President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney engaged in a heated debate at Hofstra University in New York on Tuesday night that witnessed both presidential candidates going head to head on key policy issues that Americans will weigh in the coming days leading up to the next U.S. presidential election on November 6th.
President Obama displayed more passion and aggression than he did during his first debate performance on October 3rd, showing that he is fully capable of energizing his Democratic base and slow the rising momentum that Romney has established since the first presidential debate.
In terms of style points, President Obama made it clear from the very beginning of last night’s presidential debate that he was ready to fight and defend his policies against Romney’s stinging attacks.
Looking focused and well prepared when the first question was directed from a 20 year old college student who asked a question about his future prospects of future employment after college, President Obama provided numerical bullet point examples about what he wants to do to bring more jobs back to America while simultaneously attacking Romney for letting Detroit to go bankrupt.
President Obama cited the 5 million jobs that he helped to create over the last 30 months in the private sector while Romney took issue with the high U.S. unemployment level and blamed President Obama’s policies.
“Well, what you’re seeing in this country is 23 million people struggling to find a job, and a lot of them, as you say, Candy, have been out of work for a long, long, long, long time. The president’s policies have been exercised over the last four years, and they haven’t put Americans back to work” Romney said.
President Obama criticized Romney’s five point plan which is frequently cited to support Romney’s agenda and economic vision for the country.
“Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; 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.”
Obama continued, “That’s been his philosophy in the private sector; that’s been his philosophy as governor; that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”
The debate became even more feisty over the hot button issue of oil drilling and how much public land was truly opened up for oil production.
At one point during the debate the two candidates were roaming around on the stage and acted as if they were close to sparring in a boxing ring.
Concerning the topic of taxes, there was a heated exchange over the two candidates’ diverging tax policies.
Romney said that middle-income families in America have been crushed over the last four years. He claimed that he wants to get some relief to middle-income families by limiting deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end.
President Obama attacked Romney for having a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 a year even after he made $20 million per year.
Romney said that under his plan the top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects while middle-income people will receive a tax break.
President Obama reminded his audience that he has already given a $3,600 tax cut for middle-class families and has plans to extend the tax cuts if re-elected. However, for Americans with over $250,000 worth of income, Obama plans “to go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president.”
Romney outlined his five point economic plan: energy independence for North America in five years; opening up more trade, particularly in Latin America, cracking down on China when they cheat; getting us to a balanced budget; fixing our training programs for our workers; and finally, championing small business.
President Obama repeated some of the same criticisms of Romney’s tax plan as he did in the first presidential debate and questioned whether lowering rates for everybody across the board 20 percent will even work. He said that the math does not add up.
“Now, what he says is he’s going to make sure that this doesn’t add to the deficit, and he’s going to cut middle-class taxes. But when he’s asked, how are you going to do it, which deductions, which loopholes are you going to close, he can’t tell you” Obama said.
“Now, Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here; I want to spend 7 (trillion dollars) 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 have taken such a sketchy deal” Obama said.
“And neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up” Obama emphasized.
Romney defended his tax plan, “Of course they add up. I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years and balanced the budget.”
Romney spoke positively about the need for simplifying the tax code and noted, “We’ve gone from $10 trillion of national debt to $16 trillion of national debt.”
Some of the other topics that were discussed in the debate included gender issues (equal pay for women), contraceptive coverage, Libya (Benghazi), China, Apple manufacturing jobs, immigration, and assault weapons.
Romney condemned President Obama for his handling of the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya and pointed out that a day after the attack happened he flew to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser.
Later, Romney incorrectly claimed that President Obama had failed to call the Benghazi attack an act of terror.
“I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” Romney said.
President Obama reponded, “Get the transcript.”
CNN Moderator Candy Crowley provided a real time fact check for Romney who appeared to lose some steam after he was held accountable for his false statement.
“He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out” Moderator Crowley repeated.
Here is the actual transcript of the speech that President Obama provided from the Rose Garden on September 12, 2012, a day after the Benghazi attack:
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe. No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
During the closing remarks Romney made it clear that he cares about 100% of Americans and said that he wants everyone to have a bright and prosperous future. President Obama finished his remarks by bringing up the 47% quote (not a gaffe) that Romney made earlier inside a private Republican fundraiser involving the belief that 47% of Americans consider themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility.