Mitt Romney came out top in the first of the US presidential election TV debates, according to opinion polls and commentators.
The Republican candidate’s performance was largely seen as strong and aggressive whereas Barack Obama was more restrained.
They clashed in Colorado over taxes, healthcare and the economy.
“I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans and I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle income families. I will lower taxes on middle income families,” Mitt Romney said.
In the battle for the centre ground, Romney went on the attack over the economy. The president defended his record saying he had cut taxes.
“I also promised that I’d fight every single day on behalf of the American people, the middle class and all those who are striving to get in the middle class. I’ve kept that promise and if you’ll vote for me then I promise I’ll fight just as hard in a second term,” said the US president.
Obama accused his Republican rival of wanting to bring back Bush-era economics.
Romney derided the Democrat’s policies as “trickle-down government”.
But he still faces a tough fight to cut the president’s lead in the polls, and oust him from the White House.