Washington: A decidedly more aggressive President Barack Obama went on
the offensive right from the word go as he clashed with Republican
challenger Mitt Romney over their conflicting visions in their
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 Tuesday night's pivotal second encounter at Hofstra
University in Long Island, New York, to recount a litany of
Obama's own failings as president.
Meeting just three weeks before the Nov 6 presidential poll, the
two contenders went at each other often on topics ranging from the
economy, taxes and outsourcing to energy, women's rights and
immigration in a tension filled exchange.
Coming into his own, Obama did not disappoint his supporters and
aides who wanted him to put in a "stronger, more assertive
performance" at the second debate after his admittedly bad night
at Denver to hand over to his rival an advantage that he had
enjoyed for weeks.
Debate watchers were divided on who won Tuesday night's debate
with 46 percent in a CNN/ORC International survey saying Obama won
the debate, while 39 percent said Romney fared better. The
seven-point margin falls within the poll's sampling error.
As many as 73 percent said Obama did better than expected,
compared to 37 percent who said the same about Romney.
The results offer a stark contrast from the first presidential
showdown Oct 3, when 67 percent of debate watchers said Romney
fared better while 25 percent said Obama won the debate.
But how far his aggressive performance would help Obama get back
into the game is yet to be seen with most media reports describing
the race for the White House as either a virtual tie or Obama's to
A National Poll Average by Real Clear Politics, an influential
political news aggregator, show Romney just 0.4 percentage points
ahead with 47.4 percent to Obama's 47 percent.
But Obama still enjoys 201 to 191 vote advantage over Romney with
146 votes too close to call in the 538 strong Electoral College.
It takes 270 votes to win the White House.
During the town hall format debate, where 82 uncommitted voters
picked by Gallup Organization got to ask the questions, Obama
mocked Romney's five-point economic plan saying: "Governor Romney
says he's got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn't have a
"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," he said. "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
Romney shot back that Obama was "great as a speaker, but his
policies don't work."
"That's what this election is all about," Romney said, saying he
would prioritise middle class growth. "It's about how we can get
the middle class of this country a bright and prosperous future."
The two also clashed over the Sep 11 terrorist attack on the US
consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, with
Romney suggesting the Obama administration played politics by
failing to immediately acknowledge what happened.
Obama shot back that the suggestion anyone in his administration
would play politics on such an issue was "offensive". When Obama
said he called it a terrorist attack the very next day, Romney
challenged him, and Obama responded "check the transcript".
Moderator Candy Crowley, the CNN chief political correspondent,
cut in to say both men were right -- Obama called it a terrorist
attack when he said he did, but the administration took longer to
fully explain what occurred.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)