Mitt Romney vs. President Obama: Who won the second debate?

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week

The incumbent put in a far more energetic performance than he did the first time, but the GOP candidate didn't back down

On the heels of a sluggish performance at the first debate, President Obama was under great pressure to deliver in his second tete-a-tete with Mitt Romney at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York. And the incumbent didn't disappoint, appearing far more lively and aggressive than he did in the first go-round. Obama attacked the lack of specifics in Romney's tax plan, accused him of politicizing the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and closed the night with an allusion to Romney's controversial remarks about the "47 percent." In one particularly damaging moment, moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked Romney in the middle of the debate, causing the audience to erupt in applause. (Watch a video below.) However, the GOP candidate arguably gave as good as he got, and hammered Obama over the dismal state of the economy. So who won?

Obama: "Obama dominated Romney tonight in every single way: in substance, manner, style, and personal appeal," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. "He came back like a lethal, but restrained predator." Many other commentators agreed:

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein:

SEE MORE: The second presidential debate: Mitt Romney boasts of his 'binders full of women'

— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 17, 2012 Mother Jones' Adam Serwer:

SEE MORE: WATCH LIVE: The second presidential debate

— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) October 17, 2012 Romney: Romney wasn't short on ammunition, attacking Obama for his allegedly poor economic stewardship. Many conservatives said that Romney had the upper hand, and that he was undercut by Crowley inappropriately interfering in the debate:

Red State's Erick Erickson:

SEE MORE: 10 questions our readers would ask at the Obama-Romney town hall debate

— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) October 17, 2012

The Washington Post's Marc Thiessen:

SEE MORE: Great(ly reduced) expectations

— Marc Thiessen (@marcthiessen) October 17, 2012 Even some liberals praised Romney:

SEE MORE: The second presidential debate: A fired-up Obama calls Romney out

— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) October 17, 2012 But it may not change the race: Even if Obama won, it remains unclear whether the second debate will shake up the race, which has seen Romney climbing in the polls.

SEE MORE: The Democrats' cheeky attack on Mitt Romney's tax plan

— Scott Galupo (@ScottGalupo) October 17, 2012

SEE MORE: The second presidential debate: A viewer's guide

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