Those of you who saw my coverage of the first presidential debate must know that I was spinning more than Seamus when Mitt puts him in the dryer (Mitt: “He likes it, you know, after we spray him with the hose”).
We know what’s at stake.
Tonight isn’t a must-win for Barack Obama.
It’s a must-not-repeat night. The fundamentals of this race currently point towards a GOP victory in the popular vote yet a loss in the electoral college.
I’ve mixed a 47% gin and tonic for the occasion –
It’s just about time to begin the second presidential debate.
9:02 — No Candy, your job is to make sure you don’t do what Lehrer did. Crowley explains the rules, which are well known to y’all by now, and introduces the candidates.
9:03 — First Q to Romney — College Unemployment: Romney does not offer one specific program that will reduce unemployment. Now he’s for subsidized education and a growing Pell Grant program — where does he get off with these pivots?
Romney: I know what it takes to create good jobs again. But I’m not telling you.
9:07 — Obama’s response: Defense of the value of higher education (which has been declining). Obama gets off to the numbers game first — usually a good sign — and then hits Romney on LDGB (Let Detroit Go Bankrupt). More importantly — he’s got a look in his eye. He showed up tonight!
Apparently, undecided voters dig this talk about alternative energy. I so do hope that’s true.
9:08 — Crowley: What about long-term unemployed?
9:09 — Mitt’s 5 Point Plan = 12 Million Jobs fails to move undecideds. Maybe this low-information campaign is starting to backfire. Mitt gets muddled in bankruptcy argument. It’s not a winning subject for him…
9:10 — Obama: Romney is lying about auto bailout. Romney has a 1 point plan — protecting the interests of the top.
9:11 — Yes folks — you’re going to see a night where two candidates artfully articulate their substantially different ideologies. Or where Romney tries to desperately grab for the Left.
9:12 — Obama fails to answer actual question on the purpose of the Dept of Energy. However, his all of the above approach on energy resonates with CNN undecideds.
9:13 — I’m already calling this one for Obama. Everyone loves a comeback…good to see Axelrod strayed from his well-known tactic (if you don’t know, I’ll tweet it). Obama’s approach: I’ll help college student (Jeremy) get job, and your energy costs get lowered. Nice finish.
9:14 — Romney is being forced to play defense. Romney says he believes in wind…would allow wind production tax break to lapse. FALSE!
9:16 — Romney says our energy would be low cost if all from North America. Yet he’d be doing this through Canadian tar sand oil, the most expensive to produce and most environmentally destructive.
9:17 — Obama: Romney says he’s a big coal guy, but when Governor went in front of a coal plant and declared, “This plant kills!”
9:18 — I feel proud about calling it before that zinger. Paints Romney as the Two-Face he is.
9:20 — Romney: No one believes you’re an oil and gas guy. Romney puts himself in a corner as the defender of oil and gas. Not sure that’s still the most popular kid in the class anymore…
9:21 — Romney says Obama has control of price of gasoline. Let’s see this response…
9:21 — Obama: “Of course gas was low…we were on the brink of collapse.”
9:22 — Obama: I like oil and gas, but I’m not ignoring the other side of the equation.
9:23 — Romney shows his most spunk. Unfortunately for him, it’s directed towards Candy Crowley.
9:24 — Undecided voter presses Romney for details on tax plan and which deductions he’d eliminate.
9:25 — Romney: Middle class people have been buried over the past four years.
Me: No, pretty sure their incomes have been going down the toilet since unions started going the way of the woolly mammoth.
9:26 — Romney offers about as many specifics on his tax plan as…well…I’m sure you’ve all seen this already…
9:27 — Obama: Middle class families have been hurting for longer. Wow, glad to know the POTUS and I are on the same page on this one — as I’m sure you are.
9:28 — Obama: Romney is putting the top 2% ahead of 98%.
9:29 — Obama: Romney said keeping his taxes low is what grows the economy. DING DING DING DING! Glad I watched that 60 minutes…
9:31 — If this were a football game, Obama have had the ball the entire first quarter and scored a TD early in the second.
9:33 — Obama: Romney won’t tell you which deductions he’d close, and he pays a lower rate than you. His only specifics are Big Bird and Planned Parenthood.
9:34 — Obama: Romney wouldn’t buy what he was selling while he worked at Bain. You shouldn’t either. Man, this has not been overly substantial, but Obama’s killing on style.
9:35 — Romney: Of course my plan adds up. I’m a businessman.
See anything wrong with this?
(Re: Wall Street, Enron…add comments with more examples)
9:37 — Q on Equality for Women in the Workplace
9:37 — Obama: My grandmother hit the glass ceiling. That’s why Lilly Ledbetter Act was the first thing I signed.
9:39 — Men seem to be as feminist as women on this issue — let’s all drink from the Fountain of Equality!
9:40 — Romney: I went through binders full of women. That’s because I let them home early so they could make dinner for the kids. Seriously. SERIOUSLY.
9:42 — Romney: I know how to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. Circular paradoxes does not a President make.
9:43 — The binders full of women phrase is going CRAZY on twitter.
9:45 — Lilly Ledbetter is an incredible representation of the candidates’ difference in female economic equality. Don’t get me started on their rights…
9:46 — Romney: EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTIVES.
9:46 — …
9:46 — I knew Romney was off the leash, but now he’s nothing more than a stray dog.
9:47 — Romney: I came through small business. Okay. That’ll show up in campaign ads as soon when we have to remind voters about Bain.
