Who Won the Debate? Romney Loses his Binder, Obama Picks Up Steam, with a Little Help

On Tuesday, October 16th at 9 p.m., President Obama and former Governor Romney will meet for the second of three presidential debates at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

After the president's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate, he is sure to come out alive and ready to throw punches. News sources have already reported that he has prepared new character attacks against Mitt Romney and in general will be sure to go on the attack instead of just sitting back to defend his record. While Joe Biden certainly fired up the base with his performance in vice presidential debate, Obama cannot afford to simply attack Romney, however, and must show independents and undecided voters that he is still the preferable choice for the next four years.

Mitt Romney, for his part, will try to continue the momentum he has built up after his better-than-Obama performance in the first debate. Now that the polls show he has made up lost ground in many swing states, he is likely to continue to press home the point that he is best fit to repair America's economic malaise and stop president Obama from negatively defining him. 

While the first debate tended to drag on and was often times a bit wonky, the town hall style of this debate will prove be a boon to those who want to see the two candidates debate more than figures and numbers. Although audience members will be the ones to pose the questions to the candidates, moderator Candy Crowley of CNN has already made headlines when she commented she will not be a "fly on the wall." Her comment came after the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the campaigns was released. The MOU gave the moderator little more than the role of timekeeper. After Jim Lehrer's poor performance in the first debate, and Martha Raddatz's well reviewed performance but inability to reign in Joe Biden in the VP debate, Crowley will be pressured to make sure the two candidates have equal time and do not engage in interruption tactics. 

Also differing from the first debate, the town hall style will feature questions not just on the economy, but also issues as diverse as foreign policy, immigration, and even possibly social issues. These are all areas where Romney will seek to define a stark difference between himself and the president, and it was in these areas that the VP debate was the most lively. Expect the answers to these questions to be the moments when the candidates go over the two minute mark and where Ms. Crowley will ask the candidates to provide more specifics.

Make sure to check back here before the debate to see what journos and politicos are talking about, and tune in during the debate to see all the best in pithy and hilarious puns, allusions, and anecdotes. 

More Likely to be the Last Post 11:45pm: Apparently there continues to be an uproar online by some who believe that Obama, in remarks in the Rose Garden, did not refer to the attacks in Benghazi as terrorist attacks, but generally mentioned terrorist attacks. The direct quote is as follows: 

"No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."

In the most technical of senses then, Obama did call the attacks "a terrible act", while referring to acts of terror, which clearly was meant to include the attacks in Benghazi, as the entire speech was about the attacks in Benghazi. Also, saying 'justice will be done', further indicates the acts are in his opinion a crime of some sort. The use of terrible act is clearly an emotional response, rather than avoiding calling it a criminal or terrorist act. Anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest and is trying to create a difference which isn't there. If anyone still disagrees, I challenge them to tell me to which acts of terror Obama is referring. The speech can be found here: 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2012/09/12/president-obama-speaks-attack-benghazi#transcript

Possibly Last Post 11:03pm: http://bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com/


Analysis 10:56pm:

  In the end, Obama edged out Romney. Both were fairly even at the beginning of the debate, especially as they argued over jobs and the economy. Although they rehashed talking points, Romney did sound like he was more likely to accomplish energy independence and we all know he loves, "oil and coal and gas". However, as the debate went on, Obama got more passionate and clearly had both the audience on his side and the moderator backing him up at one key point. Romney's "binder full of women" will remain on twitter and was a very awkward moment, one Romney didn't need considering his well known problems with the female vote.

  However, Obama did get stronger as the debate went on, and looked very presidential talking about Libya and taking full responsibility. Candy Crowley publically fact checking Romney on the claim that Obama wouldn't call the attack in Benghazi terrorism, was a killer moment and one which will deflate Romney's ability to attack Obama on the issue, especially in the next debate, which will focus on foreign policy.

  Finally, Obama had a strong ending, being able to bring up Romney's 47% gaffe without even allowing Romney to respond, as it was the very last question. Romney didn't falter as much as Obama picked up steam, but inevitably some will cry foul over the moderator and the "partisan audience" (on twitter conservatives have been complaining from the second question on that account). According to the talking heads on tv, Republicans are already out in force defending their candidate and were "agitated".

