Who Won the Presidential Debate Last Night: Obama Dominates Romney at the Second Debate


In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney disavowed many of his campaign proposals that he knows the public would not support. After struggling to shake-off the perception that a large number of Americans see him as an out-of-touch plutocrat whose proposals would benefit the 1% Romney's on-the-spot reversals during the first presidential debate helped him overhaul that image. Romney’s strong performance in first debate made him confident that he could get the best of the president again, thereby strengthening his momentum. However, Barack Obama's methodical demolition of Romney at the second debate would not merely stop Romney’s momentum, it would energize the Democratic base. Even more importantly, Romney was shown to be a political opportunist by his attempt to politicize the tragedy in Benghazi.

Before the debate, the Obama campaign indicated that he would address Romney’s comment that 47% of Americans are parasites that rely on the government for “healthcare, food, and housing.” In his concluding remarks, Romney raised the 47% issue while he was answering a question about the biggest misperception he thought people might have about him. Romney's answer gave the president the opening to talk about the 47% comment. The president hammered Romney hard by identifying which groups of people belong to that 47%: students, hardworking Americans who are now on social security, and more importantly soldiers who are currently fighting for the country. Obama ended his answer by stating emphatically that he wanted to fight on behalf of those people.

Another signature moment of the debate was on the Benghazi tragedy. Republicans have been using this tragedy to score political points. They have convinced themselves that they could use what happened in Libya to indict the president’s entire foreign policy record. Before Tuesday night's debate, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the insecurity failure. The Romney’s campaign seemed to have gotten ready to blame Obama for failing the Harry Truman test: the notion that the “buck stops with the president.” In order words, no matter what happens under the president’s watch, he must take the blame for it. But instead of passing the proverbial buck to Clinton, the president chastised Romney for seeking to politicize the tragedy. The crystallizing moment, however, came when Romney questioned whether Obama had characterized the tragic event as an “act of terror” in his first declaration about the incident in the Rose Garden. Not only did Obama call the attack a terrorist act, Candy Crowley, the moderator, confirmed that Obama was right. This exchange vividly demonstrated that Romney is a political opportunist who seeks to politicize a tragedy for political gain regardless of the facts.

Unlike the first presidential debate where the president was listless and barely challenged Romney, Obama was methodical in his examination of Romney’s records and proposals. In fact, the president’s debate performance is akin to a skilled coroner who was performing an autopsy. At the end of the debate, the result of that autopsy reveals that Romney is a salesman who is peddling a defective product.