Left and Right Live Blogging the Obama-Romney Debates

The U.S. News's live opinion blog

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Peter Roff 10:07: Romney campaign circulating this as part of its "rapid response" effort:

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA): The Way The White House Handled Obamacare "Cost Obama A Lot Of Credibility As A Leader.": "The healthcare reform law will be President Obama's 'biggest downside' politically heading into the November elections, retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said … 'I think that the manner in which the health-care reform issue was put in front of the Congress, the way that the issue was dealt with by the White House, cost Obama a lot of credibility as a leader,' Webb said, according to the Washington Post. … 'If you were going to do something of this magnitude, you have to do it with some clarity, with a clear set of objectives from the White House,' said Webb." (The Hill, 4/18/12)

Not helpful to the president, especially coming from a Democrat who voted for his plan.

Peter Roff 10:04: Apparently it was a mistake for President Obama to compare what he did on healthcare favorably to what Romney did in Massachusetts. Governor Romney's explanation of how the two plans are different is devastating to the president's position. Especially his attack on the president for his lack of bipartisanship—and Obama's wrapping his arms around Romney is not going to help. "We used the same advisers and they say it's the same plan," is not going to cut it. Romney has the facts on his side.

Robert Schlesinger 10:04: I must confess my memory of Peter's welfare piece has been eclipsed by the judgment of every independent fact checker that the welfare attack was a whole cloth fabrication. Robert Schlesinger 10:06: Mary Kate is glad that this is Jim Lehrer's last debate. Lehrer is to presidential debates what Dick Clark is to New Years.

Peter Roff 10:00: Robert Schlesinger recalls the so-called Romney lie on welfare reform. Surely he cannot have forgotten my piece for Thomas Jefferson Street, The Truth About Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Welfare Reform, that explains just how right Romney and the Republicans are about the Obama administration's move to illegally—because they have not sought congressional approval for the move—gut the work requirement that is the cornerstone of welfare reform.

Boris Epshteyn 10:00: Halfway Point: Governor Romney has come prepared for big time, no question about it. Specifics on energy policy, healthcare, oversight. Also, Governor Romney just used his experience on healthcare in Massachusetts as a positive. Best point on Romneycare he has made.

Mary Kate Cary 10:00: Jim Lehrer already said this will be his last debate. Probably a good idea.

Robert Schlesinger 9:59: So to sum up, Romney favors regulation of Wall Street and doesn't want to cut taxes on the rich, and Obama and Romney largely agree on Social Security. Holy Etch A Sketch, Batman!

Peter Roff 9:55: In the larger political context, it is probably to Governor Romney's benefit that he is not letting Jim Lehrer control the discussion and is insisting on getting his point across. Too often in these debates the moderators try to take center stage and play traffic cop in a way that reveals their hidden biases. Romney is having none of that.

[Slide show: 7 Memorable Presidential Debate Moments]

Robert Schlesinger 9:52: Halfway through the debate Romney is holding his own—no surprise, challengers often look good in first debates. Neither one has landed a strong blow or had a major gaffe. The little CNN dial-meter of undecided voters holds few surprises thus far: Women tend to approve of the president more while men are more favorable toward Romney.

Mary Kate Cary 9:49: First hour: This is the side of Mitt Romney everybody's been waiting to see. Seems a lot more passionate than I expected, he's really enjoying this. Obama's not doing himself any favors.

Robert Schlesinger 9:47: Obama is the first to mention the $716 saved in the Medicare program through Obamacare—smart move because it allows him to define that figure before Romney can.

Robert Schlesinger 9:45: Romney describes states as the laboratory of democracy. I wonder if this will come back on him if he tries to raise the welfare lie his campaign has spread for the last few months.