He needed to show Presidential bicep after a weak showing in the first debate - and pundits agree that Obama did come out fighting last night. But did he do enough to clinch it?
"President Obama found his pep and punch", says Frank Bruni in the New York Times. "Above all he found his ability to say 'liar,' or some approximation of it." In twenty minutes the incumbent managed to question Romney's truthfulness four times, before moving on to challenge his social policy and hazy budget arithmetic; much better going than the deferential Obama of two weeks ago.
The Independent's David Usborne highlights a moment Obama supporters had been waiting for, when the President recalled "the time behind closed doors his opponent disparaged the 47 per cent of Americans who get government support and don’t play income tax. 'Think who he was talking about,' the President implored, noting that that the group includes students, soldier and veterans. “If they succeed I believe this country succeeds.”
Roger Simon of Politico chips in with a defence of Obama's record on Benghazi. Romney implied that Obama hadn't done enough to protect his diplomats and had gone soft on terrorist attacks: the President snapped back that he called the attack an "act of terror" immediately - and was backed up by debate moderator Candy Crowley.
Karl Rove, who worked as Deputy Chief of Staff during the George W. Bush administration, tells Fox News that the electorate won't react well to Obama's sudden aggression: "Obama needed to dominate by having a vision and instead he came out tonight and went after Romney, which worked more to the disadvantage of the president than Romney." What Obama lacked in attack-dog mode was a vision of the future he could offer the country, and "elections are about the future and not the past."
Romney full steam
Yes, Obama did snap out of his doze, writes Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, but this was no walkover. "On Libya, Obama ducked on the failure to provide security to our people" and "on style, Romney was generally more commanding throughout and at his best when explaining policies." The losers here? "Obama supporters who were hoping for a change in momentum".
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