UPDATE 12:12 AM: The CBS News Instant Poll calls President Obama the winner of tonight's matchup. "37 percent of those polled said President Obama won the second debate, and 30 percent said Romney won with a margin of error of four points."
From my post-debate recap for PolicyMic:
The second presidential debate has come to a close, and President Obama can rest assured that he brought his A-game out to Long Island. The President had what was perhaps one of the best debate performances of his career, and was more poised and less flustered on stage than his Republican counterpart.
While Governor Romney's talking points were relatively gaffe-free (save the reference to "binders full of women" that made much of America cringe), many of his statements were "on the wrong side of the angry/passionate divide."
With only three weeks to go before Election Day, most Americans have heard the talking-points, the half-truths, and the rebuttals from both the President's and the Governor's campaigns ad nausem. Tonight, America was looking for a leader on stage who hasn't veered from his positions and is able to connect with voters. And that leader was, in fact, already the leader of the nation. Said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, "the American people saw their leader tonight--a strong, steady, and decisive president."
12:04 AM: Still in the Spin Room, and the consensus seems to be that the President came out on top tonight. However, the debate was not as clear-cut as the first matchup, and it's likely that both camps will claim to be victorious.
In this vein, when Rep. Peter King (R-NY) was asked about Romney's performance from a Millennial perspective, he replied that his economic plan is "visionary" and will provide jobs to young people. "Hofstra is a great school," said the Representative, "but when students graduate 50 percent of them won't have good jobs...trickle down government doesn't work."
11:03 PM: Post-debate, I had the privilege of speaking to Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles on how they perceived the President's and Governor Romney's answers on gun control.
Mayor Reed said that the President "dominated" and appeared to be "well-rested, well-prepared [and] focused." On gun control, the Mayor said that we need to stringently enforce the laws that we already have in place to prevent "senseless tragedies", and that Governor Romney has clearly flip-flopped his position on this.
Mayor Villaraigosa said that Governor Romney "made it clear that he doesn't intend to change any gun laws...[and that] putting blame on single moms for gun violence is completely out of line."
10:55 PM: Catching up with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Spin Room, who told reporters, "I thought the President did a great job...I hope the third debate's just like this one."
Senator Schumer also said that, "the number one issue is the economy and jobs, the number two issue is the economy and jobs, and the number three issue is the economy and jobs."
This election really will come down to...the economy and jobs.
10:45 PM: Most improved award goes to President Obama. Hands down. Rachel Maddow called it "the best debate of his career as a national politician."
10:41 PM: And that's a wrap! The Spin Room is hopping.
10:37 PM: Obama believes in free enterprise, too.
And now, in the debate's final moments, the President capitalizes on the 47 percent gaffe. Who are these people? "People who work hard every day...I want to fight for them."
This sounds like the 2008 Obama who won the election.
10:35 PM: Governor Romney- "I care about 100 percent of the American people." Interesting that this inadvertently refers to his own blunder.
Romney closes out by noting his relationship with God, directly appealing to Tea Party voters.
10:28 PM: The debate is wrapping up, and there is movement in the Spin Room. David Axelrod, Rep. Karen Bass (D, CA-33), Stephanie Cutter, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator John Kerry, and others will be commenting on the President's and Governor Romney's performances shortly. Already, this team has declared victory:
10:26 PM: One thing we haven't heard tonight: anything on the 47 percent.
10:24 PM: Both candidates agree that opportunities for young people will reduce gun violence. Let's see some legislation getting the ball rolling on this.
10:23 PM: And now discusses bipartianship during his tenure as Massachussetts Governor. This is a pretty weak answer.
10:21 PM: Governor Romney goes on about Operation Fast and Furious, veers off topic.
10:17 PM: The questions tonight have been spot-on. Next up: gun-control. The Bloomberg administration must be pleased.
While the President "believe[s] in the second amendment," he has spent too much time consoling those affected by gun violence (Aurora, Tuscon, et. al)
Obama: Let's keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who are mentally ill. Seems more than reasonable.
This is a dicey question for Obama, given the NRA's unbelievable lobbying capacity in D.C. and how voters in swing states "cling to their guns."
10:16 PM: Thank you @anastasiatess for sharing:
10:08 PM: Here is the inevitable Libya question for the night.
The President knew this question was coming, and (rightly) assumed responsibility for this. All the more important in light of Secretary of State Clinton's statements yesterday.
10:07 PM: Also, using the word "illegals" in a debate setting (or any setting for that matter) is very un-presidential.
10:06 PM: And, the best line of the night goes to Obama:
"I don't look at my pension, it's not as big as yours."
10:05 PM: "I'm not in favor of rounding people up and taking them out of this country." -Mitt Romney
I'm glad to hear this, because there are many people in border states who would readily support such a policy.
10:04 PM: Romney shoots down Candy Crowley again, going back to respond to Obama. Not very nice.
