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Barack Obama fights back sharply in round 2

Last updated on: October 17, 2012 11:02 IST

Barack Obama fights back sharply in round 2

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A combative Barack Obama on Wednesday hit back at Mitt Romney, retrieving lost ground in the second of the three high-stake presidential debates, saying his Republican rival's plans on outsourcing will only result in more jobs in China and India.

Obama, who drew flak from his own party for a lacklustre performance in round one two weeks ago, this time often dictated the terms of the debate questioning Romney's approaches towards China, immigration, taxes, unemployment, gun laws and other domestic and foreign issues.

During the 90-minute face-off at the Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, for a town hall style debate, Romney retorted claiming US has been losing manufacturing jobs to China as enterprises feel it is "more attractive" to go offshore than to stay here.

According to CNN, Obama, looking for an opportunity to recharge his campaign after a lackluster performance at their first debate two weeks earlier, contended that the Republican nominee's policies and values are extreme and out of touch with the concerns of the middle class.

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Image: United States Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and US President Barack Obama gesture towards each other during the second US presidential debate in Hempstead
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters

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Barack Obama fights back sharply in round 2

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In one of the sharpest exchanges of the night, Obama and Romney clashed over whether the White House misled Americans about the nature of the September 11 attack on a US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

"While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that's not how a commander in chief operates. You don't turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it's happening. And people -- not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I've made. But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I'd end the war in Libya -- in -- in Iraq, and I did."

Romney fought back, "... I find more troubling than this, that on -- on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that's happened since 1979, when -- when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn't know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event."

"I think these -- these actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you'd hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. We've read their accounts now about what happened. It was very clear this was not a demonstration. This was an attack by terrorists."

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Image: US President Barack Obama answers a questiion as Romney listens during the second presidential debate in Hempstead, New York
Photographs: Rick Wilking/Reuters

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Barack Obama fights back sharply in round 2

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Romney, having rallied his supporters with his performance in Denver, was seeking to keep that momentum going. Neither one held back.

A snap CNN/ORC International poll showed 46 per cent of respondents thought 51-year-old Obama won, compared to 39 per cent for 65-year-old Romney. The result was within the survey's margin of error.

 

Both Obama and Romney fielded questions also on topics like gas prices and Libya from members of the audience, a group of 82 undecided voters from New York's Nassau County.

 

Obama ridiculed Romney's claim to have a five-point plan to create jobs.

"He doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan, and that's to make sure people at the top play by different rules. ... That's been his philosophy," Obama said.

"The last thing we need to do is go back to the same policies" that put the nation into an economic downturn four years ago, he added.

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Image: US President Barack Obama looks as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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Barack Obama fights back sharply in round 2

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The question on outsourcing of American jobs overseas came at the fag end of the debate, which saw an aggressive and assertive Obama take on Romney as he tried to improve on his performance at the first debate in Denver where the Republican leader came out as the surprise winner.

Romney blamed Obama for the economy's failure to generate more jobs.

"I'll crack down on China, President Bush didn't. I'm also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It's been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we'll have more trade."

"I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That's why everything I'll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it. My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen."

In response, Obama said: "It is important to tell you that we did come in during some tough times. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I started. But we had been digging our way out of policies that were misplaced and focused on the top doing very well and middle class folks not doing well. Now, we've seen 31 consecutive months of job growth; 5.2 million new jobs created. And the plans that I talked about will create even more."

"But when Governor Romney says that he has a very different economic plan, the centerpiece of his economic plan are tax cuts. That's what took us from surplus to deficit. When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China, and is currently investing in countries -- in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks. That's -- Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China."


Image: Romney and US President Barack Obama shake hands at the conclusion of the second presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York
Photographs: Jim Young/Reuters

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