(The Verge)- President Barack Obama came into this second Presidential debate with guns blazing in hopes of scorching America’s negative opinions following the debate that occurred two weeks ago. Governor Mitt Romney, however, did not learn from the past debate; still interrupting the moderator, still being competitively aggressive, and still disregarding the rules of the debate. It was evident that Obama was now confident in his position, knew his facts and statistics, and knew Romney’s weaknesses.
Throughout the debate, Obama’s approach was very consistent: prove Romney wrong. Numerous times during the debate, President Obama said, “What Governor Romney is saying is not true,” or some variation of said statement. When the candidates were asked a question and it was Romney’s turn to answer first, he would appropriately answer in the fashion that he and his team have prepared for. When Obama followed up with his answer to the same question, he constantly found fault in what Romney stated and backed it up with statistics and solid facts, a tactic that he lacked in the previous debate. Clearly, and to no one’s surprise, Romney did not take kindly to Obama’s new found aggression and confidence causing him to “fight back” by interrupting the president as well as the moderator, challenging Obama, and completely disregarding the rules of the debate, entirely dismissing all debate etiquette. In fact, multiple times throughout the debate Romney wasted his allotted two minutes of answering a question, re-answering the prior question seeing as Obama poked holes in Romney’s first answer. It seemed as though Romney kept putting his foot in his mouth and tried to backpedal as much as he could to “clarify” his first answer.
A few times during the debate, the candidates turned the debate more or less into a pissing contest, contending who did what and who did it better. At these points of the debate, both President Obama and Governor Romney dismissed Candy Crowley’s position as moderator. Both candidates spoke over Crowley, as well as each other, multiple times in attempts to get their point across and get the last word. Crowley remained calm and friendly when the candidates virtually ignored her, while still trying to keep the debate on schedule. She did a more sufficient job than Jim Lehrer in regards to keeping the candidates on the right track, though at some points it was simply out of her hands.
Crowley repeatedly had to waste time explaining to Romney how the timing of the debate works, since it was apparent that he had no concept of time nor did he care. For example, while Romney was voicing his views on wind power, Crowley attempted to cut him off several times after his two minutes were up. Her efforts were ineffective as Romney continued to speak over and ignore her while he kept talking for at least another minute.
Obama and Romney’s style of stage presence differed almost as much as their opinions. President Obama seemed to be relaxed yet confident, taking the “never let ‘em see you sweat” approach. His assertiveness and attention to the questions may be coming from his comfort on stage during a debate, in view of the fact that it was not his first rodeo. He’s simply been in the same position four years ago against President Bush.
Yes, Governor Romney was also confident in his answers and what he was saying, but more in an “in your face” type manor. It is hard to decipher if his extreme aggression was due to his passion of the issues at hand, or a competitive cocky streak. It seemed as if Romney is fully aware of how his aggression is perceived. Because of that, he consciously tried to soften the blow of his harsh offensive method and make up for it by saying something to the effect of, “Thank you for your question, I really appreciate it,” plainly after every single question, exemplifying he actually is a nice person. After the first few times it was a bit transparent, but nonetheless it might have aided him in seeming a tad more human and not some crazed argumentative machine.
Giving credit where credit is due, Obama deserves kudos for his seemingly off the cuff quip, “I don’t look at my pension…it’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long.” Democrat or Republican, it is safe to say that that Obama’s delivery of that one-liner was on point. It may have been a rehearsed response, or it may not have been, but his deliverance was precise enough to receive a taboo chuckle from the audience.
The opponents did not see eye-to-eye on the issues of taxes, equality for women with health care, actions to reduce the deficit, energy efficiency, and the issue of immigration. Their styles of conveyance of their opinions and future plans differ in many ways, but both are evidently effective seeing as how the presidential race is almost neck and neck. After the first debate, Obama was lagging behind Romney in the race due to his lack of enthusiasm and statistics. Now after the second debate, Obamas attentive blazing gun tactics have brought him back to a level playing field (or battle ground) with Romney, possibly even with a little edge over Romney. It will be exciting and interesting to see who wins the battle and wins the war once November 6th rolls around.