By Stephanie Butzer
More than 67.2 million people watched President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver Wednesday night. The 90-minute discussion focused on domestic policy.
This viewer number is an enormous increase compared to the 2008 initial debate between Obama and McCain, which attracted 52 million people.
Jim Lehrer moderated, or attempted to moderate, the 90-minute debate. Within the first fifteen minutes, the debate started to whirl beyond Lehrer’s control. Jason Kirk, a political science professor at Elon University, said Lehrer also struggled with the questions.
“I do think the economy and the state of the country’s plans should have been at the forefront,” Kirk said.
Both candidates, especially Romney towards the beginning, interrupted Lehrer as he tried to keep the debate moving and on schedule. Obama and Romney both wanted to get in the last word and would not be silenced.
“For the first half an hour, I thought Romney did a very good job at over-speaking the president,” Emily Brenner, senior, said. “But then towards the end, I thought Romney became a lot more obnoxious and over-stepped his boundaries. ”
At the end of the night, publications and social media agreed Romney had the stronger position as he uncovered dozens of statistics. He had no issue commanding the direction of the debate while Obama, seemingly, passively listened.
“I reacted to how aggressive Mitt Romney was and how I was expecting Obama to be a lot more aggressive just from what we’ve seen before,” Alyssa Fonseca, senior, said.
Meanwhile, many Obama supporters wondered why the president was not aggressive in his attacks. He had not been in a debate since 2008 and he appeared much more submissive Wednesday night than at the previous presidential debates four years ago.
Obama failed to mention the “47 percent” video or Romney’s taxes, which point to personal wealth during the campaign. The president on the stage was the same one they saw on the television every day; many believe he was underprepared for the intense debate and defending himself.
Thursday morning produced countless discoveries by fact-checkers. Social media networks such as Twitter exploded with quotes, remarks and corrections. For example, Romney clearly stated he would not cut education funding, but has said several times in the past he supports a five percent decrease in educational spending.
“It was almost disappointing to also hear that the topic of education wasn’t even really talked about,” Demarius Hunt, junior said. “President Obama brought it up in that small segment and then it was over.”
On the other side, Obama said his budget plan would reduce deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years. While this may be true, some groups do not include war savings or lower interest on debt. His current budget shows a larger number: 5.3 trillion for those 10 years.
The next presidential debate will be Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.