DENVER — Amid a lackluster debate performance Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama may have scored one solid hit on challenger Mitt Romney — over Wall Street reform and the Dodd-Frank law — but it took a helpful moderator to tee up the moment.
Jim Lehrer of PBS asked Romney if he would repeal Dodd-Frank as president. “Well, I would repeal and replace it,” Romney replied.
“We’re not going to get rid of all regulation — you have to have regulation, and there are some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world. You need transparency, you need to have leverage limits for …”
“Well, here’s a specific,” Lehrer interrupted.
“But let’s — let’s mention — let me mention the other one. Let’s talk about —” Romney began to respond.
“No, let’s not,” Lehrer said, cutting off the former Massachusetts governor and inviting Obama into the discussion.
“I think this is a great example,” Obama said. “The reason we have been in such a enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board.”
“In the past, Governor Romney has said he just wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, roll it back,” Obama said moments later. “And so the question is: Does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Governor Romney is your candidate. But that’s not what I believe.”
Romney shot back that Obama’s characterization of his beliefs was “just not the facts.”
Lehrer remained largely hands-off and let the candidates confront each other, drawing complaints from liberal commentators and praise from some conservatives.