As promised, the President came out much more aggressive in the second debate. To his credit, he did it in a way that wasn’t overtly disrespectful. The President certainly didn’t hurt himself tonight, but the most striking thing about the debate was some of the questions that the candidates were asked. We are two debates in and we haven’t heard a word about the Obama Administration’s groundbreaking program to give 40 billion dollars a month to Wall Street to buy the same mortgage backed securities Hank Paulson told us we were buying in 2008. The questions we did get included things like abortion, contraception, and fair pay for women. Two questions seemed ridiculous when they were asked, but led to two of the most telling answers of the night.
1. How are you different than George W Bush?
I was disappointed that Governor Romney didn’t offer a better defense of President Bush. He kept saying that it was a different time, but he should have used this as an opportunity to really stick it to Obama. President Bush had to deal with both the tech bubble collapse and the terrorist attack of 9/11, and yet he never went out of his way to constantly blame President Clinton when dealing with difficult circumstances. He grew jobs and the economy faster in his first term than President Obama has.
Funny enough, Obama brought up the policies of George Bush that most Americans now disagree with as why Romney isn’t as good as Bush. It was an unusual answer.
2. Gun Rights
This answer bothered me from both candidates. Romney, to his credit, brought up the Fast and Furious scandal for the first time in the debates, but didn’t seem to have a firm grasp of what happened. For the first time we heard President Obama reveal his positions on banning assault weapons- a clearly unconstitutional dictate, and he hinted to the anti-gun nuts while bringing up the violence in Rahm Emanuel-controlled Chicago that he isn’t fond of “cheap handguns”. I would have liked Mitt Romney to offer a stronger defense of the 2nd Amendment.
My guess is that most Americans will view this debate as a draw and a debate format that wasted an opportunity to get the candidates to talk about the substantive issues of our time. Obama needed to build momentum and while I’m confident he energized his base, I can’t see his performance tonight shifting the momentum back to his campaign. In the long run, I give the nod to the Romney Campaign by a nose. Candy Crowley did a terrible job of picking questions and made a horrific mistake by backing up Barack Obama’s erroneous claim that he called the assassination of Ambassador Stevens a “terrorist act” in the Rose Garden. President Obama was asked point blank, days after the attack if it was an act of terrorism in the days following the tragedy and refused to call it a terrorist act. She tried to fact check the conversation and got her facts wrong. This error should be enough to permanently disqualify her from moderating any future debates.