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"Obama, Romney bring heat to domestic policy discussion"

(10/17/12 4:00am)

Students in the Union watched President Obama attempt to make up for lost ground against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in a feisty dispute over domestic policy during the second presidential debate on Tuesday night. A consensus among students and media outlets is Obama was more aggressive than the first debate. Some students said he was still too reserved. Both candidates continually cut off Moderator Candy Crowley. "I really think this debate was pretty even," said Nicholas Paul, a junior biochemistry major who is voting for Romney. "It's really hard [to name] one clear winner in this one. For their points, they both argued, they both cut each other off at certain times. It was pretty even. Neither one was going out crazy hard against the other." Thirty-seven percent of voters polled after the debate said Obama was the victor, 30 percent thought it was Romney and 33 percent called it a tie, according to CBS News. The debate, which took place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., featured a town hall-style format with an audience of approximately 80 undecided voters. They asked questions regarding the terrorist attack in Libya, energy production, gasoline prices, tax plans, jobs for college graduates, immigration, auto industry, oil production, job creation, contraception, assault weapons ban and poverty. A 20-year-old college student asked the first question, voicing his concern about whether he'd be able to find a job after he graduates. "More debt and less jobs," Romney answered. "I'm going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. When you come out in 2014 - I presume I'm going to be president - I'm going to make sure you get a job." Unemployment was below 8 percent in September for the first time since Obama took office, according to CNN. Romney said his economic plan would create "12 million jobs in four years." Economists believe the economy will add that many jobs in four years regardless of who's elected to the White House, according to National Journal. Both Obama and Romney said their tax plans would benefit the middle class and spur job creation; each argued his opponent's plan would do the opposite. Toward the end of the debate, Obama brought up Romney's controversial "47 percent" comments from May. "Think about who he was talking about," Obama said. "Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives. Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don't make enough income." The candidates delved into foreign policy when the Sept. 11, 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya became a focus. Romney called the president's entire policy in the Middle East into question because it took Obama two weeks to call it a terrorist attack. "It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people," Romney said. He also questioned: "How could we have not known?" Despite Romney's accusation, Obama said he called it a terrorist attack right away. Crowley interrupted Romney to confirm Obama immediately referred to it as "acts of terror." Patrick Jameson, a freshman computer science major, is often frustrated with the lack of opportunity viewers have to fact check during presidential debates. He was glad Crowley stepped in. Jameson considers himself liberal but is still an undecided voter. "I definitely think Romney won the first debate significantly; he's definitely a stronger debater than Obama," Jameson said. "Obama seems to be more reserved and doesn't attack Romney as much as Romney attacks Obama." One of the most intense arguments was over fossil-fuel production and gasoline prices. Romney said domestic energy production has decreased during Obama's tenure. "If the president's energy policies are working, you're going to see the cost of energy come down," Romney said, suggesting Obama is not appropriately utilizing domestic oil since gas prices would not be decreasing. Obama said he did take away oil-drilling leases on public land but only ones that weren't being used; he is now relending them. Romney argued in 2009, gas prices in Nassau County - where the debate took place - were $1.86 per gallon. Obama said the economy was on the verge of collapse then, and pointed out poor economies have lower gas prices, which National Journal confirmed as true. The candidates also hotly debated immigration, among other topics. While Romney started out the debate series strong, the nation seemed to be split by the end of the second debate. The final presidential debate will take place Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla., focusing on foreign policy. Email: