On the heels of a sluggish performance at the first debate, President Obama was under great pressure to deliver in his second tete-a-tete with Mitt Romney at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York. And the incumbent didn't disappoint, appearing far more lively and aggressive than he did in the first go-round. Obama attacked the lack of specifics in Romney's tax plan, accused him of politicizing the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and closed the night with an allusion to Romney's controversial remarks about the "47 percent." In one particularly damaging moment, moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked Romney in the middle of the debate, causing the audience to erupt in applause. (Watch a video below.) However, the GOP candidate arguably gave as good as he got, and hammered Obama over the dismal state of the economy. So who won?
Obama: "Obama dominated Romney tonight in every single way: in substance, manner, style, and personal appeal," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. "He came back like a lethal, but restrained, predator." Many other commentators agreed:
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
Romney won the first debate by a larger margin than I expected. Obama won the second debate by a larger margin than I expected.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 17, 2012
Mother Jones' Adam Serwer:
Fox is calling it a draw. I think we know what that means.
— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) October 17, 2012
Romney: Romney wasn't short on ammunition, attacking Obama for his allegedly poor economic stewardship. Many conservatives said that Romney had the upper hand, and that he was undercut by Crowley inappropriately interfering in the debate:
Red State's Erick Erickson:
My take: Obama exceeded his prior performance, but Romney's hits on Obama's records make it a draw, at best, which helps Romney.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) October 17, 2012
The Washington Post's Marc Thiessen:
Only major gaffe came from moderator when she defended Obama on Libya. Wrong and not her job.
— Marc Thiessen (@marcthiessen) October 17, 2012
Even some liberals praised Romney:
There's no denying that Romney is strong when prosecuting case against Obama economy, however. #debate
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) October 17, 2012
But it may not change the race: Even if Obama won, it remains unclear whether the second debate will shake up the race, which has seen Romney climbing in the polls.
Short take: Obama wins. Romney holds his own. Will indies respond favorably to Obama's aggressiveness? Have no idea.
— Scott Galupo (@ScottGalupo) October 17, 2012