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Who Won the Presidential Debate Tonight: Obama Crushes Romney in Second Presidential Debate

It’s debate night in America (again)!

The second presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season will see President Barack Obama face off against Republican rival Mitt Romney at Hofstra University on Long Island, in New York. This time around, the debate will be a “town hall” –style discussion , and should be more free-flowing … and unpredictable.

Audience members have been pre-screened by the Gallup organization and are all “undecided” voters (in the vital, neither-blue-nor-red swing state of New York, no less … makes sense). Preselected audience members will be called on to ask questions on basically any topic they choose.

The moderator for the night's proceedings is Candy Crowley of CNN. Crowley is the first female moderator of a general election presidential debate in 20 years. She has also promised to press the candidates to not only answer the questions, but to also, go further in her own questioning than either of the two campaigns may otherwise like. (Will Crowley be leashed in tonight, though? Take a look at the memorandum of understanding for the three presidential debates posted on scribd.com.  Pages 6 to 9 detail, in great length, the specific requirements, obligations, and rules for the October 16 debate.  The moderator, Candy Crowley, is not allowed to ask follow-up questions or comments on the questions provided by the audience members.  Her role tonight could be minimal.)

While polls cannot predict the final outcome, the trends at this point are undeniable. Romney has tightened the race, and could conceivably be called the "frontrunner" depending on your persuasion.

Even though Romney's lurch to the center turned out to be more half-truths and blatant factual inaccuracies, the damage had been done. Obama's dominant position had been shaken and the media pounced on the opportunity to push the horse race story that it wanted. 

In the weeks following the first debate, Obama has claimed that he will take a more forceful approach to Romney, as the former governor of Massachusetts was viewed by many as the victor in Colorado.  Though the pressure might be leaning more on Obama during this round, Romney cannot portray himself as the underdog again. The Romney campaign painted Obama as an accomplished orator and debater leading up to their meeting in Denver, which enabled Romney to lower the public’s expectations of him. Now the country will demand more of Romney during this round. 

Get your popcorn ready: 


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UPDATE: 

12:28 a.m. New poll says Obama wins debate: 

CNN/ORC International survey — the first "who won?" poll to be released after the second presidential debate — indicates 46% of debate watchers say Obama won the debate, while 39% say Romney fared better. The seven-point margin falls within the poll's sampling error.

The debate "win" would be a boon for Obama, and it will likely translate into broader polling boosts nationally and in vital swing states. 

According to a recent Gallup Poll, Romney was polling at 50%, with a four-point lead over Obama, ahead of the Tuesday debate in New York.

That this is surprising goes without saying. Despite last month’s strong employment data, Obama is still losing ground in key swing states, such as Florida. 

recent report by ABC News notes that Romney is "making up serious ground" with Latino voters in the state. This suggests that Romney’s message had been resonating with communities hard hit by the recession.

But that could all change as new polls that take into account Obama's performance on Tuesday night appear later this week.

The momentum swing favoring Obama seems undeniable. As PolicyMic Politics Pundit Mark Kogan, who was in attendance at Tuesday night's debate, explained: "One can often tell the outcome of a debate before it’s over by the tone taken by campaign surrogates and media personalities in advance of the closing statements. Inside the Hofstra University presidential debates media center, the message coming from spin alley was clear and consistent: liberals claimed Obama won; conservatives claimed it was a tie, and that’s all the Obama campaign needed to hear tonight to turn the narrative around."

The narriative in these next few weeks will be important. Romney is still the underdog, but is increasingly look like a 16 seed playing a 1 seed in March Madness (a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, btw). Obama still looks the superior candidate. 

How much will this performance help Obama? Tune in later this week when new polls are released that account for the Tuesday night debate.

11:42 p.m. 


11:31: A Quick Recap on the debate tonight: 

The second presidential debate was billed as a no-holds-barred battle royale by the two presidential candidates, each of whom were desperately looking for an edge in a suddenly very tight race.

Mitt Romney needed to prove his momentum from the first debate wasn’t a fluke.

Barack Obama had to re-define himself as a smooth, yet tough candidate who wasn’t just cruising through this election, and avenge his consensus loss in the first presidential debate.

