If you watched the second presidential debate this past Tuesday chances are you were emotionally drained afterwards. While riveting, the debate was at times a hard to watch, anxiety inducing experience. While moderator Candy Crawley stood her ground and tried to manage the clock to uphold town-hall debate format, the candidates often disregarded the rules and engaged in what has been described as a, “bruising debate”.
The nation kept a close eye on President Obama, whose last debate performance was lackluster to say the least. Many believed that Tuesday’s debate at Hofstra University in New York would be the deciding factor for the November 6th election, though it is now clear that the election is far from decided. According to most polls Obama leads in both the electoral and popular vote, but by a very narrow margin.
After the debates the first question asked is always, who won. Obama was more aggressive, made some sound arguments, and surprisingly came out on top in regards to Libya, giving him the night’s win. But rather than asking who won, we should ask what we learned.
Because this debate was a town-hall style debate where audience members posed the question, many wondered if the candidates would be able to be quite as combative, but this was certainly not the case. Neither candidate was lacking in aggression or criticisms. The Twittersphere was full of predictions of a physical fight between the two men. They interrupted one another often saying things like, “That just isn’t true”.
The debate was even described as the, “least decorous debate ever seen in an American presidential campaign”. While we may have seen a more fiery side to each candidate, some question less than substantial answers. Unfortunately for the American public, as many have already pointed out, the debate left viewers without answers and perhaps more confused than before. While President Obama may have succeeded in recharging the Democratic base, independent voters likely weren’t swayed one way or the other
On the economy neither candidate was entirely persuasive, though discussion was heated in regards to tax plans. While Romney assured audience members that his 5 point plan would work, when asked what he would do if, “the numbers don’t add up” he simply replied, “Well of course they add up. I — I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget.” To which President Obama replied “[Romney] wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up.”
Audience members also got to hear about the candidates’ stance on clean energy, higher education, and the war, but it was the commentary made on women’s issues that stuck with many viewers. An appeal was clearly made for the woman vote by both candidates. President Obama reminded those watching that in his first few days in office he passed the Lilly Ledbetter act. He then went on to discuss Governor Romney’s stance on Planned Parenthood and women’s health saying, “Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making, I think that’s a mistake”. Because the woman vote promises to be important on November 6th Romney made sure President Obama did not get the last word saying, “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And — and the — and the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.”
But if anything Governor Romney’s response to a question regarding equal pay for women resulted in more ridicule from American women than praise. Rather than addressing the question at hand, Governor Romney responded by saying that as Governor he had staffed more women in his cabinet than any other state by selecting qualified women from, “Binders full of women”. Within minutes a new Tumblr appeared called Bindersfullofwomen. The Tumblr has since become a rallying cry for many left leaning women, and multiple references were made to the gaffe at President Obama’s George Mason University appearance this past Friday.
Now coming up to this Monday’s third and final debate, stakes are high. Because the third debate will focus on foreign policy we can likely expect to hear a lot about Benghazi, the Middle East, China, and American involvement in these areas—but for many Americans the second debate was the last time they would hear extensively about the candidates’ stance on domestic issues.