The presidential debate on Tuesday night will have Barack Obama and Mitt Romney interacting with their audience as the pair of candidates respond to questions from about 80 uncommitted voters.
Obama and Romney faced off against one another just two weeks ago. The president delivered an underwhelming performance at the event, and his Republican challenger subsequently saw a boost in the polls.
As the pair meet at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. once again, Obama is looking to shift the momentum of the race.
Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold.
President Barack Obama made a strong case during Tuesday night's debate for how his administration would create "not just jobs," but "good-paying jobs." Obama said the jobs would be founded on the advanced manufacturing projects and education initiatives he would enact in a second term.
But Obama's record on high-paying jobs leaves much to be desired.
A recent study from the National Employment Law Project revealed that about 60 percent of the jobs created since the start of the Great Recession in 2007 were low-wage jobs. By comparison, most of the jobs lost during the same period were middle-wage jobs, the kind Obama was likely referring to when he spoke of "good-paying jobs."
Conventional wisdom says the low-wage jobs numbers don't necessarily hurt the president in Democratic strongholds like Pennsylvania and Michigan, where Republicans have yet to contest dominant Democrats with big ad buys. But ever since Romney enjoyed a recent upswing following the Denver debate, polls in these working-class states have begun to swing the Republicans.
More than one in four Michigan workers have low-wage jobs, according data cited in the Detroit Free Press.
There are a host of other, underlying reasons why U.S. workers have seen a drop in middle-income jobs during the Great Recession. Employers in recent years have eliminated middle-skill level positions as technology has made it easier for buyers and sellers to interact, as well as reducing the need for personalized customer service.
-- Christina Wilkie
A new CNN poll of registered voters who watched the debate found that 46 percent of respondents said President Barack Obama won the debate, and 39 percent said Mitt Romney did. The survey's margin of error was four percentage points.
After a weak performance in the first debate, Obama outperformed expectations in the second. Seventy-three percent of respondents said Obama did better than they expected, 10 percent said he did worse, and 16 percent said he did about the same as expected. Romney, who had a much stronger performance than Obama in the first debate, performed closer to expectations: 37 percent said he did better than expected, 28 percent said worse, and 33 percent said he performed the same.
According to CNN, the sample was composed of about 33 percent Democrats and 33 percent Republicans, or about eight percentage points more Republicans than the average of all CNN polls in 2012 among all adults (not registered voters specifically).
-- Emily Swanson
In perhaps the biggest pivot of the debate Tuesday night, President Barack Obama turned a question about gun violence into an answer about education. The twist is especially notable in a campaign year when schools have gotten little play.
After saying "we haven't had a chance to talk about education much," Obama pointed to a wiggly point in education policy, while not directly naming it: the Common Core State Standards. "It is very important to understand that the reforms we've put in place, working with 46 governors around the country, are seeing schools … starting to succeed."
While it's true that 46 governors have agreed to adopt (mostly) higher common educational standards, known as the Common Core, the Obama campaign is trying to have it both ways on this point. Mitt Romney has said that he wouldn't fund the Common Core, and that the Obama administration's funding and incentivizing of the standards overly prescriptive. At an education debate Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute, Romney education advisor Martin West made that case. But Obama advisor Jon Schnur said while the White House has stressed "college and career-ready standards," it hasn't forced states' hands on the Common Core.Indeed, the administration's Race to the Top competition and applications for waivers from No Child Left Behind only said states needed to agree to common, rigorous standards -- not specifically the Common Core. West struck back, saying that the Democratic National Committee's platform gives Obama credit for getting states to adopt the standards, and that the administration's No Child Left Behind rewrite blueprint refers to the need for "college- and career-ready
standards that are common to a significant number of states." In other words, West argued, Obama was "politicizing it."
So Obama taking credit for the Common Core so prominently is likely to attract Romney's criticism in the coming days.
Obama then said, "We're starting to see gains in math and science" in "some of the ones [schools] that are the toughest for kids." Obama has boasted about early gains in the country's toughest schools before, likely referring to the School Improvement Grant program, which gives money to failing schools to sponsor different "turnaround" strategies in varying severity. Most involve staffing shakeups.
The U.S. Education Department has not released specific data on the School Improvement Grant program (besides a drop on California, but in March, it did issue a statement saying that it showed early signs of success, saying 25 percent of schools saw "double-digit gains in math proficiency" and overall improvement in 60 percent of schools. While Obama is not technically wrong here, education researchers widely caution against making implications from year-over-year score gains over a short period of time -- especially because such increases or decreases in test scores often reflect population changes. These numbers tend to stabilize over time, and only then can be used to justify a policy.
