Ahead of the second 2012 Presidential Debate, it was expected that the town hall format would result in a debate almost devoid of excessive confrontation between the two candidates; the pundits could not have been more wrong.
Both candidates came out swinging early, with many tense moments in the debate, including an exchange on federal drilling permits where both candidates repeatedly questioned and interrupted each other. However, I believe that this debate, for undecided voters, won?t move the needle all that much and even though I thought Romney had a better performance, this debate will basically be a draw in how it affects the state of a race where some polls show Gov. Romney ahead of the President both nationally and in swing states.
On the facts and points presented in the debate, Governor Romney had the upper hand. Early on, he added on to his tax plan, stating that he will eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest for people making less than $200,000 a year, which will help him with middle-class voters, many of whom have investment portfolios for their retirement.
On the confrontational exchange over drilling permits, Governor Romney had the facts on his side. After President Obama made the point that U.S. domestic oil production has increased during his presidency, Gov. Romney was quick to point out production on public lands (which the administration has the power to issue drilling permits for) has decreased by 14%, so the increase in overall production was due almost entirely to booms in states like North Dakota and Texas where state governments have created conditions, unlike at the federal level, where drilling is encouraged through less regulation and the issuance of more permits.
Fox News later confirmed after the debate that the issuance of federal drilling permits has decreased by around 62% under President Obama compared to the last three years of the Bush Administration. Gov. Romney went even further and pointed out efforts by the EPA under this administration to limit drilling in these areas by, for example, suing companies for supposed environmental violations, many of which have been thrown out in court.
Another interesting statement by the President was ?that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making,? which the Governor retorted as false since his position is simply that insurance companies should not be forced to provide free contraception as part of their plans by the government. Ironically, the President holds that exact view with the way Obamacare places power in the Independent Payment Advisory Board to set prices for Medicare, eventually resulting in the rationing of care and gradually taking health care decisions from the hands of patients and doctors and putting it in the hands of government bureaucrats.
Next, Governor Romney effectively responded to a possible pitfall by clearly distinguishing himself from President George W. Bush, pointing out their differences on deficits and balancing the budget, trade, energy policy and other areas. I think Romney?s best moment of the debate was his response to a question from a 2008 Obama voter, who now is having qualms about reelecting him because of the way things have gone, where he said, after giving a complete indictment on the failures of the Obama Presidency, ?The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a…speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need.?
America can?t afford four more years of failed promises, failed policies and failed leadership. Our economy is experiencing one of the slowest recoveries in our history, 23 million are still out of work, we have the lowest work force participation rate in 30 years and annual economic growth is still below 2% when we need it to be greater than 4%. We need a new President and Governor Romney has proven on the campaign trail and in these debates that he is the man to lead America.