It was a town hall format and people in the audience got to ask the questions. The first question was not an easy question to answer, if the answer was to be directed at the kid who asked it. Romney did try, but sort of flubbed it, as Obama responded with a campaign speech directed at the larger audience. Good start for Obama, but Romney was put into a bad position. That's my take.
The rest of what I read seemed to follow that pattern. Not that Obama won it or Romney won it. It's just that the debate seemed to me to get lost in irrelevant minutia at times. Other times, it gets lost in accusations and counter accusations. I lost interest about half way through.
From what I read, it appeared to be disappointing. But that's nothing new. I'm not particularly impressed with our leadership and this was no exception.
It is not going to change my vote. Obama does not deserve a second term based upon his performance on the job. If his performance was so good, the outcome of this election would be a foregone conclusion.
Let us take a closer look at that first question and break it down:
QUESTION: Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old
college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is
that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment.
What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that
I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?
Comment: The government can't get Jeremy a job unless they hire him directly. Other than that, the answer would appear to be that the government may pursue policies that can create more opportunity. I think Romney made a stab at an answer, while Obama gave a campaign speech.
Comment: What does that have to do with the actual question? Upon further review, the kid asked about how he could support himself, so it does address that part of the question.
ROMNEY: Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate your - your question,
and thank you for being here this evening and to all of those from
Nassau County that have come, thank you for your time. Thank you to
Hofstra University and to Candy Crowley for organizing and leading
this - this event.
Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this - this
college kids all over this country. I was in Pennsylvania with
someone who had just graduated - this was in Philadelphia - and she
said, "I've got my degree. I can't find a job. I've got three part-
time jobs. They're just barely enough to pay for my food and pay for
an apartment. I can't begin to pay back my student loans."
So what we have to do is two things. We have to make sure that
we make it easier for kids to afford college.
Note: I was too hard on Romney. He did better on this than I thought.
ROMNEY: And also make sure that when they get out of college,
there's a job. When I was governor of Massachusetts, to get a high
school degree, you had to pass an exam. If you graduated in the top
quarter of your airlines, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams
scholarship, four years tuition free in the college of your choice in
Massachusetts, it's a public institution.
Comment: An overall stab at an answer. Nothing specific, just a promise.
I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We're
also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford
school. But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you
get out of school. And 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.
I know what it takes to get this economy going. With half of
college kids graduating this year without a college - excuse me,
without a job. And without a college level job, that's just
And likewise you've got more and more debt on your back. So more
debt and less jobs. I'm going to change that. I know what it takes to
create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you
have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this
country are going to recognize, we're bringing back an economy.
Comment: Whoa! That one got by me. He seems to be promising Jeremy a job. Personally. That is definitely answering the question directly. If elected, let us see if he has kept that promise.
It's not going to be like the last four years. The middle-class
has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too
scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and I'm going to do
that, and make sure that when you graduate - when do you graduate?
ROMNEY: 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I'm going to
be president. I'm going to make sure you get a job. Thanks Jeremy.
Yeah, you bet.
I'll have to revise my opinion a bit. Romney answered the freaking question--- but not with specifics, but a personal promise. I think he wins on empathy and on interpersonal skills.
CROWLEY: Mr. President?Comment: Actually, this is an answer of sorts with specifics. But it is a claim that doesn't square with what the kid was asking. Note: His answer is pretty general--- not personal as Romney's.
OBAMA: Jeremy, first of all, your future is bright. And the fact
that you're making an investment in higher education is critical. Not
just to you, but to the entire nation. Now, the most important thing
we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country.
But not just jobs, good paying jobs. Ones that can support a family.
OBAMA: And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs
that we've created over the last 30 months in the private sector
alone. And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your
future is bright.
Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country
again. Now when Governor 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.
Comment: But where are the jobs if you've been doing all these things?
I want to do that in industries, not just in Detroit, but all
across the country and that means we change our tax code so we're
giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United
States and creating jobs here.
It also means we're helping them and small businesses to export
all around the world to new markets.
Comment: He stumbles badly on this. Green jobs aren't there. It is a conspicuous failure.
Number two, we've got to make sure that we have the best
education system in the world. And the fact that you're going to
college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education and
we've worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for
folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges
are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are
out there right now and the jobs of the future.
Number three, we've got to control our own energy. Now, not only
oil and natural gas, which we've been investing in; but also, we've
got to make sure we're building the energy source of the future, not
just thinking about next year, but ten years from now, 20 years from
now. That's why we've invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy
We've got to reduce our deficit, but we've got to do it in aComment: He doesn't answer the kid directly, but provides generalities. It also has some campaign rhetoric and claims that don't hold up to scrutiny.
balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with
cuts so that we can invest in education like yours.
And let's take the money that we've been spending on war over the
last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges schools. We do those
things, not only is your future going to be bright but America's
future is going to bright as well.
Overall, Romney actually wins this question on empathy. Obama wins it on campaign rhetoric. It all depends upon how persuasive it all is as to who really won. Romney is promising a lot and will have to deliver if he is elected.
There was a story yesterday about Obama not liking people. This answer to this debate question, in which both candidates had the opportunity to interact personally with a voter, reinforces that impression.