(DENVER) -- President Obama and Mitt Romney sparred Wednesday night in their first debate over the federal healthcare program that has become known as Obamacare, with Romney at one point apologizing for using the term and the president replying, "I like it."
Meeting each other face-to-face, Romney said he would cut expensive entitlement programs, including the Affordable Health Care Act, which Republicans have nicknamed derisively "Obamacare."
"I apologize, Mr. President. I use that term with all respect, by the way," Romney said.
With a quick smile, Obama said, "I like it." At another point in the debate, Obama again expressed his pleasure over the term, saying, "I have become fond of this term."
The debate in Denver was the first of three debates the two candidates will have between them over the next four weeks before Election Day. Their initial meeting failed to produce any real fireworks, with both candidates returning to tried talking points.
The debate was centered on domestic issues, focusing on the economy, healthcare, Medicare, taxes, deficits and job creation.
Obama accused Romney of trying "double down" on the failed economic policies of the Bush administration and said Romney's tax plan would incur trillions of dollars in debt.
"If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion, and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for … And you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Gov. Romney's plan may work for you," said Obama.
"But I think math, common sense and our history shows that's not a recipe for job growth," he added.
"Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate," Romney responded.
Romney said Obama's plan to repeal tax cuts for small businesses and the wealthy would prevent new jobs from being created.
Romney said since the president took office gas prices have doubled, and costs of food and insurance have increased.
"Twenty-three million people out of work or stopped looking for work," Romney said of the dreary unemployment figures.
Obama struck back, calling Romney's plans to cut taxes and spending a "unbalanced approach … that means you are going to be gutting our investment in schools and education ... health care for seniors in nursing homes (and) for kids with disabilities."
The president also said that Romney's plan considered Donald Trump to be a small businessman.
The debate, moderated by PBS newsman Jim Lehrer, began with the two candidates shaking hands and Obama acknowledging that it was his 20th wedding anniversary.
"I'm sure this is the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me," joked Romney.
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