Aggressive Obama puts Romney on back foot in fiery debate

2012-10-17 06:42

New York – A combative Barack Obama landed telling blows on challenger Mitt Romney as naked dislike boiled over between the White House foes in a tense debate three weeks from election day.

President Obama bounced off the ropes after a dismal showing in their first encounter two weeks ago, knowing his tumbling poll numbers could doom him to the historical ignominy of a single term without a sharp intervention.

Early signs were that Obama’s passion-fuelled performance will revive optimism and enthusiasm among Democrats in his bid for a second term, though Romney, touting entrepreneurship, scored blows of his own on the economy.

In one spellbinding exchange, Obama stared directly at Romney and rebuked him over his criticism of his White House for its handling of an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on September 11, which killed four Americans.

“The suggestion that anybody on my team, whether it’s a secretary of state, our UN ambassador, anybody on my team, would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive,” Obama said wagging his finger at Romney across the stage of their town-hall debate.

“That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, not what I do as commander-in-chief,” Obama said, in a fiery moment in one of the most ill-tempered and contentious White House debates ever.

Seeking to recover, Romney then seemed to stumble, accusing the president of taking days to call the attack, which killed US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, a “terror attack.”

But Obama snapped back that he had indeed referred to the assault as “an act of terror,” telling Romney: “check the transcript” before moments later fixing his rival with a withering stare and saying “Please proceed Governor.”

CNN moderator Candy Crowley confirmed that Obama did in fact use the phrase “act of terror” in the White House Rose Garden the day after the attack.

The exact quote confirms that Obama did imply the assault was an act of terror, despite Republican claims he laid the blame fully on a anti-Muslim YouTube video made on US soil.

“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation,” Obama said in the remarks on September 12.

Minutes into the clash, Republican Romney and Democrat Obama stood just a few feet apart, trading charge and counter charge in a furious verbal slanging match over economic policy.

In another heated exchange over energy, Romney triggered an audible gasp of shock in the hall hosting the debate, when he told the president: “You’ll get your chance in a moment, I’m still speaking.”

“Not true, Governor Romney, not true,” Obama said, after Romney savaged the president’s record on oil production over the last four years.

Romney’s strongest moments came when he delivered stinging indictments of the Obama economy, charging the president with miserably failing to restore speedy jobs growth and to cut ballooning deficits.

“The president wants to do well, I understand,” Romney said, in a sorrowful tone of voice.

“But the policies he put in place have not let this economy take off as it could have.”

Romney also furiously accused Obama over debt.

“We’ve gone from $10 trillion of national debt to $16 trillion of national debt. If the president were re-elected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt.

This puts us on a road to Greece,” he said, before also vowing to stand up to China over what he says are trade and currency abuses.

Obama hit back that Romney had invested in companies in China that were pioneers of outsourcing US jobs.

“Governor, you’re the last person who’s going to get tough on China.”


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