Presidential Debate Winner: Obama Pulls Away From Stuttering Romney


Less than one week after a far more animated performance from Joe Biden, President Obama looks to bounce back from his less-than-stellar performance in his first debate. In the first debate, Obama looked as if he was reading from notes and a fully prepared speech; however, the second debate will take away the podium as the second debate is structured as a town hall debate. Town hall debates feature an audience filled with undecided registered voters who ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. The candidates will each have 2 minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderate to facilitate a discussion.

Four years ago, according to a CBS poll, Obama defeated John McCain by a margin of 40% to 26% and according to a CNN poll, Obama won by a margin of 54% to 30% over McCain. Despite that, the town hall format can be a major stumbling block for candidates in the past. In 1992, George H.W. Bush was caught looking at his watch during the town hall debate. Twelve years after that, George W. Bush was caught struggling mightily with a question and was forced to defend himself throughout the course of the question. What this format also leads to is unpredictability and a need for spontaneity, something politicians frequently struggle with. In Romney's case, he frequently looks stiff, and in a format that rewards relatability, Romney could struggle. On the other side of the coin, Obama also struggles in this format. While four years ago, he was aided significantly by McCain's wandering around the stage, Obama hardly excelled, as his answers tended to be circuitous and he frequently sounds too professorial to relate to the audience.

The moderator for the night's proceedings is Candy Crowley of CNN. Crowley is the first female moderator of a general election presidential debate in 20 years. She has also promised to press the candidates to not only answer the questions, but to also, go further in her own questioning than either of the two campaigns may otherwise like. This debate will prove vital for Obama as incumbent candidates typically struggle in their first debate; however, with experience debating Romney, Obama is out of free passes and needs to step up to the plate. This format of debate has proven to be more influential to undecided voters than the others, and both sides will seek to capitalize on the its' importance.  Obama does not need to come away looking like Bill Clinton in order to feel as if he won the debate; however, if he comes out as listless as last week, he could be in for a long night.  The debate starts at 9 Eastern Time in Hempstead, New York at Hofstra University and is scheduled to run until 10:30 p.m.

Here are the Oct. 16 debate details: 

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.

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UPDATE: 10:45 PM - And that's all for tonight.  Thank you all for following along, hope I provided some insight to all of those who read it.  Come back next Monday night for the third and final presidential debate.

10:41 PM - And that's the end of the debate.  Granted I am watching on MSNBC; however, as Chris Matthews said, Obama won every question.  "He stuck his chin out and Obama punched him right in the face."  --Chris Matthews

10:39 PM - And Obama works 47% into his final statement.  Obama with the decisive win in this debate.

10:37 PM - "I care about 100% of the American people.  I want 100% of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future."  --Mitt Romney.  What about this scene:

10:35 PM - Here is the moment that Obama won the debate:

10:31 PM - "I will label China a currency manipulator.  We are going to make sure the people we trade with play by the rules."  Romney wouldn't do jack about China.

10:27 PM - Romney has dug himself into quite the hole here.  He danced around a question about women, and screwed up badly on a question about Benghazi, leaving him with just the economy.  Oh wait, the Dow went up over 125 points today.

10:21 PM - "Weapons designed for soldiers do not belong on our streets." While the right to bear arms is firmly ensconced in the American constitution, stricter gun control needs to be enacted.

10:18 PM - When pressed with a situation where he needed to think on his feet, he repeated himself three times, and stuttered in the process.  If one could lose an election through a debate, that 45 second period may have just done Romney in.

10:15 PM - Romney is attempting to buy time.  He just stuttered up a storm, and has repeated himself three times.  Big big misstep for Romney.  This has even elicited cheers.

10:13 PM - Benghazi is a really really bad topic for Obama.  Handled fairly well, but still, not a topic Obama wants to dwell on.

10:09 PM -

10:07 PM - "We are completely off topic here." It took an hour for Crowley to call out Romney for being off topic.  It took him asking about Obama's pension during a question about immigration to say anything.

