Instant analysis: town hall presidential debate a heated draw

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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — President Barack Obama and Republican opponent Mitt Romney participated in the second debate of the presidential race at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York Tuesday night. The debate was a much more spirited debate, with both candidates going after each other's record.

The debate covered a myriad of subjects in both foreign and domestic policy, with CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley moderating the debate. Crowley did a good job of keeping the candidates on task and making sure they stayed close to their time restraints. Additionally, she was not afraid to cut off either candidate as they discussed their policies.

Coming into the debate, Democrats were looking for a more energetic performance from Pres. Obama following his poor performance two weeks ago. The president came out with more passion and looked to control the debate. At times, some believed Pres. Obama was a little too aggressive, cutting off Romney and Crowley.

Romney, too, came out aggressive, challenging Pres. Obama on the statements he made and making sure his position was considered.

"Wow, I don't think Obama and Romney are going to have post-debate words. Wow. Tense," tweeted @DanielStrauss4 after the debate.


"Look, I don't know who won, just happy both candidates were spirited and we all enjoyed the debate," tweeted @Yahoo_Graham. "I was really waiting for punches."

Both candidates did a good job of promoting their message and showing the differences between their plans, but specific policies were generally overlooked.

Tweets (Photo: Topsy)

"Pres Obama has failed to answer several questions tonight -- more evasive than usual," tweeted @stephenfhayes. "But the dodge on Libya was especially bad."

"Well, I think that both hit their marks. O was finally engaged. Romney kept up the attacks. Pundits should be pleased," tweeted @AaronTWalker.

Tweets (Photo: Topsy)

While the topic of jobs was the most talked about on twitter during the debate, it was the discussion of former President George W. Bush that prompted the most tweets. As the undecided voter asked, many Americans want to see how either candidate would be different from the Bush administration, which many Americans struggle with.

Romney gave several differences between his plan and Pres. Bush's policies, saying he wanted to have oil and energy independence, more free trade agreements, a balanced budget and championing small businesses.

Presidential Debate Grades:
Did the candidate answer the question?
  • Barack Obama: B
    • Although the president was much more energetic, he dodged many specifics. However, he had more substance than Romney at time.
  • Mitt Romney: B-
    • Romney, too, dodged some of the questions, attempting to talk about what he wanted.

How was their delivery?
  • Barack Obama: A-
    • Pres. Obama certainly improved, speaking with more energy and passion. However, at moments, he came off a little too aggressive.
  • Mitt Romney: A-
    • Romney was in similar fashion to the first debate, coming off strong.

How did they present themselves?
  • Barack Obama: A
    • Pres. Obama appeared to have more confidence and it showed in how he attempted to take control of the debate.
  • Mitt Romney: A-
    • Romney did a good job of stating his positions and going toe-to-toe with Pres. Obama, but had some missteps in some of his talking points.

Did they appear genuine?
  • Barack Obama: A
    • Pres. Obama attempted to show his concern for the American people.
  • Mitt Romney: A
    • Romney, too, showed his concern for the American people.
Who was the overall winner?
  • All-around tie
    • Both candidates and Candy Crowley did a good job of creating a spirited discussion about the policies voters are concerned about. However, voters still on the fence are likely still looking for answers.

However, many people on twitter though Pres. Obama gave a better rebuttal, saying the two are different because Romney has gone more to the extreme on social policies.

"Surprised Romney didn't have a better answer to how he's different than Bush," tweeted @ezraklein.

Overall, the candidates did a good job of firing up their base. Both campaigns will likely see areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Public perception

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • The free enterprise system is the best system ever known, but everyone should have a fair shot.
    • Says he believe Romney cares, but why would he make a comment about 47 percent of Americans who aren't working to make their lives better.
    • If these people (47%) succeed, America succeeds.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Says he cares about 100 percent of the American people.
    • Passion comes because of his belief in God, which helped him work with families that were struggling.

Outsourcing jobs

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • The corporate tax rate is too high, but loopholes should be closed that allow businesses to increase profit overseas.
    • Must double our exports, which will increase jobs in America.
    • There are some jobs that will not come back, but America needs high-wage jobs.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Jobs have gone to China because he says America has made it less attractive to stay — wants to make America more attractive.
    • A trickle-down government is not the way to get jobs growing in America.
    • China has not played by the rules because they have lowered their currency, which makes it more attractive for others to ship jobs overseas.
    • Trade partners must play by the rules and tax rates must go down so businesses will be attracted to the U.S.
    • We can compete with the world if the playing field is leveled — China must play fairly.

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "outsourcing."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "outsourcing." (Photo: Topsy)

Gun control

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Said he respects the second amendment.
    • Wants to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, especially for those with mental illnesses.
    • Wants guns that belong in the hands of military members out of the hands of American people — no assault weapons.
    • Agrees with Romney about better education and the influence of families reducing crime.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Not in favor of taking guns away from American people, expect for automatic weapons, which are already illegal.
    • A better education will help reduce the crime rates, as will a two-parent family.
    • Says Fast & Furious was a situation where the administration gave guns to criminals.
    • Romney says as governor he passed a mutually agreed upon legislation, which is what the nation needs when addressing gun control.

