Recapping the Second Presidential Debate

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Banners hang at Long Island's Hofstra University, the site of the second debate between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. (Stan Honda/Getty)

Two weeks ago, conservatives and liberals alike declared Governor Romney the winner of the last presidential debate, as pundits claimed he portrayed strength and confidence in the face of a timid and unfocused President Obama.

But did he fare as well this time around? Or did President Obama bounce back?

Josh Treviño is conservative pundit and speechwriter for former President George W. Bush. He recaps the debate in his home state of Texas.

"It was such an unpleasant watch, watching the two of them sort of try to out-alpha one another," Treviño says. "I think you have to score it basically a draw." 

Though most of the reactions last night seemed to declare Obama the winner of this debate, Treviño thinks it is more important to see how the effect of the debate plays out in the polls over the coming weeks. "If this turns out to give the president momentum," he says, "that's going to be much more meaningful than any night-of reaction." 

Treviño's favorite question of the night came from an undecided voter who hated George W. Bush, and wanted to know what differentiated Romney from the former president.  

"Romney actually missed an opportunity there," Treviño says. "Which was to give the answer: I'm different from George W. Bush in many ways, but I'm like him in one key respect, in that, under me, unemployment will be back down to around 5 percent."

With regards to Romney's specific tax plans, we heard a new number last night: "$25,000 of deductions, in credits." Treviño says that this matters little in the scheme of the campaign, because most voters do not remember numbers the next day. 

"Mitt Romney could have thrown out a million dollars, he could have thrown out 25 dollars," he says. "The net effect on the next day and on the campaign would have been the same."  

Comments [4]

Angel from Miami, FL

Obama did to Romney what Biden did to Ryan. I don't know if Obama had a "rope a dope" strategy before the first debate or if Biden lit a fire under him. Romney never had good footing, all of his answers and speeches were questioned. It's as though the president wanted to keep anything Romney said from sinking into the minds of the audience.

Republicans are good at creating a mythology. If questioned they simply repeat the lore until it converts or repels listeners. The best tactic against this is to define their vague story in an unfavourable light. If Romney's five-point plan isn't crystal-clear, any smart debater can give listeners five new points that they would never go for.

Oct. 17 2012 01:06 PM

It seemed most of the questions played to the President's narrative from these supposedly undecided voters, the President was given far more time to speak and on Libya the moderator actually stepped in to assist the President and turned out to be wrong.
Does it take this much of an assist to help the President make a decent showing during the debate?

Oct. 17 2012 10:07 AM
Maybe you need more women on your show from Brooklyn

How can you NOT include in your analysis Romney's unbelievably off-pitch comments about women? Blaming unwed mothers for gun violence; bemoaning how difficult it is to find "qualified" women for the workforce; suggesting that the pesky problem of equal pay is, well, yeah, sure, an issue "if" -- IF! -- "you're going to have women in the workforce."

Women are more than half of the country. Women's health issues have been among the most contentious political topics this year -- as in, created the most controversy, and revealed the divisiveness of the political arena.

Maybe you should hire one to make sure you don't ignore this in your next round of political analysis.

Oct. 17 2012 09:51 AM
aldo rankor from Washington State

The President gave more honest answers and provided better vision and descriptions of the the success of his programs. The failures of the past republican administrations seemed to haunt the discussion to me and Mitt Romney was very dishonest in his description of his tax policies, economic priorities, and his approach to supporting the middle class. Mr. Romney will not be able to move the economy if all he is going to do is support the policies that created the recession in the first place-- by assuming giving tax breaks and less regulation to the 1% will make them do things that support the rest of the country. He seems too dreamy eyed about that.

Oct. 17 2012 09:01 AM

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