Who Won The Second Presidential Debate: Obama, But Not By A Landslide


On Tuesday at 9pm (ET), President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will meet for their second debate on foreign and domestic issues. 

After the president’s uninspiring first performance, Democrats are expecting a much more lively and aggressive President Obama on Tuesday, while Republicans hope Romney can keep the momentum he has gained since the first presidential debate on October 3.


Where to watch: You can watch the debate live right here: 


1:30am: Check out the 45 best tweets of the second presidential debate, including:

10:53pm: The town hall format allowed for a much more varied set of questions that were more representitive of American concerns in general.

I will give Candy Crowley a B- on her debate performance. She did a good job of fact checking and pressing on important issues, but allowed the candidates to go beyond their time limits, break the rules of the debate, and stall the conversation when she hoped to move in a different direction.

10:40pm: The debate is over. Obama came in tonight playing both offense and defense, much more lively and connected than in the last debate.

Both candidates appealed to their bases tonight. Republicans will likely see Romney as the winner and Democrats will call Obama.

I think Obama performed slightly better than Romney. Romney was fact checked both by his opponent and the moderator. Obama gave more direct answers on guns, women's issues, and tax policy.

If the debate is decided upon policy, Obama did a better job defending his policies tonight giving specifics as well as explaining in a way that the public could understand.

On style, Romney appeared rude--interrupting both the president and the moderator. Obama was much more at ease tonight in the infomal setting of a town hall than he was at the last debate.

10:37pm: Obama closes by clarifying what he sees as the role of the government. He believes in free enterprise, but sees a role in government providing for Americans in need. Says these people are not a 47% of moochers, but deserving individuals like veterans and elderly.

10:35pm: Romney: I care about 100% of the people. I love God and I will work for all Americans when in office.

AKA: none of this:

10:34pm: Last question: what's the biggest misconception Americans may have about you?

10:33pm: Obama says not all jobs will come back, but he wants the high wage, high skill ones here. 

10:33pm: Romney: we can bring them back by leveling the playing field.

Crowley calls this out saying we cannot compete with Chinese wages. 

10:32pm: Crowley: how do you convince a company like Apple to bring their manufacturing back to the US when labor is cheaper abroad?

10:30pm: Obama says he will change tax code so that it is not so easy to outsource. The way to create jobs here is to double our exports. 

Obama points out that Romney invested in "pioneers of outsourcing."

10:28pm: Tough question for Romney. He addresses how he would address trade, especially with China, but does not talk about outsourcing directly. 

Maybe this is why...

10:25pm: Question: What will you do to stop oursourcing and keep the jobs at home?

10:24pm: Obama: if our young people have opportunity, they are less likely to engage in violent acts. 

10:23pm: Crowley points out that Romney signed an assault weapons ban in MA. "Why change your mind?"

10:21pm: Romney: decrease violence by getting married! 

And pivot to Fast & Furious...

10:20pm: Obama says he wants a 2-pronged approach limiting the availability of assualt weapons but also having more preventitive measures in place for mental illness and violence prevention. 

10:17pm: Next question: What are you doing to stop the availability of AK-47s?

10:14pm: Crowley asks if the buck stops with Hillary Clinton. Obama says the buck stops with him. Here is Hillary on the subject yesterday:

10:13pm: Romney says the day after the attack, Obama was fundraising. 

10:11pm: Obama says the buck stops with him and he feels the losses greatly. Disucsses what he did immediately following the attack including ordering more security for other embassies and ordering an investigation. 

10:09pm: Next question is on Libya: who denied greater security to the embassy in Libya?


10:07pm: Obama says Romney's advisor on immigration is the person who drafted the Arizona immigration law. 

10:05pm: Romney discusses his philosophy behind self-deporation. 

10:02pm: Obama cites his own record:  1) streamlined the immigration process so that it is easier to enter the US legally; 2) tightened our borders and says fewer people are entering illegally now; 3) is going after those who are illegal and commiting crimes.

Obama: "We need to fix a broken immigration system. I’ve done everything that I can on my own, and sought cooperation from Congress."

10pm: Romney says he will make it easier for skilled immigrants to come to the US and for children of illegal immigrants to stay legally. Will not give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, and will continue with their deporation. 

9:59pm: Conversation changes to immigration. 

9:56pm: Romney says Obama's policies have hurt America. Says Reagan's recovery created 2x the jobs of Obama's, cites that 23 million Americans are out of work. Fact check says that's an exaggerated number. 

9:53pm: Obama: The commitments I made, I've kept, and those I haven't kept, I will if given a second term. 

Obama says to listen to the promises Romney is making and decide if those are the promises you want kept for the country. 

9:51pm: Obama asked what he has done to earn an individual's vote in 2012 who was optimistic 4 years ago. 

9:50pm: Obama briefly mentions that Bush left him with a tough situation, then points out all of the ways Romney is similar to Bush.

