Nel's New Day

October 16, 2012

Presidential Debate Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:38 PM
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Eighty-two New York voters watched tonight’s presidential debate in person as 12 of them asked questions about both domestic and foreign policy. Candy Crowley did a fantastic job moderating as Mitt Romney tried to push her, and she refused to back down several times. Although some of Romney’s statements were obviously “fact-challenged”—his denial about calling the Arizona immigration law a model for the nation and his false statement of the number of jobs that Reagan got—President Obama got a final punch in his closing when he quoted Romney “when he says behind closed doors” that the Republican candidate has thrown away 47 percent of the people in the United States.

President Obama was engaged, sometimes casual and other times intent on pointing out the inaccuracies of Romney’s statements. Romney tried to use his bullying tactics from the last debate, at some points even seeming to heckle the president. These attempts mostly failed, largely because Crowley stopped him. When his last debate’s tactics didn’t work, Romney sometimes gave a sickly smile and other times tried to deliver a “gotcha” attitude.

Before the debate, Think Progress gave five facts that we wouldn’t hear at the debate; they were right on target.

1. The deficit is largely a product of tax cuts and wars.

2. When US officials asked for more security in Libya, they wanted it in Tripoli, not Benghazi.

3. 72 million people would be uninsured under Romney’s health plan.

4. If the DREAM Act were passed, it would add $329 billion to the economy by 2030.

5. The “six studies” that Romney cites in defense of his tax plan are actually 3 blog posts, 2 right-wing reports and 1 op-ed.

They missed the omission of climate change in the debate. Marriage equality also took a pass in the selection of questions and the candidates’ answers.

Romney did manage, however, to repeat—and repeat—his worn-out statements that have already been proved “fact-challenged.” No, 50 percent of college graduates are not without jobs: that figure includes “under-employed” which means that these graduates didn’t get the jobs that they wanted. His figure of 23 million unemployed is wrong.

Romney claimed he had “saved” the Olympics by balancing its budget, but in 2002, he said he would have been unable to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City (UT) had it not been for the “enormous spending and services of the federal government.”

Romney said, “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing.” His white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” takes a different position; he would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding and criticized Obama for doubling funding for Pell Grants.

Romney tried to claim that the president had done exactly what Romney recommended in the auto bailout, but he was wrong. Romney’s proposed path probably would have forced General Motors and Chrysler out of business.

Romney said Obama quadrupled regulations on businesses. Bloomberg reported last year that Obama had put 5 percent fewer regulations on businesses than George W. Bush.

Romney says 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost under Obama. Although that is true, manufacturing jobs had been falling for over a decade before Obama took office. The trend actually reversed itself beginning in 2010 and since then, over 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created, showing that the president has been very good for manufacturing.

Romney says he saw a recent study showing that Obama will raise taxes on the middle class by up to $4,000. called that claim “nonsense.” oil production.

Romney said oil production is down 14 percent on federal lands under the current president.  In fact oil production on federal lands is up overall under Obama.

When Romney denied that he had said Arizona’s immigration policy should be the model for the nation, President Obama correctly stated that Romney’s immigration adviser wrote Arizona’s immigration law and that of several other states.

In the argument over gas prices, neither candidate pointed out that presidents have almost no effect on energy prices. Most are set on financial exchanges around the world through speculation. When Obama took office, the world was in the grip of a financial crisis and crude prices–and gasoline prices along with them–had plummeted because world demand had collapsed.

The Republican candidate also worked in several half truths. He believes that “every woman should have access to contraception.” Romney omitted the fact that he believes in a “personhood” amendment to the Constitution that would eliminate the rights of women to have oral contraception and the artificial insemination that gave Romney some of his grandchildren. He also supports the Blunt amendment which allows any employer to deny the company’s insured women contraception on religious grounds.

Between platitudes, Romney worked in his stale comments about the “crushed” middle-class.  “I’ve spent my life in the private sector.” “I know what it takes.” “I know how to make that happen.”  These were frequent remarks from Romney in lieu of specifics.

His response to the question of how he would reduce the salary difference between men and women was particularly weak when he said that as Massachusetts governor he had his staff being him “binders full of women.” He finished the question off by saying that women should be allowed flexibility in work hours, as he did, so that could go home and “fix dinners for the kids.” But he never said that he wanted equal pay, only more jobs for women.

Romney also had no response to President Obama’s statement that “Romney was for assault weapons before he was against it,” referring to Romney supporting assault weapons in Massachusetts. President Obama had some other great responses. After a spirited discussion about how Romney would cover the tax cuts, the president said, If someone came to you and said I want to spend $8 trillion but I won’t tell you until after the election how I’ll do it, you’d never take such a sketchy deal.” He pointed to the audience and said, “You’ll pay for it. The math doesn’t total up.”

At another time, the president said, “Gov. Romney doesn’t have 5 point plan; he has one-point plan by reducing taxes for wealthy.” And when refuting Romney’s platitudes about helping women, the president said, When Gov. Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter Act [that gives women the right to sue for equal wages for equal work], they said, ‘We’ll get back to you.’”

Romney’s had a bad day. Not only did the debate not work the way he probably assumed, but the conservative-leaning Washington Post shredded Romney’s bragging about his creating 12 million jobs during the next four years if he were elected. True, Moody’s Analytics, has predicted that these jobs would be created by 2016 no matter who is elected. But Romney’s policies could destroy these job creations.

Washington Post calls Romney’s claim “a case of bait-and-switch.”  The article explained, “The candidate’s personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade–which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney’s economic plan.  The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren’t the same thing — not by a long shot.”

Glenn Kessler gave Romney Four Pinocchios—again. Early ones were for Romney’s claim that President Obama wants to redistribute wealth, that he made an “apology” tour, that he would lighten work requirements in welfare, that he rewarded donors to his campaign, etc. Four Pinocchios is the worst of the rating; Romney managed to pick up several other corrections for his fact-challenged statements.

Romney will say anything to win, but tonight he took one too many chances. Jason Easley said, “When Romney was proven wrong in front of millions of Americans, you could see his balloon pop. His confidence was gone, and at that moment, Mitt Romney’s frail confidence was shot. (Anyone who has watched Romney’s debate performances knows that he is streaky. He runs hot and cold. In the Republican primary debates where he got off to a bad start, the night often got worse. Romney is not good at coming from behind.)”

Easley was talking about Romney trying to correct President Obama when the president said that he called the killings in Benghazi “an act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the tragic event. Crowley backed up what the president said. For weeks (or at least until the next and last debate this coming Monday) there will be long discussions about whether the president lied and whether Crowley was wrong to insert her statement.

Who won? The CBS poll judges it 37 percent for President Obama, 30 percent for Romney, and 33 percent a tie.  CNN said 46 percent for the president and 39 percent of Romney. Even ultra-conservative Charles Krauthammer declared President Obama the winner.

As Robert Kaiser said in the Washington Post, “Romney showed the same poise and debating skills we saw in Denver, but against a much more formidable opponent, they didn’t make such a strong impression, did they?” My opinion? The president brought it home.

Check out the transcript yourself.

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