Live Blogging: The Presidential Town Hall!

Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Source: AP

So the last time we did this, I just about died. But why not do it again. If the nation needs me, I’ll heed the call!

I should preface everything by saying that Town Hall-style debates scare the bejesus out of me. They are the most awkward, most unpredictable kind of debate their can be, and I’ll most likely be watching with my hands covering my face.

Bristol Palin just went home on Dancing with the Stars, so the Republicans should start the night down a point. But Obama made Hilary take the fall for Benghazi, so maybe we’ll call it even.

Now, after a few words from George Steph, we’ll get going…

(Does anyone else think that someone should definitely ask the pizza question? We’re in a recession. Free pizza for a year? That’s just smart sense.)

(Ugh. No cheering at this debate either? Does the world have no soul?)

Question One: College student wants to know how he’ll support himself when he graduates

Romney starts by saying, yes, the state of the world is terrible. The kid asking the question immediately begins to cry. Romney wants to institute something like the Abigail Adams grants in Massachusetts, which is actually kind of amazing, and keep the Pell Grant program. He’s going to create good jobs, bring back the economy. Because he knows what it takes. And he just said he’d do it by 2014. Mitt, don’t hold yourself to a specific timetable.

Obama wants to building on the 5 million jobs created in the past 30 months. He wants to build on manufacturing jobs. He wants to give incentives to countries investing in the US. He wants to make sure that everyone is educated. He wants to control our own energy, build the energy source of the future. And reduce the deficit, but in a balanced way. So, Obama just went over his entire platform in one question.

On the follow-up, Romney is speaking to Obama about “taking Detroit bankrupt.” It’s the first face to face talking between the candidates and it’s weird. I don’t like it. And Obama did a weird wink/point that the split screen only made worse.

Question Two: High gas prices

Editor’s Note: There is an awesome moustache going on in the crowd. This Hofstra audience is top notch. Obama wants to control our energy, which he made clear during the education question. He wants to do it in an environmentally sound way. Efficient energy will reduce demand and keep prices lower. Obama says Romney will let the oil companies dictate the gas prices. He says we need to think of 10 years from now, and that he’s not going to cede those new jobs of the future.

Romney, who had a bit of a hissy fit that he couldn’t defend himself over Detroit, says the President cut permits for drilling in half and that production is down. Romney wants to make sure we use our oil, coal, gas, nuclear, and renewable power. People in coal country grab Romney’s arm and say “save my job!” Which only means the Secret Service is doing a terrible job protecting Mitt and his arm (and let’s be honest, his hair).

Omg the moustache is back. I hope they keep asking questions in that section. My money says that guy asks the pizza question.

Romney and Obama are now standing face to face and Romney’s all like “how much did you cut them by,” and Obama is like “lemme answer the question.” This is what I hate so much! Seriously. What if they fight each other? What would happen? Who would stop it? I’m sweating.

Now Romney’s like, you’re paying more at the pump. The President’s strategy isn’t working. Pipeline from Canada. Drilling offshore. Boom.

Obama says gas prices were so low when he took office because the economy was on the verge of collapse. But I distinctly remember paying more than $5 a gallon when I was living on Long Island in 2008 and 2009, so I’m not sure about that one. Obama says there are thousands of wind jobs in Iowa and that is the future.

Question Three: This is about taxes, but the lady forgot part of her question and had to go into her pocket for her notecards

Romney wants middle-income taxpayers to have lower taxes. He’s going to bring rates down, but limit deductions and credits, especially at the high end. The highest income people will pay 60 percent of the income tax. Middle-income taxpayers will not pay taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains. He says the President’s spending and borrowing will require tax raises.

Obama wants to give the middle class relief too. He cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses, and he wants to continue those tax cuts. But he says, if we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we also need to make sure the wealthy do more. Ninety-eight percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses will not see tax raises. Those earning above $250,000 can go back to the Clinton tax program. Obama says that Romney has a history of giving tax cuts to the top 1 percent.

