The Presidential Debates

Chris Matthews and our all-star panel–left and right–hand down their verdicts on the presidential debate.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama spar over energy policy during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP)

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama spar over energy policy during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP)

Talk about reality TV. Americans now used to smack-downs and face-offs and nose-to-nose TV battles had no shortage of close confrontation to see last night in the second of three presidential debates.

Mitt Romney. Barack Obama.On their feet. In each other’s faces. Right on the border of civility. Obama needed to bounce back, and he did. Romney needed to hang tough, and he did. They talked taxes and jobs and energy and women. They spoke to their big philosophies. They looked to dominate.

This hour, On Point: Obama-Romney, round two.

-Tom Ashbrook


Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and “The Chris Matthews Show.”

John McCormack, staff writer at the Weekly Standard.

Ruth Marcus, editorial writer and columnist at The Washington Post.

Jack BeattyOn Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “A few minutes after kickoff, Ryan’s traveling press secretary, Michael Steel, led me into the suite where Ryan was watching the game with his older brother Tobin, his campaign adviser Dan Senor, the Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.”

Weekly Standard “When Mitt Romney stepped on stage at the first presidential debate in Denver on October 3, he had been losing to President Obama on the issue of taxes for two solid months. The Obama campaign bombarded Romney with TV ads claiming he would raise taxes on middle-class families by $2,000 in order to pay for his tax cut for the rich. Throughout August and September the Romney campaign did little to rebut the charge or attack Obama as a tax-hiker.”

L.A. Times “There’s at least two problems with that reasoning, though. First, much of the debate was focused on policy details, such as whether Romney’s proposed tax cuts would shift tax burdens from the rich to middle- and lower-income Americans, or whether Obamacare would let the government dictate how doctors treat patients. So while there were obvious differences in presentation, there were also big differences in substance. And maybe those differences were just as persuasive, if not more so, than the candidates’ energy gap.”

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