After Obama touted his community college initiatives, he sparred with Crowley:
Crowley: Now Mr. President, I have -- I have to move you along here. You said you wanted to finish the question. We need to do it here.
Obama: Just one second because this is important. This is part of the choice in this election. When Governor Romney was asked whether teachers -- hiring more teachers was important to growing our economy, Governor Romney said that doesn't grow our economy.
Crowley: The question, Mr. President, was guns, here, so i need to move us along. You know, the question was guns.
Obama: I understand -- but this will make a difference in terms of whether or not we can move this economy forward for these young people and reduce our violence.Crowley: I understand. Thank you so much.
After Romney's "binders full of women" remark, the website bindersfullofwomen.org was created. Visiting that website will take you to www.romneytaxplan.com, a website launched today by the Democratic National Committee as an attack on Romney's lack of details on his tax plan.
A new CBS news poll conducted using an online panel of "about 500" uncommitted voters finds a slight plurality of 37 percent say President Barack Obama won the debate, while 30 percent said Mitt Romney did and 33 percent said it was a tie.
Romney came into the debate with a big advantage on the economy -- a gap that Obama was unable to close, but did dent. Before the debate, 71 percent of respondents said Romney had the edge on handling the economy and 27 percent said Obama did. After the debate, that narrowed somewhat to a 65 percent to 34 percent advantage for Romney.
Obama held the advantage on better handling the middle class, 56 percent to 43 percent. Fifty-five percent of poll respondents said Obama gave direct answers to questions, while 49 percent said the same about Romney.
-- Emily Swanson
Hoping to score points on trade policy, Mitt Romney continued the tough stance on China that he's carved out in recent weeks, accusing the country of manipulating its currency, stealing American intellectual property and "hack[ing] into our computers."
"We can compete with anyone in the world, as long as the playing field is level," Romney argued.
"We've pushed them hard," President Barack Obama shot back, with regard to currency manipulation, "and put unprecedented pressure" on the Chinese government.
Romney has hammered the Obama campaign for being weak on China, even though the private equity firm he helped found, Bain Capital, had close business ties with the country.
White House officials announced last week that they would be holding off on the release of a report that could deem China a nation that manipulates currency to benefit trade. GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan claimed in manufacturing-heavy Youngstown, Ohio, over the weekend that the administration had missed another chance to label China a currency manipulator.
During the debate, Obama referred more than once to a Washington Post report detailing Bain's investments in firms that "pioneered" the offshoring of American jobs to Asia.
-- Dave Jamieson
President Barack Obama waited until his final exchange to attack Mitt Romney's much-maligned comments at a fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent on government" and see themselves as "victims."
"I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future," said Romney.
Obama replied that Romney is a good man who loves his family and cares about his faith. He then pivoted to Romney's 47 percent comment, which referred to the percentage of Americans not paying income tax.
"But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about," Obama said.
"Folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives. Veterans who have sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas tax, but don't make enough income."
He went on, "And I want to fight for them and that's what I've been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds. When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and got a GI Bill that allowed him to go to college, that wasn't a handout --that was something that advanced the entire country and I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That's why I'm asking for your vote and that's why I'm asking for another four years."
The debate ended.
Mitt Romney heard President Barack Obama say he had called the assault at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi a terror attack in the days after the incident and went for the jugular, expressing amazement and doubting that the president declared it so.
The Romney campaign has hammered the Obama administration for allegedly downplaying the terrorist nature of the strike that killed Ambassador Chris Stephens and three other Americans.
"I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror," Obama told the crowd at Hofstra University.
Romney was incredulous, apparently having forgotten the speech.
"I think it's interesting, the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack he went in the Rose Garden and said this was an act of terror?" Romney said.
"That's what I said," said Obama.
"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 asked Obama again, his eyebrows rising.
"Please proceed, Governor," Obama said to the stunned Romney.
"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," Romney said.
But, as moderator Candy Crowley pointed out, while it was true that many days passed before the Obama administration stopped suggesting the attacks had been spontaneous, the president did technically use the word "terror" on the day after they occurred.
"He did, in fact, sir," Crowley told Romney.
"No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for," Obama said toward the end of his speech that day.
(The Rose Garden Speech is here.)
It's still fairly complicated: for days after the attack, members of the administration had indicated publicly that the incidents were prompted by an obscure anti-Islam videotape, and were not pre-planned. It took almost two weeks before the administration formally acknowledged that the attacks were a planned act of terror. But Obama did use the term "terror" when he spoke the day after the attacks, and Romney seemed to fall into a trap Tuesday night.
