Political Animal


October 16, 2012 10:40 PM Hofstra Debate Live-Blog III

By Ed Kilgore

* Another non-winner for Mitt: an immigration question. He’s not answering question, but is off to the races on immigration subject generally.

* Huh? Romney wants kids will have path to citizenship? Since when? Did I miss an Etch-a-Sketch Moment?

* Obama doing pretty well on immigration, hitting big positive and negative points.

* Romney probably not helping himself getting drawn into weeds on immigration. Don’t know why Obama doesn’t just say “if I had filed bill you would have attacked me for it.” Interesting that Mitt makes “self-deportation” sound like right of self-determination.
Whoa! Now he wants to go back to Chinese investments! Now he’s badgering Obama on his pension, letting Obama get off quick line about size of pensions. And Crowley has to tell Mitt to sit down. Bad exchange for Mitt.

* ‘Bout time for foreign policy question. And here it comes! Libya! Very hostile framing.

* Not answering question, but Obama hitting “toughness” theme pretty hard.

* Big moment for Mitt, given time his campaign has spent on Libya. Will he come out and blame Obama? Takes “he went to fundraiser” tack instead. Then follows non sequitur to Syria, Israel, Iran, and finally the “apology tour” chesnut.

* Crowley mentions HRC apology. Obama could have sounded more gracious about her. Sounds a little rattled. Goes large on “offensive” Romney attack.

* Mitt calling Obama liar. Crowley responds for Obama. Very weird exchange; hard to say how it played.

* Gun question! Will Mitt go with Fast & Furious?

* Unclear where Obama’s going with anecdote. Very cautious reference to possibility of assault gun ban being reintroduced. Don’t know if he’s said this before.

* Huh? Mitt says automatic weapons are currently illegal. Takes big leap to Santorum Lite on families. Then brings up Fast & Furious, as wingnuts undoubtedly cheer, and gradually gets excited about it.

* Crowley brings up Massachusetts assault gun ban. Mitt basically says NRA told him it was okay. And now he’s doing the Bipartisanship Shuffle!

* Obama does quick hit on assault gun flip-flop and then drops back to punt.

* Lost track of the number of questions, but don’t think Candy is going to hit 12 or 13.

* Looks like final question will be Mitt on outsourcing. He fluidly switches to China-bashing. Big opening for Obama in rebuttal. Mitt gets two more “trickle-down government” lines in, then back to China-bashing. Most blatantly protectionist pitch by a Republican candidate since Nixon. Now just back to general attack on Obama’s economic policies. I imagine even low-information voters are noting repetition.

* Guess they’re going into overtime.

* Obama gets in quick shot on Mitt encouraging overshore investment, then back to Mitt’s investments in China.

* Now Mitt asked about repatriating technology, goes right back to exact same litany on China-cheating and “making America attractive.”

* Wasn’t connected to larger themes (like Mitt’s union-bashing!), but nice that Obama mentioned we don’t necessarily need more subsistence jobs.

* Final question to Mitt: what’s biggest misperception about him. Time to whine! Gets 100% in again (don’t believe Obama campaign invented that problem for him). Does shout-out to God. Full-on Care Bear number now, and then back to Obama-bashing with same words used earlier. Still gunning hard for referendum vote.

* Obama may be wasting chance to mention vast nastiness aimed at him, instead reframing “role of government” pitch, and then “two futures.” Goes right at 47% full on! And this will be final word, I guess. Strong wrap with GI Bill reference.

Before I look at Twitter or listen to “experts” and spin, I’ll say Obama won this one, not by knockout, but by decent margin. Did everything he needed to do, and got a little lucky with nature of questions, and some notable Mitt floundering.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Sunae Thomas on October 16, 2012 10:44 PM:

    Mitt Romney lost with all his LIES! The President did a good JOB! WTG PBO!

  • DJ on October 16, 2012 10:48 PM:

    To top it off, Obama should have dropped the mike and gotten wrapped in a cape like James Brown. Perhaps he's saving that for the foreign policy debate.

  • Kris on October 16, 2012 10:56 PM:

    I'm biased, but I think Obama killed it tonight.

  • Tom Dibble on October 16, 2012 11:01 PM:

    I'd call it a clear, but not knock-out, win for Obama. Romney's lies wilted under examination multiple times. The whole "middle class tax cuts by eliminating capital gains taxes" malarkey is a dud for anyone who is actually in the middle class (and interest on your bank accounts? You mean the $1.78 I got from B of A last year won't get taxed! Woohoo! What a difference *THAT* will make!), and the complete failure of the Libya attack (sorry, those of us who were conscious at the time remember severe politicization from Romney and statesmanship from the President) ... Obama definitely won on points.

    As far as moving votes, I'm not sure. I think we'll see the folks spooked by the last debate coming back into the Obama camp. I don't think any of the tea partyists will abandon Romney, but that was never in the cards. I think Obama righted his ship tonight, and that was the most significant outcome which really realistically could have been expected.

  • Ron Byers on October 16, 2012 11:02 PM:

    Obama won. The terror question the exchange of the night. Obama won.

  • Arlington BigFish on October 16, 2012 11:07 PM:

    Romney did NOT say he wants immigrant kids to have a path to citizenship. He said he wants them to have a path to becoming legal residents. He said it twice. Huge difference.

  • jpeckjr on October 16, 2012 11:12 PM:

    My observations include:

    Mr. Romney was out and out disrespectful to Candy Crowley, repeatedly, throughout. And much of it was along the lines of "you're not being fair to me!"

    Mr. Obama was much more on his game than the first debate, and did well in poking Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney does not like being poked.

    Mr. and Mrs. Obama begin engaging with the audience before Mr. and Mrs. Romney did. The Romney's had to wade their way through their own family first.

    Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Romney were wearing outfits of approximately the same color -- bad staff work -- and probably inconsequential.

  • TCinLA on October 16, 2012 11:14 PM:

    When Romney got "fact checked" live by Candy Crowley on the President's response to Libya and called out as a liar, that was a good one to the gut, but the President's last word on the 47%, that it's what Romney really believes, that was broken nose and blood flying off the glove time. He got whacked good.

    Hell, even Andrew Sullivan was happy!

  • mudwall jackson on October 16, 2012 11:16 PM:

    arlington bigfish,

    which romney are you talking about? the good romney or the evil romney? moderate mitt or mad dog mitt? primary mitt or general election mitt?

    actually, there's only one mitt -- mendacious mitt.

  • pea on October 16, 2012 11:20 PM:

    Yes, as Tom D said, I think Obama reassured his base and reminded women of what's at stake (tho no mention of abortion rights, and he could have put it in starker terms). Critical for turnout. Fingers crossed.

  • Hue and Cry on October 16, 2012 11:21 PM:

    WOOO WOOO--Big win for Prez!!!!
    Loved it. Really easy to identify Romney's lies this p.m.--Politifact was sending tweets on his misleading statements as they occurred, shown on Current TV.

    And wasn't Romney (the bishop?) especially rude and rough-mannered!!!! Imagine him in a diplomatic session.

    Trending: "Binders full of women."

    IMO anyone spinning this as a win for the Romney side is ignoring a true drubbing--- a rout for the president!

    Total repulse from Mitten's incessant interrupting and insistence... "Candy, Candy, Candy"....how insulting to her.


  • Sparko on October 16, 2012 11:22 PM:

    Upper Class Twit award really earned tonight by Womney the Wascal. What a buffoon. Womney looked best when he was wooden tonight. Ouch. Absolutely the most soulless idiot ever on the national stage. He made Warren G. Harding look sympathetic tonight.

    Captcha classic: 522 Assboan. Yep. Romney needs some ointment.

