Obama and Romney clash in spiky debate


Obama and Romney clashed on the debate floor over energy policy

US President Barack Obama launched a fight-back against Republican Mitt Romney in the second of three pre-election debates on Tuesday night.

Mr Obama - widely perceived to have lost their first encounter - came out swinging in New York on the economy, tax and foreign policy.

But the former Massachusetts governor hit back, accusing Mr Obama of broken promises and a record of failure.

The pair meet for a final pre-election debate in Florida on 22 October.

As he battles for a second term, the Democratic president has been clinging on to dwindling leads in the nine key swing states that are expected to decide the election on 6 November.


In the town hall-style forum at Hofstra University on Long Island, both men freely stalked the stage, circling, interrupting and at times heckling one another as they took questions from an audience of 80 undecided voters.

The moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, often had to intervene to keep order between the rivals as each fought to make his point.

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President Obama redeemed himself. He did what he had to, and perhaps some more”

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Mr Obama set the tone from his first answer, when he contrasted his own bailout of the US car industry with Mr Romney's position that auto-makers should have been allowed to go bankrupt.

The president forcefully accused Mr Romney of inconsistent positions, while claiming that his challenger could only offer a "one-point plan... to make sure the folks at the top play by a different set of rules".

Mr Romney meanwhile hammered away at the president's record on the economy, blaming him for unemployment of 20 million Americans and bloated federal deficits, while insisting the country could not afford another four years of Mr Obama.

"The president wants to do well, I understand," Mr Romney said. "But the policies he put in place have not let this economy take off as it could have.

"If the president were re-elected, we'd go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece."

In one of the most scathing exchanges, the two bickered over last month's sacking of the US Libya consulate.

Mr Romney suggested the Obama administration may have attempted to mislead Americans over whether it was a terrorist attack.

Candidates exchange barbs on jobs plans

But the president said it was "offensive" to suggest that he had played politics on an attack that claimed four Americans lives.

He countered that it was the Republican who had tried to turn a national tragedy to his advantage by releasing a partisan press release on the deadly assault.

Both candidates made impassioned pitches to America's middle class. Mr Obama said if America was serious about reducing the deficit, the wealthy would have to pay a little bit more.

"Governor Romney and his allies in Congress have held the 98% hostage because they want tax breaks for the 2%," said the president.

In his final answer he brought up Mr Romney's secretly recorded remarks at a fundraiser in May dismissing 47% of Americans as government-dependent tax avoiders who take no responsibility for their lives.

"When he said behind closed doors that 47% of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility - think about who he was talking about," the president said.

'Binders full of women'

Mr Obama said voters had heard no specifics on Mr Romney's "sketchy" economic plan apart from eliminating Sesame Street's Big Bird and a family planning organisation that conservatives say promotes abortion.

Barack Obama: ''I don't look at my pension, it's not as big as yours"

But the Republican cited his experience balancing budgets in business, while running the 2002 Olympics and as governor of Massachusetts.

One of the few zingers of the encounter came when the pair clashed over former private equity chief Mr Romney's wealth.

Mr Romney was defending his investments in China through a blind trust when he asked Mr Obama if he had looked at his own pension. He said Mr Obama would find investments in China in his retirement plan, too.

"You know, I don't look at my pension," the president said. "It's not as big as yours."

Another fragment of the debate prompted a flurry of social media comment.

Arguing that he supports equal opportunities for women, Mr Romney said he once had "binders full of women" candidates for cabinet jobs when he was Massachusetts governor.

The third and final presidential debate is scheduled for 22 October in Boca Raton, Florida.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    Obama won for me but it's a bit disappointing how much emphasis is placed on these debates - elections should be made on the whole package which each person can bring to the job - policies, integrity, track record, etc. Obama wins hands down, Romney is way too flaky to be leading a country as powerful as the USA. Go Obama!

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    @571 He inherited the bay of pigs and his speech is just rhetoric to appease the CIA boys club.

    RFK said that he was pulling out of Nam, which he inherited from the previous admin: "Plans for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces was initiated in October 1963, but was diluted and meaningless after JFK's death. JFK's longer-range plans called for complete withdrawal of U. S. forces."

