Second Presidential Debate – Live Blog and Fact Check

By ABC News

Oct 16, 2012 1:19pm

★ABC News is Liveblogging the Second Presidential Debate★

Romney and Arizona’s Immigration Law
11:03 p.m ET

OBAMA: He called the Arizona law a model for the nation. …
ROMNEY: I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation in that aspect. I said that the E-Verify portion of the Arizona law, which is — which is the portion of the law which says that employers could be able to determine whether someone is here illegally or not illegally, that that was a model for the nation.
ABC News’ Chris Good has the facts:

As Romney said, he did not call Arizona’s controversial SB-1070 law a “model.”

In CNN’s Feb. 22 Republican primary debate in Mesa, Ariz., moderator John King asked Romney about immigration. “What about arresting? Should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them and arrest them as the Sheriff Arpaio advocates?” King asked.

Romney’s response: “I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says — that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally.”

Although media outlets and fact checkers have pointed out that Romney was talking about e-Verify, that hasn’t stopped Democrats from repeating this talking point against him.

Obama made another claim, that Romney’s top adviser on immigration designed the SB1070 law. “His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it; not E-Verify, the whole thing,” the president said.

An informal Romney adviser, Kris Kobach, helped draft the SB-1070 law and filed a suit to stop Obama’s administrative action. In September, Romney told Univision he had not met with Kobach. “He may well be part of a policy team,” Romney said. “I have not met with him yet. And don’t know whether he is or he is not.”

In April, the campaign described Kobach as a “supporter” rather than an advisor to Politico’s Glenn Thrush, but Kobach then told ThinkProgress he was communicating regularly with senior Romney advisers. Kobach was still “providing advice on immigration policy,” he told ThinkProgress. “I don’t want to go into great detail, but I communicate regularly with senior members of Romney’s team.”

Skip To…

★ The President’s Pension
★ Romney and Arizona’s Immigration Law
★ Best Moments in Social Media
★Candidates Spar on Oil and Natural Gas
★ Did Obama Double the Deficit?
★Did Obama Follow Romney’s Advice and Take Detroit Bankrupt?
★Voters’ Reactions
★ Half Hour Analysis from Amy Walter
★The Real Unemployment Rate?
★Ryan Calls Romney
★Ryan Says Obama Will “Distort Mitt Romney’s Record”
★Political Update from World News
★ Why Romney Wants the 47 Percent Question
★Obama Eats Steak, Romney Opts for Chicken
★Debate Pre-Game
★5 Things to Watch for at Townhall Debate
★Romney Tax Plan: Rubio Takes Two Deductions Off the Table
★Obama’s Big Legal Win on Ohio Early Voting
★Would Medicare Costs Rise Under Romney?

The President’s Pension
11:30 p.m ET

During one exchange tonight Governor Romney stated that President Obama’s pension had investments in China and the Cayman Islands.

ROMNEY: Just going to make a point. Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies. Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?
OBAMA: I’ve got to say…
ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?
OBAMA: You know, I — I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.
ROMNEY: Well, let me give you some advice.
OBAMA: I don’t check it that often.
ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Cayman’s trust.

ABC News’ Luis Martinez and Jason Ryan have the facts:

Gov. Romney is referring to President Obama’s pension with the State of Illinois during his time served as a State Senator.

– Under Agreements or Arrangements President Obama’s Dec. 2011 Public Financial Disclosure Report for the Office of Government Ethics lists the General Assembly Defined Benefit Pension Plan as the only holding under this category. It says “no further contributions by former employer “, funding began in 1997.

The pension is managed by the General Assembly Retirement System, State of Illinois.

The main site for the fund’s reports is here.

The FY 2013 First Quarter Purchase and Sales Report mentions holdings in Chinese companies among the pension fund’s numerous investments.

The Romney campaign says the Obama Illinois Pension fund has numerous private equity investments, including one domiciled in the Cayman Islands, the Advent International Group VI-A.

An independent search for this fund turned up this filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an investment opportunity by this fund. It lists the Advent International GPE VI Limited Partnership
as being organized in the Cayman Islands. Other filings only list this particular fund’s Executive offices as being listed in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Sneak Peek at Analysis by Rick Klein
11:20 p.m ET

Here’s a glimpse at what Rick Klein was thinking after tonight’s debate:

He was fired up. He was ready to go.

Where he was taking the second presidential debate, though, was slightly fuzzy until President Obama grabbed a chance to look like a president.

Not until an exchange on Libya – close on the heels of a petty-but-buzzy attack on pension size – did the president hit a stride in tonight’s debate. He declared it “offensive” to suggest that politics played into his administration’s handling of the tragic attack in Benghazi.

“That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as commander-in-chief,” Obama said.

