US Presidential debate: Recharged Obama, Mitt Romney tangle in contentious duel at Hofstra


October 17, 2012

An aggressive President Obama fought back in his second debate with Romney, while his Republican challenger pressed his case that the last four years have been a failure.

October 17, 2012

An aggressive President Obama fought back in his second debate with Romney, while his Republican challenger pressed his case that the last four years have been a failure.

President Obama and Mitt Romney square off during Tuesday night's presidential debate at Hofstra.

A recharged President Obama fought back Tuesday night in his second debate with Mitt Romney, defending his record while painting his Republican challenger as an out-of-touch corporate raider.

Romney gave no ground, repeatedly branding the Obama presidency as a failure, pressing his attack that the middle class “has been crushed over the last four years.”

The two men went at each other for more than 90 minutes at Hofstra University on Long Island, exactly three weeks from Election Day. They were tense and taut, often leaping from their stools to make a point, sometimes circling each other on the carpeted stage like tigers in a cage.

Obama came out with renewed energy, painting Romney as a flip-flopper, eager to draw distinctions between the two men on everything from immigration to women’s issues and their economic plans.

“Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan,” Obama said. “That plan is to make sure that the folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

Mitt Romney addresses President Obama during debate.

Romney was unable to repeat his dominant performance of the first debate, but he did not back down.

“The President has tried, but his policies haven’t worked,” Romney said. “This is a President who has not been able to do what he said he was going to do.”

The most dramatic exchange occurred when Romney tried to pounce on the administration’s response to the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in the attack on a U.S. Consulate there.

Alice Gunther and other Hofstra students watch the debate in the student center on campus.

Romney claimed that it took Obama two weeks to deem it terrorism. Obama replied that he had done so the day after the attack, in an appearance in the White House Rose Garden.

“Yes, he did,” agreed moderator Candy Crowley, of CNN, noting that Obama denounced the “acts of terror” the day after the violence on Sept. 11.

First Lady Michelle Obama intently watches the debate.

Obama accepted responsibility for the security lapses and decried Romney’s suggestion that the White House covered up the investigation into the attacks for political gain.

“The suggestion that anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive,” he bristled. “That’s not what I do as President, that’s not what I do as commander-in-chief.”

That moment seemed to briefly rattle Romney, who often appeared frustrated with the debate format.

Ann Romney looks on.

But he also stayed on the attack, feverishly slamming Obama’s record, particularly in jump-starting the nation’s sluggish economy.

“I think you know better,” Romney told one audience member moments after Obama launched into a defense of his time in office.

“I think you know that these last four years haven’t been as good as the President described and that you don’t feel like you’re confident the next four years are going to be much better, either.”

Hofstra student checks out action.

Unlike the first debate, Obama repeatedly accused Romney of taking conservative positions in the Republican primaries on issues like immigration and tax cuts for the rich and then switching to a more centrist stance for the general election.

Obama also trotted out several stump speech staples that he ignored in Denver, touting his efforts to save the auto industry and ripping Romney’s time at Bain Capital when the private equity firm outsourced jobs to China.

He also finally mentioned Romney’s infamous 47% video in which the Republican said he “didn’t care” about nearly half the country. Obama waited until his closing remarks to use the line, when Romney could not respond.

The night’s town hall-style format was expected to limit the candidates’ attacks — but both spent as much time slamming each other as answering questions from the audience of undecided voters.

Obama supporter on campus during debate.

They frequently talked over each other, as they answered questions from an audience of 82 undecided voters from Long Island. At one point, Romney drew gasps from the audience when he interrupted Obama, telling the President, “You’ll get your chance in a moment” to answer a question about energy production.

Later, when Obama said Romney had investments in China, Romney interrupted: “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?”

“You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours,” Obama replied to his wealthier rival.

“It was a very good fight,” said the conservative George Will on ABC. “I have seen every presidential debate in American history since the floor of Nixon and Kennedy in 1960. This was immeasurably the best.”

Courtesy: NYD