For comments — Go here: http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/10/16/debate-live-blog/
Town halls. They aren’t so much “debates” as very uncomfortable press conferences run by low information voters. If I manage not to pull my hair out I’ll be lucky.
I’ll also be in the comments section at Cover it Live and we can judge the questions/questioners from “Actually insightful” to “Please leave my country immediately”
8:43 — Ezra Klein just gave us a lesson in “uniqueness.” If Obama’s plan will add 12 million jobs in the next 4 years, and Romney — without criticizing that study says, “I will add 12 million jobs in the next 4 years.” Then that is “non-unique” and therefore not a justification for voting one way or the other.
8:48 — So in the town hall format, the candidates and the moderator are joined by another participant — the questioner. Psychologically the questioner occupies the space of the viewing audience. The level of satisfaction the in-person questioner receives impacts the audience at home for better or worse. This isn’t standard “debate” practice and helps make this whole thing a crazy hodgepodge of debate and press conference.
8:53 — MSNBC is explaining that the audience needed to rehearse their role for the town hall. That doesn’t bode well for their intellectual capacity of the audience.
9:02 — How do you get this many uncommitted voters in New York?
9:03 — Jeremy Epstien is a little nervous. His question is about how he’ll get a job. Not bad. If Obama’s on his game this becomes a student loan discussion.
9:05 — Romney “knows what it takes.” Won’t tell us though.
9:06 — Obama awkwardly shoved in “let Detroit go bankrupt.” Delivery rough but it’s the right answer.
9:07 — Obama is way easier to flow. Easy, distinct arguments marked by signposts.
9:09 — Romney trying to define bankruptcy. Now saying that Obama did it. Wow.
9:11 — Reiterating the “forward” theme
9:11 — Steven Chu question? Seriously? There are so many less clearly slanted ways to ask this question.
9:14 — Romney is much less organized this time. He is rambling instead of giving the crisp “1, 2, 3” answers from the first debate. Odd since this is the venue where clear and crisp answers are much more important.
9:17 — Romney said “coal kills.” Someone on the Obama opp research team is getting laid tonight
9:19 — Romney is having some problems keeping his shit together. Being aggressive is less powerful when it’s wrong.
9:21 — Obama is a much different speaker tonight. Getting in Romney’s face
9:23 — I wrote in my blog that Romney’s aggressive tone toward the moderator would play much worse when it’s a woman than whatever Jim Lehrer is. It’s perhaps chauvinistic but I think people will react that way. Romney trying to push her around is really a bad optic.
9:26 — What definition of “middle class” makes Romney think capital gains taxes are killing the “middle class”
9:29 — Here is the “etch-a-sketch” attack
9:31 — Romney has dropped the “Clinton proves this works” argument. That’s pretty damning empirical evidence and he needs an answer there
9:33 — Obama’s arithmetic lesson is compelling.
9:34 — The argument that Romney would never take this deal is powerful. If one believes Romney’s business experience has any value at all, this argument forces him to forfeit that credential to respond.
9:35 — “As much as any governor does?” Isn’t that saying he had no capacity to perform the only government job he ever had?
9:37 — Obama did tremendously on that last exchange
9:37 — Lily Ledbetter time!
9:38 — What strikes me as the biggest difference between this debate and the first is that Obama has a defined strategy. Every question is steered back toward the middle class and after every affirmative argument he shifts to calling Romney a liar in rebuttal no matter what the issue because it erodes that Romney ethos.
9:41 — The problem with this answer is that “Romney is a good employer” is not a defense to “Romney’s policies lead the private sector to screwing over women.”
9:43 — Political rather than debate note: Planned Parenthood is being championed here because Obama camp clearly decided the only problem coming out of the first debate was undecided unmarried women.
9:45 — Romney is hanging himself with these attempts to get the last word. He’s jumbled and forfeiting valuable time on this question
9:49 — I thought Obama was weak there. It could have been more focused on Bush tax cuts. And he is giving himself no defense on the “deficit is big when I promised to cut it” argument
9:51 — Obama back on his game. Firing a number of accomplishments that Romney has no hope of answering. Can Romney put out there a more devastating offensive argument against Obama that can erase this? If it’s not Benghazi right now then Romney is dumb.
9:57 — This is Romney’s best answer. I was wrong, he had a deluge of offense to throw out there without hitting Benghazi
9:58 — The immigration answer is much better structured.
10:00 — Mitt Romney literally bashed Obama for failing to pass a law that Romney said would be bad. That’s called a double turn and such contradictions are no-nos.
10:04 — Jesus Obama you won this exchange just shut up
10:05 — This is very defensive out of Romney and is going to be a field day for fact checkers. I remember watching Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich school Romney on this point already and saying all that.
10:07 — What happened right there? Why was Romney going off on the pension. That was as close to Clint Eastwood I’ve seen in awhile
10:08 — Obama is still affable and forceful. Well done.
10:08 — Benghazi time!
10:09 — Obama taking responsibility for Benghazi. Not blame, but responsibility. This is exactly the right approach — it can allow him to go more bananas on Romney weaseling out of Bain issues.
10:10 — Obama needs to get back to the actual question
10:13 — Romney had such room to push the “Obama did not have enough security” and decided to go off on apologies and Israel. He could have done so much better there.
10:15 — Obama answer was chill inducing. Winner. This is the answer they were after.
10:17 — Gun control question. Good job because neither candidate is doing anything here.
10:21 — Divorce and contraception caused Aurora. Good to know.
10:22 — OK, Romney is getting into Fast and Furious. Finally an intelligent argument rather than ramble about divorce causing gun violence. Too bad for him it was so late that it won’t matter.
10:24 — Did Romney say we need leadership right after saying the only reason there was a gun ban in Mass. was because pro and anti gun folks decided to draft something without you.
10:27 — As a debate point, I’d be interested to hear how Frank Luntz came up with “trickle down government”
10:30 — For the last couple questions I just watched audience responses to the answers. It looks to me as though Obama is getting much better engagement than Romney is
10:33 — Obama’s “I want high skill high paying jobs” argument is fantastic. It not only directly responds to Romney’s argument and casts Romney’s China bashing as “wanting to turn us into the new China.”
10:36 — Romney became the person who reminded us that he said he didn’t care about 47% of the country. Bad move.
10:38 — Romney handed him 47%. He took it.
10:44 — Obama is the clear winner tonight. The only exchange I thought Romney won was the “wrong track” answer where Romney just listed economic statistics. It did not engage Obama’s answer but it was punchy and crisp and sound bite worthy.