Debate 2: Town Hall

Originally published on Oct. 17, 2012

Tonight’s town hall style debate gave President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney the chance to address undecided voters about their positions on issues including foreign policy, taxes and economic growth.

Obama, who spoke and made his points with an air of confidence, seemed to have made a recovery from his loss at the first presidential debate. Commentators following the debate noted that the President’s assertiveness and confidence seemed a bit too aggressive, however, especially when correcting his opponent. Romney also garnered praise for his performance as he capitalized on the momentum from his victory at the last debate.

Each question brought out direct attacks from the candidates. When discussing jobs, Obama cited news reports that accused Romney of working with the “pioneers of outsourcing.” Romney countered by saying that, if elected, he would be more proactive about bringing jobs back into the country. Neither candidate outlined a specific plan to bring these jobs back to the United States, but the Obama said he wanted to bring “high-wage” jobs back, not the low-wage factory jobs found abroad.

Governor Romney criticized the President’s record more thoroughly this time around. He brought up so-called “failures” of the Obama administration—including its promise to cut the deficit. He said the President promised to cut the deficit by half, but instead doubled it in his four years in office. The idea that Romney’s record of balancing the budget in

Massachusetts proves that he is more capable of balancing the federal budget than the current administration has fast become one of the mantras of the Republican campaign.
Although next week’s debate is dedicated to foreign policy, the candidates skimmed the surface when questions concerning the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya arose. The candidates’ remarks were far from the most unexpected moment of this part of the debate, however; moderator Candy Crowley of CNN made a point to clarify—over

Obama’s protests—when the President referred to the attack in Benghazi as an act of terror. Governor Romney accused the President of waiting two weeks before declaring it a terror attack, but Crowley jumped in quickly and declared that Obama had in fact called it an act of terror in his Rose Garden speech the following day. Obama then accused

Romney of politicizing the incident via press release, saying that this type of behavior was not fitting of a commander-in-chief.

Although the two also touched on issues with Middle East relations in general—namely regarding Iran, Israel and Pakistan—the subject will be examined more thoroughly next Monday night. Obama has said that Romney is not fit to hold the Commander-in-Chief title, while Gov. Romney accuses the President of not using the title enough. In theory, the final debate will help the public decide, but convincing arguments from either candidate still have yet to sway the undecided vote.

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