Pres. Barack Obama

In a town hall-style debate that saw the candidates constantly challenge each other on issues ranging from the economy to the handling of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney got up close and personal at times Tuesday night.

After a zinger of a vice presidential debate last week, the bosses have a lot to live up to tonight. Just in case you haven't been paying attention: President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney face off in the second of three presidential debates.

It starts at 9 p.m. at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The town-hall style debate will be moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley.

After what has been universally called a strong Romney victory during round 1, the spotlight is on Obama.

Neither candidate let his opponent get away with much of anything during the vice presidential debate Thursday night.

The tabletop discussion between Vice President Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin showcased their clear differences over policy. The two disagreed about nearly every issue that came up, whether it was military posture, tax policy or abortion.

Many of these differences were expressed in negative, sometimes surprisingly personal terms.

Mitt Romney may have seized the advantage in terms of poll numbers and momentum, but there's one area where President Obama enjoys the upper hand.

In the end, it's the only area that counts: the Electoral College. Over the past 20 years, Republicans have had a much lower ceiling when it comes to electoral support, while Democrats have had a significantly higher floor.

In its attempt to turn the tables on Mitt Romney following the Republican presidential nominee's big win in the first presidential debate, President Obama's campaign has sought to enlist Big Bird.

The president has repeatedly reminded supporters at rallies that Romney, during the debate, specifically cited Big Bird when he promised to defund the Public Broadcasting Service to reduce federal deficits.

In the five days since Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was declared by many the winner of the first presidential debate, political watchers have waited to see if polls would shift in response to his performance. And, they did.

What If They Held a Debate and Nobody Won?

Oct 8, 2012

For most people reacting to last week's presidential debate, their first thought was probably not about who made the best arguments or told the most truths. Rather it was likely deciding who won.

The answer this time around was unusually definitive: Mitt Romney, by virtually every account and measure.

But in presidential debates — and the vice presidential version, which takes place on Thursday — does there need to be a winner?

Two men — well one man and one big, yellow bird — were caught in the crossfire of last night's debate: the moderator Jim Lehrer and the Sesame Street character Big Bird.

It's safe to say that after last night the two of them are having very different mornings. While the veteran news anchor swallowed scathing reviews, Big Bird enjoyed a strong backing.

In their first of three debates, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney "traded barbs" and stretched some facts, say the nonpartisan watchdogs at PolitiFact.com.

Similarly, the researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org found examples of truth-stretching by both men.

Mitt Romney may have given his campaign something of a reset with his performance in the first debate against President Obama.

He appeared more comfortable on stage than the incumbent, and was able at least to lay the groundwork for a message of bipartisanship that could appeal to remaining undecided voters.

Looking to see and hear what the fact checkers are saying during and after tonight's presidential debate about the claims made by President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney?

-- PolitiFact.com says it will be updating on its website and on Twitter. It's also pitching an Argument Ender app.

Obama Vs. Romney: It's Debate Night in Denver

Oct 3, 2012

Good morning! The big story today is of course the first presidential debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The big picture is that this is Romney's opportunity to tighten a race with a little more than a month to go before the Nov. 6 elections.

We're nearly to the last of the many milestones that come along during presidential campaigns.

The primaries? Long over.

The conventions? All wrapped up.

Labor Day, when voters supposedly start paying attention? That was four weeks ago.

An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.

Except for debating.

It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.

Undecided voters in Ohio got a lot of attention this week from President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney. Coal may be the key to many swing voters in the Buckeye State, which remains a top coal producer.

It's an issue weighing on coal miner Rick Carpenter's mind at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival in southeastern Ohio.

"Save coal — fire Obama. Yeah, I've got one of those signs in my yard," he says.

A slew of new presidential polls released this week not only confirm a long-established gender gap among voters, but also suggest that the male-female preference divide in this year's presidential contest could hit historic levels.

It may surprise that that divide appears not driven by social issues and arguments over reproductive care or choices, analysts say, but largely by the national conversation over the size of government.

The first official presidential debate isn't until Oct. 3 in Denver. But as The New York Times writes, last night on CBS News' 60 Minutes there was something of a "shadow debate that offered a likely preview of the tone and substance" of what will happen on stage next week.

burntorangereport.com

When is an empty chair not an empty chair?

A northwest Austin homeowner has cut down a nondescript folding chair hanging from a tree in his yard, after a local blog’s allegations the hanging chair was a symbolic “lynching” of President Barack Obama created a firestorm in the blogosphere.

Liberal Texas politics blog Burnt Orange Report (BOR) first reported on the chair on Wednesday. BOR editor Katherine Haenschen, who wrote that BOR was emailed the photo from a reader, wasted no time expressing her anger with the statement:

Now, one could easily argue "it's just a chair, what's the big deal? That's not racist!"

However, in light of Clint Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention, in which he had a largely one-sided conversation with an empty chair he pretended was Barack Obama, this imagery is now associated with the President.

The image of the chair is associated with the President. Now, lynch that chair from a tree, and you've got a pretty awful racist sentiment calling for lynching the first African-American President!

There appears to be no question that President Obama will win the lion's share of Hispanic support. But there are still very big questions to be answered about how many votes such support will translate into.

"What we know is that we don't know," says Ruy Teixeira, a political analyst at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

"If you're the Obama campaign, there's cause for concern, because at least so far, [Hispanic support] is not translating into encouraging data on the turnout front," he says.

In a somber ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland a short time ago, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received the bodies of the four Americans killed in an attack on the American consulate in Libya.

"They didn't simply embrace the American ideal they lived it," Obama said.

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