UPDATE - 11:15 PM. It's over.
OK so who won?
Obama got more talk time.
They shared barbs. Factual errors of who was right and who was wrong will come out over the next few days. Democrats will be happier with the performance of the President Obama. He was awake, ready to argue his positions and was much more focused.
The Libya discussion could have been an excellent opportunity for Governor Romney but his Rose Garden comment (and the opportunity for the President to turn the tables) was not the best moment because the President out-bullied him. Romney was correct - the President did call it an act of terror. The White House later would not call it an act of terrorism when it was obvious it was and had been called so by the President in the Rose Garden.
"We don't have to settle," was Governor Romney's best line as applied to any number of issues, particularly the economy and taxes. President Obama, predictably, brought up Big Bird again.
Jobs came out loud and clear for both Romney and Obama. The vision of Governor Romney was less apparent than in the first debate. Methodology for the two candidates is at conflict but undeniably jobs are important to everyone. Romney outlined his plan. Obama bashed Romney's plan and had little substance to offer.
Candy Crowley had her hands full keeping the debaters in line. They pushed back with force and there were likely some disappointed questioners whose time was taken away by the candidates going over on many topics.
The pundits across all TV channels are divided, slightly more for Obama, although mentions have been made about his inability to explain his record or his policies. Where was President Obama's 5-point plan? He missed the opportunity to lay out his vision and he didn't do it. Substance is what people needed to hear and they didn't. Instead, they heard rhetoric and arguments.
Senator Rob Portman, as interviewed on CNN after the debate, disagreed with Senator Kerry's claim that the Romney campaign began "unraveling" with this debate at said it was "not true at all." Instead, he reminded the interviewers that Governor Romney continually questioned the President about his record and ineffective policies (more people on food stamps, unemployment and national debt).
I'd call it a draw. Romney wins on substance; Obama was more aggressive and successfully steered clear of his lack of substance. I was disapointed that women didn't get more time, particularly in the discussion about small business.
At our local farmer's market last weekend, I had a conversation with a woman who has been a Democrat and voted only for Democrats in presidential elections. She said, "I am fed up and I don't think I can bring myself to vote for four more years of this." She was, however, having angst about the Republican platform on some social issues. The economy, she decided, was more important. I wonder how many of the undecideds are in the same camp and what they need to know that will push them to one side or another.
As Candy Crowley meets in advance with the 100 undecided people who will be in the audience, what criteria will she use to select the questions that will be asked and the people who want to ask them? Surely she will choose a broad range of questions, although maybe they will all follow the same theme. Some of the things I am going to be watching for and would consider asking if I were undecided include:
+ Both candidates' facial expressions. Joe Biden got a lot of attention for his rudeness and facial expressions during last week's debate — will we see it in the top dogs?
+ Their rapport with the questioners. I believe manners are important but also eye contact and genuine interest in answering the question to the satisfaction of the asker.
+ How much will be focused on Benghazi. The concern over the inaccurate and misleading information coming from the administration has risen and President Obama should be anticipating a great deal of interest in his responses on this topic.
+ Will someone ask direct questions about Mitt Romney's foreign policy experience?
+ Is the hawkishness of the past Republican administration going to be highlighted?
+Will President Obama be better prepared?
+ Will Mitt Romney be as strong and assertive in this format as he was in the first debate?
+ How many times will the Bush Administration be blamed for various problems?
+ How many questions will be focused on women's issues?
+ Will Candy Crowley sneak in a question or two?
+ How will President Obama bring up the 47%. You know he will, even if it isn't asked.
The big question, of course, is how many undecided voters will make their decision after this debate. Who will they favor and why? Let's see how it all unfolds. I can't wait.
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UPDATE: 6:00 PM So excited. 3 hours to go. Need caffeine.
More in the news on Libya blame game - following the hearing last week where the State Dept employees tossed around the intel community blame, Ambassador Rice is doing it too. How much will come out tonight? Will President Obama really try to blame the intel community for misinformation?
UPDATE 6:15 PM
Will it be discussed? $250 million in government grants from the 2009 economic stimulus and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today --- Electric-car-battery manufacturer A123 Systems Inc. Planning to sell its auto-business assets to Johnson Controls Inc. Governor Romney has said - many times - that the stimulus was ineffective.
Update 6:30 PM
Record high FOOD STAMP enrollment. Not a good sign of the times. Do the undecided care?
UPDATE 8:15 PM
Only 45 minutes to start. This just in ---
Obama Has Already Lost The Expectations Game For Tonight http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-loses-expectations-game-in-tonights-debate-2012-10#ixzz29VjQJmn4
UPDATE 8:53 PM
Britt Hume (Fox) says this is all about women. Well we're watching and how many of us are still fence-sitting?
UPDATE 9:25 PM
A real woman asking real questions about what middle income people care about - especially those with children in college. They are worried about taxes and deductions. Middle income people getting a tax break is what Romney is promoting. He has done his share of interrupting, and defending his positions. He speaks directly to those asking the questions. Obama lectures to everyone.
Obama clarifying that he only wants to reduce taxes for middle income and small businesses. Everyone else pays more. What an incentive to do better and earn more... He seems a little more comfortable than last time, throwing a few more barbs, interrupting and arguing a little bit more. He is doing a better job not looking annoyed.
Hand gestures - Obama points, Romney speaks with his hand open. What does that mean?
Speaking directly to the questioner - Romney makes more eye contact. Obama lectures to everyone.
Candy Crowley is polite, firm, doing a great job.
UPDATE 10:00 PM
Confrontational debate. I'd say so.
UPDATE 10:20 PM
The Benghazi debate was disturbing. What really happened is still not clear. President Obama was anxious to move on to the next topic.
Gun control. Violence in our society. Important topic.
UPDATE 10:25 PM
Yup everyone wants to create jobs. Making it easier for small businesses to prosper is important to everyone. But we disagree about how to do it.