Update 10:41pm: 


Update 10:39pm: And it's over!

Update 10:38pm: Obama finally adresses the accusation that he thinks government creates jobs. He says he doesn't believe that. Then he hits hard at Romney, channeling McCain says he's a good man, a family man, but brings up the 47% quote.

Update 10:36pm: A lot of these questions are awful. Like this last one about, "what misperception about you is out there..." Interestingly, Romney is going the religious route initially. 

Update 10:32pm: Romney is really talking a lot about China cheating. I thought he wanted to increase trade with China?

Update 10:27pm: Can't a politician just admit the truth? Politicians don't create jobs. Neither of them will create jobs, that's not even the job of the government (unless it is a socialist government). Next question please.

Update 10:23pm: Romney smartly brings up the Fast and Furious debacle after a question on assault weapons ban. Candy brings up an assault weapons ban Romney signed in Mass, and Romney says pro gun and anti gun people got together to get the law done. He sounds a bit like he is flip flopping, and Obama pounces.

Update 10:17pm:


Update 10:15pm: Obama has a forceful response, he still takes responsibility. Uh oh, Candy Crowley just fact checked Romney during Romney's answer. And audience applauds. Romney tries to get back on track and looks very off track.

Update 10:13pm: Romney likes to use a Republican talking point that the last time an ambassador died it was 1979 (under a Democrat administration). Romney then goes on his talking points, apology tours, bad foreign policy, etc.

Update 10:10pm: Wow, Obama takes full responsibility, despite Sec State Clinton taking responsibility for the lack of security. He says issue has been politicized (it has) and looks fairly tough, will avoiding the question why security was denied.

Update 10:08pm: Now a Libya question. Who denied enhanced security (in Benghazi), and why?

Update 10:06pm: Obama isn't doing well when he interrupts Romney, he certainly isn't Biden. He does end up with one zinger though.


Update 10:04pm: Uh, now Romney is trying to punt on his statement that the Arizona law is a model for the nation? So when he said he would stand with AZ Gov Brewer that was just politics?


Update 10:01pm: Romney is trying to sound, um, liberal, when it comes to immigration and Obama is trying to sound conservative. Ah yes, debates.


Update 9:59pm: Romney has some answers that really stick in the mind. Staple a green card to the diploma, a binder full of women.

Update 9:56pm: Romney has a pretty good answer on Obama and the economy. Except he just referred to a recession as the Reagan recession. He's broken the 11th commandment!


Update 9:54pm: Obama just said the health care plan that Romney passed in Mass is the exact same thing as Obamacare. Santorum privately grimmaces.

Update 9:50pm: Oh wow, Obama is pushing hard against Romney, pointing out things he agrees with Bush about (immigration reform, not cutting off Planned Parenthood) and Romney is against. Romney isn't able to respond due to another question. That might stick.

Update 9:49pm: Romney says Bush had a different path for a different time? Wow, talk about avoiding the issue.


Update 9:47pm: Romney is asked how he is different from Bush. Turns out he has a five point plan. Everything, literally everything, comes back to taxes, healthcare, jobs and jobs.

Update 9:45pm: Too true.


Update 9:42pm: Awkward response by Romney in the end. Obama tries to shift to defend his healthcare policy.


Update 9:40pm: Finally an intersting question! How to deal with discrimination in the workplace against women. Obama namechecks the Lily Ledbetter Act, and says it is a family issue. Romney talks about recruiting women for his cabinet in Mass. He kind of punts the question in the end, talks about strengthening the economy.

Update 9:36pm: Hahaha, Candy will be run out of town unless she... ah, stops Romney from talking (or hopefully talking on a different topic).

Update 9:34pm:


Update 9:33pm: We already had the taxes debate. Let's have the actual debate debate. Pretty please?

Update 9:29pm: I wonder if either candidate thinks that anyone believes the whole, we will cut your taxes and help you and the other guy won't mantras.

Update 9:27pm: Obama goes on with his talking points, namely that the rich will pay a little bit more.

Update 9:24pm: Romney name checks the middle class for the second time. When did middle class become the group everyone wants to cite as being friends with? He continues to defend his policies and says that the rich won't pay less (although will they pay more?).

