Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live-blogging the "town hall" presidential debate

[Here's the transcript.]

I'll be live-blogging the 2nd presidential debate here. Keep reloading for more updates.

For more live-blogging, check out Althouse (my mom), TalkingPointsMemo, and the Economist's Democracy in America.

As always, any quotes will be written down on the fly, so they might not be verbatim but I'll try to make them reasonably accurate.

9:04 - A college student asks Mitt Romney how he's going to be assured of having a job after graduating. Mitt Romney says we need to continue giving Pell grants. "I know what it takes to create good jobs again. . . . I'm going to make sure you get a job."

9:05 - President Obama seems very upbeat: "Your future is bright!" He segues into paraphrasing Romney as saying: "We're going to let Detroit go bankrupt." He also strains to connect education to "investing in solar energy."

9:09 - Romney: "We have fewer people working today than when President Obama took office." Romney says that the unemployment rate is the same, but it would be much higher — over 10% — if the work force were as big as it was 4 years ago. He also retorts to Obama: "You say I wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt; you did let Detroit go bankrupt!"

9:11 - Obama: "Governor Romney doesn't have a 5-point plan. He has a 1-point plan: to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. . . . That's exactly the philosophy that's been in place for the past decade." It seems like a questionable strategy to impute the whole time he's been in office to his challenger's philosophy.

9:14 - Obama promises a questioner: "You're not going to pay as much for gas." Both of the candidates seem to be under the impression that the president is the Commander of the Economy.

9:17 - Obama says when Romney was governor, "you stood in front of a coal plant and said: 'This plant kills. We're shutting it down.'"

9:18 - While continuing the debate on coal, the two of them both walk slowly toward each other while accusing the other of lying about coal statistics. Romney to Obama: "You'll get your chance soon; I'm still speaking." [Here's the video:]

9:22 - Candy Crowley starts to move on to a new topic, and Romney, as usual, starts to debate the debating rules with her. She insists on going to a new topic, but Romney talks about the old topic (energy) anyway. Obama: "Candy, it's OK, I'm used to being interrupted."

9:25 - Romney is asked about his tax plan. He emphasizes: "The top 5% of taxpayers will continue to pay 60% of income tax the government collects. So that will stay the same." He also repeats what Paul Ryan said last week: that Obama's spending increases will lead to higher taxes on the middle class. Of course, Obama says the opposite: that he's going to cut taxes for the middle class. We've heard all this before, and neither candidate's "plan" is very convincing. (See the 9:47 update in my live-blog of the vice-presidential debate, where I said Ryan had a "brilliant tactic.")

9:30 - Obama says that Romney said during the primaries that he'd give a "tax cut" — not a "tax rate cut" — for everyone, including the rich. Does Obama really think it's going to be effective for his critique of Romney on taxes to hinge on that semantic distinction?

9:31 - Romney blatantly panders to women by referring to the increase in "women living in poverty" during the Obama administration. Has there not been an increase in men living in poverty, or do men living in poverty just not matter as much?

9:36 - Obama points out that Romney was "a very successful investor," and would never have accepted a plan as "sketchy" as Romney's proposal of tax cuts and military-spending increases. Romney flips this around by suggesting that you should trust him because he's been so successful in business and government. Romney's retort to Obama: "How about $4 trillion in deficits? That's math that doesn't add up. . . . He said he would cut the deficit in half; instead he's doubled it."

9:37 - Obama is asked what he's going to do about women earning less on average than men. "That's a great question." Why should we trust Obama's explanation of any statistics, if he isn't willing to point out the statistical fallacy with inferring discrimination from raw averages which don't consider any of the legitimate factors that cause people to be paid differently based on the different choices they make?

9:41 - Romney says we need to have "flexible schedules" to help women. How is it the job of the president to decide what job schedules people have?

9:45 - A member of the audience asks Romney what the biggest differences are between him and George W. Bush. "Trade — I'll crack down on China. President Bush didn't." "I'm going to get us to a balanced budget; President Bush didn't." He says "President Obama was right" to say that deficits were outrageous under Bush; of course, Obama increased them even more. "President Bush had a very different path, for a very different time."

9:50 - Obama goes for the jugular, pointing out that Romney is investing in China while promising to crack down on China. "Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China."

9:51 - Obama says Romney is different from Bush: "George Bush didn't propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush supported comprehensive immigration reform; he didn't suggest self-deportation. George Bush didn't stop funding Planned Parenthood."

