Who Won the Presidential Debate Tonight: Even Conservatives Say Obama Won

After President Obama’s lackluster performance in the first debate, he came out swinging from the beginning of Tuesday's debate at Hofstra. He was able to effectively make Mitt Romney’s tax plan look mathematically impracticable, make Romney’s allegations about the administration ignoring Libya for politics seem offensive, and make the town hall debate format play directly to his strengths. Mitt Romney was strong on his attacks on China and his reiterating of the current state of America as a reflection of the next four years under an Obama administration. 

Final Grades:

President Obama: B+

President Obama did exactly what he needed to do during the debate. He made sure to punch-back at Mitt Romney’s record and not just take the attacks from the right with his head down, nodding them away. He was vague when it came to Libya, and did not directly answer the question the first time, but was quick to state that as commander and chief, he bears responsibility. This was a powerful moment, as the president, despite having a difficult situation transpire in Libya under his watch, did not fault simply the State Department but took it on himself as responsibility. He also got Candy Crowley on his side when he stated that he labeled the violence on the U.S consulate in Libya a terrorist attack immediately after in his Rose Garden address. Obama also addressed women’s issues very specifically when talking about Planned Parenthood, and the glass ceilings. 

Mitt Romney: C+

Mitt Romney, quite frankly, dropped the ball tonight. He seemed very out of touch on taxes because, once again, he was unable to name a single loophole that he would close. He was effective in representing the conservative philosophy on small business and attacking the President’s “trickle-down government” model. Nonetheless, when it came to women’s issues he made a generalization about single mothers and out of wedlock births that will make it difficult for him to cater to this key demographic. On Libya, he fell flat by allowing Obama to call him “offensive” with his accusations, and even had the crowd turn against him. Romney disappointed significantly tonight and needs to come back more efficiently on Monday if he is serious about winning this election. 

For a full recap of the debate, including play-by-play analysis, see here.