It was a dramatic night in New York - a reinvigorated and re-energised Barack Obama arrived at Hofstra University eager to undo the damage that he had done to himself and his campaign two weeks ago in Denver. Then he was weak, listless and defensive; yesterday, he was feisty, passionate and on the attack.
Both candidates delivered strong and animated performances - at one point, as Mitt Romney crossed into Obama's floor space, it looked like the two men might come to blows. (I kept hearing: 'Fight, fight, fight' in the back of my head.)
Oh, and there were zingers, jabs and put-downs aplenty.
Here are my top ten lines from last night’s clash:
1) “He did, in fact, sir."
Moderator Candy Crowley, of CNN, is forced to correct Mitt Romney, in front of millions of viewers, after the Republican candidate falsely claimed that the president hadn't referred to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi as an "act of terror". Members of the audience applauded as Obama added: "Can say that a little louder, Candy?"
2) "Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan: that plan is that folks at the top play by a different set of rules."
Obama hits back at his Republican opponent's oft-mentioned "five-point plan" to "create 12 million jobs”.
3) "My pension isn't as big as yours… So, I don't check it as often."
A chuckling Obama answers Romney's question ("Have you looked at your pension?") with a dig at the latter's wealth. The audience laughs. Loudly.
4) "This has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal."
Romney produces the very first zinger of the night, in the opening section of the debate - on energy policy.
5) "[W]hen he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about. Folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives. Veterans who have sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas tax, but don't make enough income."
In the last couple of minutes of the debate, the president finally (finally!) explodes 'the 47%' bomb, leaving Romney no time at all to respond.
6) “I think I was supposed to get that last answer.”
Romney tries to answer an audience question on "the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush" by attempting to return to a previous topic and challenge the moderator's allocation of time - prompting the president to remark: “I don’t think so, Candy." Mitt and Candy don't seem to get along...
7) "If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, 'Here, I want to spend seven or eight trillion dollars, and we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election how we're going to do it,' you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal, and neither should you, the American people."
Obama goes after Romney's tax plan. Again. But this time he deploys a memorable soundbite: sketchy deal.
8) “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks.’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”
Romney uses a strange phrase - 'binders full of women' - to try and convince an audience member that he is pro-women. It backfires and the phrase instantly goes viral.
9) "If we're going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gangbangers, people who are hurting the community."
Obama's remark on illegal immigrants and depotations is believed to be the first time the word "gangbangers" has been used in a presidential debate. Go Barry!
10) “The president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did."
Mitt is on the offensive - but economical with the truth - as he tries to backtrack from his notorious 2008 "Let Detroit go bankrupt" article.
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