To read more, check back to The Note.

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Both Candidates on Pell Grants
10:55 p.m ET

ABC’s John Parkinson has the facts:

ROMNEY: “I want to keep our Pell grant program growing and our loan program so that people are able to afford school.”

Romney’s own education proposal, known as a ‘Chance for Every Child,’ would “[refocus] Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”

During a ‘Meet the Candidates’ forum on Univision, Romney elaborated that he does not fully support all of Ryan’s proposals for changes to Pell grants, especially freezing the current rate. “The Republican budget called for a Pell Grants being capped out at their current high level. My inclination would be to have them go with the rate of inflation,” Romney said September 19. “It’s important in higher education that we get serious about the fact that the inflation of tuition has been much faster than inflation generally. And my view is we have to hold down the rate of tuition increases and fee increases in higher education.”

If you buy Romney’s claim that he has his own ideas for Pell grants other than Ryan’s proposals, it seems hard to disprove that he wants to keep it growing.

OBAMA: “We’ve expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country. We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, and we said, let’s just cut out the middleman. Let’s give the money directly to students. And as a consequence, we’ve seen millions of young people be able to afford college, and that’s going to make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace.”

Current law signed by President Obama sets the maximum grant at $5,645 in 2013 and $6,030 by 2017, enjoying increases based on inflation. About 9 million students receive Pell grants, the biggest chunk of financial aid from the federal government. It has already grown about $900 since Obama took office.

Republicans point to a government study that suggests the increase of Pell grants has artificially driven up the price of tuition. Tuitions and fees for four-year public colleges increased 72 percent above inflation over the past decade, averaging $8,244 last year, according to the College Board, which represents more than 6,000 schools. Student loan debt in the U.S. is above $914 billion while the average borrower owes more than $24,000, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says, according to the Associated Press.

Most criticism of Romney’s education proposals are tied to his presumed support of the Ryan Budget, which would reduce Pell grants by increasing eligibility requirements and freezing the maximum grant at its current value of $5,550 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It also rescinds mandatory spending for Pell grants and shifts the costs to annual appropriations bills. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found in a study that the Ryan budget’s reforms were applied across the board, it would result in a $161 budget deficit, while the president’s budget proposal would fall only $52 billion short.

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Best Moments in Social Media
10:49 p.m ET

ABC’s Andrew Springer has been monitoring the social sentiment:

TOP SINGLE MOMENTS:
9:20 – Tension rising in first testy exchange, which was about oil and gas permits, but feature Obama and Romney squaring off and pointing at each other — tweets spiked to 97k tweets per minute.
10:09 – Obama’s Pension Remark – he said his isn’t as big as Romney’s – tweets spiked to 98k tweets per minute.
10:16 – Acts of Terror remark- tweets spiked again to 98k per minute.

Meme of the night… most go to “Binders full of women:”

The meme is taking social by storm. A Handful Twitter handles popped up– @bindersofwomen; @MittBinder; @RomneyBinders; and @Romneys_Binder at 5 tweets already has 30k followers, Facebook pages, and BindersFullofWomen.com has been purchased by an anti-Romney group.

Runner up may be JEREMY: the first questioner… This GIF making the rounds

TOP SEARCHES ON GOOGLE FOR FIRST HALF OF DEBATE
1. Fact check
2. Gas prices in 2008
3. Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act, lilly ledbetter
4. Politifact

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LIBYA: What Obama Said in the Rose Garden
10:42 p.m. ET

OBAMA: The day after the (Benghazi) attack I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said we are going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

ROMNEY: I think it’s interesting that the President just said something which is that one the day after the attack, he went in the Rose garden and said this was an act of terror. (Obama nods) Obama(OFF-MIKE): That’s what I said ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was “an act of terror?” It was not a spontaneous demonstration (17) Obama: please proceed Romney: Is that what you’re saying? (38) Romney: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror. Obama: Get the transcript Candy: He did in fact sir (50)

ABC’s Dana Hughes has the facts:

Moderator Candy Crowley is right that Obama called the attack “act of terror” on September 12th, the day after the attack.

“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done,” said the President that day.

BUT – and there’s a big but.

Romney is right in that administration officials continued to say the attack was spontaneous, and came from a protest and it wasn’t Obama but Carney who said the President considered it a terror attack on Sept. 26, 14 days later.

A reporter asked Jay Carney about the president’s assessment between Sept. 12 and Sept. 26.

“Is there any reason why the president did not – he was asked point-blank in “The View” interview, is this a terrorist attack, yes or no? Is there any reason he didn’t say ‘Yes’?”

