Who Won the Presidential Debate: Obama Comes Out Swinging, But Romney Unphased


On Tuesday President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney will hold their second debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. from 9:00-10:30 pm EST.

Before their first debate, Obama's lead and confidence was steady while Romney was taking heat for multiple remarks while slowly sinking in national polls. After the debate, however, Romney made a huge and largely unprecedented surge against Obama and is now either tied or slightly leading in the latest polls. Romney came out aggressive and tough, while Obama appeared to look tired and passive. While I have no dog in this fight, it was nice to see the president taken down a peg or two ... even from someone like Mitt Romney.

From my libertarian perspective, I will be focusing on the debate from a non-partisan stance with little enthusiasm for either candidate but a keen interest on how they portray themselves to the American public. Obama and Romney will predictably be trying to distance themselves from each other and how they offer two different "visions" for the country despite their many, many similarities. From this lens, I will attempt to help navigate the messages from a perspective that values peace, individual liberty, and a free economy and trying to answer a few questions: Who really is the lesser of two evils? Who would be better on domestic policy? Foreign policy?

With this debate likely focusing on foreign policy as well, this should be even more exciting than the first debate. Both of these candidates are nearly indistinguishable on every important issue, but foreign policy may be the only slight difference. While President Obama has pursued an incredibly and unabashedly aggressive foreign policy, when it comes to a key foreign policy issue -- Iran -- Romney might actually be worse. It will be interesting to see how far to the right Obama portrays himself against Romney and if Romney will continue to outhawk a warmonger like the President. 

I will also be live blogging the final presidential debate on Monday, October 22nd, so stay tuned! Also, please check out my liveblog/recap of the first debate, the vice-presidential debate, and my PolicyMic piece on how a Ron Paul-Obama debate would have fared.

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

10:35 PM Obama: free enterprise is the greatest system, risk takers should be rewarded, everyone should play by the same rules. Jeez, he sure has a funny way of showing it.

Brings up 47% issue, Democrats rejoice. If he wants to fight for the 47%, he should stop spending money on drones.

Romney: trying to appeal to the American public, but it simply isn't authentic. Brings up God, what a surprise! "I'll get America working again," I think he has said that ten times tonight.

Biggest misperception?

10:32 PM Obama: we have to invest in manufactuing. Who is this "we" you keep bringing up? Ah, the U.S. government, with money that has to be stolen, borrowed, or printed.

Romney AGAIN going after China, claiming they're "stealing our IP."

10:30 PM Obama going after China too. They must be laughing in Beijing.

Obama: lower corporate tax rate by closing loopholes that encourage outsourcing, says Romney wants to expand these "tax breaks." This, just a minute after Romney says he wants to eliminate deductions.

10:26 PM First of all, the question is such a fallacy. Free trade and the division of labor benefits us all. But there are stuff we can do to bring jobs and production here, and that is strengthening the dollar and eliminating regime uncertaintity.

There goes Romney again, picking fights with China. Wait a second...China is the currency manipulator????? Tariffs??? Be strict with people? My God Romney's inner socialist is coming out.

How will you keep jobs here?

10:24 PM Obama: Romney was for the assault weapon ban before he was against it!

10:22 PM Mr. Weapons Ban in Massachussetts talks about not adding any new gun laws. Thank you Crowley!

Obama says openly that he wants an assault weapons ban, I think he may have lost a huge amount of votes all throughout the country.

Obama: keeping them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. In other words, police and Presidents!

Question: AK-47s out of the hands of dangerous people/ gun control?

10:12 PM "Apology tour" Yawn. Obama sure has a funny way of "apologizing:" drones, cruise missiles, and cluster bombs.

Romney attacking Obama on how he handled the Libyan issue, and Obama's story seems pretty fuzzy. But excuse me if I am more concerned with the assassination of American citizens, including Awlaki's 16-year old son!

10:10 PM Obama seems very nervous talking about what's been going down in Libya. Will he mention his drones that he's got with a shoot-to-kill order over Benghazi?

No, Obama, YOU DID NOT END THE WAR IN IRAQ. You simply abided by Bush's SOFA, and you've been slowly sneaking in troops every chance you get.

