Presidential Debate: Bye-Bye Big Bird, Hello ‘Obamacare’!

We take a look at five key moments during Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's first debate.

Although we’ve been hearing a lot about politics in the past few months, particularly after the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the presidential race kicked into high gear Wednesday night (October 3) with the first televised debate between the two candidates.

Obama and Mitt Romney said what? MTV teamed up with FlackCheck to keep the candidates honest during the first debate!

President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney went head-to-head on issues like education, job creation and reducing the deficit from the stage at Magness Arena on the campus of the University of Denver in the event moderated by PBS’ Jim Lehrer. There was a lot covered over the course of the 90-minute debate, but several key moments stood out for the MTV audience:

Not-So-Sunny Days On Sesame Street
During a discussion about reducing the deficit and balancing the budget, Governor Romney made a statement about cutting government spending and subsidizing that included cutting funds to things like PBS. “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS and other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird,” Romney said. “I like you, too, but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things that we have to borrow money from China to pay for.” Romney’s comment about Big Bird and PBS caused the biggest Twitter reaction of the night and inspired the creation of multiple Big Bird-related Twitter handles that instantly started making comments about being out of work or being worried that they’d be fired, or concern for Bert and Ernie’s domestic bliss.

Your Issues: Education and Jobs
While their plans for invoking change differ, Obama and Romney did agree with one another on the importance of creating more jobs and improving education. “I want kids getting federal funds for school. I want them to go to the school of their choice,” said Romney, who referenced several times the fact that the schools in Massachusetts where he was once governor rank #1 in the country. “All the federal funds I’d have follow the child, and have the parents and child decide where they want to go to school.” “I think [the government] has a significant role to play in education,” Obama agreed. “We want to focus on making college affordable. We said, ‘Why not cut out the middleman?’ We’ve provided millions more students assistance and kept rates low on student loans. That is an example where our priorities make a difference,” he said, adding that he believed Governor Romney also cared about education but was going about it in the wrong way.

Obama Embraces “Obamacare”
Although most of us have become very familiar with the term “Obamacare” by now, which refers to the Affordable Care Act the president pushed through Congress, we haven’t necessarily heard Obama’s thoughts on the bill’s nickname. Thanks to his comments tonight, we now know he’s in favor of the term. “I like it,” he said after Governor Romney introduced the bill with that nickname, quickly followed by saying that he uses the term “Obamacare” “with all due respect.” The president later admitted that he has “become fond of this term” when he described its significance in during his first four years in the Oval Office.

Happy Anniversary
Before either candidate jumped into their respective political platforms, President Obama told the audience that the most important issue to address was his wedding anniversary. “Twenty years ago, I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me, and so I just want to wish [you], sweetie, a happy anniversary,” Obama said to his wife. “And let you know that a year from now, we won’t be celebrating in front of 40 million people.” Romney, too, made a point to offer his well-wishes to the first couple before launching into facts and figures. “Congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your anniversary. I’m sure this is the most romantic place you could have imagined to be here with me,” he joked.

Meet Sassy Mitt Romney
The pleasantries didn’t last for long! The former Massachusetts governor came out guns a-blazing and expressed charisma and passion that many of us hadn’t yet witnessed. Romney had no problem challenging the president on specific points or statements throughout the debate and maintained eye contact with Obama while he did so. He also did not back down from accusations made by Obama that he felt were inaccurate, statements like: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” as well as a challenge to the money Obama spent developing green technologies that could have been used for education. “I’m not going to cut education funding and grants for people to go to college, let me make that clear,” Romney said to Obama. “You put your money where your heart is with $90 billion into green energy, money that would have hired 2 million teachers.” Immediately following the debate, commentators on CNN and Twitter paid respect to the fire behind Romney’s delivery and how it stood out in contrast to a “listlessness” from Obama.

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