As we head into Debate #2, where does the race stand? According to Nate Silver, it's too close for comfort: President Obama with 285.6 electoral votes and a 63.8% chance of winning in the 538 model, Lying Liar Willard "Mitt" Romney with 252.4 electoral votes and a 36.2% chance of becoming "President Romney" (I know, shuddderrrrrrr).
Now, I realize there are many people - including academics who study this stuff - who say "debates don't matter," but given that President Obama fell from an 86% chance of reelection before the first debate to about 64% now, that's a bit hard for me to believe. And no, don't ask me what Obama was thinking at Debate #1, because for the life of me, I have no idea.
Fortunately, Debate #2 gives Obama a chance to get back on the horse, to mount a vigorous case for his record the past 4 years, and also for another 4 years in office. Personally, I think he has a strong case to make, especially given the continuingsigns of an improving economy. If there's any justice in the world, then saving us from Great Depression II, keeping Detroit from going bankrupt, relentlessly pounding the you-know-what out of Al Qaeda (sayonara Bin Laden), and much more, expanding health care coverage, ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell," investing more in clean energy than any other administration ever has, etc., should be more than sufficient for Americans to give President Obama four more years. Of course, President Obama needs to brag about his excellent record, while also reminding people that Republicans - including people like Paul Ryan - drove us into the ditch in the first place (they have refused to help pull the car OUT of the ditch for good measure). And it would be nice if the media would actually do its job, instead of just pushing their own agendas and emphasizing style 99% and substance 1% (if that). But I'm certainly NOT holding my breath on that one.
Anyway, feel free to use this diary to discuss the debate, or whatever else is on your mind related to the presidential race. I'll weigh in with some thoughts as the night progresses, I'm sure.
UPDATE 11:02 pm: Andrew Sullivan, who was apoplectic with President Obama after Debate #1, now says:
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 luke 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.
UPDATE 10:40 pm: I realize I'm biased, but Obama KICKED ASS in this debate, totally different from last debate. David Brooks - Obama won. Mark Shields - Ditto. Totally different President Obama this time around. Libya question - room went silent, then applause. Obama MUCH more aggressive, had Romney on defensive all night. By the way, I thought Candy Crowley did an excellent job overall, and I liked the Town Hall forum - better questions than the moderators have asked, generally speaking.
UPDATE 10:35 pm: Biggest misperception about you as a man and a candidate? Romney - "That's an opportunity for me." LOL Claims Obama's campaign has described him as someone he isn't, says he cares about 100% of Americans, blah blah. Passion flows from believing in god, served as missionary for my church, helped get Olympics on track, got 100% of people in Massachusetts insured (yeah, by ROMNEYCARE)). Again, talks down the American economy...negative, negative, negative. Segues into closing statement, which this wasn't supposed to be.
UPDATE 10:37 pm: I don't believe government creates jobs. I believe in free enterprise system, self reliance, individual initiative, everyone should have a fair shot/play by same rules. Fundamentally different vision from Gov. Romney. He's a good man, but he when he said 47% of country considered themselves victims, he was talking about folks on Soc. Security, veterans who sacrificed for this country, students trying to advance their dreams, soldiers fighting for us right now, people working hard every day, I want to fight for them. If they succeed, country succeeds. When my grandfather fought in WWII, came back to GI Bill, that wasn't a handout, that advanced entire country.
UPDATE 10:33 pm: Question about bringing manufacturing back to America. Romney - As long as playing field is level, we can compete with anyone. Obama - There are some jobs that are not going to come back because they're low-wage/low-skill, I want high-wage/high-skill jobs. Don't add to deficit for tax cuts to those who don't need them. We need to create innovations here, invest in our economy, our people. Romney starts chanting, "government does not create jobs!"
