With an Array of Fresh Attacks, Romney Puts Obama on Defense

Obama supporters disappointed with lack of effective counterattack

Romney goes on offense, forcing Obama to defend record (Washington Post)

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney took the offensive in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, forcing President Obama to defend his record in a series of sharp exchanges in which Romney charged that the President’s economic policies have “crushed” the middle class.

Appearing more vigorous than he often is on the campaign trail, Romney painted Obama’s first term as a time of rising poverty, slowing economic growth and struggle for millions of Americans. He pushed his own plans to lower taxes and bring down the federal deficit, saying his approach would revive the sputtering economy.

“Gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up,’’ Rommey said. “Health-care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. Middle-income families are being crushed.’’

“Look at the evidence of the last four years. It’s absolutely extraordinary,’’ he said. “We’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country ... economic growth this year slower than last year, and last year slower than the year before.’’

“Going forward with the status quo is not going to cut it for the American people who are struggling today,’’ the former Massachusetts governor said, prompting a frown from Obama.

The president appeared on the defensive at times over his record, but he emphasized the problems he inherited from the George W. Bush administration and tried to link himself to the more popular tenure of fellow Democrat Bill Clinton. He said the steps he took — which included his administration’s economic stimulus plan and the auto industry bailout it oversaw — brought the nation back from the brink of economic ruin.

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