President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Romney at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver
For once analysts and the audience agreed in saying that the first US Presidential debate was widely won by Republican challenger Mitt Romney. However, the consensus suggests that the former governor of Massachusetts seems to owe his victory as much to President Barcak Obama's unusual lack of poise as his own bullish performance.
According to a CNN poll, two thirds of the millions of spectators who watched the debate believed Romney won the showdown. This perception is reflected in the responses which were posted on news and social media sites after the debate.
"[Romney] seemed more presidential than the president, more in command of the facts, the arguments," said Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace.
"Mitt Romney had a very good debate tonight. Though debates often reinforce existing perceptions, Romney took steps towards reversing his image as an out of touch plutocrat," wrote Greg Sargent on the Washington Post.
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On the other hand Obama was described as a "rusty debater" by CNN's John King and gave the perception to be "tired or bored," according to the New York Times columnist Gail Collins.
Given that Romney has received a torrent of derision for his repeated blunders, while Obama is widely recognised as a great public speaker, the challenger's performance was a considerable triumph.
"He [Romney] had obviously practised so hard and so long that he was nearly hoarse," observed Mark Mardell for the BBC.
Since the CNN poll was first launched in 1984 no candidate had ever got more than a 60 per cent lead in the audience's appraisal, the broadcaster said.
Mistakes from Obama
Although Romney's performance was undoubtedly strong, many of his assertions - such as the claim that, if elected, he won't cut the budget for education - did not pass analysts' scrutiny during or after the event.
However, Obama helped his opponent's cause with a string of obvious omissions.
"This debate was perhaps most notable for what Mr. Obama left unsaid-for his many lost opportunities," said New York Times columnist Andrew Rosenthal.
The president opened the debate by wishing his wife Michelle a happy 20th wedding anniversary.
"20 years ago I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me. I just want to wish, sweetie, you happy anniversary and let you know that year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people," Obama said.
Although the touching start was a good opener to create an emotional connection with the US audience, during the rest of the debate it seemed that the President would have actually liked to be somewhere else.
"[Obama] looked as though he'd much rather be out celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife," Mardell wrote.
President Obama stands with his wife Michelle after the end of the first presidential debate as Republican presidential nominee Romney stands at his podium in Denver (Reuters)
The president reportedly seemed to lack focus, as he concentrated on defending his four-year presidential mandate rather than attacking his opponent and exposing Romney's contradictions, which is often highly effective in a televised debate.
"[Obama] fell way behind in the much-anticipated 'battle of the zingers'. The president thinks these debates are ridiculous, and he may well be right. But, truly, it would have been a better idea to keep the thought to himself," Collins wrote.
Obama had a few good moments, such as when he attacked Romney vagueness about his proposed tax, healthcare and Wall Street reforms.
"At some point, the American people have to ask themselves if the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret is because they're too good," Obama said.
Nevertheless, Obama also missed a number of easy targets to attack his opponent.
"He [Obama] never raised that secretly recorded video in which Romney described 47% of Americans as "victims" who are dependent on the government and he never pressed Romney on his record as head of Bain Capital - both issues his campaign has pushed," wrote Susan Page on USA Today.
Obama has other two televised debates before the elections to shake off the rust and provide the global audience with a "Presidential" performance. The next debate is scheduled for October 16.
President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Romney share a laugh at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver (Reuters)
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