Who won?

Obama, and easily.

The president seemed to stumble out of the gate as he was asked about unemployment. He gained momentum, though, bashing his Republican rival on everything from energy policy, taxes, and foreign affairs.

Obama and Romney, hovering near each other through most of the debate in the open stage town-hall debate format, saw some tense moments where each candidate tried to cut off the other.

Things came to a head when Obama spoke on the recent assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya, and how he considered it a terror attack, and even called it such on the first speech he game after the ambassador’s murder (the Republican argument on this issue was that the Obama administration for weeks failed to label the even as a terror attack and consistently back-pedaled on the issue, calling it “mob violence.”)

"I think it's interesting the president just said something, which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror," Romney said.

"That's what I said," Obama replied.

"You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror," said Romney. "It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?"

"Please proceed governor," said Obama.

"I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror," said Romney.

"Get the transcript," Obama replied.

For the first time during the debate, Crowley moved to correct one of the candidates.

"He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror..."

"Can you say that a little louder, Candy?" Obama asked.

"He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that," Crowley clarified.

Romney moved fast to take control of the debate again, but had clearly lost his footing.

Still, Obama also had his #fails.

The president looked shaky early on, and on a vital issue: youth unemployment.

Asked in the very first question how he would help youth solve youth employment, Obama looked out of answers. 

According to Generation Opportunity, the largest non-profit, “non-partisan” (the org does lean to the right) organization engaging and mobilizing young Americans on the important economic issues facing the nation, the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) 18-29 unemployment rate data for September 2012 is shocking:

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for September 2012 is 11.8%.

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for September 2012 is 21%; the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for September 2012 is 12.1%; and the youth unemployment rate for 18–29 year old women for September 2012 is 11.6%.

Obama had no clear solution to this pressing economic issue.

Romney, it seemed, did have a plan: “We have to make sure we make it easier for kids to go to college and to make sure there are jobs for them when they graduate," Romney said.

Final grades: 

Obama gets a B for his convincing points throughout the debate.

Romney gets a C for mostly unconvincing, and uninspiring, statements filled with rhetoric.  

11:30 p.m. Josh Romney in the audience of tonight’s debate.

10:42 p.m. 

Obama: 


10:40 p.m. Ann and Michelle wear the same color dress?

10:37 p.m. Romney rips Obama for not being a capitalist, Obama defends himself as a believer of free markets. 

Obama to Romney: 

... Though, Obama's "everyone needs to play by the same rules" spiel is a little tired. 

10:35 p.m. Obama talks @ the debate about the promises he’s kept in his first term to move America forward:

“We’ve gone through a tough four years, there’s no doubt about it.  Four years ago I told the American people, and I told you, I will cut taxes for middle class families, and I did.  I told you I would cut taxes for small businesses, and I have.  I said I would end the war in Iraq, and I did.  I said we would refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after al Qaeda like never before, and Osama bin Laden is dead.  I said we would put in place health care reform to make sure insurance companies can’t jerk you around and that if you don’t have health insurance you would have a chance to get affordable insurance.  I have.  I committed to rein in the excesses of Wall Street, and we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms since the 1930’s. We’ve created five million jobs, gone from 800,000 jobs a month being lost, and we are making progress.  We saved an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

“Now, does that mean you’re not struggling?  Absolutely not.  A lot of us are.  And that’s why the plan that I put forward for manufacturing and education and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars to rebuild America and putting people back to work, making sure that we are controlling our own energy but not just the energy of today but also the energy of the future, all those things will make a difference.

“So the point is, the commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept, and those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying, and we’re going to get it done in a second term.”

10:33 p.m. ‎"Trickle down government hasn't worked here and it hasn't worked anywhere." -- Obama

10:32 p.m. Obama looking for the death blow against Romney: 


10:28 p.m. About an 1.5 hours in and the rhetoric is getting a little thick. Hard to keep track of all the candidate's points jumping from one issue to the next.