UPDATE 10:27 pm: Question on outsourcing. Romney - The king of outsourcing to China is talking about this issue? Hahahahahaha. Whatever, I can't take anything he says on this subject seriously. "Trickle down government" - what on earth IS that? Bashes China, even though he's been a BFF with China for years. This is utterly laughable. "Will label China a currency manipulator" (note: business community opposes that). Regulations quadrupled under this President? WTF?!?!? That's not true at all. Obamcare has been "deterrent to..hiring people." WTF?!? Also a Big Lie. My god, STFU.
Obama - We need to create jobs here. Should lower corporate tax rate. I'd do it by closing loopholes that allow companies to profit from moving jobs to China, offshore. Different than Romney, he wants to EXPAND those tax breaks for outsourcing jobs overseas. Romney will create 800,000 new jobs...in China, Germany, etc. We are on pace to double our exports, creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country. Trade deals that make sure American workers and businesses getting a good deal. Gov. Romney's company was called "pioneers of outsourcing." China's currency has appreciated because we've pushed them hard.
UPDATE 10:18 pm: Obama says we need to enforce gun laws we've already got, keep guns out of hands of criminals and mentally ill. Share believe that weapons designed for soldiers in war theaters don't belong on our streets. Need broader conversation about how to reduce violence generally. Get assault weapons ban introduced. Give young people opportunity. Work with faith groups, law enforcement to catch violence before it gets out of control. Get into communities, catch violent impulses before they occur.
Romney - Don't favor new legislation on guns. Of course don't want to have automatic weapons. Enforce gun laws we have, change culture of violence. Totally agree with Obama on good schools. Two parents in home, before you have babies you should get married to someone. Hmmmm. Change our culture. Oh no, here we go - the "Fast and Furious" Republican fever dream/paranoid conspiracy theory. This guy is nuts. Yes, it's been investigated, and NOTHING has been found. Romney goes to the lunatic fringe. Crowley - Romney signed assault weapons ban in Massachusetts, why don't you still support that? Romney says pro-gun and "anti-gun" (love the formulation) folks came together.
Obama - Romney as for assault weapons ban before he was against it. He said he changed his mind because he was seeking NRA endorsement. We agree on importance of parents and schools. Everyone needs a chance to succeed. Education reforms we've put in place are seeing the toughest schools start to succeed. We're retraining workers for jobs that exist right now. Matching up employers with skilled workers. This is part of choice in this election. When Gov. Romney was asked whether hiring more teachers was important, he said that doesn't grow economy.
UPDATE 10:09 pm: Question about Libya (I thought this was the domestic debate). Obama - Our diplomats serve all around world, do incredible job. They are representatives of United States and my representatives, NOBODY is more concerned with their safety and security than I am. I told them, beef up security, investigate what happened, make sure folks held accountable and it doesn't happen again. We're going to find these people and hunt them down. Romney put out a press release trying to make political points while we were still dealing with this. That is NOT how a commander in chief operates. When it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. Iraq - check. Bin Laden - check. Afghanistan - check. I mean what I say.
Romney - Says buck does stop at President Obama's desk. Says it took several days to know what happened, completely glossing over his politicization of the tragedy IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. Also hits Obama for going to a fundraiser (oh give me a f***ing break, this guy is utterly shameless). Somehow he knows this was not a demonstration. Blah blah blah Israel...Iran...blah blah blah. Gets in Big Lies about supposed "apology tour," "leading from behind."
Obama - Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job, but I'm the president. The day after the attack, I stood in the Rose Garden and told America we'd find out who did it, this was an act of terror. A few days later, I was grieving with the families. The suggestion that anybody in my team would play politics or mislead, lost four of our own, is offensive.
Romney - Crowley says Obama DID call it an act of terror. Romney keeps attacking, won't let up on this bull****. Just disgraceful.
UPDATE 9:59 pm: Question on immigration. Romney says this is a nation of immigrants. Wants to encourage legal immigration. Have to stop illegal immigration. Will not "grant amnesty." Employer verification system. No drivers licenses for those who've come here "illegally." Kids should have pathway to become permanent resident (Note: Romney opposes DREAM Act). Calls it a "Democrat House" and "Democrat Senate." What a juvenile jerk.
