Coffee House

Obama edges the 2nd presidential debate

17 October 2012

Obama edged this one, but I’d say it was a pretty low quality debate. The president’s performance would have done nothing to reassure voters who wanted to know more about what he’d do with four more years. He was eloquent but, at times, vacuous. Romney, for his part, started to ask questions of Obama directly. He ended up looking like a snapping lapdog – or a failing interviewer – when Obama declined to answer. A snap CNN poll calls it for Obama by 37-33, with 30pc thinking it was a draw. Gallup gave the first debate to Romney by a far bigger margin, 72-10 with 9pc undecided. So the early verdict is a decisive Romney win, followed by a marginal Obama win. People’s verdicts may be changed when they realise that the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, wrongly slapped down Romney on a point of fact over the Benghazi attack (which ought to have been Romney’s strongest point).

At least Barack Obama had come to fight this time. Here are his best lines:-

And here are Romney best lines:-

And yes, you’re right, neither were particularly impressive. Obama at least did what his fans had longed for him to do last time: go on the attack over Romney’s secret recording saying he was not interested in the 47pc of the electorate who were net drains on the taxpayer:-

Claim your gift

Romney hit back on claims that he is launching a “war on women” – but in a way that certainly wouldn’t endear me if I were a woman. He blamed Obama for overseeing a net loss of 580,000 women’s jobs. But he then said he wanted to go out to look for women to serve on his Cabinet and that his team came back with “binders full of women”:-

This image captured the imagination of the social network and there’s now a tumblr site devoted to illustrating what Romney meant. Here’s my personal favourite:-
Romney misfired when he claimed that Obama did not immediately refer to the Libya attack as an “act of terror” – he actually did, and had to be corrected. Or so he thought. “Get the transcript” said Obama, and  moderator Candy Crowley seemed to correct Romney. ‘He [Obama] did in fact, sir.” Obama then said: ‘Can you say that a little louder, Candy?’ to laughter and applause from the audience. Here’s the video:-

Actually, Crowley called it wrong. What Obama actually said was “no acts of terror will ever shape the resolve of this great nation” – which is enough for Obama to duck Romney’s blow. But Obama didn’t, actually, say that America had just witnessed an act of terror. He referred to it a “senseless violence” and the White House still believed it the Benghazi attack was a protest in response to some film. Romney’s point was correct, but he fluffed it. Unsure of his facts, Romney accepted two wrong corrections: one from Obama and one from the moderator.

Crowley looked a little shaken afterwards, interviewed by her CNN colleagues. She rowed back a bit saying she remembered the t-word being used by Obama in the Rose Garden. But that wasn’t Romney’s point. “The president did call it – or refer to it in some way – as an act of terror” she said. Actually, he didn’t. “I was trying to bring some kind of clarity to the conversation,” she said. If that was her aim, she failed.

So how will all this affect the race? Not by much, if the CNN poll is anything to go by. I doubt it changed the monentum of the race: Romney’s achievement, to connect with voters in the first debate and break free of the caricature painted by the Democrats, has not been changed by last night. And the election will be decided by other questions, such as: what would Obama do with those four years? Is Romney really a joke?

CNN assembled a focus group in Columbus, Ohio (a state that may well decide the whole election). They scored it 40-17 for Obama, with 42pc saying no one won (there were just 35 members, so a very small sample). Fox News had a very different result from Frank Luntz, whose focus group reported a big switch towards Romney. Here’s the audio:-



Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • David Trant

    Oh! I’d have also asked him to show me his knickers.

    A temple garment (also referred to as garments, or Mormon underwear)[2] is a type of underwear worn by a vast majority of adherents of the Latter Day Saint

    movement, after they have taken part in the Endowment ceremony. Garments are worn both day and night and are required for any previously endowed adult to enter a temple.[3] The undergarments are viewed as a symbolic reminder of the covenants made in temple ceremonies and are seen as either a symbolic or literal source of protection from the evils of the world.[4]

    The garment is given as part of the washing and anointing portion of the endowment. Today, the temple garment is worn primarily by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and by members of some Mormon fundamentalist churches. Adherents consider them to be sacred and not suitable for public display.

