Face to face: Obama, Romney in crackling debate

In a photo combo, President Barack Obama, left, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney address the audience during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/Pool-Shannon Stapleton)

In a photo combo, President Barack Obama, left, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney address the audience during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/Pool-Shannon Stapleton)

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — An aggressive President Barack Obama accused challenger Mitt Romney of favoring a "one-point plan" to help the rich in America and playing politics with the recent deadly terrorist attack in Libya in a Tuesday night debate crackling with energy and emotion just three weeks before the election.

Romney pushed back hard, saying the middle class "has been crushed over the last four years," that 23 million Americans are struggling to find work and that the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya was part of an unraveling of the administration's foreign policy.

The president was feistier from the outset than he had been in their initial encounter two weeks ago, when he turned in a listless performance that sent shudders through his supporters and helped fuel a rise by Romney in opinion polls nationally and in some battleground states.

Obama and Romney disagreed, forcefully and repeatedly — about taxes, measures to reduce the deficit, energy, pay equity for women and health care as well as foreign policy across 90 minutes of a town-hall style debate.

Immigration prompted yet another clash, Romney saying Obama had failed to pursue the comprehensive legislation he promised at the dawn of his administration, and the president saying Republican obstinacy made a deal impossible.

Romney gave as good as he got.

"You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking," the former Massachusetts governor said at one point while Obama was mid-sentence, drawing a gasp from the audience. He said the president's policies had failed to jumpstart the economy and had cramped energy production.

The open-stage format left the two men free to stroll freely across a red-carpeted stage, and they did. Their clashes crackled with energy and tension, and the crowd watched raptly as the two sparred while struggling to appear calm and affable before a national television audience.

While most of the debate was focused on policy differences, there was one more-personal moment, when Obama said Romney had investments in China.

"Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?" Romney interrupted.

"You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours," shot back Obama to his wealthier rival.

Under the format agreed to in advance, members of an audience of 82 uncommitted voters posed questions to the president and his challenger.

Nearly all of them concerned domestic policy until one raised the subject of the recent death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in a terrorist attack at an American post in Benghazi. Romney said it took Obama a long time to admit the episode had been a terrorist attack, but Obama said he had said so the day after in an appearance in the Rose Garden outside the White House.

When moderator Candy Crowley of CNN said the president had in fact done so, Obama, prompted, "Say that a little louder, Candy."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken responsibility for the death of Ambassador L. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, but Obama said bluntly, "I'm the president, and I'm always responsible."

Romney said it was "troubling" that Obama continued with a campaign event in Las Vegas on the day after the attack in Libya, an event the Republican said had "symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance."

Obama seemed to bristle. He said it was offensive for anyone to allege that he or anyone in his administration had used the incident for political purposes. "That's not what I do."

One intense exchange focused on competing claims about whether energy production is increasing or slowing. Obama accused Romney of misrepresenting what has happened — a theme he returned to time and again. Romney strode across the stage to confront Obama face to face, just feet from the audience.

Both men pledged a better economic future to a young man who asked the first question, a member of a pre-selected audience of 82 uncommitted voters.

Then the president's determination to show a more aggressive side became evident.

Rebutting his rival's claim to a five-point plan to create 12 million jobs, Obama said, "Gov. Romney says he's got a five-point plan. Gov. Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules."

"That's been his philosophy in the private sector," Obama said of his rival. "That's been his philosophy as governor. That's been his philosophy as a presidential candidate. You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less."

"You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a country, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions and you still make money. That's exactly the philosophy that we've seen in place for the last decade," the president said in a scorching summation.

Unable to respond at length because of the debate's rules, Romney said the accusations were "way off the mark."

But moments later, he reminded the national television audience of the nation's painfully slow recovery from the worst recession in decades.

There are "23 million people struggling to find a job. ... The president's policies have been exercised over the last four years and they haven't put America back to work," he said. "We have fewer people working today than when he took office."

Economic growth has been slow throughout Obama's term in office, and unemployment only recently dipped below 8 percent for the first time since he moved into the White House. Romney noted that if out-of-work Americans who no longer look for jobs were counted, the unemployment rate would be 10.7 percent.

Both men had rehearsed extensively for the encounter, a turnabout for Obama.

"I had a bad night," the president conceded, days after he and Romney shared a stage for the first time, in Denver. His aides made it known he didn't intend to be as deferential to his challenger this time, and the presidential party decamped for a resort in Williamsburg, Va., for rehearsals that consumed the better part of three days.