Obama - We are a nation of immigrants, a few miles away from Ellis Island. Talent from all over world wants to come here. We're also a nation of laws. Need to fix broken immigration system. We've streamlined legal immigration system. We've put more border patrol agents on border than anytime in history, flow of undocumented immigrants lowest in 40 years. We shouldn't go after students, but after criminals. That's what we've done. For young people brought here, gone to school here, think of this as their country, we should make sure they have a pathway to citizenship. Romney said he would veto DREAM Act. His main strategy was to say we're going to encourage "self deportation," make life so miserable for people that they'd leave, called Arizona law model for nation. Need comprehensive immigration reform. I sat down with Republicans and Democrats, but it's hard for Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform if their standard bearer doesn't support it.
Romney - Claims he did NOT say Arizona law was model for the nation in that respect. HUH?!? Claims Obama should have honored his promise, completely ignoring Republican obstructionism once again. Claims he was not the "standard bearer." Claims he's not in favor of rounding up people. Says his investments have been managed by blind trust. Obama - My pension is not as big as yours. We're a little off topic here.
Obama - Gov. Romney says he wasn't referring to Arizona as a model, his top adviser on immigration designed it! There are folks all around the world who see America as land of promise. We want to encourage that in a smart, comprehensive way. We should not make this a divisive political issue. This used to be a bipartisan issue.
UPDATE 9:52 pm: Obama - I cut taxes for middle class families, small business, ended war in Iraq, went after Al Qaeada/Osama bin Laden is dead, reined in excesses of Wall Street, created 5 million jobs, we are making progress. Saved auto industry on brink of collapse. Still, a lot of Americans are struggling. That's why my plan makes sense. Use savings from ending wars to rebuild America. Control our own energy, both of today and the future. I've kept my commitments. Pay attention to this campaign. Romney's committed to not raise a dime in taxes on millionaires and billionaires, he said "me too." Cut Planned Parenthood funding, he said "me too." Romneycare same as Obamacare, but he said he'd repeal Obamacare. Whose promises will be most likely to help you in your life.
Romney - "I think you know better." Romney keeps talking down economy. Claims Obama lied, but of course HE is the one who's lying. Romney's good at that, at least. "The middle class is getting crushed" (Romney's favorite line) Unemployment has not been reduced. Romney just keeps repeating himself, things are horrible and WE ARE ALL DOOMED!!!! What a downer. Negative, negative, negative. Ugh. Goes back to Reagan, somehow that's making a point. Obama's a great speaker, his plans hasn't worked (according to RobMe).
UPDATE 9:45 pm: Question about Bush economics. What's the difference between you and Bush? Romney - Claims every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. Bush and I are different people and these are different times. Claims his five-point plan is totally different than what Bush would have done. HUH!?!? Romney doubles down on Bush-o-nomics! Claims Bush didn't crack down on China. LOL. Says Bush didn't get us to balanced budget, but Obama did even worse. In other words, everyone's an idiot except for Romney. Hahahaha. Claims he's a small businessman, yeah right!!! This guy's a riot. Goes on rant about "Obamacare," even though it's almost identical to Romneycare. Whatever.
Obama - We did come in during tough times, losing 800k jobs per month. Digging our way out of misplaced policies. We've now had 31 consecutive months of job growth, 5.2 million jobs created. Romney claims his plan is different, but that's not true. Centerpiece of his plan is tax cuts. Getting tough on China? He invested in companies that were pioneers in outsourcing to China. Governor, you're the LAST person who's going to get tough on China. We've won every unfair trade case against China. Romney said I was being protectionist when China was flooding our market with cheap tires. Romney's different than Bush - Bush didn't propose turning Medicare into voucher, didn't call for self deportation, didn't suggest cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. Romney's gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy.
