If you believe the polls, it was all even-Steven going into the second debate. For some, new questions arose for the first time. Who was telling the truth? Fact checkers went to work.
Last night Candy Crowley of CNN took the helm moderating the second presidential debate of 2012. Her fact checking skills were put to good use, and with it she may have inadvertently changed the momentum of this election.
For those playing along at home, you can check the facts yourself. Remember, multiple sources from different perspectives are good journalism. Carry on.
If campaigns are about generating votes and televised debates reveal the true candidate, for the first time America may have seen a glimpse of the real fire inside both of these men in contrast from what we have seen before.
Will the next President of The United States please stand up? Two men did.
And when they stood at the same time to move around, the setting appeared more like a sparing mat than a town hall at Hofstra University. A few times Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama stared the other square in the eye; toe to toe they danced around each other in civil discussion that had elements of a boxing match. Microphones in hand, the verbal sparing flared at times and when it did, so did the true candidates.
Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?
When he does, he doesn't like to be told to sit back down. Romney is a take-charge kind of man. He ran over the moderator again in this debate like the last, and imposed his will -- if you will. He even tried to order the President to his place. But Obama stood tall and brushed it off.
Then it came, for one fleeting moment when Mitt Romney thought he had his opponent caught dead in a lie and he pounced. The topic was terrorism at the American embassy in Libya and what the president said when. The President affirmed his answer, and Mitt's eyes gleamed in disbelief, "I wanna make sure we get that for the record." But then Ms. Crowley corrected Romney. "He did in fact, Sir," she said. She was right, and he was indignant.
There it was, the real Mitt Romney stood up. The story fit.
Romney does what he wants. He does and gets what he wants when he wants it. When he doesn't, he comes across as aggressive, confrontational, and even bullying. As much as he rightly touts himself as having delivered bipartisan legislation as a governor passing RomneyCare in Massachusetts, his inner self appears more authoritarian than he lets on.
In contrast, will the real Barack Obama stand up?
When he does, he is presidential. Tonight his passion was rekindled. No longer sitting and smiling, tonight he stood and took action. This is a president who pays attention, and has a feel for the public voice. Unimpressive to many in debate number one, Obama listened, responded and delivered, matching Romney rhetorically blow for blow.
Then, to this viewer it was déjà vu 2000 -- Romney pulled an Al Gore. Romney got in Obama's space, a few times in his face. A la #43, Obama made joke of it, and the audience laughed along. Now as then, it was an awkward moment that kind of backfired.
The real Obama stood up, defended himself, and looked Presidential and in control.
The choices are now becoming distinct, as are the candidates.
Obama we know from his actions. For much of his first term he has reached his arm out in a bi-partisan fashion to seek common ground. Many times he was unsuccessful. Congressional Republicans have even stormed out of the White House in protest. Obama may be as stubborn as Romney but in his commitment to create broad agreement. This too might be his undoing.
Romney now seems more in the mold of George W. Bush's my-way-or-the-highway, as to how he will govern. The 47 percent comment that has blazed the news and Internet recently now seems more real than Romney placating to the moneyed class.
The second presidential debate of 2012 gave us glimpses into the real inner-character of both candidates. The real Mitt Romney and the real Barack Obama stood up and engaged in political battle.
There is one debate left before the true decision, our vote. Now that we know the players, let's hope they define their real game plan for the next four years. We're now getting a clearer picture. The choices we will make as Americans when we vote this November will have far reaching effect. May we choose well.