What Happened at the Second Presidential Debate

  • Share
  • Read Later
Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama spar over energy policy during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University on Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y.

0 minutes. Both men mean business. They are out with smiles, mouthed “Thank You’s” and a perfunctory handshake. The American people have been subjected to political debates for more than a year. But this one is bigger than any other. Romney won the first decisively, and pulled ahead in many of the polls. Now, the rematch.

3 minutes. The town hall format means the first question goes to a college kid, who resembles a young Adam Sandler. He asks Romney about what will happen after graduation. Romney runs through the high points of his education record, and the low points of Obama’s economic record, then asks, “When do you graduate?” The Sandler-like kid says, “2014.” “When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job,” says Romney. That’s good news for the kid.

5 minutes. Obama takes the question and pivots to what he never did in the first debate: Demonstrating that he wants the job of president for a second term. He even steals Romney’s move to do it, the Powerpoint list: Number one, number two, etc. Number one mentions Romney wanting Detroit to go bankrupt. That’s how it goes.

8 minutes. Romney clarifies that his desire to let Detroit go bankrupt was not as menacing as Obama makes it sound. “The president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did,” Romney says. He is right. The difference between the candidates is at what point in the process the government should have intervened, not whether bankruptcy was the proper course.

10 minutes. But this is the new Obama, the Obama on offense. So he doesn’t take that. “What Governor Romney said just isn’t true,” Obama says. “He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open. And we would have lost a million jobs.” The question being raised here is whether Romney still would have resisted government bailouts if it became clear, as Obama suggests, that the companies would have folded otherwise. But this is a presidential debate. So we don’t get there. Instead, Obama says of Romney, “He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

11 minutes. Obama gets a question about gas prices. He lists off his various energy planks. Then attacks Romney. “Governor Romney will say he’s got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies,” he says. This allows Romney to lay into Obama’s energy record. “What we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal,” he says of Mr. Obama. Romney also hits Obama for a decline in permits for new federal drilling.

17 minutes. “Very little of what Governor Romney just said is true,” Obama says smiling. Here follows a squabble between the two men about just what Obama has done with federal drilling leases. At points, the two men are almost shouting over each other, looking at each other, just a few feet away. It’s full contact debate. The truth is that the drop in federal leases began under President George W. Bush, and continued after the moratorium in response to the gulf oil spill. But at moments like these, the theater overwhelms the facts. And what is clear is the change that has taken place in two weeks. In Denver, Obama was willing to defer. In New York, he has come to rumble. The President starts to eat into Romney’s time.

22 minutes. Romney starts appealing to moderator Candy Crowley of CNN for more time. “Candy, Candy,” he says. Then Obama tries to interrupt. Crowley regains control. Next question.

23 minutes. It’s about taxes. What loopholes in the tax code is Romney planning to eliminate? The mortgage interest deduction? The charitable giving credit? Romney says he would just set a ceiling on how much people can deduct. “One way of doing that would be say everybody gets — I’ll pick a number — $25,000 of deductions and credits, and you can decide which ones to use,” Romney says. He doesn’t say he is fixed on that number, which means voters won’t be able to calculate before they vote whether their individual taxes will go up or down under a Romney plan. Romney also says he will get rid of taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains for middle class people, which would be good for the middle class people who have extra money to invest.

27 minutes. Obama says that his tax plan is focused on cutting taxes for the middle class, while Romney is worried more about the rich. “That’s exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy that’s striving for everybody,” Obama says. “I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people,” Romney responds. “Settled?” asks Crowley.

31 minutes. “No, it’s not settled.” Obama criticizes Romney for not explaining how he’d simultaneously cut taxes, lower the deficit and increase military spending. The words come out fast and precise. Someone switched Obama’s Benadryl for Adderall. “If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up,” he says.

35 minutes. “Well of course they add up,” Romney responds. “I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget” as a governor. He got help from the federal government to do both those things, but never mind. “When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $4 trillion of deficits over the last four years?”

