President Obama and Mitt Romney tangled in the opening momentsÂ of their second debate on the economy, taxes and energy — as the president tried to make up for lost ground in the wake of his opening debate performance.
The president was decidedly more aggressive Tuesday as the debate at Hofstra University in New York got under way.
He mocked Romney’s five-point economic plan and referenced Romney’s tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital.
“Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules,” Obama said. “That’s been his philosophy in the private sector. That’s been his philosophy as a governor. And that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”
Romney called Obama’s assessment “way off the mark.”
“The president’s policies have been exercised over the last four years, and they haven’t put Americans back to work,” Romney said.
The two candidates frequently interrupted each other, in what was turning out to be a feistier face-off than the first round.
The stakes for Round 2 were high. Since Obama’s lackluster debate debut on Oct. 3, a succession of national and battleground polls has shown Romney gaining and in some cases surpassing Obama.
The most recent evidence was a new national Gallup survey showing Romney leading 50 percent to Obama’s 46 percent among likely voters. The Republican nominee, in other polls, has made gains among one of Obama’s core constituencies — female voters — and the president will no doubt use the spotlight Tuesday to try and win them back.
The town hall-style format at the debate in Hempstead, N.Y., allows for a 90-minute discussion across a range of foreign and domestic issues.
The face-off follows the feisty vice presidential debate last week, where Vice President Biden was decidedly more aggressive than Obama in his opening performance. The vice president, though, also took heat for his demeanor — laughing at and interrupting Republican opponent Paul Ryan repeatedly over the course of their debate.
The final presidential debate will take place Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.