Welcome to the debates Mr. President.
President Barack Obama was much more aggressive and stayed on the offensive against Gov. Mitt Romney during the second debate. On the other hand, Romney spent most of his time trying to shake his rich, out-of-touch image.
Obama was strongest when he was on the attack. His best attack came when he was comparing Romney to George W. Bush. In a nutshell, the president said Romney was more radical than Bush. That was an effective line.
Obama was also successful when he called out Romney on a few of his flip flops: “Now, you’re a coal guy,” comparing Romneycare to Obamacare and his one-time support of an assault weapons ban.
Surprisingly, Obama won on Libya too, which aside from the economy, is his weakest issue. Romney suggested Obama and his administration weren’t fully engaged after the Ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered. The president said that was offensive. He nailed it and effectively turned a negative issue into a positive one because he was able to show some leadership.
Overall, I don’t expect the president to receive a huge bump in the polls from Tuesday night’s performance, but it will probably slow down Romney’s momentum, thus making next Monday’s third and final debate even more important.
Romney’s strongest point was when he was breaking down his tax policy. To me, an admitted tax policy nerd, I like the idea of lowering the rates and getting rid of some of the deductions. It makes the tax code simpler. I would love for Romney to have pointed out the tax code is over 70,000 pages long. It’s way longer than War & Peace and the Bible. Combined.
But his best line of the night came at the very end. He said, “We don’t have to settle for what we’ve been going through.” Romney then listed off the unemployment rate, the number of people on food stamps and the number of college graduates that can’t find jobs. This is the attack that could propel Romney into the White House.
Each candidate spent a lot of time talking about the economy, but neither addressed what they would do to start paying down the national debt. I want specifics. This country can’t afford ten more years of rampant spending.
Big Bird was mentioned 33 minutes into the debate.
President Obama finally said 47%, 98 minutes into the debate.
President Obama talked for 44 minutes. Gov. Romney came in just under 41 minutes.
The third and final debate will take place Monday. The focus will primarily be on foreign policy, but this election is primarily about the economy. Can either candidate get a bounce when talking about terrorism and forwarding democracy around the world? Time will tell.
Rob Hunter is Bruce St. James’ sidekick weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. He also co-hosts Rob & Mark, Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.