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Debate wrap: Style

The   AP : “Standing toe-to-toe with the president for the first time in the campaign, Romney held his own and more at a time when there already were signs that the race is tightening in some of the battleground states where Obama has enjoyed an advantage. Obama kept his cool and signaled that he won’t let up on his message that Romney’s plans on taxes, health care, the deficit and more just don’t add up.”

AP’s Feller: “Republican Mitt Romney was fiery and having fun. President Barack Obama came off as the professor without much pop.”

More: “The night’s mystery was why Obama did not bring up Romney’s embarrassing caught-on-tape moment from a ritzy fundraiser, in which he said ‘47 percent’ of the people out there pay no income taxes, see themselves as victims and do not think they should ‘take personal responsibility and care for their lives.’”

Glen Johnson: “After appearing somewhat thunderstruck for the first 20 minutes of his first presidential debate, understandable when considering Romney had never been on a stage so grand while Obama encounters them daily, the Republican nominee settled into a relentless attack on the Democratic incumbent’s first term and said his results should disqualify him from winning a second.”

More: “A president known for a gift of oratory was reduced to a closing statement in which he gave an airy pledge to keep fighting for the middle class. Romney, in contrast, closed by painting a detailed vision of how a first term under him with be different from a second term under Obama when it comes to job creation, deficit reduction, and maintaining the strength of the US military. … The net result was all Romney could have hoped for over 90 minutes. … In the second of two campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Romney stood there as Obama’s equal, having made good on his promise to challenge the president directly when they finally squared off face-to-face.”

Susan Page: “[D]uring their 90-minute encounter, the first of three presidential debates, the Democratic president sometimes seemed annoyed and defensive while his Republican challenger was energetic, focused and relentlessly on message.”

And: “Bill Galston, an adviser to President Clinton and other Democrats and who is now at the Brookings Institution, said Romney ‘did himself considerable good’ in the debate. ‘I would not be surprised to learn that a majority of the American people think he won it outright,’ Galston said in an e-mail. ‘I suspect that over the next week, the public opinion surveys will show a significant narrowing of the gap between President Obama and his re-energized challenger.’”

James Fallows: “I am not talking about whether I agree with the two candidates' positions. Obviously I agree more with Obama, and I believe that more of his facts and assertions are ‘true.’ I am talking about crispness in presenting positions within the constraints of this particular format, and the air of overall ease in the encounter. If you had the sound turned off, Romney looked calm and affable through more of the debate than Obama did, and the incumbent president more often looked peeved. Romney's default expression, whether genuine or forced, was a kind of smile; Obama's, a kind of scowl. I can understand why Obama would feel exasperated by these claims and arguments. Every president is exasperated by what he considers facile claims about what he knows to be impossibly knotty problems. But he let it show.”

Boston Globe headline: “Mitt Romney threatens to end federal support for Big Bird.” “Public broadcasting supporters say the amount of federal funding that PBS receives – $444 million in fiscal 2012—would not make a dent in the deficit but would jeopardize a range of beloved programs, including ‘Sesame Street.’ PBS’s chief executive, Paula Kerger, has called Romney’s proposed cut ‘extremely disappointing.’”

New York Daily News front page sky box: “Mitt’s a hit! Rocks Obama in 1st debate.”

New York Post: “Direct Mitt! Romney batters Bam in first debate.” That’s over a photo of Romney looking at Obama while the president looks down and smirks.