UPDATE 9:37 pm: Question on inequalities in workplace for women. Obama - I was raised by a single mom. She worked hard every day, made a lot of sacrifices. Grandmother hit the glass ceiling, trained people who would become her bosses. One of the first bills I signed was the Lily Ledbetter Act. That's the kind of advocacy we need. Women are increasingly the breadwinners of the family. This is a family issue. We've expanded Pell Grants for millions of young women across the country. We cut out the middle man - the banks. We've got to enforce the laws, make sure we do not tolerate discrimination in every walk of life.
Romney - Claims he learned a lot about this as governor of Massachusetts. He says he "took a concerted effort" to find women for his cabinet. Why does Romney sound like he speaks English as a second language? More flexibility for women in workplace. Employers will be anxious to hire women under his administration, supposedly. Again, talks about how bad things are in America. Why does Romney keep talking down our country?
Obama - Romney said he'd get back to us about Lily Ledbetter Act. Health care is also crucial to women in workplace. Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington make health care decisions for women. Contraceptive coverage for everyone who's ensured - it's a health care AND an economic issue. Romney opposed it, said employers should make the decision. That's not the kind of advocacy women need. Romney says eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, that's a pocketbook issue for women and families across the country. Child care credits, that makes a difference. These are not just women's issues, these are family issues and economic issues. When everyone participates, has same opportunities, our economy grows.
UPDATE 9:24 pm: Romney lies again, claims he is NOT against wind jobs in Colorado and Iowa. Unbelievable. Question about Romney's tax plans, mortgage interest deduction, education credits, etc., what would be your position? Romney - Claims he wants to get middle income taxpayers to have lower taxes, that's a complete lie, NOT what independent studies have shown. Also not true that middle class has been "buried" or "crushed" the past 4 years. Still hasn't answered question. Claims he'll limit deductions for high end. Still no answer to a specific question...cue Jeopardy music...blah blah blah. Will not under any circumstances reduce share paid by highest tax payers (that completely contradicts what Romney's said over and over again). Now he's lying about Obama raising taxes, in fact he's lowered taxes (look it up!).
Obama - I want to give middle class families relief, they've been hit hard over last 15-20 years. I've cut taxes by $3600 per family, cut taxes 18 times for small businesses. If we're serious about reducing deficit, we need tough spending cuts AND make sure wealthy do a little bit more. Below $250k per year, no change. I'd sign that bill right now, but Gov. Romney's allies in Congress have held 98% hostage to top 2%. Above $250k, we can go back to Clinton era, when the economy boomed. Gov. Romney has different philosophy. Just 2 weeks ago, he said it's fair for him to pay lower tax rate than someone making $50k per year. He even said he thought that's what grows the economy. I fundamentally disagree with that. We just have a different theory. During Republican primary he said he'd cut everybody including top 1%. You should believe him, that's exactly the kind of top-down economics that will not work.
Romney - Lies again about his plan. Claims he wants to get America's economy "going again," but guess what? It IS "going again!" Just look at the statistics. Keeps talking down U.S. economy, negative negative negative. Woe is me, doom and gloom. Blech. Rattles off his b.s. 5-point plan. Utter nonsense.
Obama - Cost of lowering rates for everybody across the board along with eliminating estate tax, along with corporate changes, will cost $5 trillion. He also wants to spend $2 trillion more on military. Also wants to push another $1 trillion in tax cuts to wealthiest Americans. That's $8 trillion. He also claims it won't increase the deficit. He can't name specific deductions he'd eliminate. No specifics whatsoever beyond Big Bird and Planned Parenthood funding. Turns to Romney, says "you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal!" He'd blow up the deficit OR alternatively force YOU to pay for it. Don't buy the "sale pitch." Nobody serious who's looked at this believes it would add up.
Romney - "Of course they add up!" Huh?!? Claims Obama's characterization of his "plan" is "completely foreign". Attack, attack, attack. Keeps talking about the debt, we'll be on "the road to Greece." Yep, just keep talking down America.
