Here are some of the key quotes from today’s first US presidential debate, pitching Barack Obama (BO) against Mitt Romney (MR) …

On the Obamas’ wedding anniversary today

BO (when asked about the economy): “There are a lot of points I want to make tonight, but the most important one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle agreed to marry me and so I just want to wish, sweetie, you a happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people.”

MR: “And congratulations to you Mr President on your anniversary, I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me. So I … Congratulations!”

On high income earners

MR: “We’ve got to provide tax relief to people in the middle class, but I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people, high income people are doing fine in this economy. They’ll be doing fine whether you’re President or I am. The people who are having a hard time right now are middle income Americans. Under the President’s policies, middle income Americans are being buried, they are being crushed.”

BO: “We do have a difference though, when it comes to definitions of small business … Under Governor Romney’s definition there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses, Donald Trump is a small business — and I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything.”

On energy

MR (speaking about the number of licenses for natural gas and oil on government land): “If I’m president I’ll double them, and also get the oil from offshore in Alaska, and I’ll bring that pipeline in from Canada. And by the way I like coal. I gotta make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like its getting crushed by your policies.”

BO: “The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare, basically they get deductions that those small business that Governor Romney  refers to, they don’t get. Now does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money when they’re making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn’t we want to to eliminate that? Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is if you’ve got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it.”

On being a leader

BO: “What’s important is occasionally you’ve got to say no — to folks both in your own party and in the other party… Part of leadership and governing is … being willing to say no to some things, and I’ve got to tell you that Governor Romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party.”

On healthcare

BO: “The irony is that we’ve seen this model work really well in Massachusetts because Governor Romney did a good thing working with Democrats in the state to set up an identical model.”

MR: “The private market and individual responsibility always work best.”

On the economy

BO: “Does anybody out there think that the problem we had was too much oversight and regulation of Wall St? If you do, Governor Romney is your candidate.”

MR: “What we are seeing right now is a trickle down approach where the government thinks it can do better than free people. We know that the path we’re taking isn’t working and it’s time for a new path.”

On education

BO: “I believe the federal government has the capacity to open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity.”

Conclusion

BO: “Is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping these plans secret because they are too good, that middle class families are going to do too well? No.”

MR: “You’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house but not your own facts.”

Peter Fray

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