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Big Bird, Arithmetic and First Lady Love: Best and Worst of the 2012 Presidential Debate

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney Pool/Getty Images

The brightly colored ties were on and the gloves were off as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney embarked on the first of three presidential debates.

It's up to the policy wonks, body-language experts and cable-news pundits to determine who "won" tonight's highly anticipated battle of wits and words. 

But, in the meantime, we're more than happy to fill you in on what rocked—and what kinda sucked:

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MOST ROMANTIC MOMENT: Obama used up part of his allotted two-minute opening statement to make note of his 20th wedding anniversary. "Twenty years ago, I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me," said the commander in chief. "Sweetie, a year from now we won't be celebrating in front of 40 million people."

MOST BROMANTIC MOMENT: "Congratulations to you on your anniversary," Romney told the POTUS. "I'm sure this is the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me!"

HITCH IN THE GIT-ALONG: Moderator Jim Lehrer did a lot of interrupting in the form of repeated reassertions of the rules. Bill Maher tweeted early on: "Why does Jim Lehrer keep trying to stop them from debating? Gentlemen, please, this debate is no place for debating!"

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BEST TIE: Obama's royal-blue neckwear was tops. Romney went for State of the Union-red and, maybe our brightness settings were off, but...it hurt our eyes.

BEST DECLARATION OF LOVE FOR A MUPPET: "I love Big Bird!" Romney declared—while saying he planned to slash federal funding for PBS.

WORST COMPLIMENT: "I actually like you, too!" Romney assured Lehrer while informing the PBS NewsHour host that he planned to end PBS subsidies.

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SAVVIEST WAY OF REFERENCING BILL CLINTON'S DNC SUCCESS: Obama using the word "arithmetic" to slam Romney's proposed tax plan was no accident.

BEST SAMUEL L. JACKSON TWEET: "What is that F--kin' Look on Mitt's face?! Half grin, half smirk, All Fear! WTF!"

BEST USE OF A STRAIGHT FACE: "I use that term with all respect," Romney said of the derogatory-when-Republicans-use-it term "Obamacare."

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Barack Obama, Mitt Romney Win McNamee/Getty Images

BEST VENGEFUL DIG: Obama said that, under Romney's definition of the term, "Donald Trump is a small business. I know Donald Trump doesn't like to think of himself as small anything, but that's how you define small businesses if you're getting business income."

CLASSIEST RESPONSE TO THE TRUMP TALK: "Wow! How many times are the candidates going to mention my father this debate?!? What an honor!" tweeted the ever elegant Ivanka Trump, while her brother Eric Trump noted, "It's an honor when one candidate mentions your father during the #debate—when they both do it's a testament to his role in American business." The Donald chimed in himself in an email to HuffPost Small Business: "I greatly appreciate being mentioned by the President and Governor Romney on such an important event."

BEST GAZE: Romney listened to Obama with a charming, almost sympathetic smile on his face, as if he didn't believe a word the president was saying but wanted to give him an A for effort.

MOST IMPRESSIVE 21ST-CENTURY STATISTIC: According to Twitter spokeswoman Rachel Horwitz, tonight's debate was the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history.

 (Originally published Oct. 3, 2012, at 6:57 p.m. PT)

How many ways have Obama and Romney invaded popular culture? Take a look!

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