10:24 p.m. Mitt Romney tonight said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle class families, but we know that’s not true. As independent, non-partisan analysts have highlighted, to pay for his plan that would give $250,000 tax cuts to multi-millionaires and billionaires, Mitt Romney would have to cut popular tax deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest and charitable deductions. Romney has promised to end tax cuts for college and families, raising taxes on 18 million working families. Paying for Romney’s tax cuts means the average middle class family with kids would see their taxes go up by $2,000 a year.

10:20 p.m. Candy Crowley seems to be playing for Team Obama? Or is Romney sucking it up that much? Thoughts? Weigh in in the comments!

10:18 p.m. "Nobody is more concerned about [our diplomats] safety and security than I am." -- Obama

10:17 p.m. Romney back-pedaling after getting called out by Candy Crowley about the "terrorism" statement Re: Chris Stevens death in Libya:

10:16 p.m. Candy Crowley just lost Romney the election! Called him out in front of 60 million viewers!

10:15 p.m. Obama gives amazing foreign policy speech. 

10:12 p.m. A little light reading. Check out Romney's timeline reply to the attacks in Libya here

10:10 p.m. Obama: "When it comes to national security, I mean what I say." His list of accomplishments here is strong. 

10:09 p.m. Tweeted during the most recent Obama vs. Romney town hall kerfuffle. 


10:08 p.m. Obama drops the "Its not as big as yours."

10:07 p.m. Separate them, Candy!

10:05 p.m. Romney is currently seeing a surge in the polls among Latinos.

10:03 p.m.  "Gang bangers" gets it's first-ever mention in a presidential debate. 

9:59 p.m. “The main conclusion of my study is that under plausible assumptions, a proposal along the lines suggested by Governor Romney can both be revenue neutral and keep the net tax burden on taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 about the same.” –Harvey Rosen, Ph.D; John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy, Princeton University

9:57 p.m. Candy Crowley telling the candidates that their debate topic is over: 


9:56 p.m. "If the president gets reelected we'd be $20 trillion in national debt." -- Romney

9:55 p.m. Obama gets Bush record completely wrong. Now he's bragging about being a protectionist, non-free trader. This raises the price of goods for everyone.

Romney: "I will balance the budget." By increasing the military by trillions? Segues into Obamacare, how it keeps companies from hiring new people.

Romney predictably running away from the awful Bush record. Energy indepedence, crack down in China.

Crack down on China??? Romney wants to pick a fight with them?

How will you differentiate yourself from President Bush?

9:52 p.m. As President Obama just said, if Mitt Romney the corporate buyout specialist were presented with the “sketchy deal” Romney is offering the American people today, he’d never buy it. That’s because he’s selling $5 trillion in tax cuts skewed toward millionaires and billionaires without explaining how he’ll pay for them and $2 trillion in new military spending that the Pentagon’s not even asking for. All that before he even starts to address the deficit. And he has no plan to pay for it that wouldn’t result in a middle class tax hike or ballooning deficits.

9:47 p.m. 


9:41 p.m. Here's what Twitter is saying about who is winning the debate: 

Great start by Romney - exuding confidence. #PMTdebate— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 17, 2012

Someone say it: Neither man has said one thing of substance in first answer. Pure talking points. Candy, go for it!— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) October 17, 2012

And strong, specific-heavy, comeback by Obama. Game on. #PMTdebate— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan)October 17, 2012

CW wrong: Both candidates not hesitating to attack the other.— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) October 17, 2012

Romney immediately at ease, confident. Obama not connecting quite as well…so far— Beth Reinhard (@bethreinhard) October 17, 2012

Yup RT @hblodget: Romney: Content free answer.— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) October 17, 2012

Romney is stuttering. Obama is killing it.— Big Bird (@BigBirdRomney) October 17, 2012

Romney on defensive on auto bailout. He was never on the defensive last week. Opens up an issue for Obama. A mistake, I think. #debate— EJ Dionne (@EJDionne) October 17, 2012

Basically by not being asleep, Obama has won the debate already. #debates— Callie Schweitzer (@cschweitz) October 17, 2012

This going to be a slug fest. Romney hits Obama for criminal action to save birds in the Bakken oil field in N Dakota.— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) October 17, 2012