10:03 PM: The phrase "self-deportation" is being thrown around quite a bit tonight.
10:01 PM: "I have done everything...to make sure we fix the system," says Obama on immigration. This includes:
1. Streamlining the system
2. Securing the border
3. Helping to promote the DREAM Act
10:00 PM: Next...immigration. Governor Romney blasts Obama for not promoting legislation that deals with immigration reform. Especially in his first term with a Democratic-majority House and Senate.
9:55 PM: "The number of people who are looking for work are still 23 million Americans.... Today, 47 million people are on food stamps...[the economy] is growing more slowly this year than last year."- Governor Romney
Governor Romney, having dismissed comparisons to Bush earlier in the night, cites Republican hero Reagan. This also implies that President Obama is this generation's Jimmy Carter.
9:54: "I think you know better...If you're going to elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get. He said that by now, we would have unemployment at 5.4 percent."
Are these numbers accurate? Where is the Truth Team when we need them?
9:52 PM: Another great question asked by an undecided voter.
Paraphrased: President Obama, why should I vote for you again when the change I wanted so much in '08 didn't materialize?
Obama defers to his record. Having gone after Al-Qaeda, securing affordable healthcare. And what we haven't achieved hasn't been for lack of trying.
9:49 PM: The debate shifts to China.
Also, silly tweets in the Twitterverse:
9:45 PM: My favorite question of the night, asked to Governor Romney:
"How do you differentiate yourself from President Bush?"
Governor Romney- "President Bush and I are different people."
Twitter's reaction to this question confirms that President Bush is still the pariah of the Republican Party.
9:44 PM: Obama is touting the merits of Planned Parenthood, and how women rely on their care for mammograms, etc. Because really, the economy and healthcare are inextricably linked.
9:41 PM: Governor Romney answers by saying:
"In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs...3.5 million women now in poverty from four years ago...I'm going to help women in America get back to work by helping the economy."
It all comes back to the economy.
9:38 PM: On to the next question: fair pay for women. This question should be a slam-dunk for Obama. One of his biggest accomplishments is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
9:35 PM: "Of course [the numbers] add up." Governor Romney, who then cites his experience running the Olympics, running the state of Massachussetts, and running businesses.
Then, as if on cue, Romney brings it back to Obama's failed record over the past four years.
9:33 PM: Obama is calling Romney out on the sketchy details of his tax plan. Romney's plan does remains elusive...
9:30 PM: The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg on the tax question:
9:29 PM: There are certainly some women out there that feel this way:
9:24 PM: Piers Morgan thinks Romney's aggressive stance on stage won't go over well with women voters:
9:21 PM: Obama just made a Bush/Romney parallel, citing the price of gas when he took office.
Re: the pipeline: We already built a pipeline that could circle the Earth once.
Also, Obama casually mentions Ohio and Colorado.
9:18 PM: 18 minutes in, and this debate is already very heated.
9:15 PM: Mitt Romney on energy:
"I was in coal country. People would grab my arm and say 'please, save my job'...Let's take advantage of the energy resources we have...Our energy is low-cost...How in the world the President said no to that pipeline, I will never know."
9:13 PM: Candy Crowley has already cut off Governor Romney, proving that her moderating style is quite different from Jim Lehrer's.
9:09 PM: Governor Romney and President Obama are already sparring over GM. Romney says his plan would have been similar to Obama's. Obama says that's just not true, you can ask the executives in Detroit.
President Obama- "Governor Romney doesn't have a five point plan. He has a one point plan."
9:04 PM: First question is about Millennials, a nice break from last week's VP debate which eschewed the issue entireley.
Q- Will I be able to get a job when I graduate?
Romney advocates for Pell grants, loan programs growing. He says:
"What has happened over the past four years has been very, very hard for America's young people..."
President Obama's energy level is noticably higher tonight.
Moderator Candy Crowley follows up with a question about people who have been unemployed for longer than six months.
9:00: 3, 2, 1...and, we're off!
8:58 PM: Governor Romney, in the final moments backstage:
8:56 PM: Crisis averted.
8:56 PM: Crisis averted?
8:54 PM: And...the sound just went dead on all the televisions in the Media Center.
8:50 PM: Ten minutes...
The camera just panned to First Lady Obama and Ann Romney for the first time. Both are wearing bright pink. Adds some color to the sea of dark suits in the crowd.
Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell thinks that this election is (surprise) all about the economy, and knows that Mitt Romney is the candidate who is able to fix it.
"This is [a debate] about substance. And that is, who can get the greatest country in the world out of debt and back to work. It's a very serious election...this is not about where you go to debate, but what you say and what solutions you offer to people."
