Barack Obama, Mitt Romney spar in round two of 2012 presidential debates


Photo: Ethan Crane/Iowa State Daily

A presidential debate watch party was held on Oct. 16 at the Story County Democratic Campaign Headquarters. 

David Bartholomew

In what was billed as one of the most decisive points of the election season, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney squared off in their second of three debates at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.

With journalist and moderator Candy Crowley at the helm, the debate started off with a question from the audience to Mitt Romney about students finding a job in this economy.

“This question is being asked by young people all over the country,” Romney said. “And we have to make sure they have a job out of college.”

Obama countered Romney’s statement by relating to his efforts to rebuild the manufacturing industry in the U.S., spur investment in the U.S. and control American energy, including what the President called “energy of the future.”

Later on, the topic of the debate quickly turned to energy.

“There’s no [denying] that oil demand is going up,” Obama said. “But production is also going up … We want to make sure we are producing coal cheaper and safer, same with oil and gas.”

Eventually, the tone turned to taxes as an audience member asked Romney to explain which deductions he would make in his tax plan to help make up for the reduction in revenue.

“I am going to bring rates down across the board for everyone,” Romney said. “The top income earners will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax. Middle class earners will get a tax break.”

Obama gave a similar response to the question, but tried to distance himself from Romney on taxes on the top earners.

“I want to give middle class families some relief,” Obama said. “In addition to some tough spending cuts, we have to ensure that the wealthy do a little more.”

Obama also challenged Romney on his supposed backtracking on earlier statements Romney made about not raising taxes on higher income earners. Romney argued that he wants to allow for more capital for small businesses which would in turn allow them to hire more workers.

Later on, an interesting question came from the audience to Governor Romney in regards to what his difference between himself and former President George Bush was.

“My policy starts with getting all of the energy in North America,” Romney said. “I am also going to get tough on China … I’m also going to balance the budget.”

Having the advantage again of speaking second, Obama touted the many consecutive months of job growth under his own presidency and said how Romney’s policies were not so different from President Bush’s.

As the night went on, the debate slowly turned to the consulate attacks in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans were killed. Obama was able to factually correct Romney when he challenged him on a statement that Obama made after the Benghazi attacks.

After a couple of questions about gun control and jobs, another audience member asked both candidates what the biggest misconception about them was. Romney talked about his faith and idea of private enterprise. Obama took a slightly different approach.

“I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative,” Obama said. “I also believe everyone should have a fair shot.”

The debate closed with moderator Candy Crowley thanking both candidates for their participation and an avalanche of pundit analysis and post-debate poll predictions.