Presidential Debate LIVE: Who won the presidential debate tonight?


President Obama and former Governor Romney meet again in a town hall style debate at Hofstra University on Long Island. The presidential race is widely viewed as a toss-up at this point with millions of voters firmly undecided.

In the weeks following the first debate, Obama has claimed that he will take a more forceful approach to Romney, as the former governor of Massachusetts was viewed by many as the victor in Colorado.  Though the pressure might be leaning more on Obama during this round, Romney cannot portray himself as the underdog again. The Romney campaign painted Obama as an accomplished orator and debater leading up to their meeting in Denver, which enabled Romney to lower the public’s expectations of him. Now the country will demand more of Romney during this round. Will he play it safe or will he continue his aggressive style? 

As the Democrats are expecting Obama to be more proactive during this debate, it will be interesting to see the president’s reaction to his own performance in Denver. Chris Cillizaa of The Washington Post contends that the, “bar to being seen as overly or unnecessarily negative is far lower in a town hall debate than in a more traditional setting, meaning that both candidates will need to walk a very fine line with their attacks.” If true, this will be an interesting dynamic as Obama hopes to appear stronger against Romney and Romney’s success in the first debate hinged on his ability to attack Obama. With all this in mind, the second debate will be highly viewed.

Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy

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.

Tune into this LIVE blog as you watch or listen to the debate for minute-by-minute coverage.

Final Thoughts and Analysis

Many people are skeptical of the town hall format; even Jon Stewart and Bill O’Rielly agreed during their debate that it should be discontinued.  However, tonight it served its purpose in allowing voters to become more involved in the election process and both candidates seemed to take advantage of relating to those posing the questions. This style perhaps benefitted Obama a bit more so as it was conducted on a university campus. On a few occasions, Obama received laughs and applause from the audience. Much of Obama’s support in 2008 came from a passionate college level base but this demographic has diminished.  However, Romney has not been able to capitalize on this voter base.

Compared to the first presidential debate, Romney did not attack Obama with the same force but he did use the forum to ask a few pointed questions, regarding cutting domestic drilling and Obama’s pension having investments in China.  Romney demanded an answer from the President, which led to a few tense exchanges.

However, President Obama appeared to heed Tucker Carlson’s advice.  CSPAN interviewed the conservative Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Caller, who said that if he were to give Obama advice prior to the debate, it would be the same advice he gives his children who are learning how to drive: Don’t overcompensate when you lose control.  Many worried that Obama would attack Romney with too much vehemence after his tepid performance in Denver.  The president did not take this route, however, and instead presented his points in a balanced fashion.

Overall, it doesn’t look like the second debate will move the polls significantly in either direction.  Democrats and Obama supporters will be pleased with his demeanor and his direct challenges to Romney’s various claims. The Romney camp likewise will find strength is the governor’s continued examination of Obama’s record.  Neither side will walk away with a clear victory as both candidates put in a professional performance.

UPDATE 10:47pm: Lou Dobbs feels the town hall forum is ineffective.  The public will weigh in on this claim over the next few days. Many in the bar loudly agree with this opinion but it seemed that both candidates felt comfortable in this setting.

UPDATE 10:41pm: Obama gets the last word of the debate and the bar erupts with cheers in the mention of 47% comment.

UPDATE 10:38pm: Last question of tonight's debate

UPDATE 10:32pm: Obama responds that the value of the renminbi has risen during his presidency due to his administration's work. He focuses on changes to the tax code to disallow corporations from using loopholes to avoid taxes on investments abroad.

UPDATE 10:28pm: Romney says that China needs to stop artificially holding their currency down, causing their products to remain inexpensive.  He wants to label China as a currency manipulator on day one.  This is the largest stage that Romney has delivered this point. The Chinese government will be weighing in shortly. This point alludes to a previous article that I wrote while I was living in China, in that it can be assumed that the Chinese government would prefer another fours years of Obama.

UPDATE 10:25pm: Gun control issue doesn't seem to be a divisive issue between the candidates.  Obama and Romney use the issue to discuss education and the importance of stable families. Nothing particularly important gleaned from this exchange.  This should not be the final question.

UPDATE 10:19pm

Photo provided by The Denver Post.

UPDATE 10:16pm: The crowd here, Obama-friendly, cheers Obama criticism of the Romney camp's response to the attack on the consulate on Libya.  Romney is not doing well on this topic at the moment.

UPDATE 10:09pm: Tweets from Univision. Obama says that he has changed deportation policies and focused on criminals, not on students.