    • Augustus

      Well, Obama is certainly no latter-day saint when it comes to looking after his own people. In an understated, but quite symbolic moment, an African-American, Michael Jones, stood up and told Obama “I’m not optimistic about the future.” Obama’s response was “Osama bin Laden is dead.” “We saved the auto industry.” And then he rattled on about “millionaires and billionaires.” Romney’s response was “I think you know better”, adding “The President has tried, but his policies haven’t worked.” Obama does not seem to understand that Americans do not want or need to settle for just another arrogant and self-important speech. If anyone is bogus, he is.

  • David Trant

    Obama should have asked the obvious question of Romney, How the f*ck did Jospeh Smith manage to lose the golden book of Mormon? I don’t know about you but if an angel had given me a golden book I’d have made sure I didn’t lose it, I mean its not every day an angel gives you a golden book, well is it?

  • HooksLaw

    Is it the moderators job to act as the journal of record? Doubt if its a good idea for the candidate to get into a slanging match with the moderator – and after all she is a woman and men cannot be seen to be being narky with women.

    More or less evens is not really that good for Obama and I would have thought the debates so far will help prop up Romney, but more importantly they will not damage Republicans running for House and Senate. If the Republicans win the Congress then it will be a pointless 4 years for Obama as president.

  • Redneck

    Mr Nelson

    May I ask two questions please?

    1. As the senior journalist on a respected UK publication, I get the very real sense that you’re pro-President Obama. Is that a correct interpretation and if so, why?

    2. You saw fit to comment & speculate on various aspects and nuances of this debate: you explicitly omitted to comment on whether you felt the audience was “partisan”. Does that mean you thought not?


    George W was ridiculed by UK Lefties because he habitually referred to US citizens as “folks” – seems to be OK to use it now it’s tumbling out of Barry’s mouth the whole time, but the the Lefties are always changing which word is acceptable in whatever situation, except they never tell anyone else!

  • Mike Barnes

    Edges the debates? lol I think dominates is a more accurate word.

    I was almost starting to feel sorry for Mitt, you could hear his lips trembling after Candy corrected his Libya mistake.

  • bloughmee

    Obama should have shown a bit of this fight in the earlier debate, it might have stanched the Romney onslaught since, although likely not as that was inevitable.

    The next Ohio polls are going to tell the story. It was very close, and if one or the other opens up a margin… that’s end game.

    • HooksLaw

      Thats the point. Turning a national poll lead into states and delegates is a different matter. Obama only needs to win by one college vote and its going to be tough for Romney. What is significant is that Romney is competing and its thus really all down to the Republican party to grab the House and Senate.

      • bloughmee

        The R party already holds the House and will continue to do so. The Senate is never really “held” by anybody, certainly not with a nominal split like today and after this coming election, so the Senate doesn’t really matter, all chattering to the contrary. This election isn’t really that consequential, as Obama can’t advance an agenda and will undoubtedly get shellacked in the 2014 midterm election, even if he wins. And Willard the Mittens is no prize, by all accounts.

  • Jupiter

    How much did Barry pay the moderator to help him out?

    If the Yanks don’t kick Barry out next month, they deserve to have their country ruined.

    • bloughmee

      It seems to be impossible to get a conservative moderating these faux debates. It’s like the Speccie… no conservatives allowed.

  • Wilhelm

    Obama has never had a proper job in his life, plus like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson , Barak has spent his whole career as a race hate monger, agitating.

  • Augustus

    I switched off when, in an obvious attempt to hinder Romney from replying to Obama’s lies, he still managed “way off the mark”. It has been nearly four years of sustained lies about the steps that were taken to respond to the financial crisis facing the nation when he took office. His ‘stimulus’ wasted billions, becoming little more than a slush fund for Democratic fund-raisers, unions, and other connected parties to the administration. His administration literally seized control of General Motors and Chrysler, then in the normal process of bankruptcy, claiming to save the jobs of auto workers. What they did was shunt aside the legitimate creditors and investors in GM, and discontinued its often long relationship with several hundreds of auto dealerships, adding their employees to the unemployment lines. Of course the economy could have improved far more, in much the same way it did during the Kennedy and Reagan administrations. There are millions who have seen the value of their homes and savings decrease, while 23 million Americans remain out of work or have stopped looking for jobs. No matter what their political affiliations, for the sake of the nation, Americans need to boot Obama out of office.

