Presidential candidates Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney met at Hofstra University for the second of three debates Tuesday night. The debate was a town-hall format, with nearly 100 undecided voters asking questions moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley.
The following are live updates from the presidential debate as rebroadcast by C-SPAN at 11:30 p.m. EST. All times are in Eastern Standard. Also included are PolitiFact checks.
Question: What is the biggest misconception the American people have about you?
“I care about 100% of the American people,” Romney said. The governor said that he cares about children, citing Massachusetts education rankings, as evidence that he cares, in contrast to the perception of Romney by the Obama campaign.
“I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded,” Obama said, adding that he stresses fairness in America. Obama also cited the Romney “47 percent tape,” which characterized nearly half the country as “takers” and think of themselves as “victims.”
Candy Crowley follow-up: How do you convince a “great American company” like Apple to bring manufacturing back here?
Romney said countries need to play on a level playing field by not manipulating currency and carrying out intellectual theft.
Obama said it is difficult to recover all lost jobs, but America needs to better train workers to “help make sure that we continue to lead this world’s economy.”
Question: What are your plans to bring jobs back to the U.S. and keep them here?
Romney said that there has been off-shoring because it is “unattractive” to bring businesses to America in today’s market.
“We’re gonna have to make sure that as we trade with other nations, they play by the rules. China doesn’t,” Romney said, citing China’s policies of manipulating currency as harming American business.
Obama said that he would close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China and profit by off-shoring jobs.
Question: What has your administration done to limit the availability of assault weapons?
There have been too many instances in the past few years of violence related to such weapons, Obama said. Looking at other sources of violence, “a comprehensive strategy,” seeing assault weapons out of the hands of criminals, would be a part of Obama’s second term, he said.
Romney said he would not be in favor of new legislation regarding guns.
“We need moms and dads raising kids,” Romney said, adding that having a two-parent family would help prevent violence.
Question: Who made the decision to deny increased security for the Libya diplomatic office in Benghazi?
“We are going to find out who did this and we are going to hunt them down,” Obama said. “Gov Romney had a very different response…You don’t turn national security issues into a political issue.”
“On the day following the assassination of the us ambassador…when we had four Americans killed there when apparently we didn’t know what happened…the president flies out to a political fundraiser,” Romney said.
Question: Can you speak to the issue of “self-deportation?”
Romney said self-deportation would be a personal choice, whether one would choose to stay in America looking for work or to emigrate back to their home countries.
Obama countered that Romney’s idea of self-deportation would be by making the economy so desolate for immigrants they would choose to leave America.
Question: What do you plan to do about immigrants who don’t have a green card?
Romney said that America is a pro-immigrant country, citing the success of his own father, former governor of Massachusetts and a presidential candidate himself, who was born in Mexico.
When the President was put in office, Romney argued, he failed to protect immigrants sufficiently.
“We are a nation of immigrants,” Obama said. “we’re also a nation of laws…first thing we did was to streamline the immigration system.”
“We do have to deal with our border, so we put more border patrol than in any time in our history,” the president responded. Obama also said that Gov. Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act, a claim PolitiFact rated “True.”
Question: What have you done in the last four years to earn my vote?
President Obama rattled off a string of policies, such as lowering taxes on American families and small businesses, going after al Qaeda, “saving an auto industry that was on a brink of collapse” and others.
“The commitments I’ve made I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep. It’s not for a lack of trying, and we’re going to get it done in the second term,” Obama said.
Romney countered that American families have been worse off under President Obama, citing things such as the number of families on food stamps.
“The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president that doesn’t understand what it takes to get an economy working again,” Romney said.
Question: What is the biggest difference between you and President George W. Bush
Romney said that he differs from George W. Bush because of the differences in technology and ideology.
“I’m going to crack down on China. President Bush didn’t,” Romney said. “I’m going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didn’t.”
“Our party has been focused on big business too long. I came from small business,” Romney said.
Question: How would you address the gender pay gap?
Obama referenced the story of her grandmother, who “hit the glass ceiling.” To address the gender pay gap, Obama said he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which helped deal with fair pay among genders.
“That’s an example of advocacy we need because women are increasingly the breadwinners of the family. This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle class issue and that’s why we have to fight for it,” Obama said.
Romney cited his “concerted efforts” as a governor to add women to his cabinet in Massachusetts as his support to women in politics.
Candy Crowley followup: If the numbers don’t add up, would you reconsider your tax plan?
“Of course the math adds up,” Romney said, citing his experience in business, the Salt Late City Olympics and Governor of Massachusetts as experience in balancing budgets.
Question: What is your position on eliminating tax credits?
“The middle income families in america have been crushed in the last four years” Romney said. “I’m not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.”
“Middle income people are going to get a tax break,” Romney added.
My philosophy on taxes has been simple. I want to give middle class families and people striving to get into the middle class some relief,” Obama responded. “I want to continue those tax cuts for middle class families and for small businesses…but what I’ve also said is if we’re serious about reducing the deficit…then in addition to some tough spending cuts, we’ve also got to make sure the wealthy do a little bit more.”
Romney countered that it is him who wants to “champion small business.” “Fifty-four percent of Americans workers work in businesses that are taxes as individuals.”
Either the Romney budget “blows up the deficit,” Obama said, or alternatively has to be paid for by the middle class.
Question: Is it the job of the Energy Department to lower gas prices?
Obama mentioned a variety of energy policies of his administration, stressing clean energy as part of his energy plans.
“I expect those new energy sources to be built in the United States,” he said.
Romney responded that he wants America to utilize all of the country’s energy, a task he says his opponent has been against during his four year term.
“Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have as well as the energy sources of the future. If we do that…you’re going to see manufacturing jobs come back because our energy is low cost,” Romney said.
Crowley then followed up reiterating the question to President Obama, whether it was the role of the government to affect gas prices. Obama then reiterated his own energy policies regarding oil imports (“the lowest levels in 20 years”) and issues with Romney’s energy policies.
Romney countered by again attacking Obama’s energy policies. Neither candidate directly answered the question regarding the government’s role in gas prices.
Question from a student: How can you reassure me and my parents that I’ll find a job after I graduate?
“What’s happened over the past four years has been very hard for our young people,” Governor Romney answered. “More debt and less jobs…I’m going to change that.”
“I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again,” Obama also responded.
The president cited the auto industry bailout as a policy he has supported to help the job rate in America.
Candy Crowley followed up asking about Americans who are looking for long-term employment that are not current students.
Romney says that America has not made the progress it has needed to make to help the economy. He cited his five-point plan which he said would create 12 million jobs in four years, though did not explain what the five points were.
President Obama countered by saying that Romney wanted “Detroit to go bankrupt,” a claim PolitiFact has rated “Half True.”
“[Romney doesn’t have a five point plan, he has a one-point plan,” Obama said, referring to taxes.