President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney fought each other to a draw tonight, in the first debate of three (plus one vice-presidential debate) at Denver University. The low-key debate contained no king hits or “zingers”, but a lot of sober debate about the future of the US.

Many in the media will score the debate as a win for Romney, who was more aggressive and assertive throughout. Yet there is no guarantee that this will follow through to the election campaign. The purpose of debates is to land a glove on the frontrunner, and there was no memorable moment here — there was no “there you go again moment”, which shifts the debate around. Whether he was doing it consciously or out of sheer fatigue, Obama kept to a margin of safety, offering no magic solutions.

Obama began flat with a 20th anniversary shoutout to wife Michelle, and then referred to a “new economic patriotism”. There were various promises — including the idea that I dunno, I just forgot. Look, there was no killer moment, just a series of maneuverings.

My God, I’ll hand this over to my debate notes:

Debate / Jim Lehrer: major differences between job creation/ begins with 20th anniversary — falls flat / Obama recaps / what we should do / Obama: “a new economic patriotism” / Romney: very specific energy independence, tax breaks / how would you respond to that Mr Obama / education — very keen on education … / lowering manufacturing tax to 25% / moderator: would you like to respond, Romney / Romney — not tax cuts for rich, costs are up / (what’s Obama’s game here, let Romney get excited) / Romney rambling about rich taxes / Obama responds / he gets wonky about Romney’s dodgy tax plan / (slow bicycle race) / Romney: look I’ve got five boys — I’m used to people saying something is true when it’s not …. (Obama holding his fire) / Obama responds: / (both speaking carefully avoiding gaffes) / Donald Trump is a small business? / (Jim Lehrer — note: moderator for last 13 debates as a legacy) / Romney — personal experience — I spoke to a man, my priority is jobs / THIS IS THE KILLER LINE: Romney:  “my plan is not like anything that’s been tried before”.

Romney: stop PBS, but I like Big Bird / Obama as Romney’s bitch according to worm — / extraordinary flatlining between men and women.

OH! ROMNEY LANDS A BLOW! Romney: you provided 90 billion in green energy breaks. True, not? Too wasted to assess …

Not a win for Obama, but no clear victory for Romney… Jaysus cable news can’t even interview folks about how they voted, I can’t even type …

Obama sails on is my interp … I may have passed out soon after typing this, but there you go, nothing much changed … Obama has the lead by 2-3%, he will win by it, that is all. Overnout, more soon.

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Peter Fray

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