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First Presidential Debate

Round one of the presidential debates. We’ll tally the score cards with Gail Collins and Jon Meacham.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama speak during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP)

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama speak during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP)

Big to-do over the presidential debate last night.  Romney backers claiming a big win for a candidate who came in fired up and on offense.  Not the arch-conservative of the primaries now, but a smiling free-market man looking to channel Ronald Reagan.

In liberal realms, gnashing of teeth today.  The president made his points, but where was the fight, the passion, the smack-down they were looking for?  It was wonky.  It was polite.  It was lightly moderated.  And at least for today it has changed the tone of the race.

This hour, On Point:  the presidential debates, Round One.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Gail Collins, op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and executive editor at Random House. He is a former co-anchor of the public-affairs broadcast “Need to Know on PBS” and  former editor of Newsweek. He’s the author of the forthcoming book Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.

Jack BeattyOn Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “A presidential race between an incumbent and a challenger, which has played out for most of the year in biting television commercials and fiery speeches, suddenly narrows to a pair of candidates standing side-by-side starting at 9 p.m. Eastern time. For 90 minutes, the rivals will be essentially equal, creating what Mr. Romney’s advisers believe is a critical opportunity to make a move in the race.”

National Journal “Mitt Romney has billed himself as the turnaround guy, and the first presidential debate presents a major opportunity for him to prove it by reviving his White House bid. The 90-minute forum at the University of Denver is a prime-time chance for both Romney and President Obama to argue the unfiltered case for themselves – and against their opponents – to tens of millions of Americans watching at home. Here are some of the political needs and goals of the two nominees.”

Wall Street Journal “Given the central importance of the economy, this debate—focused on economic and domestic issues—may well be the most important. Here’s a guide to the basic details, plus the issues likely to be raised, an assessment of the candidates’ positions and a look at their vulnerabilities.”

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