Held yesterday at Hofstra University, New York, the format of the debate was quite different and livelier than the first; there was audience participation
With three weeks before the presidential election, the President and his GOP challenger held their second debate and as before, the contrast between the two candidates – their words, deeds and actions was miles apart. Though many – Democrats, Republicans and others claimed that the President did not demonstrate his best during the first debate, almost everyone expected him to improve upon his prior performance, and he did. He hit most of the key talking points and the questions that were raised about his capacity to deliver firm and aggressive answers and arguments were evident this time around.
President Obama appeared unrestrained as when he is in front of large rallies campaigning; that seems to be his comfort zone and he was there on Tuesday night with Gov. Romney. When he took the stage at the debate he played offense against Gov. Romney, and took every opportunity to put his GOP challenger on the defensive: he defended his four years in office, he outlined the promises that he made and kept from 2008 and he explained clearly why he deserves four more years in the White House … principally to complete the agenda that he started.
The President stated emphatically what he promised and what he delivered: he promised and delivered a middle-class tax cut, he ended the War in Iraq, and he hunted down and eliminated Osama bin Laden. He also stated that he breathed new economic life into the auto industry and saved millions of jobs; to which Gov. Romney had proposed to let the auto industry go bankrupt.
From the beginning, the format was different; instead of the moderator (Candy Crowley) asking the directed, she acted more like a referee normalizing the atmosphere whenever the candidates became combative and testy.
The areas that the questions – which mostly came from the audience – covered were education/school loans; jobs/employment; energy policies/gas prices; taxes/tax credits; women’s positions/particularly health and equality; immigration; healthcare; some foreign policy/status of the Middle East; assault weapons; and more.
This time President Obama used many of his campaign’s ad attacks on Gov. Romney, especially as they related to the his challenger’s business credentials and career inferring that his immense personal wealth made him out-of-touch with the middle class that he suddenly seemed to have become its advocate.
At one point Gov. Romney questioned the President about his pension. The President came back thus: “No, I haven't looked at my pension, but it's not as big as yours, so it doesn't take that long.”
President Obama was most firm and stern when the topic of the incident that happened in Benghazi, Libya, when the American ambassador and three Americans were killed. When Romney implied that the President may have been disconnected and did not show “presidential” concern because the next day he was in Las Vegas campaigning.
The President fired back with, “While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Gov. Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points; that's not how a commander in chief operates.” Furthermore, when Gov. Romney continued saying, “It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people. Whether there was some misleading, or we just didn't know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn't we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?”
At that point, President Obama turned and gave Gov. Romney a steely look adding, “The suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive.” Then the President continued and said, “I gave a press conference in the Rose Garden the next day and announced that it was a terrorist attack;” which blasted Gov. Romney’s five-days assertion.
That brought the moderator, Crowley, into the fray disputing Romney’s assertion that President Obama had failed to label the attack in Libya as an act of terror. She insisted that the President was right and of course, it meant that Gov. Romney was wrong. (Despite being told not to, the audience applauded).
In dealing with immigration, the President said that he had used an executive order to protect law-abiding undocumented immigrants some relief because Congress had failed to pass the Dreamt Act which would have given the immigrants the relief that they sought. And Gov. Romney had stated that for them, he would have sought voluntary deportation – whatever that is – to return to their homelands if they could not find the better life that they sought in this country. Actually it is to find a better life is precisely the reason most immigrants come to these shores.
Finally the 47-percent statement surreptitiously recorded by Gov. Romney came up – the statement that he said were those who were dependent on government. (He has since distanced himself from that remark). However, it is as insidious as him returning certain powers to the states – an act reminiscence of the ‘bad’ old days in the South and the Civil Rights Struggles that fought to eliminate.
The tone and the contrast of the debate delineated the candidates’ positions on an array of items and issues for the future of the country.