DENVER, October 4, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In something the Romney campaign hope is the beginning of a trend, the former Massachusetts governor’s performance in the first presidential debate against Barack Obama proved so compelling that a record number of people believed he won.

Romney led an extended attack on the role an unelected group of bureaucrats would play in making health care choices under ObamaCare, something many fear will turn into a rationing panel. He also said his first priorities were “life” and “liberty.”

A record-breaking 67 percent of CNN viewers said he beat Obama after the face-off at the University of Denver. “No presidential candidate has topped 60 percent in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” explained CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. 

Despite the fact that the debate was putatively about domestic issues, not a single question referenced abortion, marriage, or the HHS mandate, disappointing some.

The Center for Reproductive Rights hoped moderator Jim Lehrer would ask about abortion, and Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11, criticized the president for not mentioning “women’s issues.” 

The only reference to marriage was the president’s own. The debate, which was moderated by PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, took place on the Obamas’ wedding anniversary. President Obama opened by speaking directly to the first lady. Mitt Romney also wished the Obamas a happy anniversary, joking “this was the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me.” But the niceties ended early.

The former governor looked and sounded confident as he assailed the president’s record on everything from job creation and the national deficit to Green energy and food stamp enrollment. The president nervously looked at his podium most of the debate.

Three times, Romney described the president’s philosophy as “trickle-down government,” something he said was a proven failure.

“The proof of that is 23 million people out of work,” he said. “The proof of that is 1 out of 6 people is in poverty. The proof of that is we’ve gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can’t find work.”

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Even the president’s hardcore supporters conceded defeat early.

MSNBC host Ed Schultz, speaking immediately after the debate, said,” I think he was off his game. I was absolutely stunned tonight.”

Others remarked on Obama’s body language. Andrew Sullivan wrote, “Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down.”

HBO’s Real Time host Bill Maher tweeted, “i can’t believe i’m saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter.”

No fewer than 11 media outlets described Obama’s tone as “professorial” in the hours following the debate. 

Even some of his former rivals expressed sympathy at his poor performance.

On Fox Business Channel after the debate, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said, “So I almost felt sorry for him, in his role as president, trying to explain why we need to repeat four more years of failed policies.”

While some are rejoicing that the debate breathes new life in the Romney campaign, which had stalled in some polls nationally, others urge against unguarded optimism.

Presidential challengers John KerryMichael Dukakis, and Walter Mondale were also perceived to win the first presidential debates before going on to lose the general election.

The Republican Party was quick to capitalize on the success with a new advertisement showcasing the challenger’s most memorable comments.

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The Democratic Party also turned the debate into an ad, focusing on Mitt Romney’s allegedly boorish treatment of moderator Jim Lehrer.