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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Obama On the Offensive in Second Debate

In a more intimate, town-hall style environment, the two presidential candidates faced each other on key issues revolving around domestic and foreign policies.

Round two of the presidential debates Tuesday night showcased a newly aggressive and energetic President Barack Obama facing his Republican challenger Mitt Romney on key issues in domestic and foreign policies.

The president accused Romney of favoring a “one-point plan” that will help the rich at the expense of a middle class, to which Governor Romney responded, “the middle class has been crushed over the last four years.” It was the first of the repeated lively moments of the 90-minute debate at Hofstra University in Long Island.

Moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, the town-hall style debate began with a question from a concerned college student, who asked what the nominees’ plans are to ensure he and fellow colleagues will get a job after graduation.

Mitt Romney said he was going to promise college would be affordable for students by maintaining Pell grants and loan programs. President Obama also stated he will work to keep college affordable by reducing the deficit and manufacturing jobs in America.

President Obama showed a change in demeanor for Tuesday night as he took on a more forceful and feistier approach compared to his performance two weeks ago in Colorado.

Romney and Obama fiercely disagreed about taxes, measures to reduce the deficit, energy, pay equity for women, and immigration laws.

The Republican candidate said America is a nation of immigrants and believes a stronger legal system must be in place, by handing out more green cards and visas to those who come legally.

“What I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so. I won’t put in place magnets for people coming here illegally, so for instance, I would not give driver’s licenses to those that have come here illegally, as the president would,” Romney said.

President Obama took his time to address how his administration has fixed the immigration system so far.

“First thing we did was to streamline the legal immigration system to reduce the backlog, make it easier, simpler and cheaper for people who are waiting in line, obeying the law, to make sure that they can come here and contribute to our country,” he said. “And that’s good for our economic growth. They’ll start new businesses. They’ll make things happen to create jobs here in the U.S.”

While the majority of the debate focused on policy differences, Romney brought up a more personal question regarding President Obama's pension.

When Obama said Romney had investments in China, the Republican nominee asked, "Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?"

The president shot back at Romney saying, "You know I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it doesn't take as long."

Toward the end of the debate, one undecided voter asked about the recent death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in a terrorist attack at an American post in Benghazi.

Romney said Obama took too long to recognize the terrorist attack and focused on fundraising in Las Vegas instead. However, the president defended himself saying he announced it the day after in an appearance in the Rose Garden at the White House.

To end the debate, the last question asked the candidates to defend themselves from the misperception that the American people have about them as candidates.

Mitt Romney answered first, "I care about a 100 percent of the American people. I want a hundred percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I'm a guy who wants to help, with the experience I have, the American people."

To close off his remarks, president Obama finally referenced Romney's comment on how he believes 47 percents of Americans are dependent upon the country.

"I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuses personal responsibility-- think about who he was talking about: 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," president Obama said. "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."

The third and final presidential debate will take place at Lynn University in Florida next Monday at 6 p.m.


You can watch CNN News clip presenting President Obama's speech in which he called Benghazi consulate attack as act of terror on September 12, 2012; here:
In contrast to the assertion of Governor Romney

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