37 minutes. New topic: What is each candidate doing to close the pay gap between men and women. It’s kind of a gimmee for Obama, who launches into his stump speech: Raised by a single working mom; grandmother got passed over for promotions at her bank job; first bill he signed in office made it easier for women to file equal pay suits. Romney tells a nice story too. When he first became governor of Massachusetts, all the recommended cabinet members were men, so he sent his team out to find “whole binders full of women” to hire. This didn’t really happen. Someone else compiled the list of women before Romney won office. But the binders were real. Next, Obama says a Romney presidency would be bad for women.

45 minutes. A tough one for Romney about how his policies would differ from George W. Bush’s. Romney thanks the questioner and then argues with Crowley about whether he was supposed to get a rebuttal to Obama’s last point. He wins enough time to say “the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong,” then answers the Bush question. Romney would be tougher on China’s trade practices and better about deficits. “President Bush and I are different people and these are different times,” Romney says. Fact check: True. Obama says Romney is more conservative than Bush on social issues and can’t be trusted on China because he invested in companies there.

51 minutes. A former Obama supporter asks what the President has done to deserve a second term. This is Obama’s big shot to defend his record, something he totally whiffed on last time around. Out comes the PowerPoint: taxes cut, Iraq exited, bin Laden killed. Obama explains health care reform in plain terms: “Insurance companies can’t jerk you around.” When he runs out of bullet points, he just lights into Romney some more. “I think you know better,” Romney responds, embarking on a misery tour of economic data from the last four years, some of it true. He says Obama predicted 5.4% unemployment by now—he didn’t, it was economists working for Obama’s transition team in 2008 before the depths of the recession were apparent—and blames the President for rising health care costs that were increasing before he took office. Obama tries to object, but we’re moving on to the next question.

59 minutes. “This is for Governor Romney?” Obama asks. “It’s for Governor Romney,” says Crowley. “Is it Loraina?” Romney asks the questioner. “Lorraine.” “Lorraine?” “Yes, Lorraine.” “Lorraine,” repeats Romney. “How you doing?” Lorraine asks. This isn’t her question. She wants to know what Romney would do about undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. “Thank you,” Romney says. “Lorraine? Did I get that right?” He did. Romney likes legal immigration–”this is a nation of immigrants,” he says–but he does not like illegal immigration and the President is to blame because he failed to pass comprehensive reform when Democrats controlled Congress. Now it’s Obama’s turn. “Lorranna,” he begins. “Lorraine. We are a nation of immigrants.” Obama says that he too loves immigration but Romney held up reform by calling a controversial Arizona law a “model for the nation.” In reality, Romney was only referring to one largely uncontroversial part of the law. Not democracy’s finest moment.

66 minutes. Romney remembers his rebuttal to that thing Obama said about Chinese investments 20 minutes ago and confronts the president at center stage. Romney’s money is in a blind trust and Obama’s pension invests in overseas companies too. “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?” Romney says. “It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long,” Obama fires back. “We’re way off topic here,” says Crowley.

70 minutes. A guy named Kerry Ladka says his buddies at a telecom supply company in Mineola were all talking about Libya the other day and wanted to know whether the Obama Administration denied additional security to the consulate in Benghazi where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed on Sept. 11. The back story seems highly implausible, but at least neither candidate tries to say his name. Obama says he responded to the attack responsibly while Romney politicized it, which doesn’t really answer the question. But it’s a powerful exchange. “This calls into question the president’s whole policy in the Middle East,” Romney says. “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in 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,” Obama says. “And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families. And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive.”

76 minutes. Romney thinks that he has caught the President telling a whopper. “You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror?” he says, grinning. “I want to make sure we get that for the record.” “Get the transcript,” Obama deadpans. Crowley back him up: “He did in fact, sir.” Romney looks like a guy whose steak dinner has sprouted legs and crawled off his plate.

77 minutes. The debate has pretty much entered stoppage time. “What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?” asks one voter. “We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment,” Obama begins. He and Romney go on at some length, but neither has proposed new gun laws. The NRA guys watching at home pour themselves another scotch.