Question on Libyan Embassy attack for Obama?

10:08 PM Obama is portraying Romney as some right-wing nationalist on immigration, but Obama is the caricature he is making Romney out to be. Border patrol increases, deportations up, Obama's own words.

10:05 PM Romney runs away from Obama's Arizona case accusations against him. Defends "self-deportation," not going to round up 12 million illegals. Phew...finally, one of the candidates NOT giving an authoritarian answer to a question.

10:03 PM I agree with Obama on the Arizona immigration issue, but then why is he bragging about his increase of border patrol?

10:00 PM Now what I want to know is how you propose to "stop illegal immigration" when the Pacific Ocean doesn't stop immigrants from coming here. Turn this country into even more of a police state? For my libertarian, free market approach to immigration policy, see one of my recent PolicyMic articles.

Both candidates' answer: Militarize the border!

Obama: nation of immigrants, streamline immigration, more border patrol.

Romney: nation of immigrations, no amnesty, no driver's licenses for illegals.


9:54 PM Romney makes his case as simply and forward as possible. Re-elect Obama, and you get four more years of this. Fair enough, I sure as hell don't want any more of this, but please tell me how you would differ?

Obama points out that his health care bill was modeled after Romney's...brilliant strategy haha.

9:52 PM Obama the Warmonger Hawk is coming out...says he's "going after the guys behind 9/11" without mentioning Somalia, Yemen, Mali, Pakistan.

9:48 PM Obama's turn: inherited a recession. Hmm..never heard him say that before.

Obama gets Bush record completely wrong. Now he's bragging about being a protectionist, non-free trader. This raises the price of goods for everyone.

Romney: "I will balance the budget." By increasing the military by trillions? Segues into Obamacare, how it keeps companies from hiring new people.

Romney predictably running away from the awful Bush record. Energy indepedence, crack down in China.

Crack down on China??? Romney wants to pick a fight with them?

How will you differentiate yourself from President Bush?

9:45 PM Contraceptives??? Are you kidding me Obamney?

9:44 PM Ben Swann gets it:

9:38 PM Great tweet from Dana Loesch:

I wrote a PolicyMic article a few months ago about this very issue.

Uhhh...the girl asking the question cites the very misleading statistic that women only make 72 cents out of every dollar a man makes. If this were true, wouldn't all men be out of work since greedy capitalist would fire men and hire all women?

In what ways do you  plan to eliminate inequality in the workplace?

9:35 PM Romney fires back, nailing Obama on his debt and promises to cut the deficit and debt.

9:33 PM Obama is on the attack now, showing some strength. He is absolutely right to ask how Romney can claim to reduce the deficit, increase spending, balance the budget, and cut taxes.

Obama says Romney wants to eliminate the estate tax??? HAHAHA. Does anyone really think Romney will do that?

9:30 PM Romney wants to keep tax rates on "the rich" at the same level, and keeps citing tax cuts for the middle class. Obama too. They are smart, they know who votes.

9:28 PM Obama claims he's cut taxes over and over again. Here is a list of Obama tax raises.

9:24 PM Romney: hits Obama on borrowing and spending. YES! But you won't actually slow down borrowing and spending will you Willard?

Simplify the tax code, lower rates for the middle class. Talking points. Romney gives away his big secret: Rates may be lower, but he keeps emphasizing eliminating deductions and credits. So in other words, rates will be lower but people will actually be paying MORE in taxes!

Question to Romney: You claim you would lower rates, but what about credits and deductions?

9:22 PM Obama keeps attacking Romney as some free-market capitalist deregulator. Obama, have you seen Romney's record or heard him speak? He is not the caricature you make him out to be.

9:21 PM No, Obama, global oil demand is down.

9:17 PM Obama and Romney go at it! Biden must have smacked some sense into the President. Romney is firing back with energy production on public lands. Coal, oil is not up according to Romney. Maybe, maybe so, I am not sure. What I do know is that the Empire is getting all the gasoline it needs all over the globe!

Crowley brings up high prices as the "new normal." Okay, but what about the impact that money printing has had on the value of the dollar? When you compare the price of gold with the price of oil, it's actually going down or at least stagnant.

