Recap: Live-blogging the second debate


Photo by AP

Tonight, our District 4 politics bloggers provided analysis, fact-checking and commentary for the town hall presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Watch the debate above.

9:58 pm – Alec Brooks

On Twitter, some people were pointing out the use of disposable cameras. On the bottom of page 3, of the official debate terms, candidates are forbidden to use “portable electronic devices.”

Other random things the agreement prescribes: the height of the podiums (48 inches), how the background will be selected (the Commission chooses and campaigns approve) and the type of microphone to be used during the town hall debate (wireless).

9:51 pm – Allison Kruschke

The speed of the Internet age strikes again. Romney’s “Binder’s full of women” comment, in reference to his search for female cabinet members, has already become a tumblr.

9:48 pm – Joe Kaiser

Chris Wallace on FOX News just now: ‘Both candidates were wrong on Libya.’

9:43 pm – Joe Kaiser

NBC post debate analysis: “Obama clearly wanted to re-disqualify Romney.”

9:40 pm – Joe Kaiser

Very powerful closing statement by Obama, showing the emotion he lacked in the first debate. Again, Romney was not weaker, but this was a different Obama than the last debate.

9:39 pm – Allison Kruschke

A strong close from Obama. If it was my call, I’d say he came away with a victory tonight, although his performance wasn’t perfect by any means. We’ll see what the polls have to say.

9:38 pm – Alec Brooks

“I care about 100 percent of the American people.” — Romney

A clear reference to the “47 percent” controversy, which hadn’t been brought up or referenced by Obama and Romney in either debate until now. Obama was definitely on the attack, but for whatever reason, he didn’t mention it until after Romney did.

9:37 pm – Joe Kaiser

Interesting how Romney criticized China for keeping the yuan artificially low, while we don’t take the time to debate about our own monetary policy.

9:35 pm – Allison Kruschke

“I care about 100% of the American people.” Romney taking the offense about the “47 percent” comment for the first time in the debates.

9:34 pm – Alec Brooks

Obama says “pioneers of outsourcing” is “what reporters call it.” I don’t think I like him trying to take advantage of journalists’ objectivity.

9:30 pm – Joe Kaiser

One question left. Good move by Obama in this debate hiring Romney’s debate prep staffers.

That last part was sarcasm, but seriously, a much stronger showing by the president. Romney was not weak, but he had a lot more on his hands.

9:25 pm – Alec Brooks

Wait, how did we get to education?

9:23 pm – Allison Kruschke

Obama suggests stopping violence at it’s roots – banning semi-automatic weapons is one piece of the puzzle, but community problems must be addressed as well.

9:21 pm – Joe Kaiser

On the gun issue, the president brought up violence in his hometown of Chicago. This weekend five were killed and 25 more were wounded in gun violence in Chicago, despite their strict gun laws.

9:18 pm – Joe Kaiser

Despite a bad week for the Obama administration the Libya issue, he was very strong on that question. Definitely was prepped well for that.

9:16 pm – Alec Brooks

“The suggestion that anyone on my team … would play politics when we lost one of our own, Governor, is offensive.” — Obama

9:07 pm – Allison Kruschke

Ahhh there are the zingers! Romney: “Have you looked at your pension?” Obama: “I haven’t looked at it recently, I just know it’s not as big as yours.”

9:06 pm – Alec Brooks

FACT-CHECK: Romney did not call Arizona’s immigration law a model — more from Politfact. He did, however, use the term “self-deportation.”

9:04 pm – Alec Brooks

A quick search of the presidential debate and vice-presidential debate transcripts turns up 0 results for “immigration.”

9:03 pm – Allison Kruschke

Obama says that the people who should be targeted should be those illegal immigrants who happen to be “gang bangers, hurting society,” etc. Not students and other people who help the community.

I don’t know how I feel about the use of the word “gang bangers.” I could see that getting some attention.

9:01 pm – Joe Kaiser

Poor Loraine. C’mon guys, it’s not a hard name to remember!

8:57 pm – Joe Kaiser

In fact, this whole question from a reluctant former Obama supporter has the potential to be turned into an advertisement. At the very least, we are going to hear about this particular question a decent amount in the post debate analysis.

8:55 pm – Joe Kaiser

Obama saying “this election is going to be about whose promises are going to be more likely to succeed” could be another ad soundbite in the future. I will not be the least be surprised if the GOP pounces on that.

8:54 pm – Alec Brooks

I wonder if Obama is wishing Obamacare was entirely in effect already. It would make its passage feel more tangible. Some parts won’t be in place until 2015.

8:52 pm – Joe Kaiser

The president says Bush and Romney are similar on economic issues, but that the latter is more extreme on social issues.

Is Obama suggesting Bush is a better option than Romney? Did not see that one coming.

8:49 pm – Allison Kruschke

I wonder when either of these candidates will ever actually define what it means to “get tough on China.”