  • campbell s w

    Most of the polls showing a bigger win for Obama than the one quoted here

    • Dimoto

      And that is all that matters, not the partisans on here telling the US electorate what they really think.
      Anyone hear Robin Lustig’s US debate on Radio 4 last night ? Far more light on the issues facing America and far more reasoned debate from balanced and informed Americans than the silly Barrack-Mitt show.

      • Dimoto

        P.S. None of the contributors had much hope that Barrack or Mitt will solve any of these problems.

  • John

    Obama bothered to turn up this time, and didn’t wet himself. Was anyone expecting anything else? Was anyone not expecting “the moderator’s attacks on Romney, which benefitted the President” as the NYT points out? Was anyone not expecting Gallup, threatened with a massive lawsuit by Attorney General Holder for ripping the Federal Government off, to not fill the audience with partisan Democrats and not so-called ‘undecideds’?

    No surprises last night at all. But there will be a big surprise for lefties on November 6th when Obama loses, potentially by a landslide.

  • anyfool

    Fraser you are about right that Obama might have shaded on it the night, but like all socialists he cannot help lying, he has supplied several direct lies and couple of evasive answers that will come back to haunt him, Blair/Brown got away with this because of a lazy press but Obama will have congressional committees and a lot of action committees to put him to the sword.
    Romney will be the winner by Wednesday night.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Jolly good Mr M. Another standard bit of MSM bit of damage limitation on behalf of the biggest fraud ever to stalk the White House

  • Nick Reid

    I’ve not watched it all yet but reading the tweets it was clear from all sides that Romney easily won the economic part of the debate (which was over half the debate) and so was somewhat surprised it was scored as a slight win for Obama overall.

  • Curnonsky

    Romney looked presidential, Obama like another television talking head. Sorry Fraser, it’s over.

    • telemachus

      If you saw it perhaps but on the radio Obama came out best
      Crowley was magnificent.

      • Guest

        You’re full of Obamaloney, my dear lady.

      • Hexhamgeezer


  • CraigStrachan

    No, Candy Crowley rightly slapped down Romney on a matter of fact.

    So it’s score one all, with the next debate on foreign policy, which – after Romney’s fumbles on Libya tonight – should make Republicans nervous.

    • guest

      A bunch of pure, unadulterated Obamaloney. Your blightbringer will start censoring tapes of the View next, I suppose, so that people can’t see him refusing to acknowledge that he failed to prevent the attacks, and that they were acts of terror?

      • CraigStrachan

        Oh, the President is always great on The View. So charming and relatable. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if The View’s audience supplies his margin of victory.

  • Kevin

    he misfired when he claimed that Obama did not immediately refer to the Libya attack as an “act of terror” – he actually did, and had to be corrected.

    That is your analysis of that? When even Jon Stewart had to call out Obama for dithering on the “video protest that never was” on The View? On the substantive matter Crowley was blatantly wrong with her intervention and is now backtracking.

    The Benghazi fiasco is not going away, and Obama, like Biden, made it worse tonight, which is probably why he completely dodged the subject of the “Fast and Furious” scandal.

    Romney also called him out on energy, including Obama’s rejection of the Canadian pipeline, on female unemployment (though he should have mentioned unequal pay in the White House), on general unemployment and growth, and on immigration. He also showed focus on international competitiveness vis-a-vis China on currency and intellectual property and Canada on corporation tax.

    Obama has a demonstrably weak record and appears unable to articulate a strategy.

    P.S.: Not sure what was wrong with “binders full of women”. What should he have said? “A whole bunch of resumes”? Do Rymans need to destock binders now as sexist?

    • Dimoto

      Well, Mormons have always believed in “binders full of women”, haven’t they ?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here