85 minutes. A question about outsourcing, scourge of the undecided voter. Obama and Romney have already used most of their economic talking points and China trade barbs so they both just cycle back through the list. Obama wants more education. Romney wants business-friendly taxes.

94 minutes. We’re well into overtime and Crowley brings our attention to the audience for the final question of the night. “I think this is a tough question,” the voter begins before lobbing a mushy softball up onto the stage. “What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate?” Romney goes first and explains, “I care about our kids,” and “I believe in God.” He also says that Obama’s efforts to paint him as out of touch aren’t fair. “I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future.” Perceptive. Obama ignores the question entirely and goes after Romney on this exact front. “I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered 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.” He keeps going. Romney never gets a chance to respond. Only one more debate. We”ll see you Monday night.

220 comments
DoshiaMarie
DoshiaMarie

President Obama Was Wearing an Earpiece During the Monday Debate –Further Explains Why He Had no Answers During First Debate - The Earpiece Had ProblemsTHIS PICTURE WAS POSTED ON DRUDGE FOR THE PAST TWO DAYS - WAKE UP AMERICA - OBAMA IS A FRAUDPresident Obama was wearing an earpiece during the last debate. He was advised on what to say using this earpiece.Is that fair America???Did Mitt Romney wear an earpiece, no of course not!Again, this President will stop at nothing to stay in power.By Nicholas ContompasisSan Francisco, CaliforniaObama's earpiece and wireless transmitter failed during debate (first debate)As the mainstream media discuss theories of what happened in last night’s debate, I think a very clear explanation is obvious. President Obama's wireless transmitter and earpiece that allow him to receive answers from his handlers was malfunctioning during the first debate.

dru_down
dru_down like.author.displayName 1 Like

Taken to its illogical conclusion, Romney has the sheer audacity to question the Obama Administration's "tardy" investigation of the US Ambassador's slaying, as if, in the end, there was any discernible harm to the People. In contrast, the Bush Administration not only failed to competently act on the intelligence before it (see, e.g., FBI memo to Bush "BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO ATTACK USA") but it invaded Iraq when ALL credible intelligence pointed to Saudi Arabia. Get a clue, America. The republicans say whatever they think you want to hear and then do whatever the hell they want with our resources, diplomatic capital and policy.

moricone
moricone

This Halloween, the scariest thing you can be is a "Binder full of women for Romney."

Chris C.
Chris C.

The President's performance was very,very strong.Romney dropped the ball on Benghazi,which in my opinion, is a dog that won't hunt anyway.The score is now 1-1 for those who put debates ahead of 9 months of campaigning.I think Romney is in trouble,be cause the final debate is on foreign policy,and I do not see how Romney can do much there.I am voting for the President now,no doubt about it.

18235
18235

most of today's welfare programs origonated with democrat lyndon johnson....his great society?!

and johnson refused to raise taxes to pay for the vietnam war.

johnson also helped pave the way for nixon; if no johnson incompetence, nixon wouldnt have became president.

as for dropping the ball on benghazi----obama president on sept 9 when that terrorist attack happened, with obama using a youtube video as the scapegoat.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 The terrorist attack happened on the 11th and not the 9th. Yet another sign that you have no working knowledge of what you are talking about.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Yet again you show your ignorance and bias. The creator of the video was arrested because he violated the terms of his parole for multiple bank fraud conviction. Obama had nothing to do with it.

18235
18235

yes, my 911 slip---though at least i know there are 50 states, unlike obama who said there are...57.

and the terrorists certainly knew to celebrate 9...11 on the right day last month----some youtube video,  and its creator, thrown into an obama gulag, had nothing to do with it, despite what obama claimed for days on end.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

ROMNEY LIES AT TOWN HALL DEBATE

ROMNEY: “We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office.”

ROMNEY: “I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

ROMNEY: “I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now. The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same. Middle-income people are going to get a tax break.”

ROMNEY: “As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land.”

ROMNEY: “And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. I was proud of the fact that…[Massachusetts] had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.” 

ROMNEY: “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing.”

