“I am the president,” President Obama said during his answer Tuesday to a question about the fatal attacks on Americans in Libya last month. It is a fact whose shelf life many Democrats had sweated after the first presidential debate two weeks ago.
Obama seemed far more determined Wednesday to sustain it than he was in the earlier contest. From the first question, when he skipped the opening niceties to hammer Mitt Romney on the auto bailout, Long Island saw a far more engaged president. He rapped the Republican nominee for asserting Romney’s own tax rate should match a nurse or bus driver earning $50,000. He sought to cauterize the damage from Libya, an incident that has dented his national security stronghold. And, beyond question, he benefited from audience questioners whose queries better suited Obama’s portfolio than Romney’s.
Despite a few stumbles – on Libya and his offshore investments – Romney again proved his debate mettle, honed during a seemingly interminable series of GOP primary tilts. But the arc of the campaign gave Obama a readymade opening to restore a sense that he is willing to lean into Romney. On Wednesday, he did so.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Analysis: Obama, Romney Tie in Presidential Showdown
[National Journal, 10/16/12] Ron Fournier writes that the debate was a win for passionate dialogue and a loss for civility. For the candidates, though, it was a tie, and did not shift the dynamics of the race.
Obama on Offense in Second Debate
[CBS News, 10/16/12] Panned for his listless performance in the first debate, Obama showed a more energetic, aggressive face in the second. "Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan,” he quipped at one point about his opponent’s economic policy. “And that plan is to make sure folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”
Fact Check: The Second Presidential Debate
[National Journal, 10/16/12] Obama’s claim that oil production on federal lands is up over the course of his administration rates true, while his claim that Romney would let Detroit go bankrupt has been rated half-true by Politifact.
Candidates Square Off on Energy, Taxes in Debate
[Wall Street Journal, 10/16/12] Romney and Obama disagreed sharply about whether Romney’s tax plan would ultimately favor the wealthy and the expense of the middle class. Both candidates portrayed themselves as proponents of domestic oil, gas and coalproduction and attempted to portray each other as enemies of the coal industry.
Obama, Romney Strike New Combative Tone in Presidential Debate
[Los Angeles Times, 10/16/12] The tone of the second debate was notably less civil than that of the first, despite the conventional wisdom that the town hall debate makes confrontation more difficult. The two interrupted each other frequently, with Obama challenging the truth of Romney’s assertions and Romney calling Obama’s characterization of his position on the Detroit bailout “way off the mark.”
Romney Echoes Biden on ‘Buried’
[Politico, 10/16/12] Romney twice said the middle-class has been “buried” during the past four years while discussing taxes at the debate, a subtle allusion to last month’s gaffe by Vice President Joe Biden, in which he said the same.
High Court Won’t Block Early Voting in Ohio
[Associated Press, 10/16/12] After Obama’s campaign and Ohio Democrats sued the state over changes in Ohio law that took away three days of voting for most people, the Supreme Court refused a GOP request to get involved in the dispute.
Romney’s ‘New Math’ for Jobs Plan Doesn’t Add Up
[Washington Post, 10/16/12] Glenn Kessler gives Romney “four Pinocchios” with his claim that he will create 12 million jobs when he becomes president, saying his math doesn’t add up. This came out the same day the Obama campaign released romneytaxplan.com. Go ahead: try to click the “Get the Details” button.
Debt Impasse Shadows Race for Presidency
[New York Times, 10/15/12] Whoever wins the race for the White House, the victor’s agenda could depend on the fiscal showdown between Election Day and Inauguration Day. If Romney wins, his ability to foster cooperation at the outset could determine his success on a range of issues. If Obama wins, he would have to build trust with the GOP leaders who had hoped to make him a one-term president.
Paul Ryan Can’t Lose
[New York Times, 10/16/12] A long read on Ryan’s Washington reputation, including his hopes to be a Dick Cheney of economics, how “Catholic guilt” prompted his vote on the Bush-era prescription drug plan, and how the tea party was a “godsend.”
Faith Voters Onboard for Romney
[Denver Post, 10/16/12] In the most organized barrage made by so-called faith voters in a decade, evangelicals and Catholics are walking precincts, registering neighbors to vote and wedging Christian voter guides under windshield wipers in hopes of making Obama a one-term president. The issue they are most concerned about? The immorality of an economic downturn.
Professors Donate to Obama, Opine About Election in the News
[The Hill, 10/16/12] The Hill has found that at least a half-dozen professors who gave political donations to Obama have been quoted in news articles opining about his administration and the White House race. The findings of this investigation come as Republicans cry foul about media bias.
Celebrities Help Obama Make His Closing Argument
[Talking Points Memo, 10/16/12] Celebrities are coming out of the woodwork to help Obama bring home the win. Morgan Freeman narrates a new Obama ad, Bruce Springsteen is hitting the trail, Samuel L. Jackson is telling disaffected voters to “wake the f*** up,” and some of Hollywood’s biggest-name actresses are talking about women’s issues.
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