President Obama certainly was not “napping through” his second presidential debate last Tuesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., but it was a rude awakening for Republican candidate Governor Mitt Romney as he was battered on socio-economics and foreign policy – the large majority of media outlets gave the night to the President.
The town hall debate format consisted of independent, undecided voters posing questions to the candidates directly with CNN’s Candy Crowley moderating between. Major topics included the economy, job growth, social programs, taxes and foreign policy.
Romney began by laying out a strong case concerning why the country’s economic state isn’t stronger than it was four years ago, pointing out unemployment’s current 7.8 percent rate – the same rate Obama inherited as he took office, plus the 2.9 percent that have dropped out of the workforce since.
He went on to criticize the controversial bailouts of major banks and corporations.
“He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work. I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president’s plan, didn’t get there.
He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one,” Romney said. “This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it.”
The former Massachusetts governor began to lose ground when the debate ventured overseas as Romney pointed out the President’s investments in China afforded him by his pension, and asked whether or not he looks at it.
“I don’t look at it but it’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long,” President Obama said, referencing Romney’s vast fortune invested largely overseas.
The major blow of the night was landed when Romney attacked the Obama administration’s controversial handling of Libyan Ambassador J. Christopher Steven’s assassination. Romney accused the president of neither saying nor treating it like a terroristic attack in order to save public face during an election year.
“The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families,” Obama said.
In response, Romney said the President did not call it a terroristic attack as he claimed – to which moderator Candy Crowley responded by verifying the President’s claim via a fact check of Rose Garden speech’s transcript. The crowd of Hofstra University’s debate hall roared in the President’s favor.
The final keynote of the night came from Obama’s closing address when he referenced Romney’s controversial “47 percent” comment, citing it as a true marker of his opponent’s character.
“But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility — think about who he was talking about: folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives, veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country, students who are out there trying to, hopefully, advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams, soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now, people who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income. And I want to fight for them.
That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years, because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds,” Obama said.
The candidates will face each other one final time on Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL at 9 p.m. eastern standard time. With one victory apiece in each corner, the final debate will undoubtedly play an important role leading into November.