11.54am: Romney disputes Obama's version of the facts. He says it's now hard to get a mortgage because Dodd-Frank didn’t come up with clear regulation.
11.52am: We're revisiting the GFC. Obama says the reason the US has been in such a huge economic crisis was due to the reckless behaviour on Wall Street, by loan officers, credit agencies and banks churning out products no one understood. The government stepped in and regulated Wall Street, he says, in the toughest way since the 1930s with the Dodd-Frank reforms. Romney will repeal all of those changes, the President says.
11.49am: Obama says Romney’s plan would weaken Medicare. He says America needs to lower the cost of health care. Jim Lehrer tries to cut in to tell him to change the subject.
11.48am: Romney says the government needs to offer premiums as low as the private sector, and people will get private plans. Not all people want the government to tell them what do to about their own health care, he says. For higher income people, health benefits need to be lowered.
11.44am: Obama says Romney really needs to outline his plan. He says vouchers for healthcare are not the right way to go. He says if you appeal Obamacare – a term he says he has become fond of – seniors will be paying for basic check-ups that can keep them healthier.
11.42am: Romney: Neither the president or Romney are changing entitlements for social security and Medicare for retirees and soon-to-be retirees. Oops, actually Obama is changing medicare entitlements, he says. Romney says he can’t understand how you can cut medicare. For young people, social security and Medicare will be there for them without question under Romney’s leadership, he says.
11.40am: The debate changes to social security. Obama shares memories of his fiercely independent grandmother, who he notes died soon before he became president. Social security and Medicare helped her stay independent, he says. He thinks of his grandmother and others who have worked hard when he thinks about entitlements.
11.37am: Romney says Obama gave the green energy industry $90 billion of tax breaks, representing 50 years of the breaks that oil companies get. That’s not the kind of policy that makes America energy-secure, he says. He denies anyone gets tax breaks for shipping jobs offshore.
11.34am: Obama says a balanced responsible approach to taxes is needed, including corporate taxes. He says companies shipping jobs overseas shouldn’t get any incentives. He recounts meeting a teacher in Las Vegas, who described having a class of 42 children using decade-old textbooks and sitting on the floor. "That is not a recipe for growth, that is not how America was built,” he says.
11.31am: The first real bickering emerges. Romney and Obama start to speak over each other before Romney speaks. He says, “It’s not just Donald Trump you’re taxing” but small businesses that employ a quarter of Americans.
11.28am: Obama pulls out the “when I walked into the Oval Office...” line. Says he inherited many, many problems from the previous government contributing to the deficit. Says Romney has an unbalanced view of the economy.
11.26am: Romney says it’s not an economic issue, it’s also a moral issue as the next generations will be paying interest on the spending. He says raising taxes, as Obama plans to do, slows growth. As an aside, he says he will stop the subsidy to PBS despite liking Big Bird and debate host Jim Lehrer.
11.26am: Candidates are now asked to talk about what should be done about the deficit.
11.24am: Romney denies that he has plans for a $5 trillion tax cut. He says 23 million people have stopped looking for work, and economic growth is slower than last year.
11.23am: Obama says Romney’s plan for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in military spending is more than the entire defence budget. Reiterates, again, his belief the economy works best when middle-class families are getting tax breaks.
11.22am: Romney says Obama’s plan is to tax small businesses 40 per cent, rather than 35 per cent. He repeats his priority is jobs and getting more people paying taxes.
11.21am: Candidates told they’re overtime by 15 minutes already. Romney continues ...
11.19am: Obama is keen to push further on the Romney tax plan. "For 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan now he’s saying his big bold plan is 'nevermind'." Says that incomes over $250,000 a year should go back to tax rates that existed under the Clinton administration. “By doing that we can not only reduce the deficit ... we’re also able to make the investments necessary in education or energy”. He says Romney considers people like Donald Trump as small business owners.
11:16am: Romney pushes for a chance to respond: "Absolutely everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate." "For me this is about jobs. It’s about getting jobs for the American people."
11.14am: Let’s talk about taxes, Obama says. The government cut taxes for middle class families by about $3600. “I believe we do best when the middle class is going well.” He said the tax cuts made the recession easier to weather. “When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals can take advantage of ... you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts ...”. He says “top down economics” favouring high-income earners “that’s not what I believe is a recipe for economic growth”.
11.12am: "The people who are having the hard time right now are middle income Americans ... they’ve seen their income come down by $4,300.” Gasoline prices have doubled under the president, along with food and health costs, Romney says. Tax rates need to come down for corporations and individuals. "By the way, I like coal ... clean coal. People in the industry feel like it’s being crushed by your policies."
11.09am: The president says he wants to create 100,000 positions for maths and science teachers and two million positions in community colleges. "I also want to close the holes that are giving incentives to companies that are shipping jobs overseas." He says he wants to boost American energy production and to invest in energy sources for the future, like wind and solar.
11.07am: Romney opens by congratulating Obama on his anniversary, and joking about what a romantic occasion it is. Who says he can't be human? Answering the question, he says the US needs to make sure people have the skills they need to succeed. America needs to champion small business, he says. “It’s small business that creates the jobs in America”. He wants to “restore the vitality that gets America working again”.
11.05am: Barack Obama begins by wishing his wife, Michelle a happy 20th wedding anniversary. He then tells the audience the US needs to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. He questions whether the US needs to embrace a new "economic patriotism", saying the country does better when the middle class does better.
11.04am: The first question is about how each candidate would go about creating new jobs.
11.00am: Here we go. Ninety minutes of debate begins. We're told some of the questions have been collected on social media. There's no cheers, applause or hisses allowed by the live audience. Boo!
10.50am: Not long now til the debate begins. Fairfax US Correspondent Nick O'Malley's had this pre-match analysis this morning. "If you listened to the whispers from the campaigns over the past week you would think neither believed their candidate had a hope of stringing a full sentence together during the first presidential debate tomorrow, let alone of winning it."