The debate is the first of three to be held before the November presidential elections.
The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, clearly outperformed President Barack Obama on the economy, jobs and healthcare early Thursday, in the first of three US presidential debates that may prove crucial in the November election.
Mr. Romney, whose campaign lost significant vigour to a string of campaign blunders over the past weeks, pressed the president on all subjects put forward by the moderator, Jim Lerrer, and apparently took away the win.
By contrast, Mr. Obama started the debate nervously and gradually warmed in, yet, failed to re-enact the flicker that helped him defeat Republican contender, John McCain, in 2008.
He argued sparingly and spent more time with details that took the tone more of a presidential speech than debate logic, at times skirting questions.
The impression was clear soon after the debate with early polls across several US media going Romney’s way with a huge margin.
Cable News Network, CNN, sought responses from a number of registered voters on varied impression, and on each, Mr. Romney scored more than 50 percent leaving the president far behind.
The debate, which held at Denver, Colorado, did not feature diatribes. Both men related easily with each other, frequently interrupting themselves and the moderator.
Analysts say Mr. Obama’s performance may have been deliberate to avoid a fight, still they say he held back too much.
He did not talk about Mr. Romney’s last month’s “47 percent” comment which the former governor said was the percentage of Americans who depended on government as “victims”.
The president clearly missed openings he could have explored with advantage over Mr. Romney, allowing the Republican candidate a free run at him.
Mr. Romney accused him of spending a good portion of his first term on getting the healthcare bill plan passed instead of finding jobs and building the economy.
“The president would prefer raising taxes,” Mr. Romney said. “I understand. The problem with raising taxes is it slows down the rate of growth.”
Mr. Obama at times seemed frustrated by Mr. Romney’s aggressive comments. On taxes, for example, Mr. Obama complained when Mr. Romney insisted that he did not support a $5 trillion tax cut.
“For 18 months, he’s been running on this tax plan,” Mr. Obama said. “Now, 5 weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is never mind.”
Vice presidential debate will hold October 11 at Kentucky while two more presidential debates will hold on October 16 and 22 respectively.