9:49 — Obama hasn’t mentioned that he’s a net job creator yet. I guess the 5.2 million jobs just sounds better…
9:49 — Obama: Romney’s the last person that will get tough on China.
9:50 — Ryan Cooper of Washington Monthly, on Twitter: YES GEORGE BUSH FINALLY
9:51 — Those of you who had ‘wheelhouse’ as the chug of the night word, Candy just ended your sobriety.
9:53 — Obama: Romney will keep his promises too. To keep taxes on millionaires down.
9:54 — Obama: This election is about whose promises will help you. The most honest answer I’ve heard to date in this campaign.
9:55 — I never say this, but the questions tonight have been awesome.
9:55 — Obama admits to copying RomneyCare. WHY HAVEN’T WE USED THIS TO NEUTRALIZE THE ISSUE EARLIER? Politics 101 right there.
9:57 — Romney: Reagan Recovery was better. Most true thing he’s said all night — hope it flies over low-info voters’ heads, if they’re watching.
9:58 — Q to Romney: What to do about illegal immigrants that are productive members of society (in the most incarcerated nation in the world, to boot)?
9:59 — Romney takes hard line against illegal immigration, in favor of E-Verify. Most reasonable argument he’s made, and I guarantee that it will cost him Florida and Nevada. Uncork the champagne!
10:00 — Romney remembered questioner’s name, Obama didn’t. His biggest slip of the night thus far.
10:01 — In case you were wondering, about 15 minutes ago, Obama’s performance more than erased losses from the past debate (Lilly Ledbetter)
10:03 — Obama: Romney encourages self-deportation, supports racial profiling (re: Arizona immigration law)
10:04 — Romney: I didn’t say Arizona law was model for nation. Technically true — he (verbatim) called RomneyCare a model for the nation. He refuses to answer specific charges on self-deportation.
10:07 — Romney tries to tie Obama to ‘sketchy’ investments. I’m pretty sure the net worth difference negates the entirety of his argument. Romney should NOT be talking about investments — let that barb pass.
10:08 — Obama questioned on security in Libya — whose decision was it not to increase security? Obama takes personal responsibility for diplomats, outlines his common-sense response.
10:11 — Undecided voters appear to accept Obama’s explanation of Libya. Romney says that’s an important question — mirroring Obama’s introduction to the question on female economic equality.
10:12 — By contrast, Romney seems not to score points with undecided voters on this issue, which should be nothing but good for him. Microcosm for his campaign, the election. The ‘leading from behind’ line does seem to be the best weapon in Mitt’s foreign affairs arsenal though.
10:14 — Obama defends Hil. Somewhere, Bill Clinton is filming another awesome campaign commercial.
10:16 — Candy Crowley calls out Romney’s lies on Libya. #winning #invisiblelehrer
10:17 — Remember folks — this is why you should be nice to people that bring you food/drinks, and NEVER MAKE AN ENEMY OUT OF YOUR DEBATE MODERATOR
10:19 — Obama: I’ll protect Second Amendment, but weapons that are used by soldiers (like AK47s) shouldn’t be on our streets. Mentions assault weapons ban (which enjoys majority support).
10:20 — Romney: I’m not in favor of new gun laws, but I’m against automatic weapons. This is why I slept a little easier back in Canada…
10:21 — Just saw a great tweet — there were NO FEMALE PARTNERS at Bain during Romney’s tenure.
10:24 — Obama: Romney was for AWB before he was against it.
10:25 — @Romneys_Binder is on Twitter. Huzzah!
10:26 — Q on Outsourcing
10:26 — Romney: A lot of good people have lost manufacturing jobs.
Vince Vaughan in Wedding Crashers: We lost a lost of good men out there.
10:28 — From Matt Yglesias, who has had a remarkably good night on Twitter:
Only small government policies will allow us to compete with the People’s Republic of China.
10:29 — First shout-out to Canada, the US’ most important trading partner and my home and native land.
10:30 — Now Romney doesn’t like regulations anymore. Flip-flop from the first debate.
10:31 — @BillMaher — Nothing moves voters like foreign currency devaluation.
10:32 — Romney on Outsourcing: We can compete with anyone as long as the playing field is level. Ironically, also same argument for the middle class made by Obama.
10:32 — From a close friend:
What’s this equal playing field? How do you make an equal playing field? How does one make China play by rules? No really, how?
10:33 — Obama levels with the American people: some jobs aren’t coming back. I want to add higher-paying jobs.
10:34 — Last question from Barry Green: What is the biggest perception the American people have about you as a man/candidate? Set us straight.
10:35 — Romney: I believe in God. Well, you could’ve reached out, but after wanting all women to have access to contraceptives you probably have to firm up the base.
10:36 — Romney: We don’t have to settle for 47 million on food stamps.
a) You’d kick them off, that’s not a solution.
b) You really shouldn’t use the number 47 for the rest of your life.
10:37 — Obama: Romney is a good man that doesn’t care about 47% of the country.
That’s the only 47-stat people are going to remember tonight, Mitt.
10:39 — Both candidates could have used that question better for personal effect.
It’s over. Three weeks away, and in about 3-4 days you’ll start seeing polls that reflect that a 325 electoral college victory is in the cards. Still, do not forget to vote.
If this is sold as anything but Obama perfecting the rope-a-dope, to shame with the mainstream media.
Initial spot-on diagnosis from Henry Blodget, retweeting Ezra Klein:
Romney won first debate by a larger margin than I expected. Obama won the second debate by a larger margin than I expected.