+1 for Obama comes with Obama discussing Romney's more extreme differences with Bush on social policy (medicare and immigration cited). 

9:45pm: Next question, how is Romney different from Bush? 

Romney answers how he is different from Bush: 1) more energy at home which was impossible under Bush, 2) trade differences, especially with treatment of China, 3) will balance the budget, 4) will help small businesses. 

9:43pm: Obama pivots to what he is doing for women beyond equal pay. Discusses freedom of choice, birth control, health care, and child care. 

9:39pm: Obama uses personal stories from his own family to discuss the importance of this issue. Cites his own record in sigining the Ledbetter Bill as his first law. 

9:37pm: Next question from a young woman asking what the candidates will do to ensure equal pay for women. 

9:36pm: Romney is the key of talking over Crowley tonight. 

9:35pm: Crowley asks Romney what he will do if the math for his tax plan doesn't add up. Romney pivots saying Obama's math doesn't add up the the doubling of the deficit. 

9:33pm: Obama presses Romney on specifics of how he will pay for his $5T in tax cuts. 

Obama wants to tax the rich...Romney?

9:32pm: PolitiFact on the decrease in oil production on public lands. 

9:29pm: Obama most impassioned when talking about Romney's tax code. Says someone like Romney should not be paying a lower tax rate than a nurse. 

9:25pm: Romney says the eliminated deducations will mostly impact the wealthiest Americans. He also says the wealthiest Americans will pay the same taxes they are now. 

Fact check that.  

9:24pm: Next question: what deductions would Romney eliminate to balance his tax code?

9:20pm: Obama just said the low gas prices 4 years ago were due to the impending economic collapse. Following that logic, our economy should be thriving today with our current prices!

9:18pm: Without lecterns, the two are addressing each other directly. Romney just asked Obama to answer a question about limiting public land use for oil, which is technically against the debate rules, but Crowley didn't stop him. 

Much more interaction between the two candidates tonight. 

9:18pm: Obama says oil imports are down, domestic production is up, and we are headed in the right direction in terms of decreasing use of oil. 

9:15pm: Romney says he will get US energy independent within 8 years. 

9:13pm: Obama doesn't answer question directly, but focuses on long-term energy plan: more renewable sources of energy, more domestic production, greater investment in green engergy sources, more fuel efficient cars. 

9:12pm: Next audience question: is it the energy department's job to provide gas price relief?

9:10pm: Obama responds by saying Romney's plan for the auto industry would have failed. Attacks Romney's 5 point plan by calling it a 1 point plan for the wealthy. 

9:09pm: Romney blaims Obama for making the auto industry bankrupt. 

9:08pm: Crowley asks what to do about the long-term unemployed. 

9:06pm: Obama outlines his plan for jobs: 1) more manufacturing jobs 2) make sure US has best education in the world 3) control our own energy.

9:04pm: Romney answers he will make it easier for kids to go to college and have a job afterwards. Romney says he knows what it will take to improve the economy and promises Jeremy he will get him a job if elected. 

The "how" question goes unanswered...

9:03pm: First question comes from a first time voter: a 20 yr old college student asks how he will be able to support himself after graduating given the current job market. 

9:02pm: The candidates shake hands and approach their respective seats to cheers from the audience. 

9:01pm: Candy Crowley has just announced the start of the debate. 

8:59pm: Imagine the debate in an Onion world:

8:56pm: The stage is set for the debate. There are no podiums and both candidates are allowed to move around in specified areas of the stage. 

8:54pm: Who is in the audience tonight? The Gallup Organization selected the audience of 82 individuals who have been identified as undecided voters. While 17 of those from the audience have been selected as potential questioners, they must ask a question they pre-submitted and will not be allowed to ask follow-up questions. 

8:50pm: Democrats are wondering what Obama they're going to see tonight. The one who caved in front of Romney last time? This guy?

8:38pm: Many were still left wondering after the first debate what Obama would do with four more years. Will he answer that clearly tonight?

Romney did best in the first debate because he clearly articulated his platform--even if it was more platitudes than specifics. He outlined his 5-point economic plan and simplified his positions for voters.

If Obama wants to leave people with an understanding of what he would do with four more years, he should follow Romney's lead and adopt simple rhetoric that outlines his plan for the country. 

8:34pm: John Kerry helped Obama prepare for the debate again tonight. Here is what he had to say about Romney's campaign today: "The numbers don't add up, record is not real--it's one of the great charades of all time in my mind."

8:25pm: 35 minutes until the debate begins. Tonight, 17 members of the audience of undecided voters have been selected to ask questions, though 12-13 are expected to have the chance tonight. What would you ask if you were in the room? Add your questions to the comment section. 

7:26pm: The latest Real Clear Politics/Politico predictions on how the swing states will vote for the presidential election, showing Obama with a slight lead going into the second presidential debate. 

7:17pm: In case you didn't know, Joe the Plumber is running for congress. 

