One note before I hit the main topic. Why hold a Town Hall style debate with undecided voters in the bluest of blue states like New York where even the undecideds are likely to have more liberal views than the rest of the country? Why not have it in Ohio or another swing state like the first presidential debate in Colorado?
O.K. now that I got that out of my system. Obama clearly had a better night on Tuesday. Several snap polls gave Obama a slight edge overall but dig down in the CNN poll and Romney had an 18 point advantage on who would do a better job handling the economy. Similar strong advantage on the issues of taxes and the deficit.
Most debate watchers were expecting a more aggressive Obama and he really stepped up on this one. There were several fiery exchanges between Romney and Obama. And in each, once the fact checkers get to work they'll see that Romney was more honest than Obama.
Obama Lies About Energy
Two examples are the subject of drilling permits for oil and gas exploration and the attack in Libya. On the first, Obama was asked a question about what impact the policies of his Administration have on high gas prices and he totally ducked the question. Romney confronted him:
ROMNEY: But that's not what you've done in the last four years. That's the problem. In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.First, from the government's own statistics, energy production on federal lands is down dramatically:
OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.
ROMNEY: So how much did you cut ?
OBAMA: Not true.
ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by, then?
OBAMA: Governor, we have actually produced more oil —
ROMNEY: No, no. How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?
Second, permits for energy production on federal land are also down dramatically (1, 2). It's part of a war on carbon based energy launched shortly after Obama came to office and has continued using every power of government.
Obama Lies About Libya
On Libya, a questioner asked Obama why the "State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?" Obama dodged the question giving a speech instead on how tough he is on terrorists and how Romney attempted to politicize the attack in Libya. Romney wasn't having that and said:
ROMNEY:...There were other issues associated with this — with this tragedy. There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack.Even those not paying close attention to the Obama Administrations excuses for the Libya attack that left our Ambassador and three other Americans dead must have been confused when Obama suddenly claimed that he had labeled it terrorism from the first. But in the debate on Tuesday Obama insisted just that:
And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people. Whether there was some misleading, or instead whether we just didn't know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn't we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known? But I find more troubling than this, that on — on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that's happened since 1979, when — when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn't know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event. ... The president's policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.
OBAMA: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.Well guess what? We did get the transcript and on the day after the attacks Obama delivered a long rambling statement that was mostly general in nature and only mentioned terrorism once and in context with remarks directly connected to the original September 11, 2001 attack.
And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief.
ROMNEY: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That's what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
And who can forget that in repeated interviews during the two weeks following the attacks Obama refused to call the Libya attack terrorism and persisted in suggesting that the video might be to blame? I expect we'll soon see some web ads making this point crystal clear.
Even Candy Crowley, who came to Obama's defens later admitted that Romney had a point.
Obama's claim Tuesday raises the question: if he really believed this was an act of terror why did he persist in repeated statements linking the attack to the video? Obama's claim raises this question in a way that even the Obama aligned media will now have trouble ignoring.
Romney: "The president has tried, but his policies haven't worked."
One of Romney's best statements came after a man who voted for Obama in 2008 asked Obama "What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012?" Romney responded:
ROMNEY:... I think you know that these last four years haven't been so good as the president just described and that you don't feel like your confident that the next four years are going to be much better either.The Bottom Line
I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can't afford four more years like the last four years.
He said that by now we'd have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.
I wasn't the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president's plan. Didn't get there.
He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they're on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He'd get that done. He hasn't even made a proposal on either one.
He said in his first year he'd put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn't even file it.
This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he'd do. He said that he'd cut in half the deficit. He hasn't done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It's gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented — it's already been passed — if it's implemented fully, it'll be another $2,500 on top.
The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, "Look, I've created 5 million jobs." That's after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.
There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.
How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It's growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.
The president wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he's put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.
You might say, "Well, you got an example of one that worked better?" Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period — the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan's recovery created twice as many jobs as this president's recovery. Five million jobs doesn't even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.
The president has tried, but his policies haven't worked. He's great as a — as a — as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That's wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn't been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That's what this election is about. It's about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.
Despite the fact that Obama once again had more time in the debate than Romney (a total of 10% more... Affirmative Action?) his performance was not exceptional enough to overcome the huge advantage Romney gained from the first debate. Once again, Romney standing on the same stage with the President made Obama look small by comparison. Romney was calm, cool, collected, competent and commanding. In every way appearing as presidential or more so than Obama who can't escape the ghost of his own dismal record!