Good evening, everyone. Tonight, as we all know, is presidential debate night. In less than an hour, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take the stage at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York for a town hall or town meeting style debate. The discussion will be moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley ; questions will primarily come from voters selected to participate in the event by Gallup.
We’ll be sharing our observations and impressions here on The Advocate as the debate gets underway; updates will be also simulcast on our Twitter feed. We invite you to weigh in with your thoughts as well in the comments. Before the debate begins, here’s some analysis we think is worth reading:
- Candy Crowley is no Vanna White
- Best debate ever? Six reasons why tonight’s rematch is must-see TV
- Eight important economic questions for the presidential debate that have nothing to do with taxes or the deficit
- Obama team raises expectations for debate with Romney
Let us begin!
UPDATE, 5:44 PM: Fifteen minutes to go before the candidates take the stage in New York. C‑SPAN is currently showing the pre-debate festivities; the moderator, Candy Crowley, is due to be introduced in a few minutes.
UPDATE, 6:04 PM: Romney gets first stab at the first question. “We have to make sure it’s easier for kids to afford college,” he says. How?
UPDATE, 6:05 PM: “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing…” By adopting Ryan’s budget?
UPDATE, 6:06 PM: President Obama, answering Jeremy’s question: “When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I bet on American workers.” Nice!
UPDATE, 6:08 PM: President Obama: “We’ve worked hard to ensure student loans are available for folks like you.” Obama administration made sure federal government is lending directly to students instead of helping banks make money.
UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Crowley asks the candidates: What can be done to help those who have been unemployed for a long time?
UPDATE, 6:09 PM: Romney cites his magical five point plan as evidence he deserves people’s votes.
UPDATE, 6:09 PM: Romney turns to address Obama: “You took Detroit bankrupt.”
UPDATE, 6:10 PM: Obama: “What Governor Romney said just isn’t true… Don’t take my word for it.”
UPDATE, 6:11 PM: Obama zings Romney: There is no five point plan, just a one point plan to allow the wealthy to play by a different set of rules than middle and low income families.
UPDATE, 6:11 PM: Romney tries to interrupt Crowley and fails. She’s no Lehrer…
UPDATE, 6:12 PM: Next question is about gas prices.
UPDATE, 6:13 PM: Obama: “We’ve doubled clean energy production.” Also cites victory on getting automakers to agree on higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles.
UPDATE, 6:13 PM: Obama: Romney’s plan is to let the oil companies write energy policy. Like Dick Cheney and Dubya did.
UPDATE, 6:14 PM: Romney claims oil production is down on federal land. Why is that a bad thing?
UPDATE, 6:15 PM: Mitt Romney just indicated he couldn’t care less about protecting endangered species.
UPDATE, 6:16 PM: Shorter Romney: Let’s drill more wells and blow up more mountains!
UPDATE, 6:17 PM: Obama zings Romney again, reminds us that Romney once stood in front of a coal plant in Massachusetts and said coal kills. Nice!
UPDATE, 6:18 PM: Obama interrupts Romney: Not true, Governor! They’re both standing now, arguing.
UPDATE, 6:19 PM: Romney not looking so hot…
UPDATE, 6:19 PM: A little moderation, Candy?
UPDATE, 6:21 PM: Thanks for that, Mitt Cheney… or should I say Dick Romney…
UPDATE, 6:21 PM: ZING! Obama: It’s conceivable gas prices could go down, if Romney’s policies cause the economy to go into freefall.
UPDATE, 6:22 PM: Obama attacks Romney for saying that wind-related jobs are “imaginary”. He’s on a roll.
UPDATE, 6:22 PM: Mitt, stop acting like being a jerk.
UPDATE, 6:23 PM: Obama: “Candy, I’m used to being interrupted.”
UPDATE, 6:24 PM: Romney: “I want to simplify the tax code.” How, Governor? What’s your plan?
UPDATE, 6:25 PM: Overheard on Twitter: Candy needs a gavel…
UPDATE, 6:27 PM: Romney: “I will not, under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by high income taxpayers.” Sorry, Governor, we don’t believe you.
UPDATE, 6:27 PM: Obama: “Four years ago, I said I would cut taxes for middle class families, and that’s what I’ve done.”
UPDATE, 6:28 PM: Obama: “If we’re serious about reducing the deficit… we’ve gotta make sure the wealthy do a little bit more [for our country].”
UPDATE, 6:29 PM: Obama: “Governor Romney has a different philosophy… I fundamentally disagree. I think what grows the economy is small businesses getting a tax credit for hiring veterans.”
UPDATE, 6:30 PM: Crowley, with the understatement of the night, to Romney: “Governor, I’m sure you’ve got a reply there.”
UPDATE, 6:32 PM: Romney’s five-point plan is unrealistic.
UPDATE, 6:33 PM: Obama is really hitting Romney hard right now. Romney’s just standing there taking it.
UPDATE, 6:33 PM: This is getting good!
UPDATE, 6:34 PM: Obama: “The math doesn’t add up.”
UPDATE, 6:35 PM: Romney, on his numbers: “Of course they add up.” Obama smiles…
UPDATE, 6:36 PM: Romney claims: “I know what it takes to balance budgets. I’ve done I all my life.”
UPDATE, 6:37 PM: Crowley: “I will get run out of town” [if I don’t take control].”
UPDATE, 6:37 PM: YES! Question about equal pay for equal work.
UPDATE, 6:38 PM: Obama: “The first bill I signed was something called Lily Ledbetter.”
UPDATE, 6:39 PM: Obama tells Fenton, audience that his administration has made Pell grants accessible to more youth. And indeed he has.
UPDATE, 6:40 PM: Romney describes paycheck fairness as “important topic.”
