In a 90-minute clash in Colorado seen by tens of millions of voters, the former Massachusetts governor aggressively attacked Mr Obama over the weak state of the American economy at the end of his first term, while making an unusually impassioned case for why he, instead, should be elected in November.
He accused Mr Obama of inflicting a “trickle-down government” of ever-growing control by Washington on the American people, turning Mr Obama’s accusation that the Republican challenger favours “trickle-down economics” against him.
“The path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful,” said Mr Romney. He accused Mr Obama of proposing only “bigger government, spending more, taxing more and regulating more”, adding: “That’s not the right answer for America. I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again”.
A snap poll of registered voters by CNN found that 67 per cent thought Mr Romney had won, compared to 25 per cent for Mr Obama. A CBS survey found 46 per cent of viewers thought Mr Romney had bettered the President, while only 22 per cent believed Mr Obama had won.