President Barack Obama and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney sparred Tuesday night over immigration, the economy, energy production and foreign policy during the second of three Presidential debates before Election Day.
The debate, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, went over the allotted 90-minutes and featured a number of sharp exchanges between the two candidates, who interrupted each other on more than one occasion.
Virginia Voters React
Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44th) was impressed with Obama’s performance Tuesday night, saying the president was “back” after his more restrained performance during the Denver debate two weeks ago.
“Candy Crowley's instant fact checking of Mitt Romney on President Obama's Rose Garden statements will be remembered for a long time,” Surovell said in an email immediately following the debate.
Prince William County Supervisor Frank Principi thought the moment stood out as well.
"Romney was rude and disrespectful and even questioned the President's integrity and blamed him for the loss of life," he said in an email. "That was a cheap shot for political points!"
Surovell also thought that Virginia voters would remember “Romney talking about how he needed ‘binders full of women’ from third party groups to find women for his cabinet.”
Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-45th) agreed that Obama was the victor.
“The President clearly won,” he said. “He was presidential, passionate and clear about his policies. He took charge and never backed down. Romney seemed flustered.”
Steve Hunt, a former Fairfax County school board member and state senate hopeful, was unimpressed with Crowley’s moderation, which he said supported the President “considering how many times the moderator allowed [him] to have the last word and actually engaged in the debate to defend [him].”
Hunt said Romney did the best he could in a “2 against 1” contest that resulted in a draw.
Romney’s discussion of energy, including drilling off the coast of Virginia and the use of coal, will resonate most with votes in the Commonwealth, Hunt wrote in an email after the debate.
“This would be a major job producer and job protector for Virginia as well as provide more funding for transportation,” he said.
The candidates addressed employment for America’s young people right off the bat.
Romney said he planned to create more jobs so that America’s youth didn’t have to struggle to find work like they have in recent years. Obama, on the other hand, said he wanted to invest in manufacturing jobs, citing his bailout of the automobile industry as a sign of his commitment.
Obama once again took Romney to task for his tax plan, which he said would mainly provide relief for America’s wealthiest citizens.
“Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan,” Obama said. “He has a one-point plan.”
But Romney said the President’s accusations weren’t true.
“I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people, I'm looking to cut taxes for middle class people,” Romney said. “For me this is about jobs. I want to get the economy going again.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was in New York for the debate and spoke with Patch afterwards, said it's the economy and gas prices that will be driving voters to the polls come November.
"You don't run from the issue. You state your principle. You state what you believe in," McDonnell said.
Attacks in Libya
The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stephens, was a topic of discussion for the second time in as many debates.
Romney, echoing his running mate’s sentiments from last week’s Vice Presidential debate, said the current administration’s management of the Middle East was falling apart. He criticized the Obama administration’s initial handling of the attack, after officials blamed it on protests in the wake of an anti-Muslim Youtube video.
“This strategy is unraveling before our very eyes,” he said.
But Obama said he was ultimately responsible for the lack of strengthened security during the tragic, fatal incident.
“The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened,” Obama said.
Romney took Obama to task for taking two weeks to call the attack an “act of terror.”
But the debate’s moderator, CNN correspondent Candy Crowley, confirmed that Obama called it such during his speech in the Rose Garden. She was also careful to note that it still took two weeks for the Youtube video theory to be cleared up.
Employment for Women
The candidates also covered fairness for women in the workplace.
Romney responded by describing his method for selecting his cabinet when he took office as Gov. of Massachusetts. He said the applicants who showed up were all men, and when he asked if there were any qualified female candidates, his staff brought him “binders full of women.”
"Binders full of women" quickly began to trend on Twitter.
Obama noted that he signed equal-pay legislation soon after taking office.