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Romney praises Jim Lehrer's job as debate moderator

Moderator Jim Lehrer speaks to the audience at the start of the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican pres
Moderator Jim Lehrer speaks to the audience at the start of the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican pres

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters) - As far as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is concerned, Jim Lehrer did a fine job moderating Wednesday's debate between Romney and President Barack Obama.

Some liberals have complained that Lehrer, a veteran debate moderator and TV anchor on Public Broadcasting Service, did not ask enough follow-up questions at the debate in Denver and let Romney off the hook on several occasions.

Obama is widely viewed as having lost the debate to Romney with a lackluster performance. The debate victory for Romney has given his campaign a boost after a series of recent stumbles.

At a rally on the St. Petersburg waterfront in the battleground state of Florida, Romney said that he enjoyed the debate.

"I think that Jim Lehrer did an excellent job in raising issues and having the candidates talk about our views on issues, rather than just the 'gotcha' thing that sometimes happens with media interviews," Romney said.

Lehrer, he said, let the candidates ask questions of each other.

Romney's wife Ann was with him and she told the crowd of 5,500, "I'm looking forward to the next debate."

The Denver debate was the first of three between Romney and Obama. A vice presidential debate between incumbent Democrat Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan is next Thursday.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by Christopher Wilson)

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