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    Re #570.

    Nope, I was simply explaining that I don't care about labels as long as specific policies are right.

    That's why I approved (and still do) of Kennedy's decision to tell wormongering lunatic, Khrushchev what US would to unless Soviets removed their nuclear-tipped missiles from Cuba pronto.

    And why I'll never forgive Carter for betraying Shah and allowing USSR to invade Afganistan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    "Obama won. Romney lost. Period"

    Thou art mistakenth.

    Presidential election is only in November.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    JFK was trying to get out of Vietnam

    JFK speech: " we will need to combat it [communism] -whether in Cuba or South Viet-Nam ... No greater task faces ... this administration. ... I am determined upon our system's survival and success, regardless of the cost and regardless of the peril!"

    JFK supported the Bay of Pigs invasion enthusiatically and was up for attacking Vietnam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    @568 'powermeerkat'
    Your post is all your words - not mine. Are you confused, or answering some other post?

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    From Obama's two contrasting performances, I think he knows how crass this "fight club" debating appears to spectators around the world......Is this really is how the the leader of the most powerful nation in the world elected?? He is therefore a reluctant participant but decided that after allegations of being pummelled during the the 1st round...he would give Romney an intellectual going over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    @549 'powermeerkat'

    "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black, white or gray as long it catches mice" (old Chinese proverb Teng Siao-Ping (Taoist god bless his soul) liked to quote.

    That's why I support Obama's UAVs strikes and "extrajudicial killings" (acc. to AI, etc.) of known terrorists including US citizens.

    Now, about Obama not restoring Glass-Steagall...

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    I prefer a hard-headed business person in charge.

    Oops........just a quick one, you appear to have mistyped the hard in 'hard-headed'. Surely you mean thick-headed, pig-headed, don't really know what I want headed, can't explain my actual policies headed or hell bent on war-headed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    On US wars, with foreign powers.....
    You have forgotten the war of 1812, where the administration of James Madison (who 's party is discribed as democratic republican!), declared war on the British empire, and unsucessfully invaded Canada!I recently went to a good lecture on the subject, see

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    Bump 12 @259, please don't speak for me and many more. My view is that Obama has failed on just about everything he promised to do.I prefer a hard-headed business person in charge. Give Romney a chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    Bring on the clowns
    See Alex Jones "The Obama Deception" it can be viewed on utube to find out what's really going on in American Politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Take a bow Obama.. What a fight back. I dont care who the next president is? But really America, how can one be so forgetfully that the reason why the country is in such mess is because of policies of the previous administration, which Mr.Romney fails acknowledge.
    Also please bring some fresh ideas on "HOW" we will do it, and not STORIES ON WE WILL DO THIS if.....Bring on OBAMA!!

  • Comment number 562.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    @556 JFK was trying to get out of Vietnam and the bay of pigs was something he inherited from the previous administration and he put too much trust in the CIA who were pushing for it to go through.

    The BBC withheld my post because I made a comment about their political affiliations, that is a bit restrictive, was not being abusive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    @549 'powermeerkat'
    Crikey. Never thought I would see a post from you supporting a Democrat President. Well done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    535. Real_Estate

    You obviously needs lessons in political philosophy if you think the UK media generally or the BBC specifically are "far left"

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    You've got to LOL @ the people who seem to think that all the posters on HYS are employees of the BBC or some kind of Party Trolls trying to prove a point. Well, I'm 'Joe Bloggs', from 'UP NORTH' and neither. If the voting system seems to go against what YOU think, it's because NORMAL people think and vote that way. Although the BBC should show both the '+' and '-' votes on each comment. Peace....

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    531. aj

    Regarding Romney's Mormon faith, it's hardly as if it's going to have a major influence upon his work as President. Mormon's might have some strange beliefs, but they also share many others with mainstream Christians. So to me, his faith is a non-issue. Just like JFK being the first Catholic president was a non-issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    "Any person with strong religious beliefs in power is a danger to world peace

    That's about a guy who's introduced many progressive social reforms and gave a impetus to US space program.

    >>> JFK was responsible for the criminal attack on Cuba and ramping up US attacks on Vietnam - so a danger to world peace indeed.


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