Romney hammering Obama on pipeline again. Candy Crowley tries to throw O a lifeline. #townhalldebate— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) October 17, 2012

Just like last debate, Obama looking and acting like the troubled teenager who’s in trouble with Romney - the authority figure— Matthew Boyle (@mboyle1) October 17, 2012

Obama has to tread carefully in arguinga bad economy lowers gas prices. Can see that turned on him. #debate— Amy Davidson (@tnyCloseRead) October 17, 2012

Obama’s back on. I recognize this guy. Energy; focus; ability to relate. thebea.st/V7xk8A— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) October 17, 2012

Mitt Romney is now defying the moderator. What a putz.— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) October 17, 2012

Obama’s “use or lose it” answer wins …— davidfrum (@davidfrum) October 17, 2012

Obama is making Romney’s point for him, but it was a mistake by Rom to yield time to O.Never do that.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) October 17, 2012

Wal-mart moms (key swing voters) in Wisconsin were digging Romney’s tax answer, per dial-in.— Naureen Khan (@naureenindc) October 17, 2012

If my Twitter feed is any indication, both sides LOVE what their guy is doing tonight, and think the other guy is a lying, blustering jerk.— Walter Russell Mead (@wrmead) October 17, 2012

So far this debate is not persuading anyone— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) October 17, 2012

Wow! Who’s this feisty guy wearing the Obama mask?— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) October 17, 2012

Obama’s split screen look is perfect. No more nodding at Romney’s answers while looking down at his notes.— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) October 17, 2012

Angry that “Obama off the ropes” is already a cliched debate take, but it’s clearly what’s happening now— daveweigel (@daveweigel) October 17, 2012

9:41 p.m. Romney talking about women: "I got binders of women."


9:38 p.m. Finally! The candidates are forced to talked about women's issues ... this has been a fringe discussion throughout most of the campaign.

9:36 p.m. "We haven't heard from the governor any specifics [on his tax plan]."

9:34 p.m. "Big Bird" makes it into the debate! ...  for those of you playing our drinking game at home, that's a "black-out inducer!"

9:30 p.m. In tonight’s debate, President Barack Obama is talking about his specific, concrete plan to continue building our economy from the middle out, not the top down – here’s how he’ll achieve it:

“Your future is bright, and the fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical, not just to you but the entire nation.  Now, the most important thing we can do is make sure that we are creating jobs in this country, but not just jobs, good paying jobs.  Ones that can support a family.  And what I want to do is build on the five million jobs that we’ve decree aid over the last 30 months in the private sector alone.  There are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.  

“Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again.  When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry, and it’s come surging back.  I want to do that in industries not just in Detroit but all across the country, and that means we change our tax code so we’re giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here.  It also means we’re helping them and small businesses to export all around the world to new markets.  

“Number two, we’ve got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world.  The fact that you’re going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education, and we worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and jobs of the future.

“Number three, we’ve got to control our own energy.  You know, not only oil and natural gas, which we’ve been investing in, but also we have got to make sure we’re building the energy sources of the future, not just thinking about next year, but ten years from now, twenty years from now.  That’s why we invest in solar, wind, and biofuels.  Energy efficient cars.  We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we have to do it in a balanced way, asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so we can invest in education like yours.  Let’s take the money we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America -- roads, bridges, schools.  We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America’s future is going to be bright as well.”

9:27 p.m. Going back to energy points: As President Obama just said, as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said a coal-fired plant “kills people” and touted his power plant regulations there as the “toughest in the nation.” Watch Romney say the plant “kills people.”

The President believes clean coal is an important part of our energy future. The coal industry has added jobs – with employment in coal mining hitting a 15 year high in 2011 – and President Obama is making historic investments in clean coal research and development while helping keep coal miners safe and healthy.

9:26 p.m. OK Romney, good points about taxes


9:23 p.m. Obama's points on energy policy: 

9:23 p.m. Candy dominates Romney again!