ROMNEY: “We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know. This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

From http://www.thenation.com/blog/...

Matt Kitch
Matt Kitch

Check out the moment from behind the scenes of yesterday's presidential debate!

http://moment.me/n/118231

Ladies, Gentleman. I commit to you - This is not spam but the future of social coverage.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I have one thing to add to this matter. Romney was extremely RUDE to President Obama. I hope everyone knows that POTUS deserves more respect. The issue is one of the respect for the office of the president.  Romney is a rude BULLY who showed disdain for the office of he president and Candy Crowley.

He bullied O'Brien in MA. He bullied people that questioned his claims of job creation in MA. He is an entitled, smug man who thinks "the 99%" are SERFS.  He ran MA into the ground and now is lying about it.

So RUDE to our Commander in Chief.

What a CREEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

oldwhiteguy
oldwhiteguy

 That is a tremendously timely and insightful observation.  The fact is, this President has been disrespected by the Republicans since day one.  They have done all they can to de-legitimize him and it's pathetic. It does us all a disservice.  Their response, of course, is that George Bush was lampooned by the Dem/lib side when he was in office.  All elected officials, especially Presidents, get their fair share of cartooning.  However, the disrespect shown Obama has been racist, elitist and divisive.  You are very correct.

bebo
bebo

Boo hoo.  He's been a lousy president. 

paulejb
paulejb

Benevolent Lawyer,

Thank heavens that Candy Crowley was there to protect Barry and soothe his scrapes and bruises. I shudder to think what would have happened to Barry without Candy's skirts to hide behind.

http://global.nationalreview.c...

paulejb
paulejb

"Candy Crowley’s Debate Moderation Exemplifies Why Americans Do Not Trust Their Media"

"My singular take away moment of last night’s debate was one that elevated Crowley from moderator to debate participant. Crowley shot from the hip and echoed a talking point from the Obama campaign regarding their handling of the Libya attack to criticize Mitt Romney mid-debate. What’s more? She was wrong. Crowley did her profession a disservice last night and confirmed many American’s deepest suspicions about the media in the process."

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/can...

The dinosaur media continues it's headlong rush towards extinction.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Do you think that the opinion of a rightwinger is the best way to claim that Crowley did something wrong?

paulejb
paulejb

MrObvious,

It is obvious that Candy Crowley overstepped the bounds for a moderator. She became an Obama cheerleader.

MrObvious
MrObvious

It's obvious to the rightie cheerleaders for Mitt, but I wonder why you would use biased sources to make the claim that media is biased?

If you don't see the irony in that you're kind of blind.

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon91,

"Romney wins and I'm gone."

====================

Who would miss you, Bugs? Members of the hive are like interchangeable parts. 

Palladia
Palladia

Are you under the impression that you're somehow unique, pauljb?  Please disabuse yourself.

paulejb
paulejb

Palladia,

I am the hive mind's worst nightmare, Palladia.

Palladia
Palladia

Not at all, pauljb. . . you're not even a mildly interesting dream.  I've known fleas to cause more discomfort than you do.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Not at all, it's kind of like a itch on your arse - you scratch it and it's all good.

What you believe about yourself is always outdone in comedy by your daily anklebiting.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 More people than would ever miss you. In or out troll?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

You're wasting your time.  Others have tried - Paul will never agree to it because deep down he knows Romney is going to lose.  His cowardly excuse is to claim he'll only do it "if the whole hive agrees to" as if that's even possible, particularly when we don't know what people he considers to be a part of "the hive" save for anyone that disagrees with him.

dabsp0
dabsp0

Thanks mr governer for being flexible with timing so women can go home and cook dinner in time. Lets make it a 5 point plan to create husbands in future with cooking abilities.

RhedNiele
RhedNiele

Does anyone wholeheartedly and passionately believe that either one of these guys has what it takes to turn our country around? Once again I find myself in the position of having to choose the lesser of two evils (just a phrase - I don't actually believe either one of these guys is evil). What really concerns me is how divided we've become. No matter who is elected, is the losing side going to bury the hatchet and work with the Pres. and Congress to do what it takes to turn our country around or will it just be the start of a new blame game for the 2016 election? We're debating over a winner/loser of the debate like it's a fantasy football game. Both men 'won" in that they were able to make their positions clear, however will either man be able to follow through with a divided Congress and divided populace?