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "guns."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "guns." (Photo: Topsy)


  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Diplomats serve all over the world in a difficult situation — they're his diplomats and he's very concerned for their safety
    • Says Romney made the issues associated with Libya a political issue.
    • Says he will find who is responsible and work to correct this from happening again.
    • Said Sec. Hillary Clinton works for him and it is his responsibility.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Said it is Obama's job to take responsibility over the attacks on Libya.
    • Calls out Pres. Obama for campaigning while Americans were killed overseas by terrorists.
    • The administration took a long time to say it was a terrorist act when they already knew.

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "Libya."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "Libya." (Photo: Topsy)


  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • We all understand what this country has become because people want to come to America to take a risk.
    • We are a nation of laws and we need to fix the system — streamline the process.
    • Put more border patrol agents at the border.
    • Should go after the gangs or problem people, not immigrants who are in school, working to make a better life — give them a path to citizenship.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • This is a nation of immigrants and we welcome legal immigrants.
    • Says he wants the process streamlined — give people green cards who are in America for school.
    • Says he will not grant amnesty, but will put in place an employment verification system or allow illegal immigrants to have driver's licenses.
    • The president failed to get things done when the Democrats controlled Congress.
    • Self deportation allows people to make their own choice. We're not going to round up people and taking them out of the country.

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "immigration."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "immigration." (Photo: Topsy)

Difficult four year

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Has cut taxes, ended the war, put in place health care reform, and passed wall street reform, which were all promises four years ago.
    • Says families are still struggling, but he is working to control manufacturing and energy to help overcome their struggles.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Last four years have not been good because the president has failed policies and promises — repeat of the last four years.
    • If Obamacare is implemented fully, the middle class will be hurt even more.
    • The growth of the economy is slowing, which only shows how the next four years will be.
    • Obama is great as a speaker, but his record needs to be looked at, and it hasn't helped Americans.

Differences between he and Bush

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "Bush."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "Bush." (Photo: Topsy)

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Has opened up a task force to open up free trade agreements
    • Says Romney is different from Bush because he has gone more extreme on social policies.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Says his five-point plan is different than Bush's — oil independence, more free trade agreements, a balanced budget and championing small business.
    • Says Obamacare keeps people from succeeding and creating jobs in small businesses.

Inequalities in the workplace

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "inequalities."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "inequalities." (Photo: Topsy)

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Says he has already worked to fight inequalities in the workplace — his first bill worked to eliminate inequality.
    • Has expanded pell grants for families to help people compete in the marketplace.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Says as governor he took a concerted effort to infuse women in his administration.
    • A stronger economy will help women succeed in the workplace.


Tweets over the last 24 hours about "taxes."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "taxes." (Photo: Topsy)

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • In addition to tough spending cuts, wealthy individuals need to contribute more.
    • Must go back to the tax breaks under the presidency of Bill Clinton.
    • Obama says the math does not add for Romney's plan because wealthy Americans aren't paying their fair share.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Romney says he wants middle income tax people to pay lower taxes because they have been struggling the most.
    • Says he will limit deductions and credits for wealthier individuals.
    • Says he will not reduce the share of taxes on wealthier individuals and will create a balanced budget.
    • Lower tax rates for small business will encourage jobs.
    • Romney says the numbers add up because he's put them to use and has balanced the budget.

Gas prices

Tweets over the last 24 hours about "outsourcing."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "outsourcing." (Photo: Topsy)

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Must control our own energy and not rely upon old means of energy
    • Says new areas need to be opened up to drill, but America must develop other energy uses such as natural gas.
    • Obama says the U.S. has encouraged more development to energy and has worked to develop more clean coal.
    • Says he wants to create an economy that is strong, which will help energy costs go down.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Says oil production is down because the president cut licenses.
    • Says he wants to use oil, coal, but new energy techniques need to be developed to help become energy independent, which will bring back jobs to America.
    • Says he will take more advantage of the oil in Canada.
    • Romney said the president has cut back on practices to decrease the price in energy.


Tweets over the last 24 hours about "jobs."
Tweets over the last 24 hours about "jobs." (Photo: Topsy)

  • Pres. Barack Obama:
    • Make sure good paying jobs are being created, building upon the 5 million jobs already created.
    • Wants to make college more affordable
    • Creating our own energy will help create jobs.
    • Obama says bankrupting business is not the answer, it's what's hurting middle class families.
  • Mitt Romney:
    • Must make it more affordable for people to go to college and help them get jobs after school.
    • Wants to keep pell grants for students in college.
    • Although unemployment rate is same as when Pres. Obama took office, it doesn't account for those who stopped looking for a job.
    • Romney says he wanted businesses to go bankrupt to help build them up in the future to create jobs.

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Josh Furlong


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