9:20 p.m. The conservative side of the energy debate: Mitt Romney Will Increase Domestic Production, Fund Research, Remove Regulatory Barriers, And Increase Partnership With Our North American Allies – Establishing A Course To Energy Independence By 2020. “Mitt Romney will make America an energy superpower, rapidly and responsibly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020. This will require genuine support for increased energy production, a more rational approach to regulation, and a government that facilitates private-sector-led development of new energy technologies by focusing on funding research and removing barriers, rather than chasing fads and picking winners and losers.” (Romney for President Website, 10/16/12)

9:18 p.m. Obama's points on energy and alternative energy look to be light-years ahead of Romney's own. Obama has a stronger grasp on energy policy.

9:15 p.m. What Romney looks like talking about coal power: 


Coal is the energy source of yesterday. C'mon, Romney.

9:11 p.m. Candy dominates Romney!

9:10 p.m. "Romney doesn't have a 5 point plan, he has a 1 point plan, and that's to have the people at the very top play by their own rules." - Obama

9:09 p.m. First blood Romey ... The Republican's first point about getting young people jobs was spot-on.

9:07 p.m. The unemployment rate for millennials is pushing 17%: 

Two weeks ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its September jobs report, which indicated the (U-3) unemployment rate fell last month to 7.8%, down from 8.1% in August, as non-farm payrolls added 114,000 jobs. This is a good sign for the incumbent president, who is looking to bolster his re-election odds by pointing out that the economy is improving. More so, it bodes well for the American economy, which will likely take the BLS report as a sign that the U.S. financial situation is improving after the 2008 meltdown and subsequent Great Recession.

But not all Americans can say that they are starting to see the storm clouds clear. According to new data, the millennial voting bloc is still experiencing record rates of unemployment, pushing 12%. When “real unemployment” is factored in, that number jumps to 16.6%.

Crushing.

Millennials — those people aged under 30 — are a critical voting bloc (remember when we won you the 2008 election, Obama?) that have been under-serviced by both candidates in election 2012. More so, the fact that millennials are failing to find employment in the economy is a troubling sign to could point to longer-term economic and social problems for America.

But both campaigns don't seem to be noticing the millennial plight.

The Obama campaign is gloating over the BLS jobs report. The 7.8% figure reflects the percentage of the total workforce who are unemployed and are actively looking for work. This figure does not include unemployed members of the workforce who are not actively looking for work; nor does it factor in workers with part-time jobs who are seeking full-time employment. When these workers are included, the (U-6) un/underemployment rate for September remained at 14.7% as it had been in August. 

The report came less than 48 hours after Obama turned in a lackluster performance against Republican rival Mitt Romney, who has criticized Obama for presiding over a sluggish recovery with unemployment above 8%.

The jobs numbers will likely be used by the Obama camp as a rallying cry for the next four weeks of the election — especially since the economy is issue #1 in 2012.

But millennials seems to be left in the dust here.

According to Generation Opportunity, the largest non-profit, “non-partisan” (the org does lean to the right) organization engaging and mobilizing young Americans on the important economic issues facing the nation, the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) 18-29 unemployment rate data for September 2012 is shocking:

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for September 2012 is 11.8%.

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for September 2012 is 21%; the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for September 2012 is 12.1%; and the youth unemployment rate for 18–29 year old women for September 2012 is 11.6%.

The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as "unemployed" by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.

If the labor force participation rate (“real unemployment”) were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.6%. Real unemployment implies a measure that includes under-employed and discouraged (not looking for jobs) workers.

Still, even with these high numbers, both candidates in this election have only seldom talked about issues that matter to millennials.

Both candidates’ jobs plans do not necessarily focus on millennials, and neither candidate is directly talking about how to end youth unemployment.

Millennial unemployment should be considered a big red flag: if young people remain out of work, long-term social and economic problems could be seen in the United States.

The millennial generation is the “generation of tomorrow,” the foundation of the future American economy. Yet young people are not able to enter into jobs which give them the skills which will help them down the road. High rates of youth unemployment create a “lost generation” of unskilled or under-skilled workers who must overcome competition from workers older and younger than them when the economy stabilizes.

