The second presidential debate attracted a small group of students for a viewing in Graf Hall on Oct. 16. After a less than impressive first debate, the candidates came to the Town Hall Debate prepared, composed and ready to defend themselves.
Newspapers and other media sources focused not on who won the debate, but on the attack modes of both of the candidates. President Obama and Gov. Romney clashed on stage with different ideas that led to tension and some broken rules.
CNN news anchor Candy Crowley moderated the rematch, and 82 undecided voters from the New York area acted as a panel, asking questions of the candidates.
Obama was assertive, used eye contact and rebutted untrue facts, clearly having learned from the first debate to change his body language. Romney was better prepared as well. However, both men continued to interrupt the moderator.
A college student posed the first question, asking how each man could reassure him of finding employment after he graduated.
Both candidates talked about the affordability of education. Romney said he wants to keep the Pell Grant Program going and boost loan programs. He also promised 12 million new jobs if elected. Obama plans to build manufacturing jobs in America again, along with providing incentive for companies to produce in the U.S.
Controlling energy was a topic the candidates argued back and forth on. Obama said he wants to further the use of solar, biofuel and wind power. He wants to open up new areas for drilling, while establishing environmentally sound energy sources in America. Romney wants the U.S. to be energy independent with more drilling and utilization of the Canada Pipeline.
“Obama will keep us from using oil, coal and gas,” Romney said.
The men had their chance to appeal to women voters with a question about inequalities in the workplace. The candidates tied education accessibility to more opportunities for women. Romney stressed that a strong economy is necessary for women to have better work options. Obama said he has and will enforce the laws and expand financial aid for women.
Romney and Obama frequently jumped on chances to correct one another. Obama backed himself by pointing out that Romney had switched his opinions on certain issues.
Despite that Romney wants to take away funding for Planned Parenthood, he corrected Obama by saying, “I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not, and I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman should have access to contraceptives.”
The candidates debated the issue of immigration, highlighting the laws in Arizona and the need for legality.
“We welcome legal immigrants,” Romney said. “There are four million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who’ve come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who’ve come here illegally.”
Obama emphasized Romney’s idea of “self-deportation.” Romney pointed out that Obama didn’t deal with an immigration plan. Obama refuted the statement by explaining how he has worked to, “make it easier, simpler and cheaper for people who are waiting in line, obeying the law, to make sure that they can come here and contribute to our country.”
On the topic of Libya and the recent assassination of a U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Romney condemned Obama for taking poor action in the affairs and for his failure to provide security resources after the attack.
“I’m the president. And I’m always responsible. And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I am,” Obama said. “I’m the one who greets the coffins when they get home.”
Additionally, the men discussed weapon bans, tax cuts, China and outsourcing jobs.
“We have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, for people who want to expand a business,” Romney said. “That’s what brings jobs in.”
The candidates got a chance to clear up misconceptions about each of their campaigns and candidacy. Romney went directly to addressing that he cares about 100 percent of the people in America, while Obama capitalized on the opportunity to use the 47 percent incident to his advantage.
The third and final presidential debate will be Oct. 22.