arena District downtown.
Niraj Antani, communications director of the OSU College Republicans, said students should look at Obama’s record when deciding who to vote for.
“I think that Gov. Romney has the plan and the experience to turn this country around. We’ve seen four years of President Obama’s record of high debt and high unemployment. And you know, Gov. Romney has the experience and the vision to create jobs for college students and after we graduate.”
Antani said students should think about their post-grad prospects when considering who to cast their ballot for on Nov. 6.
“We’ve seen half of recent college graduates underemployed or unemployed in the economy,” he said. “Students can’t afford that, students need jobs when they graduate and the fact of the matter is Gov. Romney is the candidate who has the experience and the record to ensure that students have jobs when they graduate college.”
Antani declared Romney the winner after the debate, and said in an email that he “perfectly articulated a positive vision for America.”
The OSU College Democrats hosted a debate watch party at Big Bar on High Street after a pro-Obama concert at the Newport Music Hall Wednesday evening.
Mallory Kimble, president of OSU College Democrats, said in a post-debate email that Romney’s lack of specifics made his points weaker.
“While Gov. Romney gave a broad idea of what he would do to move the country forward, he failed on many occasions to offer specifics on exactly how he would carry out his plans for the nation,” she said.
Some students not affiliated with the College Democrats at the watch party said that rather than use the debate to outline their plans, the candidates attacked each other.
David Sherry, a fourth-year in economics, said that while he disagreed with Romney’s points, he did well during the debate. He noticed however, Romney didn’t have much positive to say.
“Of course he’s only going to say negative things, he’s not the president,” he said.
Kristin Eberts, a fifth-year in Spanish and biology, said she thought “Obama was mostly positive, Romney was negative.”
The debate took place at the University of Denver in Colorado, a swing state.
Grant Gannon, Ayan Sheikh and Karam Sheban contributed to this article.