Romney rehearsed in Massachusetts and again after arriving on Long Island on debate day, with less to make up for.

Asked Tuesday night by one member of the audience how he would differ from former President George W. Bush, the last Republican to hold the office, Romney said, "We are different people and these are different times."

He said he would attempt to balance the budget, something Bush was unsuccessful in doing, get tougher on China and work more aggressively to expand trade.

Obama jumped in with his own predictions — not nearly as favorable to the man a few feet away on stage. He said the former president didn't attempt to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood or turn Medicare into a voucher system.

Though the questions were from undecided voters inside the hall — in a deeply Democratic state — the audience that mattered most watched on television and was counted in the tens of millions. Crucially important: viewers in the nine battlegrounds where the race is likely to be settled.

The final debate, next Monday in Florida, will be devoted to foreign policy.

Opinion polls made the race a close one, with Obama leading in some national surveys and Romney in others. Despite the Republican's clear gains in surveys in recent days, the president led in several polls of Wisconsin and Ohio, two key Midwestern battlegrounds where Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are campaigning heavily.

Barring a last-minute shift in the campaign, Obama is on course to win states and the District of Columbia that account for 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The same is true for Romney in states with 191 electoral votes.

The remaining 110 electoral votes are divided among the hotly contested battleground states of Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13) New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Ohio (18) and Wisconsin (10).

Obama has campaigned in the past several days by accusing Romney of running away from some of the conservative positions he took for tax cuts and against abortion earlier in the year when he was trying to win the Republican nomination.

"Maybe you're wondering what to believe about Mitt Romney," says one ad, designed to remind voters of the Republican's strong opposition to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake.

Romney countered by stressing both in person and through his television advertising the slow pace of the economic recovery, which has left growth sluggish and unemployment high throughout Obama's term. Joblessness recently declined to 7.8 percent, dropping below 8 percent for the first time since the president took office.

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Comments » 24

panola60 writes:

Obama was such a liar about Libya. For weeks the entire country witnessed Obama and his Administration blame the video and explicitly deny that is was a "planned attack". How many times did we hear them say it was "spontaneous"?

2themoon writes:

A debate held at Hofstra univ. in Hamstead NY hosted by uber liberal Cathy Crowley...All Obama had to do is show up and the media was set to call him the winner....still waiting on that answer about Libya mr. president...oh wait a minute the moderator answered that one for you, embarrasing to say the least.

26yearsonmarco writes:

KLAUS,

YOU HAVE BEEN OUT RANTED BY ONE OF OBAMA'S BUDDIES:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/farra...

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

Obama vs Obama.
Anyone that watched the debate had to have come away with that conclusion. Romney had lots of big ideas with NO plan to execute said idea. Obama was his usual self.

The issues:
The Obama admin is at this moment trying to commit US troops to Afghanistan beyond 2014. Romney wants to up the ante.

Romney and Obama want to ban assult rifles.

Romney will remove tax loopholes for the top 5%. Really? So will Obama!

Romney wants women to have access to contraceptives. So does Obama!

Romney is okay with a womens right to choose. So is Obama!

We all know Romney supports the patriot act and NDAA, etc. A violation of the constitution. So does Obama!

Romney has publicly stated that he supports the health care mandate. He designed Obama care. He will never repeal it. Maybe change it some? But never repeal it. Obama again?

The energy discussion, like the make college affordable discussion went nowhere. Like health care both parties refuse to deal with the structural underlying issues.

If Romney wins it will be more of the same. Crony capitalism. The money will just go to different people. The only difference is the new puppet will have an R in front of his name.

Romney blew it with conservative leaning independents last night.

David Stockman from the Reagan admin explains how Romney will create jobs. Or not? Well worth the read.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek...

EastCoastFloridaPerson writes:

in response to 2themoon:

A debate held at Hofstra univ. in Hamstead NY hosted by uber liberal Cathy Crowley...All Obama had to do is show up and the media was set to call him the winner....still waiting on that answer about Libya mr. president...oh wait a minute the moderator answered that one for you, embarrasing to say the least.

