With the race towards White House tightening, President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney almost butted heads during the second presidential debate, 2012. They literally engaged a hard hitting and feisty debate at Hofstra University, New York. Both candidates often strayed from the town hall debate format to launch personal attacks on each other. And yes, both were under a lot of pressure.
President Obama had to regain his election momentum following a lackluster performance in the first presidential debate. Romney on the other hand arrived as a defending champion and had to ensure that he was able to maintain his grip on the voters once the debates ended.
Here is a look at some of the places where either or both of them turned on the heat during the debate.
- Obama Attacked Romney’s Five-Point Plan
President Obama used the first question from the audience of uncommitted voters, about jobs to lambast Romney’s five-point agenda for creating employment opportunities. "He doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan, and that's to make sure people at the top play by different rules. ... That's been his philosophy," Obama said.
Romney on the other hand, blamed Obama for the economy’s failure saying that the government has failed to create new jobs. "The president's policies have been exercised over the last four years, and they haven't put people back to work," he said.
- Duel on Auto Industry Bailout
Referring to the automobile industry, Romney said that going through the bankruptcy process "was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.”
President Obama was quick to respond, "What the governor just said isn't true. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open." He added that if his government would not have supported bailout measures, millions of jobs would have been lost.
- Clash on Energy Policy
Obama claimed that his energy policies have diminished US dependency on foreign oil. However, Romney was able to counter this effectively when he said, 'Let's look at the President's policies as opposed to the rhetoric, because we've had four years of policies being played out.'
The issue brought out a bitter exchange of words between them, and both candidates accused each other of being dishonest.
- Who is a more women friendly candidate?
When arguing about their policies related to women, President Obama talked about the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which allows female workers the liberty to sue over discriminatory policies in workplace. Governor Romney found the opportunity appropriate to counter Obama by referring to his own remarkable efforts to appoint female members in the cabinet during the time he served as governor of Massachusetts.
His use of phrase ‘binders full of women’ quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.
- Romney- A reminder of Bush?
When Romney was asked how he plans to distinguish himself from his GOP predecessor George W. Bush, on the issue of budget balancing and achieve energy independence for North America, he said, 'I will be tough on China'.
But Obama, pointing to Romney’s private-equity career blamed him for investing in companies that outsource jobs to China. President Obama once again claimed that his opponent would imitate economic policies of the Bush era.
- Benghazi Attack, Fact-Check for Romney
This can be termed as one of the most interesting moments in the entire debate. While answering an undecided voter about the attacks Romney said that it took days for Obama to call it an‘act of terror’.
At this moment Obama interrupted Romney, telling his opponent to ‘get the transcript’ of his remarks. Debate moderator Candy Crowley then interjected, “He did in fact call it an 'act of terror.'"
"Can you say that a little louder?"Obama asked.
- Immigration Policies
Since his nomination Romney has been moving towards the moderate stance especially on immigration. He slammed the President for failing to propose legislation on immigration reforms and said that illegal immigrants who entered the country should have a pathway to become a permanent resident’. In response Obama accused his challenger for encouraging self-deportation that forced immigrants to return home voluntarily.
- Economic Plans
On economic policies Obama accused Romney of being ambiguous about his economic plan. He said that the spending plan proposed by Romney lacked 'any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood’.
The republican however, debunked such claims, saying, 'I know how to balance budgets - I've been doing it my whole life.'
At one moment Romney was also insulted by Crowley when she asked him what would happen if his budget plan ‘didn’t add up’. However, Romney kept insisting, without any proof that such a scenario was unthinkable.
- Why Re-elect Obama?
One voter said that he voted for Obama in 2008, but for now he finds it difficult to justify his decision to re-elect him. In his attempt to convince the disillusioned voter Obama said, 'The commitments I've made, I've kept. Those that I haven't been able to keep, it's not for lack of trying.'
But Romney immediately countered him, 'I think you know better. I think you know the last four years haven't been as good as the President described.’
'The President has tried, but his policies haven't worked. He's great as a speaker, and describing his plans and vision. That's wonderful, except we have a record to look at.' He said.
- Personal Wealth and Pension
At another moment in the debate both candidates clashed over the investments they have made. Obama accused Romney of investing money in Chinese firms that outsource jobs.
In a planned move, Romney claimed that Obama had also invested in Chinese companies controlled from offshore tax havens.
Moving one step ahead in confrontation he asked, ‘Mr Obama, have you looked at your pension?'
The audience laughed as Obama fired back saying, 'I don't look at my pension - it's not as big as yours.'
- Job Creation and 47 Percent
President Obama the moment he was desperately waiting for came when Romney accused Obama of relying on the government to reduce unemployment and said, ‘Government does not create jobs.' President Obama seized the opportunity to go after Romney and his comments in which he described 47% of Americans as victims dependent on the government.
He went on to say that such comments proved that his challenger is completely out of touch with the US public.
- Romney’s Middle Class ‘Buried’ Attack
Romney, while talking about his tax plan slipped in a reference to vice president Joe Biden’s gaffe. "Why am I lowering taxes on the middle-class? Because under the last four years, they've been buried. And I want to help people in the middle-class," he said. It is a reference to a Biden moment when the vice president said that the middle class "has been buried the last four years."
Even though both candidates delivered their best, it is more or less clear that the winner of the second presidential debate was President Obama. The incumbent with his energized performance was once again able to reinstate confidence among his voters.