Tonight is round two of the presidential debates of this election season. Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama will debate foreign and domestic policy at Hofstra University in New York.
With reports showing that Romney has gained in the polls, every word will be highly scrutinized tonight. Romney’s task is to build on his rousing performance in the first debate, while Obama needs to step up from his lackluster performance.
Tonight’s debate will follow a town-hall set up, which allows audience members pre-selected by the Gallup organization to ask questions. The 80-84 members are “undecided” voters, and around 12-16 will ask questions.
Town hall excites me. The debate style is looser, more unpredictable. It also salutes the colonial-era politics of our Puritan settlers, who began the tradition in settlements to allow “regular people” to engage in informal discussion.
Town hall will not only offer the American people a forum to speak their minds, but also give Obama and Romney an opportunity to share more of their personalities. Obama, after his aloof, uninspired first performance, could use this to recover and reconnect with Americans. Romney, who sounded too angry and vengeful in the first debate, could try being friendlier tonight. The opportunity to see a candidate’s personality, leadership, and charisma - those intangibles - is what sets presidential debates apart from the rest of the campaign trail.
Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, will moderate tonight’s debate. No one is quite sure what to expect: she hints that she’ll bend the rules and be more hands-on than traditional moderators. Crowley is the first female moderator for a presidential debate, and follows vice-presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz’s sharp performance last week. I hope she pressures the candidates to be more factually correct and to clarify their policies, as often rhetorical artistry can blur details.
Here are details for tonight:
Topic: Town hall format on foreign and domestic policy
Time: 9:00 - 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have 2 minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.
Livestream the debate here:
PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.
10:43 PM - Done. Goodnight, everyone. Obama improved - phew!
10:37 PM - Obama: "I believe in self-reliance, and individual initiative, and risk-takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everyone should have a fair shot." The President very vision-like in outlining this election as offering two starkly different philosophies for our future.
10:36 PM - Romney: "I care about 100% of the American people."
10:35 PM - "What is the biggest mis-perception people have about you?" is the final question.
10:33 PM - Obama distinguishes between high-wage manufacturing jobs and low-wage ones, which he says will not come back to the U.S.'s service economy.
10:32 PM - Crowley asks about manufacturing in China.
10:31 PM - Obama is much more structured about his economic policy. He wants to double our exports.
10:29 PM - Romney is jumping around everywhere... touching every point, including Obamacare.
10:28 PM - Romney has promised not to raise taxes on the middle class. But as Chris Miles writes on PolicyMic:
"... 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."
10:27 PM - Outsourced jobs is one of the final questions.
10:24 PM - Um, Romney just said to solve assault weapon violence with the need for traditional, two-parent families. WHAT?
10:22 PM - Assault weapon ban. Obama ties gun violence to education. Do I hear that Romney supports not banning assault weapons?
10:19 PM - Gun violence. Wow, all the hot topics.
10:16 PM - BAM! Candy corrects Romney, who claims that Obama did not call Benghazi an act of terror.
10:15 PM -
10:14 PM - Nicholas Kristof tweets:
10:13 PM - Romney basically blames all the recent turmoil in the Middle East on Obama.
10:09 PM - Obama says he ended the Iraq War and killed Bin Ladin. Nicely done foreign policy speech.
10:05 PM - Romney says illegal immigrants will "make their own choice" if they don't find the resources or opportunities here.
10:01 PM - Obama wants to make immigration easier, simpler, cheaper. He advocates targeting criminals. He has advocated for the DREAM Act, a pathway for students and those who enlist towards citizenship. Romney encourages "self-deportation."
9:59 PM - Romney welcomes "legal" immigrants. He wants to stop illegal immigration. He wants to give green cards to people who will contribute to the economy. Then avoids how to do so, and talks more about the economy broadly.
9:58 PM - IMMIGRATION.
9:50 PM - Neither candidate talks about China coherently.
9:46 PM - Romney supports Affirmative Action?!
9:46 PM -
EDIT 10:38 PM - I love you, internet: http://bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com/
9:45 PM - "These are not just women's issues. They are family issues, and economic issues," Obama says.
9:44 PM - Obama calls out Romney on his anti-reproductive health stances, including cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. Obama correctly points out that PP provides not only birth control and abortion, but services such as mammograms. BOOM, OBAMACARE.
9:43 PM - WOMEN'S ISSUES. HERE WE GO.
9:40 PM - Go, Candy! Put Romney in his place!
9:38 PM - Obama talks Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. "This is not just a woman issue, but a family issue, and a middle class issue." Pell Grants have affected young women. Obama implies this is a matter of enforcing the law.
9:37 PM - Ooh, a question about income inequity between men and women.
9:35 PM - Romney says we will go to $20 million in debt, like Greece, if we vote for Obama again.
9:33 PM - KILLING BIG BIRD (and Planned Parenthood, eek!) IS ROMNEY'S ONLY POLICY?! :(
9:30 PM - Tax rates or taxes? Romney wants to lower tax rates to help small businesses hire more people, while Obama says lowering tax rates will add up to "5 trillion dollars" in deficit.
9:29 PM - Obama's tax policy: He promotes tax credits for students and small businesses, while making "the wealthy do a little bit more." Obama blames Republican Congress for not having passed his policy, and likens his policy to Bill Clinton's tax policies.
9:27 PM - Romney keeps CORRELATING poor economy with Obama's policy.
9:23 PM - Question on Romney's policies on "mortgage deduction, charitable deducation, child tax credit" for the middle class. Romney says he will bring rates down for everybody and reduce taxes on middle-income taxpayers. "The top 5% will still pay 60% of the income tax," and the middle class will not pay taxes on their "interests, dividends, and capital gains."
9:21 PM - Obama puts the gas prices in perspective, emphasizing that a wrecked economy keeps gas prices high. "What I'm not for, is ignoring the other half of the equation," he says, naming wind energy.
9:20 PM - "The proof that a strategy is working is looking at the price at the pump," Romney says.
9:19 PM - "Production on goverment land is down --" "--No that's not true." It's disappointing that we're arguing over facts.
9:17 PM - Obama says higher growth in private land "not true"; also says Romney is hypocritical about coal. The President says he produces coal "cleaner and smarter," and has helped promote efficient cars, implying growth in the auto industry.
9:15 PM - Romney says that energy growth has been on private, not federal land. Romney promotes "more drilling, more permits and licenses, and bringing that pipe line in from Canada." He is a "coal guy."
9:12 PM - Claim: Obama's energy policy is not "to lower gas prices." Obama says he has increased oil and natural gas production to become energy independent and energy sustainable, which will lower prices in the long run. These policies, he says, has lowered oil imports to the "lowest levels in 16 years."
9:12 PM - Obama is providing specific, concrete policy on the economy:
“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.”
9:09 PM - Obama's firing it up! He slams Romney's "5-point plan," calling it a "1-point plan" to help the rich. Tax breaks, foreign investment, and other exploitation that "squeezes middle-class families." Much more foreful.
9:07 PM - Romney says he will keep Pell Grant and student loan programs, but above all he will "create jobs." No specifics, obviously.
9:06 PM - Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year old college student, asks how the presidential candidates will address millennial unemployment.
9:05 PM - 82 uncomitted voters from New York area. Crowley says she will oversee the "conversation direction and make sure the questions get answered."
9:00 PM - ABC is discussing body language. Break a leg, guys!