The question that prompted the exchange was about whether failures at the State Department had led to the attacks that left Stevens and the three other Americans dead.
On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did a round of interviews in which she said that she took responsibility for the attacks, something that many believed may have been an attempt to take the heat off the president before the debate.
Instead, Obama said it was his burden.
"The Secretary of State has done an extraordinary job but she works for me, but I am the president, and I am responsible," he said.
Then, taking aim at the suggestion by Romney's campaign that the White House had played politics with the incident, he added sharply, "The suggestion that anybody in my team, the secretary of State, the UN Ambassador [Susan Rice] -- anybody on my team -- would play politics or mislead when we lost four people on our team is offensive."
--Michael McAuliff and Joshua Hersh
PHOENIX -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday attempted to paint Mitt Romney with the same brush as hardliners in Arizona, asking why he supports laws that could lead to racial profiling and appealing to voters to think of their own children.
"He called the Arizona law a model for the nation," Obama said during the debate at Hofstra University in New York. "Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks that they suspected that maybe they looked like they might be undocumented workers and check their papers. And you know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like they're not a citizen, I don't want -- I don't want to empower somebody like that."
At a watch party in Maricopa County, Ariz. -- the home of self-appointed "America's Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio -- his opponent Paul Penzone and a group of 50 or so supporters watched the debate from a barbecue restaurant. Or, rather, they had the debate on while talking to each other and to Penzone, who gave remarks before the debate started. Even during the question on immigration, one of the issues that makes many hope to bring down Arpaio, most continued chatting rather than looking at the TV.
They didn't miss much, at least on immigration. Obama's attack on Romney's support for Arizona immigration law SB 1070, sometimes called the "papers please" law, isn't accurate, although the Republican has praised the spirit of the law by advocating "self-deportation."
Romney pointed out that he said another controversial Arizona immigration law, this one on employment verification, should be a model for the nation, not SB 1070 specifically. His campaign has been mum -- even at one point refusing to answer 20 straight times -- on whether Romney supports SB 1070.
As he's said before, Romney said he isn't in favor of rounding up 12 million people -- whom he called "illegals" -- but implied he was merely stating a fact that if immigrants can't find work or get benefits, they'll leave.
"We're not going to round up 12 million people -- undocumented illegals -- and take them out of the nation. Instead let people make their own choice," he said. "And if they find they can't get the benefits they want and they can't find the job they want, they'll make a decision to go a place where they have better opportunities."
Romney twice brought up Obama's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which the president promised as a candidate in 2008 to bring up in his first year. Obama blamed that failure on opposition from Republicans, saying if people like Romney are leading the party, there won't be much hope of finding common ground on immigration.
"When Governor Romney says the challenge is well, Obama didn't try, that's not true," the president said. "I sat down with Republicans and Democrats at the beginning of my term, and I said, 'Let's fix this system' -- including senators who previously supported it on the Republican side. But it's very hard for Republicans in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform if their standard bearer has said this is not something i'm interested in supporting."
Even though it was likely the only time during any of the debates that the candidates will discuss immigration, Romney used his last word to switch topics to one he mentioned repeatedly during the debate: China.
Sarah Bufkin contributed reporting.
-- Elise Foley
|@ howardfineman : Bottom bottom line: Obama shows up big timme and wins. Is it enough to reverse the polarities?|
|@ jasoncherkis : Obama waits to use 47% line and he ends up picking the right moment -- the one where Romney gets no chance to respond.|
Obama: "I believe Governor Romney is a good man. I believe that he said behind closed doors that 47% of Americans are victims."
|@ howardfineman : Bottom line: O showed up big time, summarized his case well. Romney backpedalled, but made the case (again) that O failed on the economy.|
In response to a debate question about equal pay, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to criticize Mitt Romney's positions on contraception by pointing out that it is an economic issue for women.
"You know, a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making," Obama said. "I think that's a mistake. In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who's insured, because this is not just a health issue, it's an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family's pocket."
Obama pointed to Romney's support for the controversial Blunt amendment, which would allow employers to refuse to offer women insurance plans that cover contraception for moral reasons. He also criticized Romney's plan to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.
"That's a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country, and it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work," Obama said. "When we talk about child care and the credits that we're providing, that makes a difference in terms of whether they can go out there and earn a living for their family. These are not just women's issues -- these are family issues. These are economic issues."
