A forceful Mitt Romney went toe-to-toe with President Barack Obama on the dominant issues for voters, challenging the Democrat's policies on the economy, taxes and health care in the first of three debates ahead of the November election.
In exchanges full of policy proposals, facts and figures, the Republican challenger was more aggressive in the 90-minute encounter in criticizing Obama's record and depicting the president's vision as one of big government.
The president firmly defended his achievements and challenged his rival's prescriptions as unworkable.
Neither candidate scored dramatic blows that will make future highlight reels, and neither veered from campaign themes and policies to date.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with