The second Presidential debate of this election cycle was a battle. We knew it was going to be feistier than the first debate, but this one actually had me yelling at my television to be quiet!
I am a firm believer that civil discourse is healthy, and it is a great opportunity to share ideas, as well as reveal basic characteristics of people. In a debate, it reveals the man who, in this case, will be President.
Candidates and moderators behaving as little children at times, however, won’t advance very many discussions or ideas.
It was annoying each time the President mentioned to Candy Crowley, the moderator, that he wanted to make sure the time keepers were keeping track of time spent speaking. When doing this, Obama and Crowley trampled on what Mitt Romney was saying.
Obama also appeared to invoke “Presidential Powers” when discussing assault weapons. He turned the conversation to education and completely ignored the moderator as she tried to stop and redirect him.
Mitt Romney wasn’t without his interruptions and topic changes either. He changed directions at one point to defend his investments, which Obama had pointed out were with companies in China, and Romney went full throttle toward the President asking when the last was he checked his portfolio and that his investments were probably also in similar companies.
The President showed his condescending attitude, very boldly, when replying to Romney by saying he doesn’t make as much money as Mr. Romney. He showed this attitude again while Romney pressed the issue of whether Mr. Obama called the attacks in Benghazi a terrorist attack, in the Rose Garden, the day after the attacks. Obama sat confidently on his stool and just said, “Proceed”.
That was one of the moments I screamed!
Candy Crowley wasn’t without her missteps during the debate. Allowing her to interject questions for clarification or to dig deeper into the topic, is not the point of a Town Hall style debate.
It was disappointing to hear Ms. Crowley share after the debate with her CNN colleagues, that she had questions she wanted to ask and had to decide whether she would ask her questions or go ahead and have the undecided voters get their questions asked.
I think she missed the point of the Town Hall format.
When you analyze the two men’s approaches to questions during the evening, it appeared President Obama danced with and around the questions of the undecided voters and Mitt Romney, in most cases, faced the questions head on, with somewhat detailed responses.
This was evident when a young lady asked the question, “How would you address the gender pay gap?”
Obama went way off course on this question. He “danced” with the question instead of sharing detailed ways to fix the situation. Both candidates brought up the topic of education; however Obama reached past education turning the discussion to contraception and women’s healthcare, ultimately talking about Planned Parenthood.
Romney’s answered this question by discussing his experience of how he purposefully searched for women to be in his cabinet when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He discussed the search he launched after an aide finding only men for the positions and how they reached out to universities and other groups to find qualified women.
His answer was businesses needing to be more flexible with women’s time in the office to help them meet the needs of their family, while continuing in their profession or current employment.
Romney’s answer may not have hit distinctive points of how to make pay structures more equal, but it better addressed needs specific to a business setting. Birth control didn’t have a direct correlation to the question.
The Town Hall format of debates, to me, is the most intriguing and best information gathering debate in the election process. It is probably the purest opportunity for debate viewers to actually hear how fellow voters feel about the candidates and where the pulse of the electorate really stands.
Even though Town Hall moderators can choose which questions are presented, they don’t give “the voice” to them. When the actual voter speaks the question, you see what America is struggling with and what they are truly discussing, not what the media wants us to concentrate on instead.
The questions that intrigued me most were the ones posed by people who had voted for President Obama in the last election.
A man, who had voted for President Obama in 2008, wasn’t shy about saying he was disappointed in how things have gone during this administration and asked, what has Obama done to earn his vote?
This was a great question because it allowed those who were discontent to voice it face to face with the President.
Obama’s response for how he has earned the man’s vote was saying he had cut middle class family taxes, insurance reform and Wall Street reform; he created 5 million jobs and saved General Motors. He also added he ended the war in Iraq and killed Osama Bin Laden.
My response was WOW, but why is gasoline so expensive? This was an additional comment the voter made when he asked the question. He said, “Most things I need are expensive”.
Romney responded to Obama’s answers by saying families were supposed to have a $2,500 cut in taxes but instead it was an increase. That Obama said unemployment would be down to 5.4% when it isn’t.
Most importantly Mr. Romney reminded the gentleman who asked the question, if he reelects Obama, he already knows what he will get…”More of the same”. It was a big jab when Romney also complimented Obama saying he was “a good speaker” but then said, he hasn’t done well in other ways, as President.
Overall there weren’t any major policy items that came to light where someone would say, ‘Oh my, that guy gets my vote’.
What did come out in this debate was who appeared more capable of bringing America back to where it needs to be and beyond.
Frank Luntz did a focus group for Fox News Channel, with undecided voters in Las Vegas. When asked who won the debate, some in the group said Obama, while the majority of the focus group gave the win to Romney.
Polling also showed the “win” numbers to be close between the two candidates.
Overall, I looked for competency. Romney gave answers that appeared to have thought behind them either based on experience or good evidence of positive movement toward success.
Obama doesn’t have a great record to run on, but instead of trying to find new ways to handle our current problems, Obama parades his record out as if it is highly successful and working.
Voters may love the President’s ability to speak confidently and smoothly and they may agree with many of his ideas, but with reality setting in I think the American voter is saying the “old fashion” way of hard work and discipline may be the only thing to save us now.
Mitt Romney shared that “old fashioned” message in this second debate.