UPDATE 9:11 pm: Question on gas prices. Obama - The most important thing we can do is to control our own energy. We've increased oil production to highest level in 16 years, gas to highest in decades. We have seen increases in coal employment and production. We also have to look to future. We've doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. We've doubled wind and solar. We've lowered our oil imports to lowest levels in 16 years. I want to build on that. We have potentially 100 years of energy with natural gas, we can do it in environmentally sound way. Efficient energy is the key to keeping gas prices lower. Romney's plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. He doesn't have the clean energy part, only the oil and gas part. We won't control our own economic future if we follow Romney's path.
Romney - Again starts attacking President Obama, gives no credit to Obama for oil and gas production increases. What a jerk. If Obama cured cancer, Romney would complain that Obama didn't cure it sooner. Now blabbering about birds being killed. Claims he believes in wind and solar, after dissing it the past year. "This has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal." Uh, Romney said coal "kills people." That was in a past life, though, or a different iteration of Romneybot. Drill baby drill! Keystone tar sands pipeline! Oh joy!
Obama - No doubt that world demand has gone up, but our production's gone up. Very little of what Romney just said is true. We've opened up public lands. Previous president was an oil man, and we're doing more. Calls out Romney for "this plant kills people comment!" Hahahahaha. Producing coal cleaner and smarter, same with oil and gas. More efficient cars=more jobs, saves money in your pocketbook. All of the above strategy.
Romney - Again, lies about Obama's record. Obama interrupts, says that's not true. We said to oil companies, you can't just sit on leases and not drill, these are public lands, so either use it or lose it. Wow, Romney just keeps lying, Obama calling him out. Nice! Romney claims that Obama will not push for oil and gas and coal. Proof is price at pump, according to Romney. That's just a complete lack of understanding of how world oil markets work. What an imbecile. Keystone pipeline - that also has NOTHING to do with bringing oil prices down. Another big lie by Romney.
Obama - Correctly points out that economy was collapsing when he took office, that's why gasoline prices were low. Romney would bring down gas prices, because with his policies, we'd be in same mess. We need an economy that's strong. I'm all for pipelines, I'm all for oil production, I'm not for ignoring other half of equation. Romney would kill wind power jobs in Iowa, Colorado. That is NOT an energy strategy for the future.
UPDATE 9:09 pm: Romney keeps talking down America, bad mouthing our economy, uses weird math to claim unemployment rate is really higher than it is. What a bunch of crap. "That's right" I said "take Detroit bankrupt." Huh? "The president took Detroit bankrupt." Huh? Romney's also talking to President Obama, not to the audience. #FAIL Obama - What Romney said is just not true, he wanted to take Detroit into bankruptcy, we would have lost 1 million jobs, take words of GM, Chrysler, etc. Romney doesn't have a 5-point plan, he has a 1-point plan, make sure folks at top play by different set of rules, that's been his philosophy. Make a lot of money pay lower rates, ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it, take over company and lay off workers but make money for yourself. We've fought for 4 years to get out of that mess. (GREAT ANSWER!)
UPDATE 9:02 pm: Obama and Romney enter. Obama looks better already, if you ask me - smiling, looks confident. First question by 20-year-old college student about his future. Romney - Says we have to make it easier for kids to afford college, but wasn't he the guy who said BORROW MONEY FROM YOUR PARENTS?!? Claims last 4 years have been rough, totally ignores the previous 4 years, which is when the economy collapsed - under Bush/Cheney. No, the middle class has NOT been "crushed" over the past 4 years. Lie, lie, lie. Obama - Your future is bright, investment in higher education is crucial. Need to create good-paying jobs in this country. Build on 5 millions jobs we've created. Manufacturing jobs. Romney said "let Detroit go bankrupt." Make sure we have best education system in the world, student loans, community colleges. Third, we need to build energy sources of the future - solar, wind, biofuels, energy efficient cars. Reduce deficit in a balanced way so we can invest in education like yours. Take money we've been spending on war to rebuild America. (GREAT answer!)
UPDATE 9:00 pm: About to start. Go Obama!!!
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