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DEBATE | Both candidates attack, play defense

7:09 AM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- An aggressive President Barack Obama ripped into Mitt Romney's economic proposals in a town hall style debate Tuesday night, accusing his rival of favoring a "one-point plan" to help the rich at the expense of the middle class. The Republican protested the charge was way off the mark.

PHOTOS | Second presidential debate

"The middle class has been crushed over the last four years," Romney said in the opening moments of the 90-minute debate, the second of three between the two men.

Obama strode onto the debate stage seeking a stronger showing than the listless performance in their initial encounter, which had sent shudders through his partisan supporters and helped fuel a rise in opinion polls by Romney.

Obama says buck stops with him on Libya

President Barack Obama says the responsibility for what happened at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, falls to him and to no one else. Republican rival Mitt Romney says the president's team either didn't know all the details - or didn't tell the truth - about the death of four Americans there immediately after the attacks.

Mr. Obama says he wants to find out exactly what made possible those four deaths and calls Romney's response offensive and designed to score political points.

Romney says the attacks represent the unraveling of Obama's foreign policy.

Obama, Romney tangle over immigration

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clashed over immigration, with Romney accusing Obama of failing to reform the immigration system during his first term.

Romney says the nation needs to stop illegal immigration, noting that 4 million people are trying to gain American citizenship legally. He says he won't grant amnesty to people who come to the U.S. illegally.

Obama says Romney has opposed the DREAM Act, a failed bill that would have provided a path to legal status for many young illegal immigrants.

He says Republicans in Congress have been unwilling to support comprehensive immigration reform and won't in the future with Romney as the "standard-bearer" of his party.

Romney, Obama joust over tax plans and debt

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both say their tax plans would benefit the middle class and spur job creation, and both are suggesting their opponent's plan would do the opposite.

Romney says cutting tax rates across the board would spur job growth. He says bringing rates down makes it easy for small businesses to keep more of their capital and hire more workers.

But Obama, who supports raising tax rates on upper incomes, says Romney's proposed tax cuts and his calls for increased military spending would add trillions to the federal debt.

Romney, Obama spar on energy policy

Republican Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama's energies policies and said his rival "has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal."

The president says he wants U.S. energy policy to look ahead 20 or 30 years, and not just look at what lowers the cost right away. The president says he's all for oil and natural gas, but he says he will not focus on them exclusively at the peril of renewable energy sources that could create thousands of jobs.

Romney says Obama has fought new energy exploration on federal lands and that Americans have faced higher energy costs as a result.

Obama and Romney court female voters during debate

Responding to a question about pay equity for women, Mr. Obama notes that the first piece of legislation he signed made it easier for women to seek the same pay as men for doing the same work.

Romney says that as governor of Massachusetts, his administration had a number of women in senior leadership positions. He says many women have suffered job losses and moved into poverty during Obama's tenure and that creating more jobs would help women.

The president questioned Romney's commitment to women's health care, pointing to the Republican's vow to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. He calls health care a "pocket book issue" for women and families.

Obama strikes on Romney's 47 percent comment

During the first debate, President Barack Obama never mentioned Mitt Romney's videotaped remarks that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on the government. This time it was his closing argument.

Obama brought it up during the final question of the second debate, preventing Romney from answering.

Asked about public misperceptions of their candidacies, Romney said Obama's campaign tried to turn him into something he's not.

Romney said - quote - "I care about 100 percent of the American people."

Obama responded that when Romney said "behind closed doors" that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, "think about who he was talking about."

The president said that group included the elderly receiving Social Security, veterans, students and soldiers. He said: "If they succeed, I believe this country succeeds."

(Associated Press)

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