Local Politicos Weigh in: Who Won Obama-Romney Second Debate?

Here's how Massachusetts Republican and Democrat activists and officials responded to last night's presidential debate.

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the death of four Americans became a flashpoint in Tuesday night's second debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney: that's the major finding of the Red and Blue Commonwealth flash polls sent out to local politicos immediately after the debate ended last night.

Obama and Romney faced off on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York in a town hall format, with CNN's Candy Crowley moderating a debate that covered both domestic and foreign policy.

Of the 17 local influential Democrats who took the poll after the debate ended, 13 of them (76.5 percent) voted that Obama won by a large margin and four (23.5 percent) voted that the president won by a slim margin.

Local influential Republicans were more varied in their assessment of Romney's performance. Of 25 who took the poll, eight (32 percent) voted that Romney won by a wide margin, 12 (48 percent) voted Romney won by a slim margin; three (12 percent) voted neutral and two (8 percent) voted Obama won by a slim margin.

The two sides agreed on one thing: Most of the Republicans voted that Obama would be declared the consensus 'winner' by the national media, as did most of the Democrats who took the poll.

Of the Republicans, 15 voted Obama would be declared the winner by a slim margin and 1 voted by a wide margin. Five voted neutral and four voted Romney would be declared the winner by a slim margin.

Nine Democrats voted Obama would be declared the winner by a wide margin, seven voted by a slim margin and one voted neutral.

Libya Embassy Attack Characterization Polarizes Republicans, Democrats

Where the two sides disagreed was their assessment of an exchange among Obama, Romney and Crowley regarding the president's response to the embassy attack in Libya, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens and .

During the debate, after Obama said that the day after the attack he had called it an act of terror during his remarks in the White House Rose Garden, Romney asked him to reiterate that statement. 

"It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?" Romney said. "I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."

Obama replied, "Get the transcript," and Crowley said to Romney, "He did in fact, sir."

The passage in question from Obama's remarks on Sept. 12:

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned with the families who were lost on that day. I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed. And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

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. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

The following Sunday, Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice went on Sunday morning talk shows and characterized the embassy attack as a "spontaneous reaction," a remark weeks later disowned by the State Department.

A number of local Republicans pointed to the exchange as a moment that would stand out in the minds of conservatives in Massachusetts, which one Republican called "Obama lying on Libya." Others cited Crowley's statement "He did in fact, sir," with one Republican writing, "The moderator incorrectly citing the Rose Garden transcript to squelch Romney's Libya argument" and another writing "when Candy Crowley lied and said Obama called Benghazi an act of terror."

Conversely, Democrats also pointed to the exchange as a moment that would stand out in the minds of liberals and progressives in Massachusetts, with one Democrat writing "Obama offended by Romney's talk about Libya" and another writing "the president humbling Romney on Libya."

Obama's Record vs. Romney's Record

As for other moments that stood out, the answers ran the gamut for both Democrats and Republicans, but several focused on each candidate's record.

Democrats pointed to Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts, with one writing that Romney was "taking false credit for education success" in Massachusetts and another highlighting Obama saying that Romney stood in front of the coal-burning Salem Harbor Power Station and saying that the plant kills people.

Other Democrats wrote about Romney's rheotric on the campaign trail and during the debate, with one writing that the governor was "backtracking his tax plan" and another pointed to Obama bringing up Romney's comments about the "47 percent." 

Republicans pointed to Obama's record, from the Keystone Pipeline project to the deficit and unemployment. One Republican wrote that "facts are facts when it comes to 23 million unemployed, doubling of gas prices, deficits of $16 trillion, incomes dropped," while another pointed to Romney saying that Obama promised to cut the deficit in half and "he did nothing and it increased two-fold."

Other Republicans wrote that Romney "hammering home all of Obama's failtures" put the president on the defensive. 

"President Obama can not defend his record so attacks and lies without compunction, when challenged he becomes angry and attacks Governor Romney," one Republican wrote.