Oh,you are so right,I am super familiar with that area of the country....that debate was set up with a super liberal like you said,she gave Obama extra time at one point,didn't cut him off.Cut off Romney many times. And don't believe for a second,that those 80 people in the audience were undecided. Did you hear all their last names? Those are all died in the wool liberals who are never going to vote for Romney.That was the biggest charade I've ever seen.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

in response to EastCoastFloridaPerson:

Oh,you are so right,I am super familiar with that area of the country....that debate was set up with a super liberal like you said,she gave Obama extra time at one point,didn't cut him off.Cut off Romney many times. And don't believe for a second,that those 80 people in the audience were undecided. Did you hear all their last names? Those are all died in the wool liberals who are never going to vote for Romney.That was the biggest charade I've ever seen.

ECFP,
Romney should have felt "right at home" in that audience. If you know anything about Romney's past? You know he's pretty liberal. After last night I'm not sure he's any less liberal than Obama?

I know, I know! Anyone but Obama!

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

Well Klaus, as usual you are wrong.

The national polls moved more in the favor or Romney today after the people saw Obama lie, then told the moderator to repeat the lie, which she recanted later in the evening.

A real leader we have. He has Rice, Clinton, and now, the debate moderator, Crowley LYING for him. He is finished and sinking fast.

Sparky100 writes:

At the end of Obama term this is what we have.
1. Gas prices more than twice what they were when he took office:
2. 23 million people still out of work:
3. New jobs not keeping pace with even the retiree leaving the work force:
4. Debt at 6 Trillion was 1.73 Trillion when he took office:
5. Economy still slowing:
6. TARP not paid back:
7. GM in trouble in Europe and Asia: Same management as before the bailout.
8. Osama is dead: He took 36 Hrs to approve, I would have taken .3 seconds.
9. Gitmo still open: Campaign promise.
10. Libya’s ambassador and three others murdered: Quote “Just a bump in the road”
11. Now weapons to Syria:
12. F&F:
13. ObamaCare: Pased in the middle of the night without debate.

Looks like he is one for thirteen, great record, proud of you Obama.
He made not voting for him easy.

Sparky100 writes:

Now a simple one. Do you really want to vote for a president who NEVER approved a budget while in office, even when his own party controlled all of congress?

26yearsonmarco writes:

KLAUS,

Did you listen to Obama's Buddy????

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/farra...

Sparky100 writes:

Klaus,
Your right, Moscow politicans aren't as corrupt as your guy.

2themoon writes:

Sgt. Shultz you dumpkoff! Obama now has stains on his brown shirt. Candy crowley is a sexy one..no?

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

Crowley is not Klaus's type. She breathes.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Klaus,
You miss the point. We've been on the wrong track for a while now. Obama nor Romney is going to steer the ship from the ice berg. Both will keep the throttles pinned towards the iceberg.

I'm not a tea-party supporter, not a Dem, no longer a Rep. I will support America. The Constitution. Declaration of Independence.

I won't vote for crony capitalism, a candidate that believes the constitution is irrelevant, or corruption. That leaves little for me to vote for currently in America. Or any other country for that matter.

It's unfortunate so many are so dumb not to see that Obama and Romney are basically the same thing. I hope Romney wins for the sheer reason of being able to say..."I told you so" many, many, times the next few years.

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

Klaus,

The ones without the basic skills to do anything but make babies and drink beer on the street corner are the ones voting for your great leader.

Yes, they have analytical skills, they figured out why work if you can get a free handout, living expenses, cell phones for doing nothing.

This is the generation that you are supporting.

Now we have to deal with the riots these same people are threatening.

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

Now, today as reported, that the iniital jobless claims rose sharply again last week the previous weeks' "orchastrated drop" was just to have talking points for the democrats to LIE about at the debates. How convenient!

EastCoastFloridaPerson writes:

in response to Sparky100:

Klaus,
Your right, Moscow politicans aren't as corrupt as your guy.

Hugo Chavez the dictator endorses Obama. Wake up people. That says it all.

EastCoastFloridaPerson writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well the people graduating have no jobs under the Obama administrations economic policy....they had better vote for Mitt Romney.Over 50 % of college graduates today,are living with their parents,with no job.A large majority of the rest are under employed in jobs that have no relation to their career choice. And this young generation is going to have to pay for the national debt that Obama created,a larger deficit that the last 43 presidents combined. I'm glad I'm not 20 year old.

EastCoastFloridaPerson writes:

in response to WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot:

ECFP,
Romney should have felt "right at home" in that audience. If you know anything about Romney's past? You know he's pretty liberal. After last night I'm not sure he's any less liberal than Obama?

