In Tuesday’s debate, President Obama finally showed the nerve demanded by an election in which most voters think the country is on the wrong track.
Think about it. The economy is flailing, the national debt is spiraling, and the Middle East is convulsing. How dare he ask for a second term? Yet, after a workmanlike speech at his nominating convention and a listless first debate against Mitt Romney, Obama showed confidence and even swagger while touting his first-term accomplishments and delivering some blows.
The president also got a nice boost from a handful of questioners who asked about topics he clearly relished. A young woman gave Obama the chance to talk about being raised by a single mother and hard-working grandmother. A question about illegal immigration allowed the president to light into Romney for recommending “self-deportation.”
Romney was passionate on the point that Obama’s economic policies haven’t worked, leaving undecided voters with a lot to think about over the next three weeks. But at other times, he came across as a little too eager for a fight, insisting over and over, for example, that oil drilling on public lands has decreased.
Meanwhile, the president stayed cool. Obama got lucky, but he also showed the moxie that could help him break away from Romney in the homestretch.
-- Beth Reinhard
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney Widens Lead in New Poll
[Washington Post, 10/17/12] Mitt Romney posted his biggest lead yet in the Gallup national tracking poll, pulling ahead 51 percent to 45 percent.
Romney, Obama Scramble to Woo Women [National Journal, 10/17/12] Romney and Ryan said that Obama’s economic policies have failed women from Virginia and Ohio, respectively, Wednesday. In Iowa, Obama touted his support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and in Colorado, Biden talked of binders full of women.
Study: Romney’s Deduction Caps Don’t Pay for Tax Cuts [Reuters, 10/17/12] The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released a study Wednesday finding that Romney’s proposed cap on deductions could not create enough revenue to offset the lower income tax rates he also proposes. The lower tax rates would cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years, while capping deductions at $17,000 would raise only $1.7 trillion.
Obama Picks McCormick Place for Election Night Rally [Chicago Tribune, 10/17/12] The indoor venue will accommodate fewer people than Grant Park did in 2008, when a quarter of a million people turned out for Obama’s election night rally. The venue will allow for greater security, and the Department of Homeland Security is expected to label the rally a “national special security event.”
Analysis: What’s Next in the Obama-Romney Duel [National Journal, 10/17/12] Major Garrett writes that Libya, women’s issues, Obama’s economic record, and the honesty of the two candidates will drive the race in the home stretch. Meanwhile, Obama is staking his fortunes on Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
Bloomberg Jumps Into ’12 Races With New ‘Super Pac’
[New York Times, 10/17/12] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a political independent, will help bankroll candidates in close races who share his policy views.
5 Takeaways From the Second Presidential Debate
[National Journal, 10/17/12] If the first presidential debate featured Romney against an empty chair, this session featured two combatants standing toe to toe. NJ’s Ronald Brownstein offers the most important encounters and dynamics of the face-off.
Triumphant-sounding Obama Hammers Romney in Iowa, Ohio
[Washington Post, 10/17/12] Brimming with confidence after his lively debate performance, the president needled Romney on Wednesday for his support of defunding Planned Parenthood and his pledge to repeal Obamacare. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign took out an ad in an Iowa newspaper featuring an apology from former Obama supporters.
Opinion: Sorry, U.S. Recoveries Really Aren’t Different
[Bloomberg, 10/17/12] Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff argue that Romney advisers espouse a view on how the United States has historically recovered from recessions that is based on “gross misinterpretations.”
Larry King to Moderate Third-Party Debate
[Huffington Post, 10/17/12] The debate will take place next Tuesday in Chicago, and will feature Libertarian Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode and the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson. It will be broadcast online.
Libya Questioner Says Obama Didn’t Answer
[Washington Post, 10/17/12] The man who asked Obama “Who was it that denied enhanced security [for the Benghazi consulate] and why?” at Tuesday’s debate, was not satisfied with the president’s answer, he told Erik Wemple.
Romney-Obama Debate No. 2: Inflicting Pain, But Not Feeling It
[National Journal, 10/17/12] The town-hall-style debate, which traditionally has given presidential candidates a chance to show a connection with average people, demonstrated that both Romney and Obama lack anything resembling President Clinton’s common touch. NJ’s Alex Roarty weighs in.
Romney Adviser on Lilly Ledbetter Act: 'He Was Opposed to It at the Time'
[Huffington Post, 10/17/12] Romney campaign senior campaign adviser Ed Gillespie told HuffPost reporter Sam Stein that at the time it was enacted, Romney was against the Lily Ledbetter Act, which aims to make pay more gender equal. Gillespie said, however, there are no plans to repeal the act once in office.
From Sidelines, Debate Moderator Crowley Becomes Part of Story
[Reuters, 10/17/12] Moderators have been a big part of the storyline of presidential debates this cycle. CNN’s Candy Crowley was no exception. From challenging the candidates with follow-up questions to correcting Romney on Libya, Crowley garnered much praise and criticism following Tuesday night.
Debate’s Questioners Highlight Everyday-American Economic Anxieties
[Washington Post, 10/17/12] The everyday Americans who engaged the candidates on Tuesday night spoke directly to a question widely expected to decide the election: Whom can they trust to improve the economy? The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner discusses some of the questions and questioners.
The Debate Romney Won
[BuzzFeed, 1017/12] While most are scoring the debate an Obama victory, a look inside post-debate polling shows Romney winning on big issues like handling of the economy, tax policy, the deficit, and even health care.
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