President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney met for their second debate Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., to answer directly to voters.
Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, moderated the town hall debate, which featured 82 undecided voters chosen by Gallup, a polling organization.
After Obama admitted Romney’s performance outshined his own at their first debate, he said he was determined to win this debate and the 2012 election.
The candidates discussed jobs, gas prices and energy, taxes, immigration, attacks in Libya, gun laws, outsourcing and misconceptions.
College graduates getting jobs
The first audience member, college student Jeremy Epstein, asked what each candidate would do to improve the labor market for college graduates.
Romney said he wants to make college more affordable, grow the Pell grant program, and repeated several times that he wants and knows how to create more jobs.
“When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president,” Romney said to Epstein. “I’m going to make sure you get a job.”
Obama said he wanted to create five million new jobs, make loans available and “control our own energy” by investing in clean energy. He later said that low-wage, low-skill outsourced jobs are not best for Americans.
“There are some jobs that are not going to come back, because they are low wage, low skill jobs,” Obama said, referring to outsourcing of jobs to countries like China. “I want high wage, high skill jobs.”
Romney referred to the “23 million people struggling to find a job” six times, but the unemployment rate is around 12 million, according to the latest figure reported in September from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Obama did not make references to either number.
Gas price avoidance
When the candidates were asked if the current gas price average of $4 per gallon would become “the new normal,” Romney cited the gas price of $1.86 when Obama took office in 2008.
“Oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent,” Romney said.
Romney accused Obama of cutting drilling permits, leading to a center stage confrontation.
The two men began to bicker, and Obama, Romney and Crowley spoke simultaneously in attempts to gain control of the floor.
Obama reminded the audience that gas prices were so low then because “the economy was on the verge of collapse.”
Romney accused Obama numerous times of doubling the deficit, while the deficit when Obama took office was $1.2 trillion and is currently $1.17 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Romney was correct when he said Obama did not keep his promise to cut the national deficit in half by the end of his first term during his 2009 State of the Union address.
Women in the workplace
Candidates were asked what they would do equalize women’s income regarding females’ 72 cents to the male’s dollar.
Neither gave specifics as to how to achieve pay equality but referenced college affordability, employer flexibility and enforcing laws prohibiting discrimination.
“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ and they brought us whole binders full of women,” Romney said of hiring female cabinet members.
“What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy…adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford,” Romney said.
Obama countered with Romney’s plan to stop funding to Planned Parenthood and noted the millions of women who rely on them for contraceptives, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.
“That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country,” Obama said.
In closing, Romney cited his religious beliefs and said he can “get this country on track again,” while Obama said he wants to make sure the “the next generation” has opportunities to “advance the entire country.”
The candidates will debate for the last time Monday, Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fl.
[View the story “2012 Presidential Townhall Debate – Oct. 16 at Hofstra University, New York” on Storify]