  • American Liberal on October 16, 2012 11:22 PM:

    Obama just annihilated Romney. And not only on Libya, but on women and the economy, the realities behind the economic class, energy policy. Sure the President did not say everything we wanted said, but I bet it is pretty hard up there, trying to think on your feet like that. Kind of like the difference between playing Jeopardy at home and playing for real.

    What the President needs to do to close the deal is answer Romney's foundational point: Obama has tried and failed, I will succeed. There is an answer to that question--something along the lines of appealing to the native savvy of Americans, to the smarts that does not just buy a bill of goods simply because the salesguy is making a bunch of promises. After all, the President is not a dictator--or even a CEO. And while the Reeps may be more willing to work with Romney, along with a few stray elected Dems, Americans cannot reward partisan behavior designed to crash government simply for political advantage.

    It is a tough point to make, but it is the last piece of the puzzle. Once it is in place, Obama, 54/44/2

  • mmm on October 16, 2012 11:31 PM:

    Romney and his phony-baloney exposed as shallow and empty. President Obama rocked!

  • rick on October 16, 2012 11:33 PM:

    Obama reduced Romney into a babbling, stammering, lying bag of protoplasm. Every time Romney finished speaking I had to wipe the smarm that leaked onto my screen. He is a truly repulsive snake oil salesman. Come 11/6, we wont be buying.

  • Obama Soul on October 16, 2012 11:42 PM:

    Very proud of The President tonight. Time to sing.

  • Mimikatz on October 16, 2012 11:43 PM:

    Obama did well in detaiIing the promises that Romney had made and would be required by the GOP to make good on. Don't know how Romney's weaseling on reproductive rights played. He probably does believe women should have contraception, given his Mother's views ( but so did Barbara Bush). But certainly he has promised the Teahadists right that he would support the Personhood Amendment, which would make hormonal birth control as well as other means that prevent implantation illegal. And he does clearly want to see Roe v. wade overturned. Romney came off as a bully and a boorish, especially toward Candy Crowley, but toward Obama too.

    Why won't Obama say Bush's name or identify him as the head of the "previous Administration"?

    Overall Obama clearly won, and Romney looked flustered more than once, especially toward the end.

  • Rik on October 17, 2012 12:01 AM:

    Wow. All that momentum with women is gone if social media is a guide. The 2 most noticed Quotes are 'binders full of women' and 'flexible work hours so you can get home and make dinner'.

  • John on October 17, 2012 12:18 AM:

    My laugh out loud moment was when Romney suggested putting tariffs on goods coming from China. In what universe would he get that through Congress? Not only that, his backers would have his head the very day he proposed such a thing.

  • revchicoucc on October 17, 2012 1:44 AM:

    In his closing remarks, Mr. Romney said he served as pastor of his church for 10 years. That statement is intentionally misleading and he knows it. The LDS church does not have clergy in the same sense as do Catholic or Protestant churches. The LDS church does not use the term "pastor" for any position. By using this term, he led people to think he has a theological education, is ordained, and for a time at least, his vocation was pastoring. Even LDS folks should be a little ruffled by this as they never, ever use the term "pastor." It was a way of saying to evangelicals, "you don't have to worry about my religion -- really, we're just like you -- we even have pastors." Even though they are not, at least in this regard.

  • bdop4 on October 17, 2012 1:52 AM:

    Strong performance from Obama. He's back.

    I liked his line about whether an person would buy into his sketchy plan if it were an investment. Strong finish with the 47% reference.

    Tom D.: I was also amazed by that statement re interest and capital gains. Like the average American has a stock portfolio that isn't a 401k. Unbelievable.

    Condensed Romney response: Everything's really bad and it's all Obama's fault because the recession never happened! But I know how to fix it, and I'm going to give everyone a job, a pony and a sundae with a cherry on top. I just won't tell you how I'm going to do it. I don't need to, because I've worked in the private sector. I'm Mitt Romney, and that's all you need to know.

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