Both Republicans and Democrats were fairly confident that their candidate's debate performance would increase the number of votes he gets in Massachusetts.

Five Republicans voted they strongly agreed Romney's performance would increase his Bay State vote total, 11 somewhat agreed, five were neutral, three somewhat disagree and one strongly disagreed.

Eight Democrats voted they strongly agreed Obama's performance would increase his Massachusetts vote total, eight somewhat agreed and one was neutral.

And at least one poll taker, a Democrat, was left wanting more from both Obama and Romney.

"I would like to see candidates answer the questions that are asked," they wrote.

Who do you think won the debate? Tell us in the comments below.

Red and Blue Commonwealth Surveys

Our surveys are not a scientific, random sample of any larger population, but rather an effort to listen to a group of influential local Republican activists, party leaders, candidates and elected officials in Massachusetts. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in Massachusetts' Patch's surveys, although not all responded to this story's questions.

Patch will be conducting Red Commonwealth and Blue Commonwealth surveys throughout the 2012 election season in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in Massachusetts. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in periodic surveys that last just a few minutes, please contact Associate Regional Editor Daniel DeMaina at danield@patch.com.

Jean Grover October 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Obama won by a mile.
John Toto October 17, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Obama was struggling and looking so un-Presidential next to Mitt Romney. Romney is surging just when he needs to and more people are realizing Obama had 4 years and has made things WORSE. Suffolk polling has left Florida, Virginia,and North Carolina calling it for Romney. Americans including women (see recent Gallup poll) now are in the Romney's camp. Americans are sick and tired of the lies and the policy failures of this president. And yesterday...A123 Systems filed for Bankruptcy. This Massachusetts company was touted by Obama as part of the so-called great "Green Economy". ANOTHER FAILURE. How many more failures? You don't have to settle for Obama. Vote Romney and bring America back.
siobhan hullinger October 17, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I would have to say a draw - maybe even a slight edge win for Obama. But let's be clear, Obama set the standard for improvement very low at the first debate. What I did like was the real time fact checking. I would love to see this continue at a future debates.
K Coyne October 17, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I believe President Obama won this round over Governor Romney. Please check the fact checker websites as this can clear up many of the statements that others(posters and both candidates) state as facts.
Cairo kid October 17, 2012 at 04:36 PM
John: Was ur post, a Paid Political ad?
Carolyn A. Gritter October 17, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Obama won the debate. Romney proved clueless when he said that he learned a "great deal" about women's equality in 2002. Gosh, where's he been? Women have been struggling for social, legal, and economic rights since the Suffrage Movement. It's business types like Romney who don't see qualified women right under there collective noses, pass over women for promotion, pay women less than men, and resist flexible schedules. It is ironic that Romney and his party oppose affirmative action, yet Romney had to resort to a such a policy to find women for his staff. Qualified women were available. Their résumés were in those "bundles of binders." His aggressive arrogance toward the moderator was indicative of a boss who treats a female staffer like a maid servant. That and his disrespect for the president was off-putting.
Eric Poch October 17, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Sorry Carolyn but it was the moderator, Candy Crowley who appeared a self-important, media snob. Worse is she doesn't know how to follow the rules, to which she herself signed an agreement of acceptance. BOTH campaigns set some interesting ground rules, most notably, neither camp wanted a whole lot of moderating, specifically requesting that Candy Crowley doesn't ask any follow-up questions to a candidate who may choose to talk his way around a difficult question. The memo signed by both campaigns, would suggest there won't be any follow-ups at all. The document not only bars Crowley from asking them, but also the audience members and even the other candidate on stage. •7 (c), IV: "The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invited the candidate comments during the 2 minute response period." •7 (d): "The audience members shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion, and the audience member's microphone shall be turned off after he or she completes asking the questions." •5 (e): "The candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates. When she interrupted Romney to erroneously recall transcript info on Libya, she became an water-girl, carrying Obama's pail.
