Candidates get chippy in Round 2, but questions still need to be answered

By Robert Riches
October 18, 2012

After an intense first debate that saw minimal moderator effort and Big Bird’s head put close to the chopping block, America’s favorite presidential candidates went at it yet again on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

President Barack Obama and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney met yet again at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Similar to the first debate, round two was intensely chippy, with both candidates more than willing to get in each other’s faces. The debate also featured a town hall format, where on-the-fence voters had the opportunity to ask the candidates questions regarding domestic and foreign policy issues.

Governor Romney and President Obama answered a wide array of questions covering all sorts of topics- from the postgraduate life of college students, to gender equality in the workplace, to the recent attacks in Libya and much more. In all, 11 questions were asked.

Much like last debate, the candidates repeatedly cut each other as well as the moderator off. However, moderator Candy Crowley was able to keep some order. Crowley also established herself as a hardline negotiator when necessary and was also willing to step in and check facts on the spot.

It is said that President Obama had a stronger showing in the second debate, coming off as more aggressive compared to being more passive and laid back in the first debate. Thus, it is believed that President Obama emerged as the victor in this debate. Governor Romney did not necessarily do himself any justice after making his infamous “binders full of women” remark, referring to a situation from when he attempted to employ women in his administration during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts.

Romney’s “binders full of women” took the Internet by storm and was his second debate statement that quickly escalated into a popular Internet meme.

“I went to a number of women’s groups and said ‘can you help us find folks?’ and they brought us whole binders full of women,” Romney said. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr were all taken by storm and various YouTube videos were created. While Romney’s gaffe memes will not cost or win him the election, they can provide a nice way for people to get humor out of this election.

One thing that stuck out to me in particular at the end of this debate was the actions of both the president and the governor. At the conclusion of the first debate, they both shook hands, as if they just put the past 90 minutes behind them and wanted to focus on moving ahead. This time, they did not shake hands to conclude. However, they did shake hands at the beginning as if to say “may the better man win.”

I was curious as to the lack of a post-debate handshake; was that intentional? Did Obama take Romney’s “have you looked at your pension?” questioning the wrong way? Was Romney offended over Obama’s “consolidation” of his five-point plan? Perhaps a handshake would have just led to more in-your-face squabbling (the opposite of the handshake’s intended purpose.)

The post-debate handshake is a highly symbolic gesture of respect for any candidate. Who knows, this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back and any respect for each other may be lost. If that is the case, cue up yet another interesting turn in this election.

With the third debate coming up this Monday, I am curious to see who will emerge as the champion this time. Will Obama continue to be more aggressive? Will Romney pick up the intensity? Will this leave viewers to believe they’re watching a professional wrestling match rather than a presidential debate?

There is only one way to find out. This second debate still leaves plenty of questions to be answered. The candidates have just one last chance to one-up each other prior to the election. Will it give the voting masses one extra thing to keep in mind on Election Day?

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Robert Riches

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