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Topics In the News
Welcome Back, Mr. President
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 10/17/12
Last updated on: 10/17/12
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President Obama at the second presidential debate.

On October 16, 2012, President Obama showed up for the second debate of the 2012 campaign fired up and ready to go. He trounced Republican nominee Mitt Romney in matters both of style and substance. The forceful performance by the President is deeply reassuring to those of us who fear that the election of Romney will reverse the significant progress toward equal rights that President Obama has achieved.

As David Mixner commented at his Live from Hell's Kitchen blog, "The President triumphed in every category including substance, style, demeanor and being presidential. Romney seemed to be unsure, too aggressive and intent on playing 'gotcha' instead of sharing substance."

The New York Times editorialized that the President "regained full command of his vision and his legacy, leaving Mitt Romney sputtering with half-answers, deceptions and one memorable error," his attempt to politicize the death of the Ambassador to Libya.

Andrew Sullivan, who had been particularly dismayed after the first presidential debate, was elated at the President's performance in the second. He wrote in The Daily Beast, "To my mind, Obama dominated Romney tonight in every single way: in substance, manner, style, and personal appeal. . . . He was able to defend his own record, think swiftly on his feet, and his Benghazi answer was superb. He behaved like a president. . . . And Romney? Well, he has no answers on the math question and was exposed. He was vulnerable on every social issue, especially immigration. And he had no real answer to the question of how he'd be different from George W Bush."

Most importantly for me, the President forcefully defended his record and exposed the misrepresentations and inconsistencies of Romney, something he seemed reluctant to do in the first presidential debate.

Unfortunately, none of the questions asked during the debate touched on glbtq issues. Perhaps the closest allusion to questions of equal rights came when the President compared Romney to George W. Bush and said, "He's gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy."

Moreover, Romney's refusal to answer specifically whether he would have signed the Lily Ledbetter bill that provided equal pay for equal work for women and his condescending comment about women in the workplace certainly telegraphed the 1950s mindset that also leads him to oppose marriage equality and other efforts to advance equal rights.

In addition, as George Zornick points out here, Romney lied about a number of other important issues, including when he said, "I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives."

In fact, Romney has endorsed an amendment offered by Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri that would allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage to employees.

Similarly, although Romney said last night that "I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing," he has previously said that he would cut Pell grants.

Even Romney's story about how he appointed many women to his administration in Massachusetts, chosen from the now notorious "binder of women," was a lie, as pointed out by David Bernstein in The Phoenix blog. During Romney's administration, the number of senior-level appointed women in state government declined.

The humorous video below features the many times the President had to correct Romney's misrepresentations.

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