Young people — a top spending demographic in the U.S. economy — are also cutting back on their spending habits. The GO survey outlines that 89% of young people say the current state of the economy is impacting their day-to-day lives:

  • 51% reduced their entertainment budget;
  • 43% reduced their grocery/food budget;
  • 43% cut back on gifts for friends and family;
  • 40% skipped a vacation;
  • 38% driven less;
  • 36% taken active steps to reduce home energy costs;
  • 32% tried to find an additional job;
  • 27% sold personal items or property (cars, electronic appliances, or other possessions);
  • 26% changed their living situation (moved in with family, taken extra roommates, downgraded apartment or home);
  • 17% skipped a wedding, family reunion, or other significant social event;
  • 1% other;
  • 8% none of the above (accepted only this response);
  • 3% do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).

From a social standpoint, large amounts of out-of-work young people can see their participation in crime and illegal activity jump. In more extreme cases, there can also be social unrests, similar to the youth riots that occurred in London in 2011. Depression and anxiety levels can all rise in this demographic.

9:05 p.m. Great opening point by Romney talking about getting young people jobs.

9:04 p.m. Romney blue tie tonight ... Obama, red. Role reversal! 

9:03 p.m. First question by a millennial! 

9:02 p.m. There's a coin toss? This might as well be the NFL!

9:02 p.m. Nice cordial handshake there bu the two rivals.

8:55 p.m. The conservative angle: Mitt Romney’s economic plan will create 12 million jobs in his first term: 

“History Shows That A Recovery Rooted In Policies Contained In The Romney Plan Will Create About 12 Million Jobs In The First Term Of A Romney Presidency.” “If we had a recovery that was just the average of past recoveries from deep recessions, like those of 1974-1975 or 1981-1982, the economy would be creating about 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month. By changing course away from the policies of the current administration and ending economic uncertainty, as proposed by the Romney plan, we expect that the current recovery will align with the average gains of similar past recoveries. History shows that a recovery rooted in policies contained in the Romney plan will create about 12 million jobs in the first term of a Romney presidency.” (R. Glenn Hubbard, N. Gregory Mankiw, John B. Taylor, and Kevin A. Hassett, “The Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs,” White Paper, 8/7/12)


8:45 p.m. 15 mins .... Want to keep going with this live blog?

 

8:30 p.m. The Romneys chilling backstage before the debate.


8:25 p.m. From PolicyMic's Libertarian expert, Robert Taylor: For those who tend to view politics, elections, and debates with some cynicism, here is a great article that will only help confirm it. "Leaked Debate Agreement Shows Both Obama and Romney are Sniveling Cowards" (via Gawker):

  • "The candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates."
  • "The candidates shall not address each other with proposed pledges."
  • "At no time during the October 3 First Presidential debate shall either candidate move from his designated area behing the respective podium."
  • For the October 16 town-hall-style debate, "the moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate...."
  • "The audience members shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion, and the audience member's microphone shall be turned off after he or she completes asking the questions."
  • "[T]he Commission shall take appropriate steps to cut-off the microphone of any...audience member who attempts to pose any question or statement different than that previously posed to the moderator for review."
  • "No candidate may reference or cite any specific individual sitting in a debate audience (other than family members) at any time during a debate."
  • For the town-hall debate: "Each candidate may move about in a pre-designated area, as proposed by the Commission and approved by each campaign, and may not leave that area while the debate is underway."

Wait...so politicians say one thing and do another?

8:22 p.m. The debate about the moderator rages: 

Politico is reporting that Crowley has confirmed that she will buck expectations and be more than just a "microphone holder" at the town hall debate this evening. Via Politico:

In an interview with CNN this afternoon, Candy Crowley reiterated that, like past town-hall debate moderators, she intends to do more than just hold the microphone at tonight's debate in Hempstead, N.Y. -- an intention that has caused concern for both campaigns.

"They will call on 'Alice,' and 'Alice' will stand up and ask a question. Both candidates will answer. Then there's time for a follow-up question, facilitating a discussion, whatever you want to call it," Crowley said. "So if Alice asks oranges, and someone answers apples, there's the time to go, 'But Alice asked oranges? What's the answer to that?" Or, 'Well, you say this, but what about that?'"

Both campaigns are in a huff about Crowley potentially going rogue and throwing the candidates for a loop. If last week's moderation by Martha Raddatz was any preview, I say "Go Crowley!"

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