Nice friendly opener with a nod to President Obama’s 20th wedding anniversary. Much of the focus tonight will be the economy.
9:11pm — Romney slides into energy almost immediately, although the question is about taxes. Promises to create 4 million jobs with his energy policies, open up drilling on public land, promote coal use.
9:26 — Romney — if the program costs enough that it needs borrowing from China, he’ll cut it: Obamacare (Obama likes this term, he says) and PBS. Romney compares moderator Jim Lehrer to Big Bird (he likes both of them, but he has to fire them.)
9:40 — Obama taks social security question, slides into Medicare, uses an anecdote about how his grandmother was able to live independely because of Medicare, Social Security.
Debate also touched on Medicaid. Obama suggsted Romney’s proposed block grants to states would cost the program as much as 30 percent. States would be left to figure out how to handle unexpected increases. Obama cited the parents of the autistic child who would no longer have access to government assistance. Romney defended block grants on ideoloigical grounds — i.e., keep states as the "laboratories for democracy."
Jewish social service groups, across the board, fear block grants. Romney says they will be inflation adjusted, but the groups want more details.
10: 18 — Question on governance: Obama starts with keeping America safe, goes ninto detail about federal-state relations. Romney talks about support for military, segues into creator-granted rights, ie, religious freedoms from the conservative perspective (churches free from government interference.)
10:25 — Romney, in making the case that he would reach across the aisle, cites "Look what’s happening in the Middle East" to make the case for leadership. First mention of the region.
(Obama’s retort: leadership sometimes means having to fight, to say no.)