Update 9:21pm: Obama just tied Romney to Bush on oil and gas, brilliant! That is gonna hurt. Romeny appreciates wind jobs, but really, he appreciates oil and coal and gas.

Update 9:20pm: Romney is definitely now regretting challenging Obama on the amount of drilling on public (and not private) lands. Obama has a decent explanation on it, but I might be in the minority in that respect.

Update 9:18pm: The fight is on!


Update 9:18pm: Candy Crowley wants more specifics. Obama goes on the offensive and looks a lot better.

Update 9:15pm: Second question about oil and gas. Obama again goes on the attack, and frankly, it just looks uninspired. Romney looks a lot cleaner in his response. Romney appears to really enjoy talking about oil and gas and coal.

Update 9:12pm: Holy moley, Candy Crowley shuts down Romney from trying to respond! Maybe she can teach Jim Lehrer how to do that.

Update 9:10pm: Uh oh, Candy Crowley wants more specific answers. She's breaking the rules! Romney responds to dig by Obama saying that Romney wanted Detroit to go bankrupt, totally off topic. Now Obama double's down, and we are officially about as off topic as possible. He also looks like he is trying to campaign. 

Update 9:07pm: First question is about college students and how to ease the enormous debt they accumulate. Romney sticks to his talking points, Obama sticks to his talking points, but not quite as well. Yawn.

Update 9:03pm: Bipartisanship!

 

Update 9:00pm: Here we go! Or rather, it is 9 and we have an empty stage.

Update 8:54 pm: Candy Crowley takes the stage.


Update 8:52pm: Ever wonder what happens right before the debate happens? Try out this Reuters link: http://elections.reuters.com/liveblog#page/last

Update 8:50pm: They did say that, didn't they?


Update 8:40pm: Whoever you support, everyone should be supporting the US Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) tonight. They are currently up 3-1 in the last qualifier for the final stage in World Cup Qualifiers. Win or tie, and they are in the finals for World Cup qualfying. Go USA!


Update 8:35pm: The Obama administration is trying to get #RealRomney going.


Update 8:30pm: If I wiretapped everyone's phone, I would know the outcome to the election too, in my humble opinion.


Update 8:25pm: Well, it looks like Romney is winning the pre-debate photo contest.


Update 8:20pm: What question would you ask the candidates if you were at the townhall? Personally, I would ask a question I care about, but which there is no possible way either of them have prepared for. My favorite example (and the one question I wish someone would ask either candidate) is; what would you do about the TSA, and under your administration what reforms would you make to TSA? Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy going to the airport without getting to second base in the security line.

Update 8:05pm: More on the moderator Candy Crowley: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/candy-crowley-debate-moderator-facts_n_1968600.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003#slide=1643099


(From Getty Images)

Update 7:50pm: I don't know about you, but I find the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two candidates to be interesting. Here are thirteen things from the MOU.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/12-things-may-not-know-debates-204705552--election.html

Update 7:45pm: Romney relaxes before the debate:


Update 7:40pm: The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied Ohio's attempts to curb early voting, in a victory for the Obama camp. Early voting began in Ohio earlier this month, and the state had wanted to end early voting on November 2nd. The move to end early voting by high ranking state Republicans is widely viewed as being an attempt to reduce voting by African-Americans, who overwhemlingly vote Democrat, and some of whom vote on the Sunday before the election is what is known as bringing "souls to the polls". Republicans claim they want to prevent voter fraud. The 6th Circuit had earlier issued a ruling against the state. Read more about it here:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/President/2012/1006/In-blow-to-Romney-court-says-Ohio-can-t-restrict-souls-to-the-polls-voting-by-blacks

Update 7:25pm: Welcome and thanks for joining me for today's debate. There is some important breaking news today which will likely be talked about in the first debate. First up; Secretary of State Hillary took responsibility for the deaths of Americans in Benghazi. The move will likely be seen as pure politics, giving political cover to Obama over the issue. Then again, the issue has been relentlessly politicized.

PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.

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Jonathan Bertman

Jonathan Bertman holds a MA in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in politics and economics in the Middle East and North Africa.

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