The crowd was energetic and clearly left leaning at Hattie's Hat last night.
Presidential Debate: Like watching a boxing match
Had they been given boxing gloves, President Barack Obama and Republican Nominee Mitt Romney probably would've started throwing punches at last night's presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
The debate was town hall-styled, meaning that people representing ordinary Americans asked the candidates pre-selected questions. Topics included jobs for graduating college students, the economy, energy, immigration, women's rights, foreign policy and just about everything in between. One unique question asked Romney what separated him from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush -- a subject that has been mostly taboo during the campaign.
The moderator was Candy Crowley from CNN, whose primary job during the debate was mainly to reign in the candidates from talking overtime, doing too much back-and-forth and going way off topic.
But that proved harder than perhaps she expected. At Hattie's Hat last night, watching the Presidential Debate was much like watching the championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Obama, after what many considered to be a lackluster performance in the first debate, stepped up his offense, delivering poignant and pre-meditated attacks. Romney, for his part, did not step down from his previous assault, continuing to slam Obama on the economy.
The two would even at times step up to the front to enter a sparring match -- at times appearing to circle each other, interrupting one another and attempting to get in quick, verbal jabs before Crowley would attempt to cut in.
The clearly left-leaning crowd at Hattie's jumped into an uproar and cheered every time Obama landed a decisive blow on Romney. One of the first attacks came early on, when Obama criticized Romney's five-point plan:
"Governor Romney's says he's got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules."
For his part, Romney repeatedly hammered on Obama's record, particularly his economic policy"
"For me, I look at what's happened in the last four years and say this has been a disappointment. We can do better than this. We don't have to settle for, how many months, 43 months with unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job right now."
Romney had more trouble attacking Obama on foreign policy. He dwelled on the Benghazi attack in Libya, which killed four Americans saying Obama waited too long before calling it a terrorist attack. Obama refuted this statement, saying he called it such the very next day. While this is mostly true (and Crowley went so far as to correct Romney in an attempt to move them on), Obama in fact mostly suggested it was a terrorist attack rather than officially announcing it.
Perhaps the moment that drew the biggest reaction from the Hattie's Hat crowd is when Obama sternly shut Romney down for attempting to politicize the event and the death of Americans.
"And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief."
Instant polls taken after the debate have given the edge to Obama. 37 percent gave the advantage to Obama, 30 percent to Romney and 33 percent called it a tie.
The third and final debate will occur on Monday, Oct. 22, 6-7:30 p.m., at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. The focus will be on Foreign Policy, meaning last night's debate was the last chance the two had to go head to head on domestic and economic issues.