DENVER, Colorado - Lobbing one of the first contentious attacks of Wednesday's presidential debate, Republican Mitt Romney accused incumbent Barack Obama of spreading falsehoods about his plan to reduce taxes.
"Virtually everything he said about my tax plan is inaccurate," Romney said, dismissing the president's charge that the Republican nominee has been calling for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of major spending increases for the military.
"If the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I would say 'absolutely not.' I'm not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I've said is I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit."
With the candidates sparring over the divisive issue from virtually the start of the debate, Obama mocked his rival for allegedly backing off his plan for large-scale tax cuts.
"Well, for 18 months he's been running on this tax plan and now, five weeks before the election, he says his big bold idea is 'never mind,'" Obama said, after Romney denied that his plans would increase the US budget deficit.
"And he is saying that he is going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions.
"The problem is, he's been asked over 100 times how you would close those deductions and loopholes, and he hasn't been able to identify them," the president added.
Each candidate has accused the other of intending to raise taxes on the middle class, and Romney took issue with Obama's accusation that the Republican aimed to do so.
"Look, I have five boys," Romney said, referring to his five sons with wife Ann.
"I'm used to people saying something that isn't always true and keep on saying it hoping ultimately I will believe it."