9:53 - Obama lists his accomplishments in a much snappier way than he did in the first debate: he ended the war in Iraq, he's fought terrorism, something about health care, etc. He then lists several of Romney's promises, repeating that he's vowed to defund Planned Parenthood.

9:55 - Romney walks toward someone whose question has just been answered by Obama, speaking to him directly: "I think you know better. I think you know that the economy for the last 4 years hasn't been as good as the president just described. . . . He keeps saying: look, I've created 5 million jobs. That's after losing 5 million jobs!" Ah, Romney nows says there are more "people in poverty." So, men do count after all! Romney is very fluent with his statistics: "Median incomes are down $4,300 per family."

9:59 - An immigration question. Romney: "America is a nation of immigrants. . . . We welcome legal immigrants into this country." Anyone with a degree in science or math should "get a green card stapled to their diploma." He'd punish employers for hiring "those who came here illegally." He uses that phrase — "those who came here illegally" — over and over. He's clearly been advised that some people are offended by the word "illegal" being used as an adjective applied to a whole person.

10:01 - Obama starts out by echoing Romney's answer: "We are a nation of immigrants. But we're also a nation of laws." Like Romney, he says we need to encourage highly skilled people to immigrate.

10:04 - The moderator, Crowley, asks Romney to "speak to self-deportation." Romney: "No!" But a minute later, he does explain his views on "self-deportation." Romney likes to pick fights with the moderators.

10:06 - Romney brings back the issue of China, repeatedly asking Obama: "Have you looked at your pension lately?" Obama: "No, mine isn't as big as yours, so it doesn't take as long to look at." Romney: "Look at your pension — you also have Chinese investments." Crowley asks Romney "if I could have you sit down." [Here's the video:]

10:11 - Obama on the killings in Benghazi, Libya: "We'll find out who did this, and we will hunt them down. When folks mess with Americans, we go after them. . . . These are my folks, and I'm the one who's got to greet those coffins when they come home."

10:12 - Romney on Benghazi: "This was not a demonstration — it was a terrorist attack. It took a long time for that to be told to the American people."

10:13 - Romney goes on autopilot, listing his talking points about Obama's foreign policy: "The president's policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour," Obama is "leading from behind," his foreign policy is "unraveling."

10:15 - Obama gives a forceful rebuke to Romney's description of his response to the Benghazi attacks:  "That's not what we do." He says that he called it a "terrorist attack" immediately afterwards, in his Rose Garden address. Romney says it actually took him 14 days before he used that language. Crowley intercedes, saying that Obama is right that he immediately used the word "terrorist," but Romney is right about his larger point that it took the administration 2 weeks to stop characterizing it as a spontaneous reaction to a video. [Added: A transcript on Fox News quotes Obama in the Rose Garden address, the day after the attacks:]

The United States condemns, in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. . . .

We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.

The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. . . .

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
What do you think? Did he refer to the killings as terrorism? If you take his words literally, he was talking about what no acts of terror will ever do, without specifying whether terrorism had just occurred. At most, there's an implication that the Benghazi killings were terrorist attacks that would not shake our resolve and so on. But that's too debatable for the moderator to be weighing in on who got it right.

[Update: A hypothetical.]

[Added: Here's the video of the whole section on Libya:]

10:26 - They're asked what their plan is to reverse the trend of jobs being outsourced to foreign countries. Romney brings back the line he used at the beginning of the first debate, saying that Obama has used "trickle-down government." American businesses can't compete with countries that have more lax regulation. He threatens to impose "tariffs" on China.

10:35 - Romney shouts at Obama: "Government does not create jobs! Government does not create jobs!" That's not what he said in his first answer in the debate!

10:35 - Romney uses a line he often repeated during the primaries, but which he didn't say in the last debate: "I spent my life in the private sector, not government." A few minutes later, he makes a list of promises and says: "I served as governor and showed that I can get this done."

10:38 - Obama rattles off platitudes: "Everybody should have a fair shot, and everybody should do their fair share, and everybody should play by the same rules."

10:38 - Finally, Obama brings up the fact that Romney said that 47% of the country refuses to take personal responsibility for themselves. "When my grandfather fought in World War II and came back and got a G.I. Bill that enabled him to go to college, that wasn't a handout." And with that, Obama has the last word in the debate. It seems quite unfair that Romney wasn't given a chance to respond to Obama's attack.

At the very least, Obama "won" the debate by cutting off the narrative that had been going on since the last debate about his lack of vitality.


q12345q6789 said...

