President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, locked horns for the second time yesterday in a town hall style debate with questions presented by undecided voters.
Obama, focused and alert, came out swinging in this, the second of three scheduled presidential debates. Both candidates were aggressive and argumentative.
Romney was awarded a win for the Republican Party in the Oct. 3 presidential debate and Vice president Joe Biden scored the first win for the Democrats with his noted victory against Rep. Paul Ryan on Oct. 11.
The two candidates fielded questions from voters, hand-picked by moderater Candy Crowley, CNN chief political correspondent, out of an audience of 82.
Official debate rules allowed each candidate two minutes to reply to a question followed by a two-minute response from his opponent. Rarely, if ever, did the replies adhere to this rule.
Although Crowley did a much better job moderating than Jim Lehrer in the first presidential debate, she frequently broke her own rules allowing the candidates to: go overtime, go off topic and interrupt. Crowley also rephrased questions presented by voters and asked follow-up questions, also against the rules.
The first question was asked by 20- year-old student Jeremy Epstein, and may be the most pertinent to college students across the nation.
Epstein asked, “What will you say that will reassure me that I will sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”
Romney said he would keep Pell Grants and the student loan system in place and create jobs. “I know how to create good jobs again,” Romney said, but did not elaborate.
Obama responded by stating that his administration had created 5 million jobs during the last 30 months.
Romney cited a five-point plan to create 12 million jobs in the next four years but again did not explain how he would accomplish this.
A question regarding the GM bailout switched directions and became a heated argument about domestic oil production, with Romney aggressively interrupting Obama.
Romney said he would build a pipeline from Canada, and increase oil and coal production. He also stated that gas prices have doubled since Obama took office.
The president said low gas prices were partly responsible for leading the country into a great recession.
The next question was regarding middle class tax deductions for education.
Romney responded with his “tax cuts across-the-board” policy then changed directions, accusing the current administration of over-spending. Obama countered by citing Romney’s plan to increase military spending by $2 trillion, even though the armed forces aren’t asking for that much. (The Wall Steet Journal reported on May 22 that the Obama administration is on a 1.4 percent spending curve, the lowest in almost 60 years.) .
On the question of equal pay for women, Romney unwittingly created the debate’s most quoted sound-byte. Romney said that when he was governor and looking to fill his cabinet, women’s groups brought him “whole binders full of women.” This comment has gone viral and media called it the hit of the debate with millions of tweeted remarks.
The president’s response was to reiterate his record of job creation. Obama said he was against all forms of segregation and he pointed to the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against women in pay.
When questions turned to Obama’s position on the situation in Libya, Romney accused the White House of not reacting fast enough to the Benghazi attack. He said that it took 14 days before the administration called it a terrorist attack. Records show that this statement is untrue.
Some sources said that Romney’s lie about Obama not calling the Libya attack “an act of terror” the day after it happened also produced much media exposure. Crowley verified that Obama had said that.
After a brief discussion of gun control, the next question concerned outsourcing jobs to foreign nations.
Romney said he wants to make America “the most attractive place in the world” for large and small businesses to invest. He did not elaborate.
Obama, with perhaps his biggest zinger of the evening said the Romney tax plan would create 800,000 jobs…overseas.
The topic led to another heated argument where Romney interrupted the president twice stating, “Government does not create jobs.” This condradicted his earlier statement that he will create 12 million jobs in the next four years.
The final question presented was, “What do you think the greatest misconception of yourself in America?”
Romney said he cares about 100 percent of Americans negating his infamous “47 percent comment, which Obama pointed out in his final statement. The president also said that he does not believe government creates jobs.
Obama clearly showed disdain for Romney throughout the debate. Romney was ,at times, surprisingly disrespectful of the president.
Both sides claimed victory before the debate had concluded. Analysts gave a slight edge in favor of Obama. The polls still show a tight race with Obama leading slightly in the electoral college and the popular vote almost even.
The next and final debate will be held on Oct. 22 at Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.