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Obama, Romney face off in second presidential debate in town hall format

October 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
At Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney faced off in the second of three presidential debate. Tuesday night's event was a town hall event.

The candidates answered questions from a group of 80 undecided voters about domestic and foreign policy over a 90-minute period. The debate was moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley. The president and Romney prepared for several days for the 90-minute showdown.

The debate began with a question about one college student's future once he graduates. The two candidates talked about their approaches toward creating jobs.

Gas prices were the next topic. Mr. Obama cited the country's energy investments and intent to control U.S. energy. Romney pointed out the lack of drilling on federal land and in federal waters and promised to save jobs in the coal industry.

The two disputed licenses and permits for drilling and mining, as well as domestic output. They sparred over the cause of rising gas prices. Romney contends the president's policies have driven up energy prices; Mr. Obama said the reason prices were so low when he took office was due to the global recession and the near-collapse of the economy.

The two candidates' approaches toward taxes was next. Both agreed they want to bring about tax relief for middle-income and working class families. That's when the exchange became testy. Mr. Obama charged that Romney's numbers don't add up. In response, Romney cited the increasing deficits over the term of Mr. Obama's presidency.

Women's issues were brought up by one of the questioners. Mr. Obama talked about passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Romney emphasized his intent to grow the economy, thereby creating jobs for all women.

Immigration policy was next. Romney said Mr. Obama has not done enough work to address both a path to citizenship for immigrants and to stop the tide of illegal immigration. Mr. Obama cited his attempts to work with Congress. He noted that the flow across the southern U.S. border is the lowest in 40 years.

The expired assault-weapons ban led to a discussion of gun control.

The two tackled outsourcing and overseas jobs. Crowley pointed out the cheap cost of labor overseas and challenged the two men to explain how to bring jobs back to the U.S. Romney talked about ways that China essentially cheated the international system through currency manipulation and stealing intellectual property. Mr. Obama talked about the importance of training engineers for high-skill jobs to compete in a more high-tech economy.

The final questioner asked the candidates what were the biggest misperceptions of each as a man and as a candidate. Romney brought up his Mormon faith and reiterated his campaign points. Mr. Obama said the biggest misperception was that he thinks government creates jobs. He said free enterprise, self-reliance, individual initiative and risk-taking were the best motivators of a growing economy.

The president was widely criticized after his weak performance at the first debate, but his campaign says he's made adjustments. Romney was generally ascribed with a win at the first debate.

The race to the White House is considered a dead heat with just three weeks until Election Day.

The president has held only one town hall meeting this year, while Romney has held 23.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Mr. Obama is trailing in key battleground states 46 percent to Gov. Romney's 51 percent.

The camps for both candidates believe the debate went well, but what about voters?

Here are the results of our exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by Survey USA:

Who was the clear winner of the second debate?

  • 56 % President Barack Obama
  • 32 % Mitt Romney
  • 12 % No clear winner
  • Who answered the questions more precisely without beating around the bush?

    • 57 % President Barack Obama
    • 35 % Mitt Romney
    • 8 % Not sure
    • Before the debate, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a campaign stop in Virginia while Vice President Joe Biden attended the funeral of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.

      First lady Michelle Obama, who says she's already cast her ballot, was seen Monday campaigning in Ohio. Ann Romney was also out campaigning Monday in Pennsylvania, where she once again praised her husband for his strong performance in the first debate.

      Wednesday, the two are hitting the campaign trail with the president in the battleground states of Iowa and Ohio and Romney in Virginia.

      The next and final presidential debate will be held Monday night, Oct. 22, 2012, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The 90-minute debate will begin at 6 p.m. PT and will be televised on ABC7 and streaming live on www.abc7.com/live.


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