New York: With just three weeks to go for the Presidential elections, US president Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney appeared slugging it out sharply over energy, education and economy on Tuesday night, in a town-hall style debate at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.
The second Presidential debate differed from the first one in Barack Obama’s attitude as he was feistier, aggressive and looked more involved in the debate.
The 90-minute debate at Hofstra University, moderated by Candy Crowley of CNN started with a student tossing up a question about his job prospectus. Mitt Romney was the first one to answer and talked about his 5-point plan, including his vow to create 12 million jobs during his first term.
Obama, who was determined not to lag behind his rival this time, appeared quite assertive and told the student named Jeremy that his future is bright, and said he wants to build on the 5 million jobs his administration has created. He also took a dig at Romney, for saying he wanted to "let Detroit go bankrupt." question into his own 5-point plan for boosting the economy, talking about clean energy among other things.
Even though a poll just few hours ahead of debate showed Obama lagging behind Romney in key swing states, Obama wore an upbeat tone and was ready to attack Romney at various points in devate.
Obama accused Romney of favoring a "one-point plan" to help the rich strata.
Romney in turn reitearated what he said in the last debate, saying the middle class "has been crushed over the last four years," that 23 million Americans are struggling to find work and that the death of the US ambassador to Libya was part of an unraveling of the administration's foreign policy.
Obama challenged Romney on economics and energy policy, accusing him of switching positions and declaring that his economic plan was a "sketchy deal" that the public should reject.
"You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking," the former Massachusetts governor said at one point while Obama was mid-sentence. He said the president's policies had failed to jumpstart the economy and crimped energy production.
Obama and Romney clashed over taxes, deficit, energy, pay equity for women and health care issues.
Immigration prompted yet another clash, Romney saying Obama had failed to pursue the comprehensive legislation he promised at the dawn of his administration, and the president saying Republican obstinacy made a deal impossible.
Under the format agreed to in advance, members of an audience of 82 uncommitted voters posed questions to the president and his challenger.
Nearly all of them concerned domestic policy until one raised the subject of the recent death of the US ambassador to Libya in a terrorist attack at an American post in Benghazi.
Romney said it took Obama a long time to admit the episode had been a terrorist attack, but Obama said he had said so the day after in an appearance in the Rose Garden outside the White House.
When moderator Candy Crowley of CNN said the president had in fact done so, Obama, prompted, "Say that a little louder, Candy."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken responsibility for the death of Ambassador L. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, but Obama said bluntly, "I'm the president and I'm always responsible.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 09:04