- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — A combative President Obama, seeking to redeem himself from an earlier poor debate performance, went toe-to-toe with Mitt Romney Tuesday night at their second debate and accused the Republican nominee of fabricating attacks and distorting both of their records on everything from energy policy to terrorism.

For his part, Mr. Romney said the president is offering promises that sound good for the future, “but that’s not what you’ve done in the last four years — that’s the problem.” He said the Obama legacy was deep deficits and continued unemployment that have “crushed” the middle class, and he vowed that his own five-point plan to boost energy and build small businesses will succeed.

Mr. Obama, clearly feeling the pressure to step up after his lethargic Oct. 3 debate performance in Denver, replied with a fierce and relentless attack on the fundamentals of Mr. Romney’s economic credentials.

“Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan — he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules,” he said. “That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as governor, that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”

The two men squared off at Hofstra University in New York, and this debate was a town-hall format. That meant the two men stood with microphones in hand, in front of an audience of 80 voters armed with questions.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands during ... more >

Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN selected which of them got to ask their questions.

The debate seemed to break new ground on some major issues.

Mr. Romney appeared to open up the chance for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to get a chance at a path to citizenship — something he’d generally opposed, except in instances in which they agreed to join the U.S. military.

“Those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr. Obama, responding to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, said he takes responsibility for “finding out exactly what happened.”

“I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home,” he said, accusing Mr. Romney of politicizing the assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11.

Mr. Romney, though, said it took the president two weeks to acknowledge that the attack was exclusively a terrorist assault, rather than a mob reaction to an anti-Islam film, as his administration first said.

But Mr. Obama said he talked about terror in his first remarks the day after the attack from the Rose Garden on Sept. 12, which is indeed true. At that time, he said: “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.”

At one point, the two men even stood toe-to-toe and attacked each other’s veracity on oil and gas drilling on federal lands.

“In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half,” Mr. Romney charged, saying production of oil is down 14 percent on federal lands under Mr. Obama.

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