Washington: Going on
the offensive right from the word go, a decidedly more aggressive
President Barack Obama mocked his Republican challenger Mitt
Romney's plans as they sparred over taxes, economy, energy and
national security in their second encounter.
Romney, who by all accounts bested the president in their first
encounter two weeks ago to put his campaign on an upswing, in turn
used the pivotal second encounter at Hofstra University in Long
Island, New York, to recount a litany of Obama's own failings as
Meeting just three weeks before the November 6 presidential poll,
the two contenders went at each other often on topics ranging from
the economy and taxes to energy to women's rights and to
immigration in a tension filled exchange.
Mocking Romney's five-point economic plan, Obama suggested:
"Governor Romney says he's got a five-point plan. 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
"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," he said. Romney called Obama's assessment
"way off the mark."
Obama suggested that Romney's tax proposals were a "sketchy deal"
for the American people as he sought to tie the Republican nominee
to George W. Bush, while Romney stressed that though Republican he
was in many ways different from the former President.
The two candidates frequently interrupted each other, in what was
turning out to be a feistier face-off than the first round.
In their first exchange on last month's terrorist attack on the US
consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead,
including the US ambassador, Obama seemed to flash anger as he
turned and stared down Romney, calling the Republican's suggestion
that his administration would play politics with the attack
"That's not how a commander in chief operates. You don't turn
national security into a political issue," Obama said of Romney's
accusation, as details emerged about the attack, that the White
House had expressed sympathy for the protesters besieging
diplomatic posts in Egypt, Libya and beyond.
Romney argued that Obama had left the White House to go
campaigning shortly after the attack, and accused the president of
having failed to label the attack in Libya an act of terror.
When moderator Candy Crowley, CNN Chief Political Correspondent,
intervened and contended Obama had actually done so, members of
the audience applauded - in violation of debate rules.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)