Live-Blogging The “Strangers With Candy” Debate


10.40 pm. To my mind, Obama dominated Romney tonight in every single way: in substance, manner, style, and personal appeal. He came back like a lethal, but restrained predator. He was able to defend his own record, think swiftly on his feet, and his Benghazi answer was superb. He behaved like a president. He owned the presidency. And Romney? Well, he has no answers on the math question and was exposed. He was vulnerable on every social issue, especially immigration. And he had no real answer to the question of how he’d be different than George W Bush.

I’m excitable – but sometimes politics is about emotion as well as reason. And my view is that Obama halted Romney’s momentum in its tracks and his performance will bring women voters in particular flooding back. He’s just more persuasive. On watching with the sound off – apart from weird gaps in the CSPAN coverage – Obama did not grin like Biden; he smiled confidently, leaning forward. Within twenty minutes, Romney looked flush and a little schvitzy.

Game, set and match to Obama. He got it; he fought back; he gave us all more than ample reason to carry on the fight.

10.39 pm. That was the best answer of the night and for Obama to tackle the 47 percent question as powerfully as he did at the end was brutal.

10.36 pm. Romney’s answer to the easiest question imaginable was so sad. He was boasting of universal healthcare as a sign of his compassion. So why does he oppose so vehemently Obamacare? Shouldn’t that speak well of Obama by Romney’s own argument. He also failed to offer a single anecdote of his own personal life.

10.31 pm. Obama’s actual answer to the China question – some jobs aren’t coming back – was as honest as his prescription is obvious, with respect to education. He has won every single exchange in this debate; and he has also appeared calmer and more authoritative.

10.30 pm. Regulations have quadrupled? Really? Over to the fact-checkers.

10.26 pm. This gun exchange is a little blurry. But the pivot to education was worth it. Romney is clearly rattled. The look on his face as he went to the final question was almost creepy.

10.24 pm. This has been a sustained lie from Romney and Ryan:

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan said it took President Obama two weeks to label the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans as “a terrorist attack.” In fact, Obama labeled the incident an “act of terror” during his remarks on Sept. 12 in the White House Rose Garden.

10.21 pm. In the transcript of the Rose Garden press conference, we have the following sentence:

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.

He did not even mention the inflammatory video. Romney was wrong. Crowley was right to call him on it.

10.16 pm. Wow. President Obama just eviscerated Romney. As an alpha male. It’s hard to convey genuine offense without seeming aggressive. But Obama made Romney look cheap and political over a tragedy like Benghazi. But I’m not sure what the Rose Garden transcript actually says. We’ll find out.

10.12 pm. I thought that was a terrific response from Obama on the Benghazi clusterfuck – especially reminding us that Romney tried to politicize the issue. And Romney is now saying that Obama should have suspended his campaign, as McCain did, because of the Benghazi error.

10.06 pm. If Obama had passed immigration reform in his first year, Romney would have attacked him for not focusing on the economy. We all know what happened. The GOP stopped it. Period. Romney’s bulldozing through these questions, talking over Obama and Crowley, makes him look like a bully. And Romney just heckled Obama.

10.02 pm. On immigration, Romney cannot answer the core question, except by self-deportation. And Obama is reminding him of the fact. Romney just told Candy Crowley to shut up. He’s treating her with contempt.

9.57 pm. Romney is blaming the recession on Obama, who inherited it. Romney – who said that Bush was in a different era and couldn’t be compared with him today and then uses Reagan’s Keynesian recovery with much less debt and far more fiscal lee-way to indict Obama. Any argument at hand.

9.50 pm. Obama flunks the opportunity. It’s easy: Bush wanted tax cuts as the magic bullet; so does Romney; Bush wanted to invade Iraq; Romney wants to attack Iran. And yet Obama does not bash Bush – perhaps very cannily; he pivots to pointing out how Romney is to the right of Bush. And then he makes his key pitch in defense of his record. He’s on. Romney, meanwhile, looks flushed and uncomfortable.

9.46 pm. Romney just denied his position on the HHS contraception mandate. But he gets my question! The critical question. And he has no real answer. I mean: really new oil fields? This is a ball hanging in the air now – and Obama should be able to nail it.

9.44 pm. It’s fascinating how contraception is now an issue in this campaign and Obama is owning his Obamacare position; and he is doubling down on Planned Parenthood. This is going to hel win him back women’s votes. He’s on tonight. Nice touch on his daughters. And obviously sincere.

9.42 pm. Romney’s response on women’s pay is strongest when he mentions his old cabinet in Massachusetts. But his segueway to the economy seemed a little desperate.

9.38 pm. Obama has owned the first half hour. This campaign is turning again. Now we get a very Obama-friendly question about women’s pay. And a great answer on women’s pay. Hard to beat that answer.

9.33 pm. Obama does now point out the phony math. Obama is now dismantling Romney. It is a joy to watch these lies exposed. Game back fucking on! I love that formula of saying Romney wouldn’t accept the same sketchy sales pitch he is now selling to Americans.

9.32 pm. More vague uplift from Romney – but it sounds devoid of content. But Obama missed an opportunity to say to the last questioner: did you notice he didn’t answer your question?

9.29 pm A good answer from Obama but he missed a key opportunity. To tell the middle class that Romney’s math does not add up without getting rid of middle class deductions. Obama nonetheless won that exchange.Romney is lying. He cannot cut the debt, and cut tax rates without removing major deductions which will affect the middle class. It’s deceptive.

9.25 pm. The key question: show us your math. Which deductions would you remove from the middle class to pay for the cuts in rates? Now he’s saying he will limit the amount of total deductions for most people, at least I think that’s what he’s saying. The answer is obviously evasive, it seems to me. He has no details or specifics.

9.22 pm. A brilliant debating pivot from Obama on the price of gas. It was so low in 2008 because of the recession. Romney now seems as if he is bullying Crowley and Obama.

9.20 pm. It’s getting very testy, and Obama’s getting angry at the flim-flam. Romney is now simply saying that higher gas prices is entirely the fault of Obama, which he knows is wrong.

9.18 pm. Obama calls Romney a liar to his face; and rebuts his entire point on oil drilling on public lands, by citing his record compared with Bush’s. He’s kicking Romney’s ass right now. His point about efficiency and long-term investment works.

9.13 pm. Go defend your stellar record on domestic energy production, Barack, and the new standards for emissions. Obama corners Romney on his inability to support clean energy, while focusing on carbon energy. Romney’s only response is to say we should drill in national parks. A meandering answer from Romney. And substantively weak. Because again, he’s lying. He wants to gut investment in clean energy.

9.11 pm. Thanks, Mr president, for calling a lie a lie. Finally. That second round was a knock-out for Obama. Thank God he’s alive!

9.07 pm. Obama’s back on. I recognize this guy. Energy; focus; ability to relate. Did Romney just say he “presumes” he’ll be president in 2014. Obama won the first exchange, although he got a little dull as his answer went on.

9.05 pm Did Romney just say he wanted to expand Pell Grants? Aren’t they on his chopping block? How many bald-faced lies he is going to say tonight?

9.02 pm. Striking isn’t it that the man who’s in his early fifties has more gray hair than the dude in his sixties. That’s the end of the hair-blogging. Promise.

9.01 pm Well it’s a Town Hall format and it’s with the great Candy Crowley, so why not? Has he put extensions in her hair? Is that the gayest thing I ever live-blogged?