10:06 PM - Just a quick fact check, Romney had none, zero, 0, female partners at Bain Capital.

10:05 PM - Pretty sure the first ever use of gang-bangers in a debate was just mentioned.

10:03 PM - Mitt Romney when asked about immigrants, did not say anything remotely related to immigration, other than "We would not give driver's licenses to those who immigrated illegally."  Because right now, we are just handing out driver's licenses like Oprah:

9:57 PM - A quick fact check by the AP here.

9:56 PM - Romney talking about consistency with Obama's campaign statements.  Sorry, I just choked on my food.

9:51 PM - "Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China" --Barack Obama

9:49 PM - Let's do some research on the differences between Romney and Bush's plans:

9:47 PM - Why can't Romney say championing correctly?

9:46 PM - A question about Bush!  This is about to get very very very interesting.

9:45 PM - We are sitting at about the half-way point here.  My amateur scorecard reads a strong Obama lead.  A great comeback from the great Denver debate fiasco of 2012.

9:43 PM - "When asked about the Lilly Ledbetter Bill, Governor Romney said, 'W'll get back to you on that.'"  Pretty par for the course for all things Romney.

9:41 PM - Mitt had binders filled with women.  This statement is dripping with irony.

9:40 PM - A great photo showing both fighters in their respective corners:

9:39 PM - "Women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family"  --Barack Obama.  We are up to more than a minute into this question; however, he hasn't actually talked about income inequity between genders.

9:37 PM - On his tax plan, an interesting read from Bloomberg which can be found here.

9:35 PM - I love the candidates pandering to American audiences, "college kids" "sketchy deals."  This is fantastic.

9:32 PM - Tonight, Mitt Romney said that he will not lower taxes on wealthy people.  Let us take a look at what he said during the Primary Debates:

9:30 PM - Obama just said "top-down," while he could have gone in for the kill and said "trickle-down."

9:28 PM - Capital gains taxes will go down is Romney's only detail.  To quote Bill Maher:

9:26 PM - Romney is asked about details, he evades entirely by saying "Pick your own deductions!"  On an unrelated note, I have not seen any minorities in the audience...what's going on with that?

9:24 PM - Romney is spouting off, so Crowley and Obama both jump on the offensive.  I can already hear the GOP saying "That damn liberal media!"

9:20 PM - Well would you look at this little gem on the internet about Romney on coal:

9:19 PM - This just turned into a street fight.  Romney is attempting to attack Obama on details, Romney has not given a single detail throughout either of these debates.

9:18 PM - "What I try to do is be consistent." --Barack Obama.  Not only does he attack Romney on the fact that he once took pride in shutting down a coal plant, but on his consistency as well.

9:17 PM - "We have increased oil production to the highest levels in sixteen years.  Natural gas production is the highest it's been in decades."  --Barack ObamaRomney fights back while talking about North American energy independence and the importance of coal.  Coal is the least environmentally friendly form of natural gas possible.

9:14 PM - Getting back to Pell Grants:

9:12 PM - Crowley just cut Romney off.  In this post Lehrer world, we are seeing the moderators assert themselves far more.

9:10 PM- "What Governor Romney just said just isn't true" --Barack Obama.  Finally, Obama is being confrontational.  His tone suggests a more engaged self.  He is acting like a more in-control version of Biden.

9:07 PM - Pell Grants, an interesting topic for both of these campaigns.  Let's look at this infographic:

9:06 PM - Is it okay that Romney just started laughing about the idea that he would be president?

9:05 PM - Mitt just started talking about growing the Pell Grant system.  Is this the Twilight Zone?

9:02 PM - Obama had the last pat on the back, he has taken the early lead

9:00 PM - Showtime, everybody, buckle up, this is about to get interesting.

8:24 PM -  Alright, we are here live, ready to bring you my commentary on tonight's debate.  Town hall debates are always fun, below is a taste of three of the most interesting moments in town hall debate history: