First off, don't dump it yet. Let it sit for a week or two more, maybe even a month longer. First batches don't always turn out to be the best beer ever. My first batch was a dumper even though I tried to convince myself and everyone else it was great. Aging can alleviate some of the off flavors that will be due to improper fermentation techniques that most noobs commit.
You say "fermentation temp was between 65-70" - was that the ambient temp? Because if ambient temp was 65-70 actual fermentation temp would have been 4-6+ degrees over ambient temp, which would have been a bit too warm.
"Following the directions to a "T"" is kind of a crap shoot because most of the "kit directions" are crap. You will need a good homebrewing book. pick up John Palmer's "How to Brew".
As far as a starter goes, for your next batch stick with dry yeast, no starter needed and aeration is less of a concern. I highly recommend Safale US-05. It is very clean and very easy to use and makes a great beer wether you are a beginner or experienced brewer.
Finally, seems like your main complain it is it "bitter". What kind of beer do you normally drink? Do you drink Craft beer mostly, or are you more of a Bud/Miller/Coors guy?