Presidential Hopefuls Square Off in First Debate

By KBJR News 1

October 3, 2012 Updated Oct 3, 2012 at 10:49 PM CDT

Denver, CO (NBC News) - The most pivotal presidential debate in years got underway tonight, as President Barack Obama and his republican rival met face to face for the first time in five years.

Looking relaxed and confident, the two presidential candidates took the stage at the University of Denver for the first of three debates, both hoping to sway millions of voters with a strong performance.

They greeted each other with a hand shake before heading to their respective podiums, each knowing that tonight could determine the outcome of the election.

And with Election Day just a month away, it's a showdown that has raised high expectations for both candidates but especially for Mitt Romney, who, up until debate time is trailing in most polls.

Moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS, the 90-minute debate was intended to be largely free-flowing, providing a great opportunity for the candidates to clash on a number of domestic issues.

As the result of a coin toss, President Obama got the opening question from Jim Lehrer, while, Mitt Romney had the last word during closing remarks.