“He answered the question that was asked, and there’s no reason that he chose the words he did beyond trying to provide a full explanation of his views and his assessment that we need to await further information that the investigation will uncover,” said Carney. “But it is certainly the case that it is our view as an administration, the president’s view, that is was a terrorist attack.”

Monday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted the blame for the Libya attack. Obama contradicted that at the debate tonight.

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Candidates Spar on Oil and Natural Gas
10:32 p.m. ET

This may have been the hottest exchange of the debate. Watch now:

Here are the facts:

ROMNEY: In the last 4 years you cut permits and licenses on federal lands and federal waters in half.
OBAMA: Not true Governor Romney

Romney is right that oil and natural gases drilling permits and licenses (leases) are down, but they are not down as much as Romney says. Here are the actual numbers, Bureau of Land Management:

Permits in the FY2009-2011 dropped by 37 percent compared to FY2006-2008
Leases in FY2009-2011 dropped by 42 percent compared to FY2006-2008

Romney is basing his claim on the total number of acres leased – and there are 56 percent fewer acres leased

RULING: Not Quite Factual
—–

ROMNEY: And production on government land is down by 14 % and production on gas is down 9%

Oil production on public lands did drop by 14 percent in 2011 and natural gas production did drop by 9 percent (according to the US Energy Information Agency). BUT – overall, oil production is actually up slightly from 2009 to 2011.

RULING: Not Quite Factual

ABC’s Matt Larotonda and Zunaira Zaki have more:

Here’s the numbers, courtesy of the Department of Energy. In a nutshell: The trends are correct, but can Obama claim credit?

OIL PRODUCTION HIGHEST IN 16 YEARS?

Oil production is at its highest level in 16 years according to the Energy Information Administration. In 1996 the US produced 2.3 billion barrels of crude oil, a number that steadily decreased until reaching a bottom in 2008 at 1.8 billion barrels. Production has been steadily increasing year over year since 2009 and at current trends will eclipse 1996 by year’s end.

NATURAL GAS PRODUCTION HIGHEST IN DECADES?
There is no wiggle room here. The sheer volume of natural gas produced in the US is actually the highest it’s ever been. The last downward trend from the industry occurred between 2001 and 2006, when volume decreased from 24.5 million cubic feet to 23.5 million. In 2011 the country produced 28.5 million cubic feet.

COAL PRODUCTION HIGHEST IN DECADES?
Numbers have been on a steady increase, yes. In 2011 the US produced 1.09 billion tons, compared to 1,07 billion 3.6 in 2000 and 1,02 billionin 1990 and 800 million in 1980.

But, coal production in the US took a dive between 2008 and 2009, when it fell from 1.17 billion short tons to 1.07 billion and 2011 hadn’t reached those 2008 levels.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE INCREASES IN COAL EMPLOYMENT?
A very small chunk of the population is employed by the coal industry, an average of 84,000 so far this year, down from 86,000 last year. President Obama is referring to last year’s average, which was the highest yearly average since 1997, also according to BLS.

However, Obama cannot take all the credit for the increase oil and natural gas production — he did not invent fracking. Similarly he cannot be blamed for all the problems the coal industry is having. In addition to fracking’s rise, natural gas is so cheap that it has become the energy source of choice rather than coal in many instances.

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Did Obama Double the Deficit?
10:25 p.m. ET

ROMNEY: “We have his own record which is we have four consecutive years where he said he was running for office he would cut the deficit in half, instead he has doubled it.”

ABC’s Sunlen Miller has the facts:

The Romney claim that Obama has “doubled the deficit” has been deemed false by numerous fact checking outlet including factcheck.org, Politifact.

Poitifact points out the only way to get to doubling is to use a different starting point, which is what the Romney campaign does. His campaign compares the current deficit to the final fiscal 2008 deficit of $458.6 billion. But that does not include the Wall Street bailout, first enacted under President Bush, which added more than $700 billion.

One part though that the Romney claim is true. President Obama has not kept his promise to cut the deficit in half.

Politifact argues that President Obama has actually cut the deficit by about 8 percent since he made the pledge in February of 2009.

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Romney Says Tax-Plan Numbers Add Up
10:24 p.m. ET

Romney defended the numbers on his tax plan and attacked Obama on the economy. Watch here:

and Obama attacked Romney on his “sketchy deal:”

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Romney’s Binder Full of Women
10:00 p.m. ET

Romney: And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?” And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

In Mitt Romney’s answer to a question about how he would close a pay gap between women and men in the American workforce, he referenced a binder full of women. An unknown Facebook aficionado jumped on this remark and created a fan page for those binders. In less than an hour it gained almost 5,000 likes.

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Did Obama Follow Romney’s Advice and Take Detroit Bankrupt?
9:54 p.m. ET

ROMNEY: I know he keeps saying, you want to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.

See the video here.

ABC’s Jon Karl has the facts:

There are two assertions here: 1) That President Obama “took Detroit bankrupt; and, 2) That the President did “precisely what I recommended.”

On the first, Romney is right. Chrysler and General Motors did go through a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. On the second, he is wrong. The President’s bailout included some $80 billion in public financing (the bailout in “auto bailout”) to help Chrysler and GM to get through bankruptcy. Romney opposed direct public financing. This is a crucial distinction because most industry experts said there was no provide financing available.

JON KARL’S RULING: Half True.

ABC’s Greg Krieg has more:

Romney is technically correct, President Obama in March 2009 decided that the best way to revive the auto industry was for it to enter a brief bankruptcy. But it was not a bankruptcy like most other businesses will experience, as it lasted only one month and was backstopped by guarantees of billions of dollars from the federal government.

Experts cite this as the significant difference between what President Obama did and what Romney proposed. Romney suggested that the automobile companies go through a standard bankruptcy, meaning they would have relied on private funds to bring them back to life. Obama, on the other hand, in a plan that began to take shape during the Bush administration – which kept the industry from afloat with more than $17 billion TARP funds diverted to Detroit — ended up providing GM and Chrysler $80 billion in guaranteed taxpayer funds. In return, the government negotiated more favorable deals with the unions, who took wage hits and saw pension funds cut; creditors, who took a haircut on the money they were owed; and shareholders, who saw their stakes in the companies diminish in value.

The concerned parties accepted these cutbacks as they were the preconditions for getting the government money – money that was not forthcoming from the private sector, as former auto czar Steve Rattner has said repeatedly, in the wake of the housing market and resulting banking industry collapses.

Tune into ABCNews.com at http://abcn.ws/live for anchored coverage of the second presidential debate from ABC News and Yahoo! News. The debate will also air on ABC network stations at 9 p.m. ET. President Barack Obama and the GOP Challenger, former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney will face off in a townhall moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Refresh this page for insights, fact checks, and insta-analysis from ABC’s political team.

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How are Voters Reacting So Far?
9:38 p.m. ET

ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield reports:

It’s still early in the debate but a clear trend has emerged in a bipartisan focus group of undecided women voters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin— these women do not like it when the candidates go negative. The dials on the focus group show big negative drops when Obama and Romney attack one another, argue with one another- and when they interrupt Candy Crowley. We saw a big negative drop particularly when Romney interrupted Crowley to address Obama’s comments on energy. On the whole we see positive spikes for both candidates when they essentially ignore their opponent and talk about their plans and what they will do to help our economy.

After the debate there will be a focus group where these women will discuss their reactions to the debate. This research is being conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Momentum Analysis and sponsored by Walmart.

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Analysis from Amy Walter
9:30 p.m. ET

A half hour in, some insta-analysis from Amy Walter –

Romney and Obama have yet to effectively connect their arguments and their policies to real people – even as the real people are right there in front of them.

They seem to be having a debate with each other, not with or for voters.

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The Real Unemployment Rate?
9:21 p.m. ET

Romney said the unemployment rate now is 7.8 percent and the rate when Obama was 7.8 percent, but he argued the true rate is much higher today. “If you calculate if people dropped out of the work force would be 10 percent.”

ABC’s Zunaira Zaki has the facts:He is about half right. If the labor force participation rate was exactly what it was when Obama came into office the unemployment rate would be nearly 11 percent. But economists say that the labor force is shrinking not just because people are too discouraged to look for work, but also because there is a surge in baby boomers retiring and people are staying school longer. Here are two examples of research on this:

  1. According to research by Daniel Sullivan and his team at the Chicago Federal Reserve about half of the decline in the labor force since 2000 is because of an increase in the aging population. They have a paper that goes into this.
  2. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics concurs. Through his research he has established that the labor force participation rate has fallen by approximately 2.5 percentage points since the Great Recession hit. Of this, 1.5 percentage points is due to demographics, including boomers who are retiring, and 1 percentage points is due to poor economy.

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Is Half of America’s Youth Unemployed?
9:08 p.m. ET

Romney: “With half of college kids graduating this year, without a college – excuse me – without a job and without a college level job, that’s just not acceptable.”

ABC’s Zach Wolf has the facts:

Youth unemployment is far lower than 50 percent.

But the key to the statement is “underemployed.” The figure comes from a March analysis conducted for the AP by a Northeastern University professor.

From the AP report:

“About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.
“Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.
“Broken down by occupation, young college graduates were heavily represented in jobs that require a high school diploma or less.
“In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).”

