Barack Obama came campaigning like a candidate last night not a president.
He did to Mitt Romney what Joe Biden did to Paul Ryan last Wednesday.
It was an overwhelming debate victory by the president who won points on almost every major area. By the end of the evening Romney was back to where he was before the first debate.
The president managed to show the clear contrast between him and the Republican candidate.
On Libya, where the Republicans saw as a vulnerable area for Obama, the president’s stern finger-wagging rebuke to Romney about politicizing the death of ambassador J. Christopher Stevens knocked the challenger out of the debate.
The president all night was much more effective in putting Romney on the defensive, especially concerning his plan to cut taxes 20% across the board without raising any new revenue.
Obama said the Romney formula would result in $8 trillion in new deficits; $5 trillion in lost tax revenue, $2 trillion in new spending for the military and $1 trillion by allowing the Bush tax cuts to continue.
Romney seemed rattled by the president’s aggressiveness and his willingness all night to stand his ground. When Romney said the president was weak in dealing with China on it’s currency manipulation to make its exports to the U.S. cheaper, President Obama pointed out that Romney’s Bain Capital had invested in company’s that shipped jobs to China.
In addition to Bain being a “pioneer of outsourcing to China” Obama said some of the companies Bain invested in were making surveillance equipment so China could spy on its own people. “Governor, your the last person who’s gonna be tough on China,” Obama said.
It was on Libya that Romney was very badly exposed.
Romney claimed the president went campaigning after the Libya attack. The president pointed out that he in fact stood in the Rose Garden the next day and used the term “terror” to describe the Benghazi attack and vowed to kill the perpetrators.
Romney got into an argument with the president claiming he had never used the term “terror” until 15 days later. The president said “look at the transcript” and even moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, sided with the president. The audience had been warned to remain silent but at that point they cheered for the president.
When Romney insisted on pushing the point the president body slammed him.
“The suggestion that anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own governor is offensive,” Obama said, wagging his finger at Romney with a stern look.
Romney never recovered from that point.
When a member of the audience asked why he should vote for Obama again since his life was not any easier, the president acknowledged that things were still tough for many Americans.
The president reminded the Town Hall meeting gathering at Hofstra University, on Long Island, that the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs a month when he came to office but that since that the economy has created 5.2 million jobs. He also reminded viewers that he had cut taxes on the middle class and on small businesses.
Obama was sharp and quick from the very beginning. Within 10 minutes of the start of the Town Hall type debate, with questions coming from the audience, with some redirect and interjections by the moderator, Obama was firing zingers.
“Governor Romney doesn’t have a five point plan,” Obama rejoined when Romney mentioned his campaign mantra, “he has a one point plan–that folks on the top play by a different set of rules..”
Obama said Romney had honed his plan when running Bain Capital when he and his partners made money by laying off workers and stripping their pensions.
At one point, after Obama called out Romney on his investments in China, the challenger stepped towards the president and seemed to want to break his momentum by repeatedly asking him “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?” hoping to show that the president’s pension was also invested in China.
“You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours,” Obama fired back, stopping Romney cold on his tracks with the clear allusion to his $300 million estimated wealth and reported $100 million in IRA accounts.
Obama had a very different demeanor last night. He was alert, energetic and it seems like he couldn’t wait to respond; even before Romney had finished with his own remarks.
Obama made sure he pointed out the vast differences between himself and Romney: that the challenger wanted to turn Medicare into a voucher program; that Romney opposed the Dream Act to provide relief for the children of undocumented immigrants; that Romney opposed equal pay for women; that Romney opposed Obamacare which was in fact modeled after Romneycare; and that Romney said he would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and opposed women’s control over their reproductive rights.
In addition to opposing the Dream Act, Obama also reminded voters that Romney had praised Arizona’s immigration laws that gave law enforcement Draconian powers that even encouraged racial profiling.
He reminded viewers that he ended the war in Iraq and began winding down the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
Obama made a strong appeal to voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan by reminding viewers that Romney had called for the auto industry to go bankrupt.
“What governor Romney is saying just isn’t true,” the president interjected forcefully, when Romney claimed that the president’s bailout strategy for the auto industry was similar to what he too had advocated.
Obama pointed out that at the time only the government could have intervened to rescue Detroit since private capital wasn’t available.
When a caller wanted Romney to prove that he was any different from George W. Bush the candidate ended up having to bash his Republican predecessor — he said he would support small businesses unlike Bush who championed large companies and that he too would be much better on the deficit than Bush was.
Obama also took advantage of the question. He said when Romney is compared to Bush, “In some ways he’s gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy.”
Obama said Bush didn’t call for turning Medicare into a voucher program; he didn’t call for self-deportation; and he didn’t eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.
The coup de grâce was delivered towards the end of the debate when Romney claimed, unprompted, that he represents 100 percent of Americans.
The opening was too good to resist even for a president who sometimes seems too humane when it’s time for the kill.
Obama reminded viewers that it was Mitt Romney himself who said during a private campaign dinner with rich donors that he didn’t need to be concerned about 47 percent of voters since they didn’t want to take responsibility for their lives and didn’t pay taxes.
Obama said many of the people that fell into that category were elderly Americans on fixed income, workers who earned too little and those who were in the service serving the country in overseas wars.
The president more than made up for his lackluster performance in the first debate with his decisive victory last night.
Initial post-debate polling showed the president winning with 46% against 39% in a poll that seemed generous to Romney.