Round one of the series of presidential debates went to Mitt Romney, with President Barack Obama delivering a lackluster and disappointing performance. But the general consensus on last night’s rematch is that both candidates were on their game.
The setting, a town hall style forum at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, was in a state generally dominated by the Democratic Party, which certainly didn’t hurt the president’s case. Questions came from the audience of undecided voters and covered a variety of issues including energy independence, job creation, pay equity for women, foreign policy and of course, the economy. This gave each candidate the opportunity to spin off into their favorite talking points.
Obama leaned heavily on his record of accomplishments in health care, foreign policy, middle class tax breaks and the auto industry bailout. Meanwhile, Romney criticized the President’s economic policies, expounded on his own tax plan and positioned himself as a job creating machine. The two clashed over everything from the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack to where their pensions are invested to who had more time left on the clock.
Moderator Candy Crowley kept things in check despite sometimes volatile verbal sparring and intense, near-physical confrontations. The event offered up plenty of Twitter-worthy moments, with phrases like “binder full of women” quickly going viral. And Obama used his final statement to his advantage, getting in a dig about Romney’s hidden-camera reference to the “47 percent.”
Both sides are claiming a victory, but did the performance sway any of those who are still undecided? Is there a clear winner of round two? What did you hear last night that surprised you? What were your favorite moments?
Eugene Kiely, deputy director, FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center
Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief for the Gallup Poll