"This president, despite his historic victory, and his incredibly skilled and positive message in 2008, has flat not carried through...failed to balance the budget, failed to even pass a budget...Mitt Romney throughout his whole life has just been a problem solver. In Massachussetts, 3 and a half billion dollars of budget cuts without raising taxes to balance the budget. From 50th to 30th in the unemployment rate. He has a can-do attitude. he turned the Olympics around, helped to create 100,000 new jobs with seed capital at Bain Capital. I mean, this is a guy that doesn't make excuses, that can get things done."
Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal took questions from the press, and made one thing clear: President Obama cannot run on his record. Says the Governor:
"President Obama can't run on his record, he can't run on his failed policies, so he's gotta try to distract the American people. We've had four years of these policies. They haven't worked. What they've resulted in is over a trillion dollars of debt every year. What they've resulted in is an economy with 23 million unemployed and underemployed workers. What they've resulted in is the lowest median household net worth in two decades."
"A lot of people have said that the President didn't show up to the last debate. That they hope he drinks his Red Bull tonight. I almost feel sorry for the President, because the reality is, I don't care if he had the oratorical skills of Winston Churchill and Presidents Reagan and Lincoln combined, he still wouldn't be able to defend his record."
7:46 PM: We're quickly approaching the one hour countdown until the start of the debate, and the qi of the Media Center is beginning to shift. Journalists are either vigorously procuring stories from elected officials or tweeting/live-blogging/organizing their final thoughts.
7:41 PM: Had a quick interview with former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean. When asked "what are the two most important issues facing young people in this election," Dean replied:
"There are two public policy issues that are important. One is climate change, and the other is access to higher education, which would encompass things like student loans and pell grants."
7:39 PM: I'm with Ariana Huffington on this list of issues that should be addressed tonight:
7:00 PM: T-minus two hours until the debate begins. Cue Jock Jams:
6:55 PM: There are a lot of journalists here:
6:43 PM: An Onion headline: "Obama Excited To Participate In First Debate"
6:39 PM: Ouch. According to CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta, Kerry thinks Romney running on his success as Mass. Governor is, for lack of a better word, malarky:
6:33 PM: Somewhere in this crowd is Senator John Kerry (D-MA):
6:30 PM: In the spirit of food blogging, my bipartisan pre-debate dinner of lasagna and veggies, sponsored by Anheuser Busch:
5:45 PM: Questions news aggregator Need To Know has proposed to be asked at tonight's debate:
- What's your favorite Billy Joel song?
- Do you think there should be more parking at the Americana?
- Did you know Long Island has a hockey team?
Don't be fooled by tonight's setup. While tonight's town hall-style debate may appear to be more casual than previous matchups, there is little room for improvisation.
From The New York Times:
"The format for the second presidential debate is designed to be a little less stiff — a free-flowing question-and-answer session between the candidates and a studio audience. But behind the scenes, little is left to chance...There are strict time limits and rules. After the audience member asks a question, his or her microphone will be immediately shut off. The candidate will have two minutes to answer. The other candidate is then given two minutes to respond. Then the moderator will be able to pose a follow-up question of her choosing, with each candidate allowed one minute to respond."
5:35 PM: Below is this live blog's official debate drinking game, compliments of National Journal and my trustworthy college roommate. Caution: this game is not for the faint of heart.
From The National Journal:
1 Drink Events
- Romney cites the "six studies" that have signed off on his tax plan.
- Unlike the last time around, Obama says the number 47.
- A question is asked about marriage equality or gay rights.
- The audience boos either candidate.
- Either candidate praises a member of the other party.
- A questioner asks about the Obama administration's response to the attack in Libya.
- Obama brings up the Massachusetts health care law.
- Anybody says the word "Bain." Take an extra drink or two if it sounds a bit more like "Bane."
- Housing or Fed policy is discussed by either candidate.
- Stimulus-funded "green jobs" and windmills supposedly made in China are derided by Romney.
- Either candidate accuses the other of making Medicare unsustainable for people under age 55.
- Either candidate directly panders to the hometown of a questioner.
- Obama accuses Romney of changing his policies mid-debate.
- Either candidate hassles the moderator over how much time they've been given to speak.
2 Drink Events
- Anyone says "malarkey."
- An actual unemployed person gets to ask either candidate a question.
- Big Bird is mentioned in a question.
- The camera pans to a woman or member of an ethnic group that a candidate is currently pandering to.
- A question is asked about immigration policy at a presidential debate.
- Taking the lead from Vice President Joe Biden, Obama actually defends the stimulus.
- A questioner starts crying, mid-question.
- As he is wont to do, Romney attempts to guess the age and ethnicity of a questioner.
- Several minutes into a question, an audience member has to be reminded to ask a question, not make a statement.
- Obama channels Biden and laughs through a response from Romney.
- A questioner asks the candidates about unmanned drone policy.
- Moderator Candy Crowley cuts off a questioner to ask her own, vaguely related, question.
