Election 2012: Obama and Romney face-off in first debate tonight
Romney has pinned his campaign on the argument that Obama has failed to adequately juice up the U.S. economy, but his challenge is reflected in recent polls showing growing public optimism about the economy and the president’s leadership.
Republicans tried to frame the economic debate in their terms Tuesday by pointing to the vice president’s comments in North Carolina about the beleaguered middle class as an unwitting acknowledgment that Obama’s economic policies have devastated average Americans.
“We agree,” GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan declared in Iowa. “That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.”
Obama’s camp countered that it was the policies of the president’s Republican predecessors that had caused the damage.
Biden, at a later campaign event, was careful to say that “the middle class was buried by the policies that Romney and Ryan supported,” calling their economic plans an amped-up rework of those from the George W. Bush years.
Romney calls Wednesday’s debate the beginning of a month long “conversation with the American people,” and the debates do tend to consume much of the political oxygen for several crucial weeks.
The candidates will be speaking to a TV audience of tens of millions in one of those rare moments when a critical mass of Americans collectively fix their attention on one event. Fifty-two million people tuned in to the first debate four years ago, and 80 percent of the nation’s adults reported watching at least a bit of the debates between Obama and Republican John McCain.