UPDATE 10:04pm

UPDATE 10:00pm: Both candidates are effectively laying out specific points.  Obama had the edge on Romney before but it has evened out.  Immigration being discussed now.

UPDATE 9:56pm

UPDATE 9:50pm: The issue of trade with China comes to the forefront.  Romney and Obama stick to their talking points.  Obama criticizes Romney for investing in companies that sent jobs abroad while Romney focuses on Obama's weak stance on trade agreements.

UPDATE 9:45pm: The next topic is women in the workplace and healthcare.  Obama is more forceful in his attack against Romney's stance on Planned Parenthood. Romney uses his answer to attack the lagging economy.  The candidates are focusing on distinct demographics in their reponses: Obama to women and Romney to the unemployed.

UPDATE 9:38pm

UPDATE 9:34pm: Obama is doing well though much could be attributed to the low standards of his first showing. Now posing a hypothetical on Romney's investment experience. Would the Governor invest in an idea where the plan would only be revealed after receiving the money? The bar crowd applauds this analogy.

UPDATE 9:32pm: Obama cites his continued policy to tax those making more than $250,000.  Obama also continues to use former President Clinton as an example that he is striving to achieve.

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.

UPDATE 9:27pm: Romney attacks Obama's record in helping the lives of America's middle class. He cites that a recent study shows that the borrowing done by Obama's administration has hurt and will continue to hurt the middle class.

UPDATE 9:21pm: Effective back and forth here.  Romney asking a good question and Obama providing solid answer. Romney claiming that oil production is down 14%.  Romney using the coal mining example effectively. Recent backlash from coal miners could hurt Obama but probably in states he can't contest anyways.

UPDATE 9:14pm: Excerpt from Romney on jobs and debt.

UPDATE 9:10pm: Political crowd at bar cheers Obama's response to Romney's "1 point plan." Obama is being more assertive already.

UPDATE 9:09pm: Obama is much clearer in his response in pursuing manufacturing jobs.  This answer is not really directed at college students and graduates but middle class struggling workers. The president provides three specific points: 1) create manufacturing jobs 2) revise tax code 3) control energy in the U.S.

UPDATE 9:07pm: Romney responses with keeping scholarship going to allow students to afford college.  His answer to be able to find a job is a vague and basically repeats the question.

UPDATE 9:03pm: Great opening question.

UPDATE 9:00pm: Another few topics that ThinkProgress lists that have not yet been debated. While China should be discussed tonight these might not.

UPDATE 8:55pm: There will be no closing statements tonight.  And interesting aspect of the town hall forum.

UPDATE 8:49pm: Moderator Crowley already weighs in on her opinion on how tonight's event will turn out:

UPDATE: 8:40pm: Live blogging from local DC bar, Public Bar, with a crowd now gathered for another crucial American contest: USA vs. Guatemala in an important World Cup qualifying match.  USA currently up 3 to 1 and looking in control.  This is a big match for Team USA to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Will there be any mention during the debate to (hopefully) congratulate the team on the win?  That would be a surprise.

UPDATE 6:10pm: It will be an interesting point of difference between the two candidates should China come up during the foreign policy section of the debate.  US-Sino relations were surprisingly left out of the vice presidential debate aside for a few minor jabs by Biden and Ryan.  Romney, historically, has taken a much tougher line regarding trade practices with China whereas Obama likes to link the GOP candidate with a past of sending jobs to China.  This could be one of the more contentious topics of the meeting tonight should a direct question focus on China and trade relations.

UPDATE: 5:15pm: Curious on how much money each campaign has raised over this election season? In September alone, Romney raised $170M, slightly less than Obama at $181M. Click the Tweet below for the full article.

UPDATE: 4:50pm: Following up on a point made earlier, while the pressure is on Obama tonight, the expectations of his debate performance seem to have dropped in comparison to those of the first debate. The poll below shows an increase in expectations of Governor Romney by registered voters.

UPDATE 4:30pm: Order of introduction at tonight's debate via Fox Nation.

UPDATE: 2:35 pm: Tonight I will be live blogging from Public Bar in downtown Washington, D.C.  Stay tuned for crowd reactions and insight throughout the debate.

UPDATE: 11:35am: Section from the MOU regarding Crowley's powers during the debate-

UPDATE 11:25am: Take a look at the memorandum of understanding for the three presidential debates posted on  Pages 6 to 9 detail, in great length, the specific requirements, obligations, and rules for the October 16 debate.  The moderator, Candy Crowley, is not allowed to ask follow-up questions or comments on the questions provided by the audience members.  Her role tonight could be minimal.