But things might be on the upswing. ABC News’ Alan Farnham reported in May about the improved prospects for college grads from the class of 2012. New grads were facing the best employment prospects since the start of the recession. 87 percent of employers surveyed by Boston research company Millennial Branding said they planned to hire more new grads than the year before.

The unemployment rate for the young, just like it has more broadly, has fallen in the U.S. Back when the study was conducted, the unemployment rate for those from 20-24 was about 16 percent.
In data for September it was 12.4 percent.

Zunaira Zaki adds…

The unemployment rate for college graduates with a Bachelor’s degree or higher was 6.3 percent in September, down from 8.1 percent at the same time last year. The labor force participation rate for this group was 93.1 percent in September, compared to 93.2 percent at the same time last year – so about the same.

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Romney Sign References “Friday Night Lights”
9:00 p.m. ET

ht mitt romney clear eyes full hearts cant lost thg 121016 wn Second Presidential Debate   Live Blog and Fact Check

Twitter/dgJackson

Mitt’s body man tweeted this picture of Romney touching a sign that takes its slogan from the television show, “Friday Night Lights,” just before Romney took the stage tonight.

Earlier this week the writer and director of that TV show called Romney’s use of the phrase plagiarism and asked that he stop using it on the campaign trail. Read more here.

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Ryan Says Obama Will “Distort Mitt Romney’s Record” at the Debate
8:50 p.m. ET

Less than two hours before his running mate is set to square off with Barack Obama in their second presidential debate, Paul Ryan held a rally here in front of a boisterous crowd of 2,500 and warned them of what he thought the president would do:

“He’s going to try to divide this county, he’ s going to try to distract this country. He’s going to keep trying to distort Mitt Romney’s record in order to try and win this election by default. And we won’t fall for it, will we?”

Read more from ABC’s Shushannah Walshe here.

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Romney Says Obama “Took Detroit Bakrupt”
8:43 p.m. ET

Mitt Romney criticized President Obama’s bailout of the auto industry. Watch here:

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Signal: Twitter weighs in with #ObamaDebateTips
8:39 p.m. ET

Yahoo! News’ Chris Wilson, who is monitoring social sentiment from “The Signal” blog, reports: Here’s a fun one 30 minutes out: I’m seeing “#ObamaDebateTips” clocking in at 1000+ tweets every 15 minutes

Many are offensive. Here are some that are not, among those retweeted a few times.

@JDNelson_68W: Bring a white flag. #ObamaDebateTips

@FastEddie517: #ObamaDebateTips REMEMBER TO BLAME 1.Bush 2. Tsunami 3. ATMs 4. BigBird 5. Bad Video 6. Congress 7. Bush 8. FoxNews 9. Too Polite 10. Racism

@mastadonarmy: #ObamaDebateTips Remind us all again how “practically complete” the border fence is as it stands currently at 5% complete.

@NROcorner: #ObamaDebateTips retinal implant teleprompter. Or that new little Google Goggles contraption.

@Dr_Straker: #ObamaDebateTips Show up.

Read them all here.

abc ObamaDebateTips kb 121016 wblog Second Presidential Debate   Live Blog and Fact Check

Credit: ABC News

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Check Out These Updates from World News
8:27 p.m. ET

On World News George Stephanopoulos says President Obama needs to show he still wants the job:

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Call on Me: Ryan Phones Romney
8:18 p.m. ET

ht ryan tweet kb 121016 wn Second Presidential Debate   Live Blog and Fact Check

Twitter/PaulRyanVP

Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan had his night in the spotlight last Thursday. Tonight he can relax a little bit while his running mate takes the heat on the debate stage.

Ryan tweeted this photo of himself on the phone with Romney less than an hour before the townhall was set to begin. Ryan campaign spokesman Michael Steel revealed the picture was taken in Virginia earlier this afternoon.

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The Romneys Hit the Road
7:57 p.m ET

 Second Presidential Debate   Live Blog and Fact Check

Twitter/dgjackson

Mitt Romney’s body man tweeted this photo of the Republican presidential nominee and his wife holding hands on the ride to the debate. The photo is remarkably similar to the one @dgjackson tweeted before the last debate. See that photo here.

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The Most Tweeted Event in US Political History
7:39 p.m ET

The first presidential debate generated some 10 million tweets from 2.4 million users, according to Twitter and Social Guide Intelligence (SGI) respectively. That made it the most tweeted about event in US political history. The VP Debate failed to generate as much conversation—3.5 million tweets from just under a million tweeters.That first debate did generate a mind-boggling amount of tweets. Putting 10 million tweets into context: that’s more tweets than the Super Bowl and the Grammys combined (two of the biggest social TV events this year). According to SGI, the Super Bowl generated just over 4 million tweets, the Grammys just under 4 million.Follow @amyewalter, @danbharris and @OKnox for tweets from ABC News’ and Yahoo! News’  live debate pre-show.

