Republican Mitt Romney has emerged as the winner of the first US presidential election debate with Barack Obama, according to commentators and social media reaction.
Surprised Republicans seemed to rally back to Mr Romney who had been slipping in the polls before he took on a haggard, uncomfortable-looking President Obama.
"We may all wonder why he waited until now to liberate the real Mitt, but five weeks from election day, that question is beside the point," Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger wrote.
Posts on Twitter went heavily for Mr Romney, and even Obama advisers acknowledged that the challenger did well.
But it was not clear whether the debate would sway the less than 10% of Americans who say they have not yet decided on a candidate. And two debates remain before the November 6 election.
Both candidates quickly returned to campaigning today in the handful of states that will determine the next president.
As Mr Romney faced the president directly for the first time in the campaign, signs were already indicating that the race was tightening in some of those battleground states where Mr Obama has enjoyed a recent advantage. The election is decided in state-by-state contests and not by popular vote.
Mr Obama, who appeared to spend much of the 90 minutes looking at the podium while Mr Romney looked at him, signalled that he will not let up on his message that Mr Romney's plans on taxes, health care, the deficit and more just don't add up.
"It's fun," an energised Mr Romney declared well into last night's debate, clearly relishing the back-and-forth. "It's arithmetic," said Mr Obama, hammering at Mr Romney's conspicuous lack of details with far less enthusiasm.
Two debates remain, on October 16 and October 22. The second will focus on foreign affairs.