Romney, clearly on the defensive, then charged that Obama had mischaracterized his support for the Blunt amendment.
"I just know that I don't think bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not, and I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they have contraceptive care or not," Romney said. "Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives and the president's statement on my policy is completely and totally wrong."
-- Laura Bassett
Obama, denying he believes government creates jobs: "That's not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity..."
Mitt Romney, a career businessman, said during Tuesday's debate that he was unable to find qualified female candidates for positions in the Massachusetts state government when he was governor, and that he had to instruct his staff to "find some women that are qualified."
Romney was responding to an unexpected question about women's roles in the workforce posed by an attendee at the contentious town-hall style debate in Hempstead, N.Y. The question, "In what new ways do you plan to correct inequalities in the workplace, specifically women who earn 70 percent of what their male counterparts earn?" received a quick answer from President Barack Obama, who emphasized that he was raised by a single mother, who he said "hit the glass ceiling," and "trained people who would end up becoming her bosses.
"She didn't complain, which is not something you did in that generation," the president said. Obama went on to describe his successful passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides women with broader options for filing charges related to unfair pay than they've had in the past.
Asked to respond, Romney opened with the fact that he learned a "great deal" about women's equality when, as a first term governor-elect in late 2002, all the applicants for cabinet positions "seemed to be men."
Romney said he asked, "why are all the these applicants men?" and was told, "well, these are the people that are qualified." Rommey said he replied, "Can't we find some women that are qualified?" Romney said he and his staff and, "we went out and found women that were qualified to be part of our cabinet."
Romney's example of having sought out "some women that were qualified" appears to undercut a fundamental Republican ideal about hiring: that people should not be given an advantage based on their gender or race.
Republicans have long opposed affirmative action in hiring, as well as many forms of restitution for women and minorities who believed they'd been discriminated against in hiring and promotions. Most notably, the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution failed to garner enough votes for ratification by its 1982 deadline.
In 2010, women still earned 77 cents to every dollar earned by men, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
-- Christina Wilkie
Romney: "I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future."
Romney: "Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs."
Obama: "There's some jobs that are not going to come back, because they're low-wage, low-skill jobs... I want high-wage, high-skill jobs... That's why we've got to make sure we've got the best science."
|@ zachdcarter : Brutal Obama hit on Romney's support for "territorial" tax system, which allows zero taxation for offshore corporate $. #debate|
Washington Post's Jason Horowitz, on pool duty, reports: "Obama saying 'Can you say that a little louder Candy' -- prompted a burst of applause here. But applause also for Romney when he pushed back, saying that it took 14 days for Obama's administration to disavow the idea that the attack was a protest over the video."
-- Ryan Grim
Obama: "We need to create jobs here. Both Gov. Romney and I agree, actually, that we need to lower our corporate tax rate."
|@ markknoller : On Day One, says Romney, I’ll label China a currency manipulator and put tarrifs in place against them.|
Romney: "People think it's more attractive to go offshore than to stay here."
|@ ariannahuff : Romney got from the 2nd amendment to out-of-wedlock children faster than Paul Ryan didn't run that marathon.|
|@ howardfineman : I've never seen a prez debate in which the personal animus and near-physical confrontation was so clear. Politics at its most primal level.|
Obama: "Gov. Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it."
|@ howardfineman : Mitt thought he had Obama cornered. The closeup on TV showed Mitt with fire in his eyes. Then Candy to the rescue. Very dramatic.|
|@ howardfineman : O calls Romney's attack on his handling of Benghazi "offensive." Candy backs O who said this was an "act of terror." Mitt overreached.|
|@ aterkel : Crowley calling out Romney for not addressing assault weapons ban question - this is why follow-ups from moderator are good #debates|
In an exchange over immigration, Mitt Romney tried to return to a previous charge by President Barack Obama about his investments in Chinese companies, which make surveillance equipment that allow the communist government to spy on dissidents.
"Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust and I understand they do include investments outside of the United States, including Chinese companies," said Romney, who criticized Sen. Ted Kennedy's blind trust as an age-old ruse in the 1994 Senate race.
"Mr. President have you looked at your pension?"
"Have you looked at your pension?" Romney said, turning to Obama and walking toward him.
"I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it doesn't take as long," Obama said to laughter.
"Let me give you some advice," said Romney. "Let me give you some advice: You also have investments in Chinese companies, you also have investments outside of the United States. You also have investments in a Cayman trust."
Obama then turned the discussion turned back to immigration.