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Why Romney Wants the 47 Percent Question
8:10 p.m ET

ABC’s Amy Walter says Romney wants to get the “47%” question just as much as Obama does, and here’s why:

After the debate ended in Denver two weeks ago, many Democrats were frustrated that President Obama never raised the issue of the infamous “47% ” comments made by Romney at a high-dollar fundraiser that was captured on secret video. That video, say Democrats, did more to cast Romney as out of touch with average voters than almost anything else. Even so, it’s Romney who would be happy to get this question tonight. Why? With his performance last week, Romney bought himself a second look from voters who, until that point, knew very little about the man except for the caricature that had been created of him by millions of dollars of attacks ads. And, many of them liked what they saw. The Romney who stood on stage in Denver was not the man they saw on TV.

For those folks who are taking a second look at Romney, he now has an opportunity to address the 47% comments face to face with a real, live voter (and the 50 or so million tuning in tonight), without any filter or the limitations of 30 second campaign ad. While Romney’s numbers have improved in multiple polls since his Denver performance, he continues to lag behind Obama on the questions about his ability to relate to – and understand – the economic problems people in this country are having. By a 57 percent to 33 percent margin, voters believe that a President Romney would do more to help the wealthy to helping the middle class. Sixty-eight percent thought that President Obama would look out for the middle class.
This may be Romney’s last, best chance to change those perceptions.

Read more from Amy here.

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Will Housing Crisis Come Up?
6:42 p.m ET

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Jeffery Turner/Flickr

Univision’s Jordan Fabian reports: What if the presidential candidates never debated one of the biggest reasons for the economic collapse?

The wave of home foreclosures that helped trigger the Great Recession affected people from all walks of life, and it had a particularly devastating effect on the Latino community. But so far the topic has hardly come up during the first two debates. The word “foreclosure” has been uttered only once during 180 minutes of combined discussion between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, as well as Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

So why haven’t the candidates, or moderators, debated the topic? Both candidates have struggled to find their footing on the issue. And housing policy can tend to be less sexy than, for instance, Iran’s singular quest to acquire nuclear weapons or the “47 percent.”

“It’s … a really complicated subject and neither candidate has a strong plan of how they would go forward, so they would prefer not to talk about it,” said Janis Bowdler, director of the Wealth Building Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights group.

But that’s not to say that voters don’t want to figuratively eat their broccoli and listen to the candidates discuss their plan to revive the housing market. NCLR helped sponsor an effort to drop off more than 30,000 postcards at the Obama and Romney campaign headquarters on Tuesday asking each to explain their housing plan.

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Obama Eats Steak, Romney Opts for Chicken
5:20 p.m ET

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Image Credit: @joshromney/Twitter

In the lead-up to the Townhall face-off, ABC ‘s reporters on the ground in New York with the candidates report that Obama plans to eat steak and potatoes and Mitt Romney had a dinner of rotisserie chicken and a baked potato. That’s a pretty meaningless detail, but in case you’re interested.


Great Moments in Townhall History
6:28 p.m ET

Townhall debates, like the one President Obama and Mitt Romney will face off in this week, are like the Wild, Wild West of presidential debates.

There are no podiums, no carefully crafted questions from seasoned journalists and no restrictions on where the candidates can stand, sit or stroll.

If history is any guide, this free-flowing setup is sure to produce some memorable moments. Click on the picture below for a look at some of the most awkward, candid and unexpected moments in presidential town hall debate history.

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Tannen MauryAFP/Getty Images

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Poll: Election is a Turnoff for Most Americans
5:00 p.m. ET

Greg Holyk from ABC’s Polling Unit Reports: Memo to presidential candidates: For most people in the middle of American politics, the 2012 election is a turn-off.It’s a result worth knowing as the presidential candidates head into their second debate tonight: The contest overall is resonating more among partisan and ideological true-believers and less in the broad center of the political spectrum, where national elections can be won or lost.

See PDF with full results here.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 62 percent of independents see the presidential election unfavorably, as do 54 percent of self-identified political moderates and “somewhat” conservatives alike.Just 28 percent of independents – who tend to be less engaged in politics than partisans – see the election favorably. And independents see the battle for the White House “strongly” negatively rather than strongly positively by a wide 3-1 margin.

Similarly, just 35 percent of moderates see the election favorably, as do 41 percent of “somewhat” conservatives.The party faithful are more forgiving. Self-identified Democrats express a favorable rather than unfavorable opinion of the presidential race, by 59-38 percent; Republicans divide more closely, 50-43 percent, favorable-unfavorable. Ideologically, liberals and “very” conservatives alike see the election more favorably than unfavorably, dividing by 53-43 and 52-44 percent, respectively. Read Greg’s full report.

