Much like one of his major campaign slogans, President Obama was fired up and ready to go in the second presidential debate. After a listless performance in the first debate, the president came out with much more energy this time around, nearly bounding from his seat to answer the first question. Despite the more friendly town hall meeting format, Mr. Obama was on the offensive from the get go, attacking Mr. Romney on all fronts. After the debate, nearly all of the snap polls showed the president coming out on top.
The heated affair was highlighted by a major confrontation in the middle of the debate where the candidates came face to face on stage. The two frequently tried talking over each other, and the moderator, Candy Crowley. The long time CNN journalist was not going to have a repeat of Jim Lehrer’s performance, and consistently shut both men down.
Another big moment was when Crowley fact checked Mr. Romney on the spot, correctly pointing out that Mr. Obama called the Benghazi attacks an “act of terror” the day after they happened. Conservative media, such as Fox News, have been trying to paint administration comments about the attack as a cover up. After Crowley’s fact check, Mr. Obama jokingly asked if she could say that a little louder.
Mr. Romney’s strongest moment came when a voter asked Mr. Obama why he should vote for him again. When Mr. Romney got his chance to speak, he rattled off a list of broken promises the president had made. Mr. Romney hit his stride at this moment, reminding everyone just how trying these last four years have been. Mr. Romney also set off the next big internet meme with his comment about a “binder full of women” when discussing equal pay and treatment of women in the workplace.
Almost more important than the debate itself was the post debate press coverage. Nearly across the board, Obama was declared the winner. This narrative will now play out in the days ahead. After Mitt Romney’s win in the first debate, positive press coverage helped him make up the sizable gap in the polls between himself and the president. With the president likely to get positive coverage following this performance, the needle could very well swing back his way.
One thing that is not likely to change is the fact that we are in for a close election. Most voters have already made up their minds, and the election will come down to turnout. Thus far, Mr. Obama appears to be winning the early voting game, with some estimates putting his share of early votes as high as 60%. The Romney campaign is countering with a massive TV ad campaign. The Romney team has been saving up for a final stretch run over the air waves. The future direction of presidential campaigns is likely to be steered by whoever comes out on top.