- A questioner asks either candidate about the euro crisis.
5:09 PM: A cool graphic via Mashable.com.
5:02 PM: To find out more about Romney's tax plan, click here:
4:46 PM: Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) just arrived at the Media Center. According to Buzzfeed's Zeke Miller:
Where the VIPs sit.
4:11 PM: Senator John Kerry has been the stand-in for Governor Romney during the President's practice debate sessions. On the surface, Kerry seems to be a perfect substitute for the Governor (Massachussetts ties, accused of flip-flopping and being out of touch with Americans because of their bank accounts), but The Washington Post's Ed Rogers makes a compelling case for firing the Senator from the job:
"When you think of Romney on stage — being happy, enthusiastic, endearingly wonky and candid to a fault — who comes to mind? NOT John Kerry. The senator is a serious, knowledgeable guy who participated in some debates eight years against an incumbent president, where he held his own but came up short. That doesn't qualify you as someone who can channel Mitt Romney's good nature and energy. In fact, I can't think of a more ill-suited person for the task."
3:38 PM: The hashtag #hofdebate is slowly catching on...
3:26 PM: Debate Flashback:
“The fact of the matter is, is that if I occasionally mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people…you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.”
-Then-Senator Barack Obama to Senator John McCain, Hofstra University, October 15, 2008
2:50 PM: Why do Mitt Romney's poll numbers continue to rise?
According to CNN, it is due in part to "right wing leaners," undecided voters who weren't quite ready to jump on the Romney bandwagon until recently. The article quotes conservative commentator Rich Galen, who says "the rise in Romney's favorability numbers was due partly to support from right-leaning voters who don't like Obama but weren't yet sold on the Republican until the first debate."
2:37 PM: For those of you watching at home wondering if Mitt Romney's tax numbers add up or if his statements on the Affordable Care Act are accurate, Obama for America will be on guard for debate half-truths all night. Members of the Obama camp will be fact-checking and responding to Romeny's statements in real time using the Twitter handle @OFAdebates. You can also check www.barackobama.com/OFAdebates to check the campaign's official responses during the matchup.
2:15 PM: CBS New York has published a list of the best bars and restaurants to watch the debate in the City, among them Library Bar at the World Hotel, Rusty Knot, and Piquant. No matter where you watch, consider incorporating their specials into your own debate-watching party:
- Library Bar has specialty drinks that include ‘The Tea Partier’ (made with rum, agave nectar, grapefruit bitters and lemon juice), ‘The Donkey’ (vodka, ginger beer and fresh ginger), and the ‘Mint Romney’ (Woodford Reserve bourbon, maple syrup, lime juice and soda)
- SideBAR will be offering out $5.00 “Rum-ney” shots for Romney fans
- The Village Pourhouse has $5.00 “Barack O-Bombs” for the President’s supporters
2:05 PM: In breaking political news, President Obama has received an endorsement from childhood star Honey Boo Boo. According to Politico, this backing was announced on the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live; when the seven year old was asked to pick her candidate, she said “Barack Obama.”
1:21 PM: Writing from Hofstra's Media Center, where there is already great pre-debate energy. Maybe it's the dancers performing "Gagnam Style" outside of the student center, or the clusters of undergraduates holding signs for their candidates, but it's safe to say this university is amped to be hosting the debate. You may ask, what does it take to orchestrate an event of this magnitude? Here are some Hofstra-provided numbers:
- 200,000 feet of data/voice/television cabling
- 10,000 commemorative pins
- 1,300 phones
- 1,300 debate 2012 signs
- 350 student volunteers
- 100 televisions
- 14.5 miles of electric power cable
America, fasten your seatbelts. Tonight is debate night in America, and with three weeks left until the general election, the country should brace itself for nothing short of a showdown. Both Romney and Obama feel the race narrowing; according to polling whiz Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, “Mr. Obama’s chances of winning the Electoral College are now 66.0 percent”, down 8.8 points from October 8. With the President losing momentum with Hispanic and women voters, it’s clear that a solid debate performance could tip the race in either candidate’s favor.
President Obama has publicly acknowledged and assumed responsibility for his less-than-electrifying debate showing earlier this month. “Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night,” the President said in a post-debate interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. Don’t expect a repeat performance; the President simply can’t afford it. Tonight, his objective will be to prove to the nation he wants another four years as Commander-in-Chief by firing up the base and appealing to voters still on the fence.
Romney will also be wooing undecided voters; those watching the debate will be sure to hear his well-rehearsed talking points, all of them highlighting the President’s failures over this term. Because Obama will likely be switching up his strategy by throwing in “zingers” (i.e: a line or two on the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes), Romeny may find himself more on the defensive this go-around.
We’ll be live-blogging from Hofstra University, the debate site and epicenter of the political universe for the night, so be sure to follow along as you watch from home. Below are the debate basics:
Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)