Obama defends his record on energy, attacks Romney's Governor record. He's actually looking at Romney this time, speaking with force.

9:12 PM Not the job of Energy Department to lower gas prices?

Romney: Oil production is up, but not on federal land. He's hitting Obama hard on how he has restricted the production and supply of energy. Smart strategy, Romney's best shot is the pocketboot/economy vote.

Energy independence....within 8 years. Promises, always in the future!

Obama: highest gas output in 16 years, increased coal production. Fact check anybody????? He's stumbling a bit...he is obviously uncomfortable talking about energy, oil, etc. Accuses Romney of wanting the oil companies to write their own regulations. So you've cut off all subsidies to Exxon, Chevron, and Shell right Obama?

9:11 PM Oooo...Obama hits back hard, attacks Romney as vulture capitalist at Bain, he's coming out swinging.

9:10 PM Romney attacks Obama by telling the audience that he would have done exactly the same thing as Obama did when it comes to GM, auto bailouts.

9:06 PM Question: What can you say to reassure young college students about the job market?

Obama: "We need to create good-paying jobs in this country." He cites his infamous "5 million" jobs boast, but that is highly suspect. Exports, tax breaks, good education, student loans, investing in "alternative energies." Balanced budget.

Money saved on war???? Come on Obama, who you fooling? See below for Obama's talks to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2024.

Romney: "I know what it takes to get the economy going...to get people jobs...bringing back the economy" Where are the details????

Pre-Debate Notes:

8:58 PM Anybody but Obama?

8:37 PM Chris Rock weighs in:

8:32 PM Romney won't use this, of course, but apparently the Obama Administration is continuing to negotiate with Kabul to keep tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan until 2024. Four more wars! Four more wars!

8:27 PM Democracy, American style: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested today as they protested their exclusion from the debates.

8:25 PM For the next time Obama says he "ended the war in Iraq."

8:16 PM For those who tend to view politics, elections, and debates with some cynicism, here is a great article that will only help confirm it. "Leaked Debate Agreement Shows Both Obama and Romney are Sniveling Cowards" (via Gawker):

"The candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates." "The candidates shall not address each other with proposed pledges." "At no time during the October 3 First Presidential debate shall either candidate move from his designated area behing the respective podium." For the October 16 town-hall-style debate, "the moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate...." "The audience members shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion, and the audience member's microphone shall be turned off after he or she completes asking the questions." "[T]he Commission shall take appropriate steps to cut-off the microphone of any...audience member who attempts to pose any question or statement different than that previously posed to the moderator for review." "No candidate may reference or cite any specific individual sitting in a debate audience (other than family members) at any time during a debate." For the town-hall debate: "Each candidate may move about in a pre-designated area, as proposed by the Commission and approved by each campaign, and may not leave that area while the debate is underway."

Wait...so politicians say one thing and do another?

Since foreign policy will be discussed tonight at the debate, Iran will likely be raised. There is plenty of Iran war propaganda to debunk, but I will save it for the live debate so I can call both Obama and Romney out for their lies. I predict that Obama, like Biden against Ryan, will puff his chest out about the "crippling sanctions" he has helped unleashed on the Iranians. Romney will fire back that these are not enough and Tehran needs to be leveled tomorrow -- or else.

In fact, Obama signed an Executive Order (you got to love the euphimisms they use for authoritarian decrees) that gives the President "emergency authority" to deal with Iran. Any American business that dares to promote peace, trade, and exchange with those evil Persians will be hit even harder by Obama.

His Executive Order is very similar to the one President Clinton signed preventing and restricting free trade with Iran.

Mitt Romney, of course, is probably even more hawkish than Obama and the Democrats -- and that's saying something. Romney is also surrounded by a hoard of neocon holdovers from the Bush Admnistration, and every indication is that Romney will be just as aggressive and belligerent, if not more so, than Obama.

...And it looks like Hillary is falling on the sword for her boss just in time for the debate and the election. She told CNN that she is "taking responsibility" for the the Libyan embassy attack. I wonder if Obama will "take responsibility" for the horrors unleashed by the US-NATO war in Libya?