-- Luke Johnson
|@ jimmyasoni : Both candidates so tentative on question of guns. Shows you how absurd this debate has become, how fearful they both are of the gun lobby|
|@ samsteinhp : two parent families is not really a response to a question on assault weapons|
The long-awaited first presidential debate question on women's issues addressed the subject of equal pay Tuesday night, and Mitt Romney did not take the opportunity to address whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But the candidate did recall how, as governor of Massachusetts, he sent women's groups out in search of qualified women for his cabinet because all of the applicants for those positions were men.
"They brought us whole binders full of women," Romney said. "I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my cabinet and my senior staff -- that the State University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America. Now, one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort."
President Obama pointed out that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill he signed as president. He said the bill, which increases the legal avenues by which women can sue their employers over pay discrimination, was partly inspired by his grandmother's struggles in the workplace.
"My grandmother, she started off as a secretary at a bank," Obama said. "She never got a college education even though she was smart as a whip, and she worked her way up to become vice president of the local bank, but she hit the glass ceiling. She trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career."
The president added, "Women are increasingly the breadwinners of the family. This is not just a women's issue. This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue, and that's why we've got to fight for it."
-- Laura Bassett
|@ PatrickSvitek : Obama: "Frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there's a lot of violence, and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap handguns" #debates|
|@ joannazelman : Obama: Weapons designed for soldiers don't belong on our streets|
|@ politico : Obama: "I believe in the second amendment" but there have been too many instances where he was to comfort victims of gun violence.|
|@ howardfineman : Mitt attacks O for flying to Las Vegas for a fundraiser a day after the Benghazi attack. O has stepped up his game, but Mitt's remorseless.|
|@ BuzzFeedAndrew : Obama's exact quote is: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." http://t.co/yGtQZw2e|
Mitt Romney's assertion that health insurance premiums have gotten more expensive by ,500-a-year during President Barack Obama's presidency is false.
Health insurance premiums for a family plan cost an average ,745 this year, of which workers pay ,316 on average and the employer picks up the rest, according to a survey of more than 2,000 employers conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. In 2009, Obama's first year in office, an average family plan cost ,375 and the average employee's share was ,515.
The total average increase during those years was ,370 -- less than Romney claimed premiums increased each year under Obama. The average hike in the employee's share comes to 1. Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan made a claim similar to Romney's during his debate with Vice President Joe Biden last week.
“Premium growth is at historic lows," Maulik Joshi, president of the Health Research and Educational Trust and vice president for research at the American Hospital Association said in a news release when the organizations issued their survey findings last month.
This trend, however, doesn't fulfill a promise Obama made during the 2008 presidential campaign to reduce family health care premiums by ,500 a year.
-- Jeffrey Young
|@ howardfineman : Obama defends his foreign policy record but doesnt directly answer the question. Mitt says great the president does take the blame...|
|@ HuffPostMedia : Candy Corwley corrects Romney: Obama 'did in fact' call Libya attack 'terror.' Obama: 'can you say that a little louder Candy?'|
"Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job, but she works for me. I'm the president, and I'm always responsible," Obama said.
Obama went on to say it was "offensive" for Romney to play politics with the Libya attacks.
Romney: "The president, the day after [the Libya attack] happened, flies to Las Vegas for political fundraiser."
One of the undecided voters at the Hofstra debate wasn't sure she was satisfied with President Barack Obama's four years, but she also blamed the policies of the Bush administration for a lot of America's problems.
So Susan Katz wanted to know Romney wouldn't do the same things.
"What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush? What differentiates you from George Bush?" Katz asked.
Romney didn't answer at first, preferring to go back to the previous question, but when he did, he didn't offer Katz much.
"President Bush and I are different people and these are different times," Romney told her, before launching into a long series of talking points that had little to do with the differences between Bush and Romney. Romney said they were things Bush never did, such as cracking down on China or making the U.S. energy independent.
Obama has repeatedly hammered Romney for offering the same sorts of economic policies as the Bush administration, including large tax cuts for the wealthy.
-- Mike McAuliff
"I know these folks, and I know there families. So nobody's more concerned about their safety and security than I am," Obama said of his diplomats in Libya.
"We are going to find out who did this, and we are going to hunt them down."
"When folks mess with Americans we go after them."
"That's not how a commander in chief operates. You don't turn national security into a political issue."
"I am ultimately responsible for what's taking place there, because these are my folks, and I'm the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home."
|@ jonward11 : Obama strutting a bit as he says, "I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours."|
Romney: "Mr. Obama, have you looked at your pension?"
Obama: "I don't look at my pension, it's not as big as yours."