By JULIE PACE and DAVID ESPO
Primed for a showdown, President Barack Obama accused Republican rival Mitt Romney in campaign debate Wednesday night of wanting to “double down on the top-down policies” that led to a devastating economic downturn four years ago. Countered the challenger: “That’s not what I’m going to do.”
Romney rebutted the president from a few feet away on the stage of their first debate, declaring that under Obama’s policies “middle income families are being crushed.”
The clash took place in the opening moments of a national televised debate before tens of millions of voters with the power to settle the 2012 race for the White House _ a campaign that polls suggest tilts Obama’s way despite lingering high unemployment and only sluggish economic growth.