Second Presidential Debate (Charles Regnante)

On Tuesday October 16, 2012, the second presidential debate between Incumbent President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney took place at Hofstra University, New York. The debate featured a town-hall-style format with the audience consisting of some 80 undecided voters from Nassau County. Unlike the first presidential debate, no candidate scored the clear victory. Even though both candidates were pretty even, polls showed Obama edged Romney at the end of the debate.

It was a near certainty that the incumbent would improve on his disappointing first performance. And, he did that and more. Obama rushed out from his corner of the ring and “came out swinging.” He actually came out swinging a little too hard and seemed to be rather angry instead of passionate in the first 15 minutes. But he quickly altered his persona to a more serious and sedate tone and hit Romney with three sharp responses. First, he pushed back with his line about how his pension wasn’t as big as the Governor’s. Second, Obama deflected Romney’s assailment about his response to the Benghazi attack in Libya. Third, Obama dealt Romney a final stinger using his “47% comment” in his closing speech of the debate.

Romney was once again solid, at least rhetorically. He eloquently explained why the country isn’t in a better position then four years ago and for why his record as a job creator was far superior to the President’s. But Romney, even at full force, never damaged Obama enough to make him stagger. The challenger tried to pin down Obama on what he said the day after the Libya Attacks but the moderator of the night, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, surprisingly defended Obama’s responses. Romney failed to regain his footing from this jarring miss at Obama for quite some time afterwards. With missed opportunities like these, Romney lost his edge in the debate.

Partisans on both sides were pleased with their candidates’ performance and it’s hard to imagine the debate changed any undecided minds. From the gecko, the two candidates were at each other’s throat, hitting each other head on with accusations and criticism. But at the end of the day, most people agree that Obama was the one who came out on top.