I know, I know! Anyone but Obama!

Romney's record stands for itself. Romney can balance a budget,Romney is a leader,Romney saved the Olympics in 2002 with no salary,Romney has given 30 % of his income to charity,Romney has selflessly helped many people in his community (with out talking about it) ,Romney has worked with Democrats and Republicans in Mass.to fix the problems of mass. Lets not put your head in the sand. These are the facts.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

in response to EastCoastFloridaPerson:

Romney's record stands for itself. Romney can balance a budget,Romney is a leader,Romney saved the Olympics in 2002 with no salary,Romney has given 30 % of his income to charity,Romney has selflessly helped many people in his community (with out talking about it) ,Romney has worked with Democrats and Republicans in Mass.to fix the problems of mass. Lets not put your head in the sand. These are the facts.

ECFP,
You've ingested too much red cool aid and Klaus has ingested too much blue cool aid.

Romney:
Anti 1st amendment (supports NDAA, Patriot act)
Anti 2nd amendment (banned "assult" weapons in Mass
Supports Obama care (call it Romney care if you like)
Supports health care mandate
Supports access to contraceptives for women paid for with tax dollars
Supports government funded abortion (contraceptives)
Will repeal tax deductions (raise taxes) on the top 5%

Reagan is rolling in his grave!

He fixed problems in Mass by implementing Obama care. His state today has the highest per student loan debt leaving college. He fixed the olympics by lobbying congress for money. There is no way to create jobs unless you bring back all the jobs that have been offshored over the past 20 years. Romney won't do that, Obama had his chance. He supports keeping troops in the middle East (must keep deficit spending or GDP goes negative) past 2014. He's nothing more than Obama with an R behind his name, and that R wasn't there a few years ago! Look at the facts and stop voting with your emotions! Who's head is in the sand?

Klaus and Co. will be perfectly happy either way this election ends. Either way though, there's a train wreck coming. There will be no one to blame but ourselves. Much like the Greeks have no one to blame but them selves for voting with their emotions and ideologies rather than looking at facts.

panola60 writes:

Obama's Top Ten Lies

1. "He did call it an act of terror." Obama's reference to "acts of terror" in his Sep. 12 statement was in an abstract sense, and came long after he had described the 9/11 attacks as demonstrations against an anti-Islam video. For 2 weeks the Obama Administration publicly blamed the attack on a video over 47 times.

2. "He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open." Obama did take the auto companies through a managed bankruptcy exactly as Romney had proposed. Romney said: "In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check."

3. "In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?" Diana Furchtgott-Roth pointed out: "Women make about 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn, if the male counterparts are in the same job with the same experience.". The exception is in the White House where the average female employee for the White House earns about 18 percent less than the average male employee.

4. "And the production is up....What you’re saying is just not true." Obama contested a claim that production of oil is down on federal lands. Romney was exactly right.

5. "You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it." We have heard the same lie for 8 years. In 2004, he ran for U.S. Senate on a promise to end such tax breaks and again when he ran for President. And yet he has never done anything about it--because there are no such tax breaks.

6. "They rely on it for mammograms." Obama claimed Planned Parenthood provides mammograms to women to help prevent breast cancer. It's just untrue--and even left-leaning mainstream media fact-checkers have acknowledged that.

7. "I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here." Obama complained that he was not receiving as much time to speak. And for the third debate in a row, the Obama/Biden ticket actually spoke for much longer.

8. "He called the Arizona law a model for the nation." As Romney pointed out, he was referring specifically to the e-Verify part of the law.

9. "...[H]e was asked, is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver....And he said, yes, I think that’s fair." Romney was not saying it was fair that higher income should be taxed at a lower rate. He was referring specifically to the principle that capital gains should be taxed lower than other income because it has been taxed once already--a principle that Obama agrees with in his own tax policy.

10. "I told you I would cut taxes for middle-class families, and I did." Even the liberal Huffington Post acknowledges that's not true. The few tax cuts that Obama did enact--such as the temporary payroll tax holiday--were short-term, or conditional.

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

Just announced:

Romney ahead by 5 in the electoral college race!

Bye, Bye Bama the greatest liar the White House has ever seen!

No_more_cyber_bullying (Inactive) writes:

In a campaign speech today in Ohio, B.J. Clinton announced that "we ain't fixed" and was talking about the U.S. economy. How true that is!

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