Moderator give Obama a huge "out" by framing high gas prices as just "the new normal" suggesting that Obama's Energy policies have absolutely no bearing on the supply (i.e. price) of energy; which is something both Obama and Energy Sec. Chu have refuted in the past - both have said explicitly that prices *need* to raise for environmental reasons. The fact that's not politically expedient at this debate notwithstanding.

q12345q6789 said...

@Jaltcoh: If this election year has taught me anything, it's that: No, men living in poverty do *not* count as much. Unless, that is, big bird is male.

DADvocate said...

Men don't matter as much. You haven't been paying attention.

amba said...

Why is everyone over at your mother's throwing rotten eggs at Obama in the comments (quite childishly) instead of here? I'm enjoying your much less slanted liveblogging.

Obama sounds lecture-y, snotty and condescending; Romney often resorts to unctuous "sincerity" and empty slogans. They both seem to have it wrong, each in his way, and they both seem to be twisting the truth, but I'm so tired of being told that one or the other of them is going to destroy the country.

q12345q6789 said...

@ Jaltcoh 9:37:
Politics is pandering. I don't know what else is left. Lobbyists, I suppose.

Andy Johnson said...

President is involved in hours of work as unions want overtime after 8 hours per day. Flextime allows person to work 4 10 hot days and have 3-day weekend. Felxtime also allows person to work from home or on weekend when child is sick and daycare refuses admission until well.

karen said...

Heh- some lady is wanting to know the differences of Romney 2 W.

I'm not impressed w/the energy of the two men- i think it's the moderator.

Good answer from Romney.

karen said...

Uh- how the hell can Obama rebut on a question of the difference between Romney and W--- does he think he's W?

karen said...

Hi, amba!!!! {{:0)}}

"A lot of us are..."- is Obama including HIMself in that sacrifice?

Is it me or is Obama talking way moe than Romney?

karen said...

sp = more

amba said...

Romney's very good on Obama's failure to get the economy going -- partly because he blames policies rather than intentions. That's effective (and old-fashioned!) political arguing.

amba said...

Hi Karen!

Renee said...

"9:41 - Romney says we need to have "flexible schedules" to help women. How is it the job of the president to decide what job schedules people have?"

Over a decade ago, when the economy was in it's first boom/bust mode of 1999/2000, companies were very very flexible with professional woman. We were getting professional work, good pay, and only working 20-25 hours either 'mother hours' or evening so we were not wasting much on daycare. Also more then willing to do a 4 day vs 5 day work week or working from home.

When there are 100 people applying for a job, there is little to none in negotiations.

Many women, and men, want to have children. Even childless people have lives outside of work. Flexibility matters more then contraception coverage forced upon religious institutions.

karen said...

OMGawsh-- did our President just say that we need to go after the criminal, gang-banging illegals?

EEeewww- that did not sound very... politically correct. He's lost me, here.

karen said...

Closed barn doors and horses:0(.

karen said...

Obama is lying.

Doesn't play politics.
Four of our own.

q12345q6789 said...

So, impartial journalist moderator Candy Crowley asks for a follow up question, "Doesn't the Buck really stop with Sec. Clinton?" - another lay-up for and give full bravado speech for the old "Buck Stops Here" grandstanding.
Then tells Romney to hurry up with any response.

Obama: I just wanna make sure all these folks get a chance to ask a question (i.e move along)
Candy: OK! Right.

Mark Linder said...

It is noteworthy that "act of terror" followed reference to denigrating a religion, which I assume means the YouTube video.

wildswan said...

Obama did not call it a terrorist attack in the Rose garden statement
see http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/12/statement-president-attack-benghazi

ctsheepdog said...

John - Love your bride's work, new to your site. As for the use of the word "terror" that is not the same as calling an attack a pre-meditated terrorist attack. Just sayin'

ctsheepdog said...

BTW, how was Candy Crowley certain of the actual use of the word "terror" or "act of terror" by Obama in the Rose Garden? I know she had the questions in advance but did she really go to the transcripts so that she was certain enough to "correct" the GOP candidate.

Makes me go hmmmmm......

ctsheepdog said...

John - Love your bride's work, new to your site. As for the use of the word "terror" that is not the same as calling an attack a pre-meditated terrorist attack. Just sayin'

q12345q6789 said...

Does Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cover Dental? Because Obama sure got a lotta sweet Candy tonight!

karen said...

I think Romney means what he says and says what he means.

The whole ~Yes, we can~ is what i think Romney is radiating. I'm a schmuck- but, i believe he is the guy that can pull us out of this.

ps- Candy sucked.

*Passionate summation- CBS is swooning over Obama, btw.

