Obama, who concluded that he was “too polite” in his first debate with Romney, made sure no one would say that this time around, The New York Times
Obama was feistier from the outset than he had been in their initial encounter two weeks ago.
He interrupted, he scolded, he filibustered, he shook his head.
The stakes for Round 2 were high. And the audience could definitely tell. The former Governor felt the pressure to hold on to the footing he gained in Denver while the President, back against the wall, had to come out swinging.
And for a moment there, America thought one of them might actually
take a swing, MTV News
The open-stage format left the two men free to stroll freely across the stage. The candidates were in each other's faces — literally. At one point, Obama squared off with Romney face to face, almost chest to chest, circling each other in the middle of the stage like boxers in a prize fight.
As US News
notes, neither candidate was prepared to give ground. Both men began to talk simultaneously, face to face, before moderator Candy Crowley of CNN called the round and sent them to their corners.
Both candidates argued their cases with conviction. Romney held his own and gave as good as he got, presenting Obama as a failed president who deserted a middle class “crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again,” he said.
But it was Obama who was the central story line of the night, The New York Times said, his performance coming across as a striking contrast to that of his first face-off with Romney.
Obama was relentless in dismissing Romney's policies.
“What Governor Romney said just isn’t true.”
“Not true, Governor Romney, not true.”
“What you’re saying is just not true.”
Obama painted Romney as a tool of big oil who is soft on China, hard on immigrants, politically crass on Libya and two-faced on guns and energy.
Will Jeremy Find A Job?
The first question of the night came from 20-year-old college student Jeremy Epstein who asked a question on the minds of many young voters: How will you ensure that young people will have employment after graduation?
Romney replied that the current administration has "crushed the middle class" and failed in putting Americans back to work.
"The president's policies have been exercised over the last four years, and they haven't put people back to work," he said.
For his part, Obama began by telling Jeremy: "Your future is bright."
Rebutting his rival's assertion to a five-point plan to create 12 million jobs, Obama said, "Gov. Romney says he's got a five-point plan. Gov. Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules."
also reported that used the first question to blast Romney's opposition to the bailout of two of the three big U.S. automakers. Obama said that if Romney's way had prevailed, bankruptcy would have cost a million Americans their jobs.
"The last thing we need to do is go back to the same policies" that put the nation into an economic downturn four years ago, Obama said.
Romney said of the automobile industry bailout that going through the bankruptcy process "was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened."
Obama responded immediately. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open." Obama said that without the government bailout he supported, "we would have lost a million jobs."
Romney worst than Bush
The former Massachusetts governor was questioned by a woman in the audience who said she as many Americans blamed former president George W. Bush's policies for much of the economic difficulty of the past four years and wanted to know what Romney would do differently from Bush, the last Republican to hold the office.
"We are different people, and these are different times." Romney began.
He said that he would balance the federal budget and have tougher policies toward China.
"I'll crack down on China," Romney said. "President Bush didn't."
And you wouldn't either, Obama responded.
"Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China."
He said his administration has pressed twice as many trade complaints against China than Bush did.
In fact, Obama said Romney was more extreme than Bush, noting that the former president did not try to cut off federal support for Planned Parenthood or turn Medicare into a voucher system as Romney has promised.
"In some ways he's gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social issues," Obama said of Romney.
One of the debate's tensest moments came when a voter asked about the Obama administration's response to an attack in Libya that killed American ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Obama first criticized his opponent for what he called an attempt to "turn national security into a political issue."
"The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the rose garden, and I told the American people that ... this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime."
Romney, however, questioned that statement. Romney said it took Obama at least two weeks to call it an act of terror.
Obama corrected him, saying he had said so the day after in an appearance in the Rose Garden outside the White House.
Suddenly, Crowley chimed in.
“He did, in fact, call it an act of terror,” Crowley said.
“Can you say it a little louder?” Obama asked her.
The audience laughed and filled the room with applause.
Romney's 'Binders Full Of Women'
During the debate Romney and Obama were both asked to respond to a question about pay equity for women. Both made valiant attempts to appeal to women with personal examples of how they will ensure equal opportunity in the workplace, CBS
Obama reminded America that he was raised by a single mother and that he has two daughters who he wants to ensure "the same opportunity's anybody's sons have."
As for Romney, he recounted a story in which he noticed none of the applicants for his cabinet were women, adding that his staff responded by saying: "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications."
"I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women," Romney said.
Not just a few, but "binders of women." Binders. Of women, MTV writes.
Within minutes, the quote immediately went viral on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube.
the hashtag #bindersfullofwomen was trending
worldwide on Twitter. The Twitter parody accounts @RomneyBinders and @Romneys_binder were quickly launched and had netted more than 32,000 and 13,000 followers respectively, by Wednesday morning.
Drum roll please: the 47 percent remark
Obama saved his knockout punch for the last round during his final, two-minute closing statement. After remaining quiet about it for weeks, Obama called out Romney for his hidden-camera remarks at a Florida fundraiser in which he said 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes and believe they are “victims.” And it was a zinger.
"When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about," Obama said.
"Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives. Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams ...I want to fight for them. That's what I've been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds."
By the end of the debate, Romney spoke for nearly 41 minutes, Obama a little over 44 minutes, according to Yahoo
Voters say that Obama performed better than Romney by a substantial margin in their second debate, according to a Reuters
/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.
The 90-minute encounter, held at Hofstra University on Long Island, was held as a town hall meeting, with questions coming from the audience of about 80 swing voters selected by the Gallup polling organization.
According to KRQE
, Obama appears to have 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory comfortably in hand, and Romney is confident of 191. That leaves 110 electoral votes up for grabs in nine battleground states: Florida (29), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4).
The third and final presidential match up will take place Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Florida, focusing on foreign policy.