President Obama is clear, strong and factual as he dominates Mitt Romney in debate number two.
There was a lot at stake in the Presidential Debate at Hofstra last night. After the first debate Mr. Romney scored a surprising victory over President Obama. It was not just that he had won the debate, but also that Obama lost it with a lack of enthusiasm and an amazing inability to strongly make his point. There was a certain amount of wind taken out of the sails of Democrats across the country, and many were looking to this debate to give them the boost and confidence that Obama is indeed up to the task of a second term. Obama delivered on these and all counts - in spades.
Obama was back to his usual self last night; confident and self-assured. He battled Romney on all the key points that this election hinges on including the economy, healthcare and jobs. National polls taken immediately after the debate confirm that Obama indeed was the winner. As with the first debate we have graded the last debate using 5 criteria for success. Below is our assessment.
Offense - "A"
One of the major criticisms of the first debate was a lack of offense by the President. In this debate Obama delivered a controlled aggression that left Romney on his heels most of the night. Obama started the debate crisp and focused; talking about his plans to help students get jobs after graduation and quickly pivoting to the economy and job creation. He won this first exchange with Romney and continued to win many of the exchanges. Most importantly Obama won it by touting his own record and accomplishments. He took the fight directly to Romney by outlining his successes and challenging Romney to rebutt them.
President Obama has a lot to be proud of regarding his first term and he let the crowd know about it.
He spoke of his passage of the fair pay act for women (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. )
He spoke of his reduction of unemployment from 10.9% to 7.8% and of the creation of over 5 million jobs during his tenure.
He spoke proudly about the passage of Obamacare and how it positively affects the lives of millions of Americans.
He spoke of all of his foreign policy successes including the ending of the raq war and the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the decimation of Al Queda.
As opposed to the last debate, this Obama did not keep his arrows in the quiver. He shot them at Romney all night long.
Defense - "A+"
This area was by far the best point of improvement for Obama. No longer professorial or aloof, the PResident sharply rebutted OBama on policies from Libya to the economy. Two exchanges summarize the night for Obama. The first was when Romney described his "5-point plan" to improve the economy. Obama rebutted:
"Governor 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. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as a governor and that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”
His second crushing moment was when Romney tried to play politics with the death of 4 Americans in the recent tragedy in Libya. Obama took great offense and unleashed a scathing rebuttal on Romney that must still be stinging today.
"The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime."
"And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families."
"And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief."
Obama delivered this line with steel in his eyes and a force that I personaly have never seen in our President. He not only defended his position, but he showed Romney and the world his strength and conviction as the President and as a man. In my opinion at this point the debate was effectively over.
"The Refs" - "B"
Candy Crowley was a much better debate referee than Jim Crowley who moderated the first debate. Although Romney tried to run over her like he did Lehrer in the first debate, Crowley did a much better job keeping Romney in check, which resulted in Romney looking more like a desparate bully rather than a calm, cool presidential candidate. Crowley also made sure all the questions were asked, ensuring that Obama had a chance to state his positions on immigration, health care, contraception and many other issues that were omitted from the first debate.
Crowley earns her B grade however by fact-checking Romney on one of his lies he tried to insert into the debate. Romney tried to state that the Obama Administration did not call the Libyan attacks an "act of terror". This was to be Romney's killer line to attack the president as somehow lying to the American people. Crowley correctly stated that Obama indeed did call the attacks an act of terror which led to the exposure of Romney as a less-than-honest dealer. This exchange immediately preceded the crushing statement that Obama dealt on Libya (see above).
Intangibles (Body Language) - "A"
There was a night-and-day difference between this Obama and the one who showed up for the last debate. This Obama looked awake, energized, and focused. He was cool in his answers, compassionate to the crowd and spoke clearly without hesitation. He looked Romney in his eye as he delivered his answers with clarity and strength.
Conversely Romney came across as flustered on several occasions. When Obama delivered his line on Libya I felt like Obama was capable of defending this country against anyone. In addition, I felt like Obama could whip Romney in any arena - debate or streetfight.
Close-out - "A+"
We had all been waiting for Obama to make his case and tell the American people why he should be the President for another 4 years. That is exactly what Obama did last night in his closing statement. More imporatantly we wanted him to state why Romney should not be president. He delivered on that too. Amazingly Romney opened the door to criticism when he stated in his closing that he was a man who cared about 100% of the people. Obama pounced on this in his closing, highlighting Romney's crass statements about 47 percent of Americans as not taking personal responsiblity for their own lives.
He showed the world the "real Romney" and he pulled no punches. It was exactly the punctuation that Obama needed on a strong night for the President. As Obama was the one with the last word, the President left an indelible negative image of Romney on the minds of all who watched the debate. It will be very difficult for Romney to clean up his image in time for a victory in the election.
Overall Grade - "A"
Last night's was critical for Obama and he delivered. He repaired the wounded psyche of Democrats and showed everyone that he is indeed strong enough and deserving of a second term. For many, Obama represents the "every man" and a sense of fair play, while Romney represents the uncaring plutocrat who dominates the world with his wealth and power. After the last debate many people (including myself) feared that the evil plutocrat would win; removing all hope for a fair America where everyone had a fair shot. Obama restored our faith last night and moved much closer to winning a well-deserved second term.
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