U.S. president, Barack Obama, returned to the winning ways at the second presidential debate early Wednesday, where he vigorously pushed back Republican candidate, Mitt Romney’s momentum on domestic, economic and foreign policy issues.
Mr. Obama came out swinging after a terrible first debate outing a fortnight ago, portraying the former Massachusetts governor as favouring the wealthy and the powerful while sneering at the middle class.
Mr. Romney, for the second night too, put forward a decisive performance, accusing the president of broken promises and failed policies, and attacking some of his foreign policy decisions.
Early CNN scientific polls put Mr. Obama ahead with 46 per cent registered voters saying they believed he won the debate against Mr. Romney’s 39 per cent.
Mr. Obama also had higher aggregate talking time of 44.04 minutes against 40.50 minutes, and scored better percentages on those who believed he did better generally than expected, worse than expected or did as expected.
For each, he scored 73%, 10% and 16% respectively against Mr. Romney’s 37%, 28% and 33%.
Both candidates exchanged cutting remarks on jobs, Medicare, foreign policy and tax amongst others.
The debate grew feisty at some points with candidates repeatedly interrupting each other, growling around the other and out-rightly denouncing whatever they considered uncharitable.
When Mr. Romney suggested the president misled Americans on the true circumstances of the attack that killed four American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Obama said it was an “offensive” position.
“The suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive,” the president said looking directly at Mr. Obama. “That’s not what I do as president.”
Mr. Obama attacked the former governor of playing politics with a national tragedy by releasing a political statement soon after the attack.
Mr. Romney remained focused on the president’s broken promises in his first four years in office and quipped repeatedly that “We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”
The Republican candidate blamed Mr. Obama for an unemployment rate that leaves about 23 million Americans out of work and said 580,000 women too lost jobs in the past four years.
“The president has tried,” he said, “but his policies haven’t worked.”
The New York Times called the engagement between the two candidates “one of the most intensive clashes in televised presidential debates”.
The final debate holds October 22, with the elections less than four weeks away.