Debate #2 between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is in the books, and it was quite a different affair than the first encounter. Romney held his own on issue after issue, as Obama sought to gain ground lost after the first debate. Obama certainly came on stronger, but did his directness and anger play well? Romney was as assertive as before, but what happened on the topic of Libya?
The town hall format of the second presidential debate allowed the candidates an opportunity to engage directly with undecided voters. In watching the debate, I thought this formate actually helped Romney, especially during the first half. Obama seemed very tense, and although he was definitely more “into it,” he seemed almost too aggressive. Obama came across as snippy and arrogant.
Romney scored huge points whenever the issue of the economy was tackled, and this just isn’t my analysis as a conservative writer. According to Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s instant poll of debate watchers, “59% say Romney would do a better job on the deficit, 36% say President Obama would do a better job on the deficit.”
That statistic right there is incredible. As I watched the debate analysis on Fox News, the issue of the economy ranked #1 with debate watchers. So, on the number one issue, Romney overwhelmingly bested Obama. Here are more figures from Blitzer and CNN’s post debate polling:
We also asked who would better handle the issue of taxes. 51% say Romney. 44% say president Obama.”
“49% say Romney would better handle health care, compared to 46% for president Obama. 49-46.”
“We also asked who seemed to be a stronger leader. 49% said Governor Romney, compared to 46% for President Obama.”
“We also asked who spent more time attacking his opponent. 49% said President Obama. 35% said Governor Romney.”
45% say Romney answered the questions more directly, compared to 43% for President Obama.”
Romney even beat Obama on health care. These results are incredible. Fox News’ focus group of voters (many of whom voted for Obama in 2008) was sold on Romney’s position on the issues and projection of leadership.
The debate was filled with interruptions from both sides, but as in the first debate, Romney always seems to remain calm and respectful. Obama came across as annoyed and with this built in feeling of “I’m the president so I’m going to interrupt.” That will not go over well with the American people.
Romney also scored a direct hit on the issue of energy. Obama actually stood before America and said he believes in drilling… that there is more drilling going on. Romney did not miss a beat. He pointed out that drilling on public lands is down dramatically under Obama. Whether it is land drilling or off shore, the number of permits allowed by the Obama administration is down considerably. Romney caught him, and Obama had no where to go.
The only real missed opportunity was on the issue of the murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Romney had a chance to knock Obama out, but missed it.
Obama said in the debate that the day following the attacks, he stood in the Rose Garden and called it an act of terror. Romney countered… knowing that he had Obama on a clearly misleading and untrue statement. However, Romney and his team were not fully prepped on how to deliver the punch. When the moderator stepped in and sided with Obama — basically saying that Obama DID say the Benghazi attacks were a terrorist act — Romney was thrown off a bit.
Here are the facts, and Romney had so many opportunities to pounce. In the Rose Garden speech, Obama did NOT say that the Libyan violence was a terrorist attack. He flat out did not say that. He mentioned all sorts of things that went on and added generically that “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation.”
Ok fine, but was the Libyan attack a terrorist attack? Obama was asked by Univision FOLLOWING his Rose Garden speech. He wouldn’t say. He was on The View and asked… he wouldn’t say. In his speech on the United Nations two weeks later, Obama mentioned the anti-muslim Internet video six times. He never once said the attack was a terrorist attack. Romney could have wiped him out.
Brit Hume from Fox News had a brilliant analysis of the Libya portion of the debate. Not only did he touch on the items I mentioned, but he also noted that Romney could have turned Obama’s statement that he DID call it a terrorist attack against him. All Romney needed to say is, “Ok Mr. President, if you said and knew it was a terrorist attack the next day, then why did you send your U.N. ambassador on five different shows and say it was a spontaneous attack from an Internet video? Why did you perpetuate the notion that a video was the cause when you say you knew it was a terrorist attack.”
Fortunately, the final debate is focused on foreign policy, and Obama will have nowhere to hide. All in all, Romney did well. Obama did much better than the first debate, but his tone, demeanor, and overall anger level did not go over well. Plus, he has a record that he can’t defend, and all he did was attack Romney. Voters have had four years of failure, and Obama is not giving them any reason to vote FOR him.
What did you think of the debate?