7:07pm: A blast from the past from Hofstra University. We're still talking about a lot of average Joe's this campaign season, but THE average Joe has been disappointingly out of the picture...

5:53pm: We've heard little about women's issues in the previous two debates, with the exception of a short discussion of abortion policy by Biden and Ryan. Will tonight be the night?

6:47pm: Howard Dean said today that Romney is running a hocus pocus campaign and that Obama will win reelection because Americans want someone with core beliefs. 

While Romney has shied away from specifics in the past, I disagree that his campaign is all "hocus pocus." Since selecting Paul Ryan as a running mate, Romney's vision for America has been clear. 

5:07pm: Going into tonight's debate, two out of three general election polls on Real Clear Politics show Romney ahead of Obama, with Romney up four in the latest Gallup Poll, two according to Rasmussen Tracking, and Obama ahead by one in IBD/TIPP tracking. 

1:52pm: What will matter more to the average viewer tonight, style or substance? 

Check out my cynical take here: "To win the second presidential debate against Mitt Romney, Obama must appeal to the average American viewer who will decide the winner of the debate, and the election, on emotional impression over policy specifics.  The president must mesmerize with “wow” factor, and sway viewers who don’t care to be bogged down in the details."


Headed into the second debate, Romney has a new celebrity endorsement joining his already impressive lot of supporters. Lindsay Lohan hopped on the Romney bandwagon this week, telling Fox News, “I think unemployment is very important for now, so as of now I think [my vote] is for Mitt Romney.”

Lohan joined Chuck Norris and Jenna Jameson who already expressed their support for the Republican nominee. 

“I’m very looking forward to a Republican being back in office,” Jameson, the former adult video star said at a San Francisco strip club in August. “When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.”

Chuck Norris and his wife Gena relseased this video in September in which they warned about the dire state of America under Obama who could bring "1000 years of darkness" if reelected.

1:00pm: Only 5-8% of American voters are still undecided. A study by the National Council on Public Polls found that "the remaining voters are ripe for the picking for Romney: 68 percent are white, 57 percent are married, 53 percent are men, 70 percent think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and 60 percent disapprove of how Obama is doing his job."

11:03am: The Economist published this chart of metaphors used by the two candidates in the last debate, concluding that Romney's language was more consistent and convincing to viewers. It appears Obama needs to take some sailing lessons and up his navigational prose...


What to expect:

Schedule and Location: The debate will take place from 9-10:30pm (ET) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

The Format: The debate will feature a town hall-style setting where voters will have the opportunity to ask the candidates questions. During the first presidential debate, moderator Jim Lehrer posed questions which did not represent the breadth of issues that interest U.S. voters. The format of this second debate will enable greater participation of viewers, and hopefully, a more comprehensive set of issues to discuss.

The audience for the debate is comprised of undecided voters identified by the Gallup organization as likely to vote in the upcoming election. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to questions, and the moderator will have an additional minute to help steer the conversation.    

The Moderator: CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will be the first female to moderate a presidential debate in 20 years, but her selection has drawn criticism from both major parties. In a town hall-style debate, moderators traditionally play a less significant role as audience members select the questions for the candidates. However, in recent interviews about the upcoming debate, Crowley has suggested that she intends to insert herself into the conversation, allowing the table to be set by the town hall questioner, but probing to ensure candidates delve deeply into the important issues. In the debate contract signed by both parties, Crowley’s limited role is explicitly outlined, stating that she may not intervene in any way “except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits.” Based on Crowley’s recent remarks, it seems she may step outside of her mandate to ensure the candidates provide direct answers without skirting the difficult issues, breaking with the wishes of the two campaigns, but providing a better debate for American voters seeking honest and clear responses from the candidates.

From Obama: The pressure is greatest for Obama in this debate who must deliver a stellar performance to reinvigorate his supporters and gain the attention of undecided voters. After his first debate performance in which the president appeared disengaged and poorly informed, it is critical that he makes a compelling case for why his administration deserves four more years in office. Campaign aides expect a much more energized performance by the president who must provide pithy and direct responses delivered in a non-professorial manner if he is to connect with voters and regain momentum for his flailing campaign. 

From Romney: Romney has recently surged in the polls, now ahead of the president by two points in the latest Gallup poll. The second debate will provide him with a chance to demonstrate that he deserves his newfound polling success and will bring new ideas to Washington that will improve the lives of middle class Americans. In the past, Romney has struggled with impromptu moments, giving stilted responses to unexpected questions. His greatest challenge will be appearing comfortable with the informal format and answering questions with the kind of charisma we saw from him in the more scripted first debate.

The second presidential debate will give President Obama the opportunity to redeem himself from his unfortunate first debate performance, and Governor Romney the chance to capitalize upon recent momentum to solidify himself as the front runner for the presidency. The critical debate has the potential to change the campaign trajectory in the final weeks before the presidential election, and PolicyMic will cover it all live, right here.

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