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Romney vow to break partisan gridlock sparks tart Obama retort

October 03, 2012|By Michael Finnegan
  • Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, speaks as President Obama waits his turn during the debate at the University of Denver.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

Just before their first debate ended, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney each got a chance to say how he would cut through the partisan political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington.

Romney recalled his work as governor of Massachusetts with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature.

“That meant I figured out from day one I had to get along and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done,” Romney said.

WHAT THEY SAID: The first presidential debate

“As president,” he continued, “I will sit down on day one -- actually the day after I get elected, I'll sit down with leaders, the Democratic leaders as well as Republican leaders."

Democrats and Republicans “have to work on a collaborative basis -- not because we're going to compromise our principles, but because there's common ground,” Romney said.

When moderator Jim Lehrer invited Obama to respond, the president cracked a pointed joke.

“Well, first of all, I think Gov. Romney's going to have a busy first day, because he's also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you're sitting down with them,” he said.

PHOTOS: Scenes from the first presidential debate

Obama said he was willing to take ideas from anyone in either party, citing the nation’s progress “even under Republican control of the House of Representatives.” He then went on to take more digs at Romney, saying a leader needs to “have a plan” and occasionally say no to people in both parties.

“I've got to tell you, Gov. Romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party,” Obama said.

With that, the debate moved along to closing statements, leaving Romney no chance to respond.

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michael.finnegan@latimes.com

@finneganlatimes 

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