8:49 pm – Joe Kaiser

First George W. Bush mention of the debate cycle.

“Our party has been focused on big business for too long,” – Romney on differences between him and Bush.

Very solid line, but I would not at all be surprised if the topic of the former president is used in an ad or two to knock Romney in the near future.

8:47 pm – Allison Kruschke

The Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act of 2009 was indeed the first bill President Obama signed. The act is actually an amendment to the Equal Rights Act of 1964 that changed the 180 day statute of limitations on pay discrimination lawsuits from starting on the day the discrimination occurred to the date of each paycheck. This means that instead of having 180 days to file the suit after a woman finds the discrimination is being done, the statute resets with each subsequent paycheck affected by the discrimination.

8:46 pm – Alec Brooks

As you’ve probably noticed, the candidates have not been entirely cooperative to Crowley. They also haven’t been respecting the rules.

Both broke a rule both campaigns agreed upon before hand: “Not to engage each other directly,” according to the New York Times. You can read the agreement here.

8:41 pm – Alec Brooks

An undecided voter raises the rare question that brings up a topic that hasn’t been discussed in one of the previous debates: the pay gap between men and women. Women earned about 77 cents for every dollar men earned, according to a 2010 Time story.

8:37 pm – Allison Kruschke

The phrase that “more women have fallen into poverty” in the past four years has been thrown around quite a few times in this election. While there are always more women in poverty than men, the number of women in poverty has reached record numbers.

8:36 pm – Joe Kaiser

Obama probably should not have nodded when Romney said “how about trillion in deficits?” when talking about math “that doesn’t add up.”

8:36 pm – Alec Brooks

Crowley asks about the hypothetical situation where his numbers “don’t add up.” Romney says, “of course they add up.”

8:32 pm – Allison Kruschke

“The top 5 percent of tax payers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax,” Romney says. A from the Tax Policy Center showed that  ”if Romney’s plan eliminates enough deductions to pay for its across-the-board rate cuts, then it will have to eliminate deductions that benefit the middle class.”

The middle class is almost a buzz word at this point in the election.

8:26 pm – Joe Kaiser

According to, Obama’s proposed tax rates for a second term:

  • 10 percent
  • 15 percent
  • 25 percent
  • 28 percent
  • 36 percent
  • 39.6 percent

And Romney’s:

  • 8 percent
  • 12 percent
  • 20 percent
  • 22.4 percent
  • 26.4 percent
  • 28 percent


8:24 pm – Allison Kruschke

I am honestly sick of both candidates disrespecting the moderator. This should be someone they’re trying to impress – moderators vote, too.

8:22 pm – Joe Kaiser

That minor clash just then definitely reminded me of this from the 2000 town hall debate.

8:20 pm – Joe Kaiser

Romney and Obama start chirping back and forth on oil. Both came across strong during the exchange, regardless of who held the truth.

8:20 pm – Allison Kruschke

They’re circling like hyenas!

8:19 pm – Alec Brooks

If the candidates get any closer, they’ll be dancing.

8:18 pm – Joe Kaiser

Here are the highlights of the memorandum of understanding that the candidates agreed to before the debates started. Some of the points in the agreement caused a stir earlier today.

8:18 pm – Allison Kruschke

Obama stresses that clean energy is vital and will help our “economic future.” He also references the first question from a college student about getting a job, claiming there’s a huge untapped resource in jobs in clean energy.

Obama has been slammed over high gas prices for months. In March, Romney said that Obama wanted gas prices to “skyrocket” when he became president. While Obama did make a comment about energy costs “skyrocketing,” he was referring to a discussion about cap-and-trade and reducing greenhouse emissions, not gas prices.

8:17 pm – Alec Brooks

The Obama campaign’s trying to get #RealRomney trending — an interesting use of social media. Will Obama echo the “real Romney” up on stage? He hasn’t yet.

8:15 pm – Joe Kaiser

After asking the first question, ‘Jeremy’ has become very popular through the first 15 minutes, being mentioned by both candidates since then when addressing different questions.

8:12 pm – Joe Kaiser

“Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five point plan, he has a one point plan,” – Obama on Romney’s economic plan, claiming again that the GOP nominee supports a ‘top down approach.’ The president has come out swinging.

8:10 pm – Alec Brooks

Going into the debate, Romney leads Obama 50–46 according to an Oct. 16 Gallup poll. The result is within the margin of error, but the past few weeks have definitely taken a toll on Obama. In late September, Gallup had him in the lead for several consecutive polls.

8:09 pm – Allison Kruschke

Looking forward to seeing Candy Crowley moderate this debate – bring the heat! We need someone to hold these candidates accountable.

8:07 pm – Joe Kaiser

The ties flip flop: Obama in red and Romney in blue.

First question, from a college student, asks what each candidate will do to help him find a job post graduation. Romney answers first, Obama follows looking more alive than two weeks ago.