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Debate Pre-Game Show
Noon

Check out our pre-debate show. ABC’s Amy Walter and Dan Harris joined Yahoo! News’ Olivier Knox to preview the second debate and look in particular at what President Obama needs to do to get his mojo back after a lackluster first debate earlier this month.

This video includes a sort of funny/sad/futile attempt by reporters to get President Obama to talk to them earlier today.

 

 

And here is former White House Chief of Staff Robert Gibbs making the case for Obama:

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The Rules and Candy Crowley
5:39 p.m. ET

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Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

ABC’s Russell Goldman reports: All is fair in a presidential debate, especially for the moderator.Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent and tonight’s town hall debate moderator, has made it known that she will dispense with the rules about asking her own questions and interject whenever she sees fit.

“They will call on ‘Alice,’ and ‘Alice’ will stand up and ask a question. Both candidates will answer,” she explained on CNN today.

“Then there’s time for a follow-up question, facilitating a discussion, whatever you want to call it. So if Alice asks oranges, and someone answers apples, there’s the time to go, ‘But Alice asked oranges. What’s the answer to that?’ Or, ‘Well, you say this, but what about that?’ “she said.

Comments like those seem to indicate that Crowley will flout the debate rules, according to a memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns, but of which Crowley was not a party.

“The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite the candidate comments during the two minute response period,” according to the agreement that leaked Monday and was first reported by Time.

Read Russell’s full report.

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5 Things to Watch for at Debate
11:05 p.m.

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Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo

Exactly three weeks before voters head to the polls, President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romneyface-off here today for the second presidential debate that could again chart a new course for the general election campaign.In an email to supporters Monday, Obama for the first time declared the race “tied,” conceding that a lead he held ahead of the first debate has shrunk or disappeared. Romney meanwhile has been touting what he calls a “growing crescendo of enthusiasm” for his campaign.

Tonight’s debate – a town hall style showdown – could provide an opportunity for each candidate to gain the edge he desires.

Here are five things to watch tonight that could shape voters’ perceptions before the final debate next Monday:

A More ‘Aggressive’ Obama:   Obama is expected to compensate for his lackluster showing in the first debate with a more aggressive approach to Romney and attempt to hold him accountable for his past positions on key issues.  Obama is also likely to come armed with some “zingers” – those snappy one-liners which he largely avoided in the first debate but has deployed in a steady stream against Romney on the campaign trail since.

The new strategy is clearly aimed at reassuring Democratic voters of his passion for the job and willingness to fight for the values that helped get him there.

But could it backfire?  It is generally more difficult to go on attack in a town hall setting, where the focus is on each undecided voter who poses a question to the candidates. Obama will have to walk a fine line of appearing presidential and not petty.

“You should expect that he’s going to be firm but respectful in correcting the record and the times we expect Mitt Romney will hide from and distort his own policies,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “He’s energized and I expect he will also be making a passionate case.”

Read the other 4 at Devin’s story.

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What Women Want in a President (And Why It Matters)
5:44 p.m. ET

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Getty Images

ABC Political Analyst Matthew Dowd reports: “Figuring out what women want isn’t just a pastime – it’s absolutely necessary if you want to know the direction of the country, politically and economically. Since the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney has taken a very small lead, with the biggest swing among women voters. It is expected that women will make up 54 percent of all voters this year; they are two-thirds of all swing voters, with a likelihood that 12 million more women will vote than men in November.

It’s true that issues are important, including social and cultural matters, as well as a plan on growing the economy and affordable day care and equal pay and flex time. But women, like all voters, also cue into the type of leader someone might be, and what their personality and communication skills say about them as a man.

I think many women are conflicted on this in their personal life choices as well as in their political leaders. Often women express a desire that they want what has been traditionally called the “Alan Alda man” — someone who’s sensitive who will key into their feelings, listen and not be overly masculine. But often they choose the opposite. Many women think they have to decide between a man who is gentle but weak and one who is strong but mean. When given the choice, women opt more for the John Wayne type.”

Read Matthew’s full analysis.

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Romney’s Tax Plan: Rubio Takes Two Deductions Off the Table
6:19 p.m. ET

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have declined to offer specifics on which tax deductions they’d eliminate in order to cut tax rates without cutting the amount of taxes paid, particularly for the rich.

But Marco Rubio, whose voice goes far in the Republican party these days, said there are two  he’d take off the table right away.

Those include the charitable deduction and the home interest deduction used to offset interest paid on mortgages. Rubio made the comments in New York today and they were reported by Buzzfeed.

