Photos: Hate, love, chaos and spin before and after Denver debate 2012

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The chaos of the event was perhaps even more pronounced inside the giant media room -- especially in the immediate aftermath of the debate.

Surrogates for Obama and Romney both wandered around with large signs to make them easily seen to reporters, who shoved, pushed and tripped over each other in efforts to stick their recorders in the faces of assorted low-to-high-profile officials in attendance.

"We gotta find a Democrat," one reporter shouted to his cameraman after recording an interview with Eric Fehrnstrom.

"I think they prepared equally, but I think the result was that Mitt Romney was the clear [winner]," Fehrnstrom told reporters, who were shouting over each other to get their questions in. "I was surprised that the president spoke in empty platitudes and had no vision for where he wanted to take the country, especially since he's been telling us this is a choice and it definitely is a choice. The choice is, do we want four more years like the last four years...or do we want a real recovery?... Governor Romney described in detail how he would make that come about."

Next to him, reporters crowded around former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, another surrogate for Romney, "I don't think the president was ready to be challenged.... He was looking for his teleprompter and he didn't have it."

Just a few feet from Giuliani, Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, seemed to face the toughest and most intense questioning from dozens of reporters so jam-packed around him that some were shoving their recorders nearly on top of other journalists' heads.

"A lot of people said that the president looked a little tired. That he didn't have the fire, the passion that we saw four years ago," one reporter said.

"Look, you guys said the exact same thing about his convention speech. And what we did was talk to adults in this country.... We had a very clear vision. We had a real conversation with folks about where we're taking this country. That's what we are gonna do. That's who he is."

He continued, "The president [laid out] exactly what he wants to do. Governor Romney attacked pretty well. We understand that's what he had to do tonight, but he didn't lay out where he wants to take this country and I think that's a problem for the governor."

A reporter shouted, "Are you saying that the president won this debate?"

"I believe the president did win this debate, absolutely. The president laid out a very clear difference in this election," he said. "Governor Romney stayed on the defense."

Continue for responses from some voters in attendance.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin