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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US Presidential Election 2012

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  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    "A typical pro Obama remark goes something like this. "Obama clearly won the debate (though I didn't watch it).
    Mitt Romney is evil, eats babies and will start WWIII."

    Can you see the irony in this comment? Lambasting the pro-obama comments with an rediculas and wrong exageration.

    Oh and there is a very real worry that with Romney in command we are more likely to end up with wars in Iran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    Anyone, like Romney, who just does not talk in facts and numbers is dubious - particularly when the question put to him is so simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    Obama 1 Romney 1, just got to hope people vote for change rather than four more years of depression and debt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    God help America if Romney wins. He has made so many bad mistakes when abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.


    Dumb. Entire Western economies collapsed because people at the top skimmed as much profit as they could and used debt as a means to A) skim even more and B) give people access to cash such that they didn't resort to protectionist measure, aka saving.

    The house of cards was always going to collapse, Labour or no Labour. What's needed is economic rebalance, Romney can't and won't deliver it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Can you imagine the history books if Romney gets elected.

    2008: World engulfed in a banking crises caused by banker's greed. People are angry with bankers. The poor suffer.

    2012: An ex-banker is elected as the most powerful man on earth. The poor suffer more.

    How this race is so close is beyond me...

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    "America can't survive without fuelling its war machine, if there isn't a war to join they will start one like Pearl harbour or 9/11."

    Oh so it was Americans who bombed WTC and Pearl Harbor and started the war with Japan?

    P.S. Earlier sb claimed Republicans started Vietnam War.

    I recall it was R. Nixon (R) who ended that war started by Kennedy and expanded by LBJ (both Democrats).

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    I can't say who won it but I wouldn't vote for Romney. Obama looks like honest man, he's trying to do the best for Americans and the world. Romney looks like a snake oil salesman. The guy is not there for poor people, he is there for rich people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    Anyone with enough money in America can buy their own President. Democracy is dead, indeed it was never born.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    It seems to be a choice of staunch Conservative v a President for the masses.

    Conservatives protect the wealthy and use and abuse the poor to make their own profits and keep themselves in power.

    All sounds too familiar.

  • Comment number 465.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    Religion should have nothing to do with politics but unfortunately all round the world it does causing many problems.

    Every press candidate has to have a religious affiliation on their CV, it is like a kid applying to college and they do charity work so it is on their CV, doesn't mean they care about it. I hope that any president elected is doing the same as the college kid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    @ 449. Ppuj

    The problem is, most of the electorate have been trained to be welfare junkies. Labour BUY a client base.

    The only way of improving this country's position economically is to vote UKIP. All the 3 main parties subscribe to left-wing thinking, which is killing the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.


    Selling off the gold resereves was a mistake. As for him being responsible for sub prime mortgages in the US, well I think your giving him a bit too much 'power and influence' there.

    As for the myth of 'culture where nobody wants to work', stick to the puzzle page in the Mail and avoid the so called 'editorial pieces'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    FYI, Obama is nowhere near perfect because he's still a politician, but he's a damn slight better that R-Money.. (If you get that reference haha)

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    there are people in our govt who would fawn over Romney and his uber Neocon economics and social police no abortions no state welfare and lots more drone killings and military interventions where ever they feel like lets hope he dont get elected and our poodle lap dog pseudo neocons follow along and drag our small army into new conflicts

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    Both candidates spoke to the current American fear, of America losing capacity to control its own destiny. America fears it may not be able to grow its economy. America fears it may continue to lose jobs. Americans fear they are losing what they had and have. Some Americans fear they will continue to not have opportunity. If there is still an American Dream in play, it now has nightmarish tinges.

  • Comment number 458.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    How about this. GDP per capita growth, 30 years to 2012.
    UK +75%, USA +70%, France +44%, Italy +43%.
    I'd include Germany but re-unificaton disjoints the time series.
    Maybe our alignment to the US has advantages after all........
    Not that facts should get in the way of prejudice of course...

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Why do I keep on thinking Jeremy Kyle will appear any minute


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