An energetic and well-prepared Mitt Romney went after President Barack Obama’s economic record and health care plan at the first of three presidential debates on Wednesday night at the University of Colorado in Denver, the only meeting between the two men slated to focus on domestic issues. Rather than debate the merits of preserving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its current form or repeal and replace the measure, as most Republicans favor, both Romney and Obama framed the debate of health care reform largely as an issue of cost.

 “I just don’t know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment [and] an economic crisis at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people,” Romney said, adding that as he’s crisscrossed the nation, he’s come across plenty of small businesses that fear the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will close them down. He cited a survey of employers in which three-quarters say PPACA “makes them less likely to hire people.”

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