UPDATE, 6:41 PM: Did Romney just say binders full of women? That’s not going to replay well… hello new Internet meme!
UPDATE, 6:41 PM: Mitt, your time is up.
UPDATE, 6:42 PM: If Mitt Romney is such a good debater, why can’t he keep his answers within the time limits? He’s gone over by like thirty seconds again.
UPDATE, 6:44 PM: Obama: “That’s not the advocacy women need… There are millions of women across America who rely on Planned Parenthood.”
UPDATE, 6:44 PM: Strong finish by President Obama on that answer.
UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Next question for Romney: “What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush?”
UPDATE, 6:46 PM: Romney lamely tries to spin his opposition to access to contraceptives… what about his support for the Blunt Amendment?
UPDATE, 6:48 PM: Multimillionaire and vulture capitalist Romney claims he’ll be a champion for the little guy: “Our party has been focused on big business for too long.”
UPDATE, 6:49 PM: Obama: “Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing jobs to China.”
UPDATE, 6:52 PM: Obama cites some of the promises he’s kept. Occupation of Iraq ended, Patient Protection Act enacted. Restraints on Wall Street put into place. Auto industry pulled back from the brink.
UPDATE, 6:53 PM: Obama: “The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. The ones I haven’t… it’s not for a lack of trying.”
UPDATE, 6:54 PM: Obama: The choice in this election is whose promises are going to help you.
UPDATE, 6:56 PM: Mitt, the reason more people are on food stamps is because of income equality and a rise in poverty. Problems greatly exacerbated as a result of George W. Bush’s policies.
UPDATE, 6:58 PM: Question about immigration from Lorraine.
UPDATE, 6:58 PM: Romney trying to humanize himself…
UPDATE, 7:00 PM: Romney trying to make it sound like he supports the DREAM Act.
UPDATE, 7:01 PM: Obama: “I’ve done everything I can on my own to fix the system.” Notes he hasn’t gotten cooperation from Congress.
UPDATE, 7:03 PM: Obama notes that Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act. Also points out Romney praised Arizona’s draconian immigration law.
UPDATE, 7:05 PM: Hey Mitt: Presidents *don’t* file legislation!
UPDATE, 7:05 PM: Mitt Romney is really stumbling with this rebuttal.
UPDATE, 7:06 PM: Burst of crosstalk… President Obama is tired of Romney’s nonsense…
UPDATE, 7:07 PM: Obama gets a dig in at Romney on his pension: “It’s not as big as yours.”
UPDATE, 7:08 PM: Next question is about Libya.
UPDATE, 7:10 PM: Obama is explaining how he reacted to the attack on America’s consulate in Benghazi.
UPDATE, 7:11 PM: Obama: “I’m the one who has the greet the coffins when they come home.”
UPDATE, 7:16 PM: Obama: “Please proceed, Governor.” The President has had enough.
UPDATE, 7:16 PM: Big moment for Obama. Romney has really tripped himself up here. He just tried to claim the president did not characterize the attack on the consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack early on, when in fact, in Obama’s Rose Garden speech, he did. “Check the transcript,” the President told his opponent. Moderator Candy Crowley backs Obama up. Yay, real-time fact checking! Audience members are clapping.
UPDATE, 7:17 PM: Candy moving the debate along…
UPDATE, 7:17 PM: Nina Gonzalez: What has your administration done to limit the availability of assault weapons?
UPDATE, 7:19 PM: Obama: We have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. More enforcement needed.
UPDATE, 7:20 PM: Obama suggests we should reintroduce a ban on assault weapons. The NRA is going to pick up on that, no doubt.
UPDATE, 7:20 PM: Shorter Romney: Not interested in getting semiautomatic weapons off our streets.
UPDATE, 7:21 PM: Romney brings up “Fast and Furious”. Knew that was coming…
UPDATE, 7:22 PM: Crowley asks why Romney no longer supports an assault weapons ban.
UPDATE, 7:24 PM: Obama: Romney changed his position on the value of assault weapons ban because he wanted the NRA’s endorsement. Zing!
UPDATE, 7:26 PM: Carol Goldberg asks Mitt Romney, an outsourcing pioneer, about insourcing… bringing jobs back home to the United States.
UPDATE, 7:28 PM: Romney trots out his favorite catchphrase… “trickle-down government.”
UPDATE, 7:28 PM: Romney claims he’ll be strict with those we trade with. Yeah, right.
UPDATE, 7:29 PM: Mitt, where’s the evidence to support the claim that businesses aren’t hiring because of the Patient Protection Act?
UPDATE, 7:31 PM: Obama says he’d close loopholes that reward outsourcing. Romney’s policies would create jobs overseas,
UPDATE, 7:32 PM: Crowley asks Romney: How do we bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.A.?
UPDATE, 7:33 PM: Crowley goes to President Obama.
UPDATE, 7:34 PM: Obama shouldn’t have said that some jobs won’t come back. That didn’t do anything for him. The Republicans will put that phrase into television ads.
UPDATE, 7:34 PM: Romney lamely chants, government does not create jobs.
UPDATE, 7:34 PM: Softball question for Mitt, and he recognizes it.
UPDATE, 7:35 PM: Mitt: “I care about a hundred percent of the American people.” Oops. Why’d Romney open that door? Hope the President gets rebuttal time…
UPDATE, 7:36 PM: Romney is basically giving his closing statement.
UPDATE, 7:37 PM: The debate is running over. Good thing the major news networks scheduled post-debate “analysis” till 8 PM.
UPDATE, 7:38 PM: Obama hammers Romney for his forty-seven percent comments.
UPDATE, 7:39 PM: WOW, what a finish by President Obama! No closing statements, Obama finishes by asking for viewers’ votes.
FINAL THOUGHT, 7:40 PM: This debate goes to President Obama. He was superb. Absolutely superb.