Second Presidential Debate
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney took the stage again for the second presidential debate on Tuesday night at Hofstra University. Moderated by CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley, the two candidates addressed questions from undecided voters, covering a range of topics including social and economic issues, as well as issues pertaining to national security.
Sophomore Dylan Gallimore, president of the College Independents, said he felt both candidates did well during the debate in comparison to the first debate.
“As a whole, I do think that it was probably a draw as far as content,” Gallimore said. “Because Obama did fare so poorly during the first debate, coming out and kind of being the Obama that we all remember and expected him to be probably made him look better than Romney because Romney just gave a consistent performance.”
The candidates argued over the truth of each other’s statements regarding their opponent’s actions and policies. Candy Crowley and audience members questioned Obama and Romney about how Obama handled the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11 that resulted in the death of the American Ambassador to Libya and three American diplomats.
Obama said he labeled the incident as “an act of terror” the day after it occurred. Romney said he disagreed with Obama’s assertions.
“You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?” Romney said. “I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
Candy Crowley responded by saying both candidates were partially correct in their statements. She said Obama did label it “an act of terror,” but it took two weeks for the riot to be recognized as a premeditated attack.
Political communication professor Lindsay Hoffman said active participation and fact-checking by the moderator is nothing new in debates, but she believes the way in which the candidates interact with the moderator has evolved during this election year. She said she believes Candy Crowley was effective and well-timed in her role as moderator when the candidates were asked about Libya.
“This kind of superseding the moderator is new in this election year,” Lindsay Hoffman said. “I've seen it before in primary debates, I have not seen it to this level. Novelty is always good in a campaign. This is the new thing, this is the new normal, this is the new debate, where you’re opening it up and you’re offering these opportunities for disagreement and discussion and interruption and aggression.”
Lindsay Hoffman said the new role of moderator is similar to that of a playground monitor trying to keep the peace between children. She said she believes Candy Crowley was able to perform more effectively than PBS NewsHour executive editor Jim Lehrer did as moderator during the first debate, partially because of the differences in the debate formats. This debate was set up like a town hall discussion where as the first debate was set in a more formal setting with candidates speaking behind podiums on a stage.
Gallimore said he felt Candy Crowley crossed the line of what a moderator should do by becoming an active part of the debate. He said he felt her fact-checking of the candidates’ statements was inappropriate.
“I think that the moderator completely overstepped her bounds,” Gallimore said. “She would cut off the candidate as they were making their point, she did it to both of them. I understand they had two minutes, but I think Candy Crowley completely handicapped that debate.”
Sophomore Lauren Mick, former secretary of the College Republicans, said she felt Romney was a more eloquent speaker when representing himself and discussing his policies. However, junior Mary Crowley, vice president of the College Democrats, said she thought Obama delivered a commanding victory over his opponent.
Despite their differing opinions, both Mick and Mary Crowley said they felt Obama made a stronger case for his support of women’s rights and equality. Mick said she thought Romney’s comment on choosing women for his cabinet could be taken negatively out of context.
“The ‘binders full of women’ comment was a little oddly worded,” Mick said. “I mean, I think [Romney] had a point to make, but I think we got caught up in the odd wording of it. But I think the President outlined his plan very clearly as well."
Mick and Mary Crowley both said Romney answered the final question on correcting public misconceptions well.
Mary Crowley said Romney’s message was well-delivered. However, she said she does not think it was enough to convince undecided voters.
“I think that Romney did do a decent job in kind of dispelling some of the fallout from his 47 precent comments,” Mary Crowley said. “I think it was a valiant attempt at making himself more relatable.”
Mick said the content of the debate had a mixed impact on university students because they tend to focus more on issues they understand easily and directly impact them. She said she thinks the candidates’ discussion on jobs and the economy are relatable because graduating students are beginning to look for employment. However, she said she does not think topics like tax reforms would not particularly interest students.