How_to
How_to

Clinton signed the Republican NAFTA bill, and Most-Favored Nation Status for China bills.  Democrats voted with Reagan on many issues.  Democrats voted with GWBush for massive tax cuts and invasion of Iraq (which was scheduled 2-3 weeks out from mid-term election... just sayin')... Obama thought he could work with Republicans. (haha)

Republicans voted with Democrats on ... chirp, chirp, chirp...

Don't blame everyone for not working together.  It took Dems 30 years to twig on that Republicans are playing a one-sided party game.

RhedNiele
RhedNiele

I appreciate your view however I asked three questions in my post and don't see where you answered any of the three. Your points are interesting but I'd be more interested in your answer to my questions. Your response is hauntingly similar to the evasive non-answers employed by Obama anx Romney in the debates. I re-read my comment and don't see where I "blamed" anyone. I asked questions and hoped for some answers. Guess that's asking to much these days.

How_to
How_to

What a second!  You asked, "No matter who is elected, is the losing side going to bury the hatchet and work with the Pres." ...[seeing how divided we've become].  I'm showing you one side has been willing to work with the other side.  I'm preparing you for the same thing.  The real question is, should Democrats win again, will Republicans continue to be their incessant, Party of No, selves.

Google the words "Republicans block" and see what comes up.  (Oh, wait, is Google against Republicans?  It might be a conspiracy.)

MrObvious
MrObvious

For a turn around we need more then just the president to 'turn things around'. We also need the entire political system to break off their gridlock and start negotiating.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

let's first get rid of the unpatriotic norquist pledge

filmnoia
filmnoia

Obama is right when he says that change comes from the bottom up. DC reacts through public pressure. The fact that we have gridlock in Congress is more a manifestation of the ideological split in the country. There are many factors that come into play, but the prime one is the decades of hate. fear and resentment from talk radio and Fox that have poisoned public discussion, and have driven members of Congress into retirement all in the name of some cult-like ideological purity.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Ivy

There's not one single rightie especially among the punditry that will take responsibility for any hysteria done in the name of their lies.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

This is a link to a fascinating program that was on my local public radio station. I was in the car and didn't hear all of it, but what really hit me was a woman who called in and said her mother told her that she had saved up a bunch of pills so that she could take them if Obama was re-elected and escape being taken to the concentration camp. Needless to say, her mother is totally devoted to right wing radio and Fox. I commented about this to a friend who said she knows someone who also seems to feel that way. This really needs to get under control and get some help available.

http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes...

filmnoia
filmnoia

Mr.O -

It's not just the media that creates false conflict, but pitting one group against the other whether it's by the GOP or by people in business and industry is as old as the republic. The 1% continues their oligarchy through simple old divide and conquer. The more the middle class is decimated and the fewer crumbs to give to them to keep them quiet, the sooner we will have some meaningful change - bottom up change.

MrObvious
MrObvious

The political punditry have been clever in making sure we pit citizens against citizens on issues that doesn't really divide us as much as they claim.

paulejb
paulejb

DonQuixotic,

"71 percent said they believed Romney would, while only 27 percent said they thought Obama would; after the debate, 34 percent said the president would better handle the economy, with 65 percent saying Romney would."

=========================================

Eureka! At the rate of 7% improvement for the debate, Barry would only need three more debates on the economy to catch up.

What? There will be no more debates on the economy? 

Sorry, Don.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Funny, I recall you arguing the exact opposite to me about Obama's lead with the Jewish vote not but two weeks ago.

paulejb
paulejb

DonQuixotic,

The subject of Israel will be front and center on Monday night, Don. Mitt still has a chance to erode Obama's Jewish support.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

And you're contradicting yourself, again.  It's like I'm talking to a bowl of water.