By Robin Abcarian
October 3, 2012, 7:26 p.m.
No question, Mitt Romney’s extensive debate preparation is paying off. At least in the first half of the debate, he seemed more emotionally connected than President Obama with the material -- making jokes and self-deprecating remarks and even invoking Big Bird in a discussion about the deficit and budget priorities.
When moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS asked each candidate to describe the difference between his plan to attack the deficit and his opponent’s, Romney couched the issue in moral terms.
“I’m glad you raised that,” he said. “I think it’s frankly not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing that those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation. They’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives, and the amount of debt we’re adding -- at a trillion a year -- is simply not moral.”
Cutting the deficit, said Romney, can be done by cutting taxes, cutting spending and growing the economy. And finally, after being accused continually of failing to give specifics about things like which loopholes he would close in the tax code to offset the tax reductions he’d like to make, Romney spelled out some cuts he’d enforce. “Obamacare is on the list,” Romney said. “I apologize, Mr. President. I used that term with all respect.”
If Romney was trying to throw Obama onto the defensive, it didn’t work. “I like it,” the president interjected.
“OK, good. So I get rid of that.”
Then, looking at moderator Lehrer, Romney said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS…. I like PBS, I love Big Bird -- I actually like, you too -- but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.”