There are expected to be about $1.1 Trillion in tax “expenditures” – aka deductions – in 2012. And about $942 billion of those are claimed by individuals, according to the Tax Policy Center.

That starts to chip away at available tax expenditures that could be used to pay for the 20 percent across-the-board rate cut that Romney proposes.

The mortgage interest deduction is worth about 83 billion in 2012, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The charitable deduction is worth about 31.5 billion for non-health and education related items and $5.4 billion for education related donations and $2.7 billion for health related donations.

Download the JCT’s charts here.

Some nonpartisan groups, chiefly the Tax Policy Center, have questioned that Romney’s plan could work. And into that argument waded the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxes, a scorekeeper on Capitol Hill. In a letter released Oct. 12 to lawmakers, the Joint Committee on Taxation’s chief of staff said that his outfit had performed an “experiment”  and run the numbers on repealing some popular deductions, including the mortgage deduction and the charitable deduction to see how far rates could be lowered.

The result? JCT’s scenario suggested tax rates could be reduced by 4 percent to bring in the same amount of revenue. Mitt Romney wants to lower rates by 20 percent.

JCT kept deductions like the ones for tax-favored retirement accounts and for employer-sponsored health insurance and it had important differences with what we know about Romney’s plan, like assuming that capital gains would be taxed at income and not preferential rates like it currently is. It assumed that the Bush-era tax cuts would expire, although Republicans want to extend them for everyone and many Democrats want to extend them for people making less than $250,000.

Here’s a write-up on the JCT scenario from Bloomberg, which first obtained the study.

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Biden Overstated Role in ’80s Social Security Reform
5:49 p.m. ET

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Eric Gay / AP Photo

ABC’s Jake Tapper reports: During the vice presidential debate last week, Vice President Joe Biden seemed to significantly overstate his role in the 1983 negotiations over Social Security.

Asked about Medicare reform, the vice president said, “Look, I was there when we did that with Social Security in 1983. I was one of eight people sitting in the room that included Tip O’Neill negotiating with President Reagan. We all got together and everybody said, as long as everybody’s in the deal, everybody’s in the deal, and everybody is making some sacrifice, we can find a way.”

The comment would seem to suggest that Biden was one of the few, key players “in the room” working in a bipartisan way to reform Social Security.

But according to the historical record, Biden was not one of the small group of people in “the room,” or in “the meeting” — nor was he even a key player in reforms.

Those close to the Social Security reform process say that the chief negotiations were made between then-Sens. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., through the National Commission on Social Security Reform, which worked throughout 1982 on recommendations to help guarantee the solvency of the program, and conducted final negotiations in January 1983. The commission kept President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, D-Mass., in the loop throughout the process.

Read Tapper’s full report.

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Obama’s Big Legal Win on Ohio Early Voting
11:30 a.m. ET

ABC’s Ariane de Vogue reports: The Obama campaign won a legal victory today when the Supreme Court declined to step in and allow Ohio’s early in-person voting limitation to take effect.

After two lower federal courts ruled in favor of the Obama campaign and enjoined the law, Ohio’s Republican leaders had appealed their case to the Supreme Court.

But today, in a one-sentence order, the Court declined Ohio’s appeal. There were no noted dissents.

The Obama campaign and Democratic officials in Ohio had challenged the law, which allows only military voters to cast their ballots in person three days prior to the election, arguing that it would burden tens of thousands of Ohio voters who in previous elections had been able to vote during the same time period.

Lawyers for the Democrats had sued the state under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, arguing that the state was providing differential access to the ballot box on arbitrary terms.

Read Ariane’s full story.

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Report Suggests Rising Medicare Costs Under Romney Plan
5:25 p.m. ET

ABC’s Sydney Lupkin reports: Just in time for tonight’s presidential debate, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new study that shows six out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries would pay higher premiums under a hypothetical new plan similar to what Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has proposed.

Kaiser researchers used elements of the Ryan-Wyden Medicare overhaul proposal (which Romney has endorsed) and the Domenici-Rivlin plan to build their hypothetical plan, which caps federal contributions based on plan costs in a geographic area, and requires individual beneficiaries to pay the difference. When researchers applied 2010 data, they found major differences in premium costs across the nation.

“While all beneficiaries would have a choice of a low-cost plan, some would pay more — and perhaps considerably more — to be in either a traditional Medicare program or a private plan that they might prefer, and that’s a big change from Medicare as it’s known today,” Tricia Neuman, Kaiser’s top Medicare expert, told ABCNews.com.

Read more here about the report.

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Meet the Candidates
5:20 p.m ET

Click here for a nifty infographic that charts Barack Obama’s life alongside Mitt Romney’s:

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Click on Image

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This live blog has been curated by ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) and Sarah Parnass @wordsofsarah)

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