Grading the Candidates: How Did They Do in Debate II?

ABC News' political analysts break down the highs and lows of the candidates' performances.
3:00 | 10/17/12

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Transcript for Grading the Candidates: How Did They Do in Debate II?
Time now for the Nightline report card our political insiders Nicole Wallace was with Senator John McCain Donna Brazil with Al Gore -- -- with George W. Bush. Let's go right to it let's start with style who took commanded that stage we'll start with Mitt Romney on style given a -- -- -- -- BBC. CC. -- -- -- -- Let's start with the -- what do you like about it. -- give -- for the first debate and I thought that tonight's performance stepped down. One full grade. From that first debate I didn't think he was his focus I didn't think he was as discipline to -- when the first base that's why I lowered my great. I agree with Nicole he didn't seem you know in charge of the the format you look rattle he he -- -- of the column. He was in command so us flag game see this time. I get -- for very much the same reasons I thought that did the Barack Obama's strategy put him on the defensive from the very start. And I actually thought you re -- Mitt Romney re engage in some questions -- a stylistic way. That I didn't think benefit him throughout this he went back to things he sort of seemed to argue with the moderator at times. I didn't think he did as well as he did last Obama put him under pressure and the question is did he -- certain -- so President Obama style. It acts -- minus eight be they aren't -- yet let's go to the eight. Why do you like and oh no question he was calm he was. He was a command and T. He knew Mitt Romney's positions better than Mitt Romney -- his own positions I thought the president was. He was Smart he connected with the audience in the -- and the people -- -- -- -- B minus. -- looking for years ago for being cool -- cool under pressure and tonight he was hot he was overheated in my view and more importantly. For the president I think he will be viewed as a little too overheated too hot. In the view of the of the few people who it still haven't made up their mind or -- the side of of the gonna go out and vote again for him as if it. Warriors definitely -- of this and I gave a B and as I've said last -- -- a tough they have I really tough thing I thought the president did exactly what he needed to do what many people had hoped. This partisans that helped feed them two weeks ago when he showed up in the race would be where it was that if he did. He came out on fire came out jabbing came out with energy which is exactly what he needed to do I didn't think he was too aggressive in this debated are thought he did exactly what he needed to -- -- -- output Mitt Romney on the defensive. And I think that changed for the conventional wisdom going in is that a town hall debate makes it harder to attack -- that's. -- -- -- -- -- -- hold anybody back if it was. Really contentious debate and benefited both of our let's turn to substance how did they make their case Mitt Romney on substance eight. CC. Saying its two cities -- -- -- -- The top secret. You get messy on the substance what. I just didn't think he had -- that they answers it's a certain amount of the things that he did -- -- did last time even some of the ways that he talked last time which -- did very well when he won last week. He didn't return to some of those points even -- the last half hour of this debate. And I thought I'm the most important substantive question that Barack Obama had the most vulnerability. Which was Libya he failed on that question. I agree he failed on Libya but he stumbled to explain his own policies even on on his so called tax plan. A once again he could not make no real clear argument about the map and whether that it adds up so I gain -- seat because I don't. Believe that Mitt Romney gave us any answers tonight to some of the things that he hopes to accomplish if he -- select technical you disagree. -- -- app I've Cuddy he got in some good messages and some good points in the running -- you -- certainly point his answers. On the -- on energy and energy production plans to increase that. Getting that message in about a spy -- plan for adding jobs of something big was very important event can -- night. And I thought he had some other. You know good opportunities to talk about the president's record in the problems -- I thought it was a solid B. But let me ask it seemed like what dwellings the president tried to do you. Was -- on Mitt Romney some of the things he had said during the primaries. Self deportation. Some of the social issues that he. Those positions seem to come back and heartwarming a little bit because the aggressiveness of -- Obama defund them. That Mitt Romney the guy who competed in the primary the Republican primary was a severe conservative and then two weeks ago he was the moderate Mitt. -- tonight we really don't know which Mitt Romney showed up because present Obama. Didn't allow him to pivot to the senate and I thank him for that standpoint he wanted to force Mitt Romney on the -- that's what his goal was tonight and he did it over and over on every different -- -- -- reminded -- that gets us to the president's grade on substance had a great. President had a B minus that's Steve give my -- and that they may be they are we talked a little bit about him. What do you think president -- themselves. Well I I think it was the emphasis it was. Almost 100%. On negative attacks against his opponent there was no talking and thinking even Donna and Matthew. We're pretty excited about -- president's performance tonight would be hard pressed to point to a single example of him talking about the future elections are always the debate about the future. I actually agree with that I actually think to do that well why -- have given me a news because we still have not heard from the president in my view what he wants to do in the next four years he still left -- -- forward looking agenda off the table and that's still a missing piece three weeks from election aren't big ticket. Who won. Romney -- -- Romney by -- hair oh Obama because he did talk about education. As a past four out of poverty he did talk about. Health care -- me I still believe that. -- Obama won tonight because. The substance of the tiebreaker tigers in the ninth inning 1210 yeah that's left Obama why Obama has yet to Obama's a one -- -- -- -- -- Because the possession arrow in Obama's favor a close race. Nicole Donna Matt thanks once again we'll see you next week.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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