x October 17, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Doesn't much matter what we think in this sheltered blue state... Untamed forces, including millions of evangelicals, are being unleashed on Election Day. Obama is in trouble. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Eric Poch October 17, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Since when does criticism = misogyny "Sonny". Just glad I didn't call her a 'fem-bot', that one would've gone way over your head.
Chris Schaffner October 17, 2012 at 09:21 PM
"looking so un-Presidential" - that's how we decide now?
notinkansas October 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Obama lost by a million miles. He is a communist and HATES the military, HATES this country and HATES progress, innovation, and all of the things that make this country the greatest place on earth. Who else but ZERO goes to las vegas to campaign with the death of four americans on HIS hands..... get a clue people.
Lorem Ipsum October 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM
I'm John Toto, and I approve this message.
Birdwatcher October 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Obama supporters from Sudbury, Wayland, Lincoln, and all our neighboring towns are headed every weekend to New Hampshire, to canvass for the President. If you'd like to join us this weekend, and every weekend leading up to the election, go to https://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gbxwdl. Thanks!
Howard Kosrofian October 18, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Well good luck !! The trip I will be taking is to the poll here in Wellesley on Nov 6 to vote for Mitt Romney. Hope all you good folks realize that Obama wants to inheritance tax to go up to 45% over a million dollars, then you include Mass tax on that your looking at half the money. Even taking someone of modest means who has worked there whole life and leave`s there house to there kids, they may have to sell the thing just to pay the taxes. Then his wonderful obamacare has a 3.8 tax on the sale of your home, now you MAY say big deal well if you sell your house for 900k who have to fork over 34,000 to the feds, FOR WHAT ? I would think if your living in Sudburry, wayland or LIncoln, your doing pretty well OR someone has, and that`s great, so Obama`s 250,000 and over tax is going hurt, unless you have so much dam money in means nothing.Living in MASSACHUSETTS a household income of 200-250k is not an extordinary amount of money. However vote for him so he can spread it around, all his spreading is .... Thank god he is going to lose.
Richard Smith October 18, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Easiest way to clean up this mess VOTE OUT THE INCUMBENTS if it's still bad in 4 years Do it again. We need to reset the Government.
x October 18, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Local Obama supporters should not stop in New Hampshire. Those who can not tolerate a Republican as President may wish to explore Canadian residency. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Howard Kosrofian October 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
K Coyne October 18, 2012 at 03:25 PM
If you look at the USA in general, 250K is quite alot of money. Median US household income after inflation fell to $50,054. The Boston/Metro Area is inflated but many here do not make >250K. For Boston, the estimated median household income in 2009: $55,979(I believe this may be lower now but can't find the statistic..either way not close to 250K). So yes, those making 250K are doing quite well overall.
Howard Kosrofian October 18, 2012 at 03:53 PM
MAKING That money is not an unbelievable amount , yes it`s very good. However it`s in the BLUE STATES, where the taxes are the highest, if you make that kind of money and live in tennesse, sure that would be WONDERFUL, however in most cases, it`s in the blue states everything costs much much more, housing, property taxes, state income taxes, excise tax, some cases personal property taxes, sales taxes, in most cases these taxes are higher in these states, rentals much higher. SO is making 250 k good sure it`s good, doesn`t mean your super wealth, and good luck to the people that are earning it honestly and working hard, DOESN`T MEAN we need an edicted from the dear leader to spread it around on the backs of the people who are working for it. Look if you have money or if you don`t and you want help people GREAT so many place`s to donate, you can write checks all day, slavation army, untied way, naacp, urban league, cancer, fund, heart fund, mda, etc on and on, feel free. I do what I can for paralyzed veterans, that`s the one I chose. However i don`t like Obama`s attitude of everyone`s deserves ther FAIR SHARE, no deserves anything unless you go out and get it, by working or producing. That`s not what he is implying when he says that. this is all code for REPORATIONS. TO me that`s bull.
Let's Open our eyes October 18, 2012 at 05:56 PM
"Sonny" - anything constructive to say, so far your value proposition is zero, or do prefer just sucking up oxygen?


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