DADvocate said...

Platitudes, good Marxist platitudes

q12345q6789 said...

@Jaltcoh: Thanks for your fair-minded approach. I sincerely hope I am not here for the next debate. I think 3 is my limit this election year. But, I hope you keep it up...

eddie willers said...

This is the White House transcript of the Rose Garden statement

Statement by the President on the Attack in Benghazi

I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.

I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.

The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.

No "terror" here. I bet this os the one Romney read.

karen said...

i listened to the video of the Rose Garden Morning(tired, can't think of the word-)speech- brief- announcement... anyway, he never said terror- even at the very end, it was an act- this act, or something. Listen to the video-- and i feel badly for Hillary- but, if extra security was asked for, and denied and then people died and more people(Obama)lied about it. That's not good.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

If you think it was "unfair" that Romney didn't get to respond to the 47% issue, maybe you should remember what you said in response to the point I've raised many times that the caucus system in 2008 was unfair and undemocratic in many ways. What you said is (essentially) that Obama won because of superior strategizing within the system he was competing in, not because there was something unfair in that system. He just strategized better. And Obama strategized by not mentioning 47% until the very end of the debate, as a knock out punch against which Romney could not respond. He just had a superior strategy, and one thing you want in a president is superior strategy when going up against the enemy.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Oh, I've always thought caucuses are wildly unfair. The unfairness of Romney getting to comment on "47%" in this debate is trivial by comparison.

John Althouse Cohen said...

John - Love your bride's work, new to your site. As for the use of the word "terror" that is not the same as calling an attack a pre-meditated terrorist attack. Just sayin'

I've added more commentary on this at the end of the 10:15 post. (Also: I have a bride? Wha?)

John Althouse Cohen said...

We were getting professional work, good pay, and only working 20-25 hours either 'mother hours' or evening so we were not wasting much on daycare.

Are you suggesting that the government should mandate that people receive excellent pay for good jobs where they only have to work part time? If there were such a law, employers just wouldn't hire anyone to fill those roles.

Many women, and men, want to have children.

People are still free to have children, but they're also adults who need to make tough choices about how to structure their lives. No one gets everything they want in life; there are always trade-offs. There's no way for government to guarantee that it will be easy to raise children while working in the labor force. You choose to spend your time doing one thing, you have less time for other things. Those choices should be made voluntarily, not imposed on people by government fiat.

Andy Johnson said...

Regarding the 4% remarks. If. Yo take each statement as a complete thought to a donor rather than as a paragraph making a single point the meaning is very different. From memory :
1) 47% will vote for Obama no matter what
2) 47% of taxpayers pay no taxes.
3) The President keeps telling people they are victims and only govt. can lift them up.

OK maybe that 's my interpretation of what he was saying. All are correct as stand alone points. What I see /hear in Romney is a person who thinks about the facts and clears the emotion and verbiage (aka clutter) to organize the issues. IOW he thinks more like a Powerpoint presentation. Or in opera he thinks about the score before the libretto... After he has the facts he can use words to expand and explain. From the facts comes a future plan more likely to succeed.

One more debate on Monday. Should be interesting.

Renee said...


No. Not at all. When this occurred for me, there was no mandate from the government at all.

I thought I made that clear in my first sentence. "Over a decade ago, when the economy was in it's first boom/bust mode of 1999/2000, companies were very very flexible with professional woman." I did not mention any government program or law.

They were flexible, because they didn't want to lose me. I had negotiating power. I could of also worked 70 hours a week, if I chose as well.

From what I experiences and how I understood Romney's statement wasn't asking to impost a law of flexibility, rather the ability to negotiate terms of employment and having options of what type of work conditions you choose come with a strong economy for a woman (or man, with children or not).

People are stuck in jobs, they might wish to have due to the job market, just as much people are stuck in homes 'underwater' unable to move as well. Just as young adults are stuck in their parents home and stuck on their insurance plan.

We all have little ability to negotiate.

Renee said...

I should like to note, at the time of this employment I was not a mom at the time. I was a student, working on my degree in a day program.

And instead of preferential parental benefits, they just had flex-time benefits, akin to personal time. If you wanted to take the day off, because it was your birthday they didn't care. It was your time to choose how to utilize.

Anonymous said...

RE - the "other agency involved at the compound."


"In their questioning and in the public testimony they invited, the lawmakers managed to disclose, without ever mentioning Langley directly, that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex. One of the State Department security officials was forced to acknowledge that “not necessarily all of the security people” at the Benghazi compounds “fell under my direct operational control.”