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 515.

    So the 'conservative' Bush administration is to be blamed, but in the UK 'left-wing' Labour wasn't. Time for lefty socialists to cut the nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    @ HitchhikerGuide2PlaynDiscworld - 13sq2 plus 14sq2

    Can you please start talking in English as currently your posts are utter nonsense and unreadable.


  • Comment number 513.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    It almost beggars belief how the US voters are falling for Romney's blatant lies and cheesy grin - he looks, sounds and acts like a cartoon parody of a Republican candidate!
    the electorate want action and fairness on so many issues, especially the economy, but for some unknown reason they think the guy who's going to make the rich richer, is the guy!
    come on guys - you were doing so well before

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Was Romney not responsible for outsourcing loads of American jobs abroad? Between that and his party's war on women, who would vote for him?

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    Obama has had 4 years as President. He's been a failure. He has shown up as the shallow 'waffler' he is over the past two debates. Time for him to move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    "Where as if you went to the right school you don't need to work hard!"

    True but also you just need to be able to lie to us gullible electorate, get voted into power then do so many U-turns that come next election we vote for the other bunch of liars of a slightly tone of blue/red/yellow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    America gave Bush 8 years to create a huge mess, Obama should at least be granted the same amount of time to try and reverse the damage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    What I'd like to point out, is that the Republicans blocked alot of Obama's policies, then blame him for failing on them."


  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    Everyone who's claiming Obama has paralysed or destroyed America must be in the top 2% and have the luxury of being able to afford health insurance.

  • Comment number 505.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    Romney is one scary guy. Before the vote he has offended numerous countries around the world China, Russia, and us in the UK - remember his comments about the Olympics? Who does he think he is? More importantly, can he be trusted with middle east diplomacy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    443.Big John the Red

    "Americans has had it anyway.
    All the major decisions of the next 2 decades will be made in Beijing and Mumbai."

    I remember vividly that 3 decades ago all "fellow travellers" and pundits were claiming that such decisions would be made by Moscow.

    And where is USSR and its Soviet Empire today?

    Where PRC is going to be 3 decades from now? [i.e. kaput]

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    Just something I learned about Mormon beliefs: After death we can be upwardly mobile, learning all the time and if you reach the top you can become a god and go off and create other universes. Imagine that ideaology in the White House?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    This was definitely a more focused and feisty performance from Obama. He was able to highlight that the 'math' does not add up in Romney's '5-point plan and that the tax breaks for the top 2 to 3 per cent will be preserved in a future Romney administration. Obama's allusion to Romney's responses in a recent '60 Minutes' programme went unchallenged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 500.

    Somebody should let the Americans know, that when they left Europe to settle the Americas, they crossed an ocean, not the vast emptiness of outer space, that they do infact reside still, on the same planet as us all. Whatever happens will effect all of us here on madre terra, all of us. USA, China, Russia, Israel, Iran, all affected, all affecting. A butterfly flaps its wings,.watch them fall off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 499.

    Romney began well and almost seemed in control but was visibily shaken when challenged about the facts on the Benghazi issue. He never recovered any poise after that. Right or wrong, a president needs to look confident whatever is thrown at him. Romney neither looked it nor was after that exchange.

  • rate this

    Comment number 498.

    @ 489.powermeerkat
    "And you can't make profit by keeping people poor or making them poorer. For a simple reason: if dozens of millions cannot..."

    Errr, No! You can make profit by keeping people poor providing the poor are the majority of your population. It also depends on what your business is in. Poor still need to buy life's necessities and work for a pittance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 497.

    18.M Holderbach
    Obama's foreign policies have been so bad that the US has lost respect everywhere."

    You couldnt possibly be more wrong or uninformed - Obama is practically the only saving grace of the US

  • rate this

    Comment number 496.


    Yes the Conservatives do 'conserve', they 'conserve' an unbalanced system of inherited wealth and privilege by pulling the ladder up.

    We live in a country where hard work won't get you anywhere apart from just keeping your head above water. Social mobility is at an all time low!

    Where as if you went to the right school you don't need to work hard!


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