PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Responding to questions posed by uncommitted voters, both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney came out charging.
“The key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school,” Romney told a young college student. “What’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people. I want you to be able to get a job.”
But the President came back quickly.
“When Gov. Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry, and it’s come surging back.”
In Market Square the day after the debate, most people thought the President had clearly improved from that first debate.
“I thought Obama made a big comeback from his first effort, and it was actually entertaining to see them spar,” Dave Goncar of Hampton told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
And many liked the town meeting format, too.
“I thought it was a better forum for both candidates than the first one,” noted Dennis Sullivan of Oakland.
Some thought the comments were not aimed at uncommitted voters so much as their own supporters.
“I really got the impression that it was really speaking to the base than an actual debate. It felt more like a pep rally towards the base,” added Steve Parise of Ross.
And those already committed felt good about their candidate.
“I thought Obama came out swinging, and he landed some blows and I liked it,” said Mary Holl of Bridgeville.
“Seemed like Barack Obama showed up. However, if you want my opinion, Mitt Romney still won,” noted Paul Albers of Mt. Lebanon.
“I thought Obama came out. He was strong. He looked presidential. He was very on the mark. He didn’t let any of the comments slide,” added Linda Stefano of Carnegie.
“Romney continued to do a really good job of talking specifically about what he’s going to do versus generalities,” said Glenn Astley of North Huntingdon.
And, no surprise, elected officials echoed partisan views of the President’s performance.
“I think Barack Obama has some real trouble coming out of this debate,” said Heather Heidelbaugh, Republican Allegheny County councilwoman-at-large.
“I think he did well, very well, and part of it is making sure the country knows differences,” added U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat.
Accentuating the differences between the two candidates was an important goal of both Obama and Romney.
And whether your hot button issue is the economy, Medicare, immigration, foreign trade, abortion rights and contraception, energy, tax reform, pay equity, the 47 percent or the 100 percent – Tuesday night’s debate did offer important contrasts.
The back and forth between the two candidates interrupting each other certainly kept your attention, but to some viewers, especially women, there was little more testosterone on that debate set than was necessary.
“I don’t think they show much respect for each other, and that’s really upsetting, really disappointing,” said Connie Black of Edgewood.
And some thought there was disrespect to the moderator, as well.
“Romney sometimes comes across as a little harsh and arrogant, and those are not necessarily traits that women are drawn to,” noted Joy Williamson of Carrick.
But Romney wasn’t alone in ignoring the moderator, as the President also interrupted.
“When you’re dealing with two Type A personalities in this kind of a debate, the moderator may be second fiddle,” added Albers. “And I think that’s what kind of happened. But I think they know what they’re getting into when they do it. So, no, I don’t think there was any disrespect.”
The moderator — CNN’s Candy Crowley is a pro — and certainly knew what to expect. She is taking some heat for fact-checking the candidates on the question of Libya.
But the bigger question is whether the style of either Obama or Romney on the debate stage — interrupting, taking more time than allotted, even invading the personal space of the other — takes away from their substantive answers to important questions.
That, of course, will be up to the voters to decide.
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