On follow-up, Romney says he’s not looking to cut taxes for higher income people. For him, this is about jobs. He believes that bringing rates down will let small businesses keep money and hire more people.

Obama says that what Romney wants to do will cost $5 trillion dollars. Including his other spending, Obama estimates that Romney will spend and extra $8 trillion has president. Obama just referenced Big Bird, which I found to be totally rehearsed, which again, is unlike Obama. What’s going on with him? But he’s right, getting rid of PBS will not raise $8 trillion.

Romney ran businesses, the Olympics, and Massachusetts, and was able to balance those budgets.

Romney is the Ramona Singer of debates.

Question Four: Inequality in the workplace, asked by what seemed to be a 12-year-old girl(?)

Obama’s grandmother hit a glass ceiling too, so one of the first bill’s he signed had to do with equality. He says this is not just a women’s issue, it’s a middle-class issue and a family issue. And an education issue. He says that the laws need to be enforced, and that in every walk of life, we need to not tolerate discrimination.

Romney says when he was pulling together his cabinet, all the applications were for men. Because they were the only ones who were qualified. This is going down a bad road for him…The conclusion is that Romney’s state had the most women in senior government positions. He realized that to have more women, companies need to be more flexible. More women are in poverty than four years ago, he says. I’m confused by this answer.

Obama doesn’t like that insurance companies are making decisions about women’s health. Obama wants to make sure that his daughters have the same opportunities as anyone’s son has.

Question Five: How is Romney different from George W. Bush?

Romney wants to ignore the question and go back to the last one, which is not going to win over the woman who just told him that she’s an undecided voter. Romney says that he can get all the energy he wants in North America (because he’s God?). He’ll crack down on China. He wants to add free trade agreements with Latin America. He wants to balance the budget. He doesn’t want to focus on big business. That was actually a very dignified answer without bashing Bush. Impressive.

How is Obama going to answer this question? It wasn’t really geared toward him, except that the woman said she wasn’t happy with the current state of the economy. So, Obama says that Romney is the last person who’s going to get tough on China. He’s set up a task force on trade to find unfair trade practices. Obama says the differences between Bush and Romney are not on economic policy.

Question Six: What has Obama done to make voters optimistic about 2012?

Obama’s like “Bin Laden.” Boom. Healthcare reform. Boom. He reined in the excesses of Wall Street. He’s created jobs. He saved the auto industry. He says he’s kept his commitments. And those he hasn’t wasn’t for a lack of trying. He says we need to think about who’s promises will be most likely to help us.

Romney says elected Obama will be a repeat of the past four years. He says Obama didn’t get to the 5.4 percent unemployment rate he promised. He says Obama didn’t file an immigration place. He says he hasn’t cut the deficit in half. Romney is just spouting out things the President hasn’t done now, and if we’re going to look back on the worst part of the night for Obama, it’s going to be right here. True or no, the list Romney is putting out there is long and heavy for anyone having to listen to it.

Question Seven: Immigration

Romney says that he welcomes legal immigrants into this country. He thinks we should give green cards to people who graduate with skills that we need. He says we need to stop illegal immigration. He will not grant amnesty. He will put in place an employment verification system. Kids should have a pathway to becoming a permanent resident of the United States, like serving in the military.

Obama says we need to fix a broken immigration system. He says he has tried to fix the system, by reducing the backlog and making it easier for people to come to the US legally. He says he put more border control in place. He says we should go after “folks who are criminals.” Obama says children of immigrants should think of this country as their country.

The split screen is doing something weird and I just got a glimpse of the President arguing with himself. It was jarring.

Ugh. The candidates are close to each other again. Romney’s all like “have you checked your pension?” and Obama’s like, “it’s not as big as yours,” which would have been the perfect “that’s what she said” joke. Candy had to tell Governor Romney to sit down. Who came up with this debate style? Sadists, I think.

Question Eight: Security in Benghazi

Editor’s Note, from Audrey: “‘We were sitting around talking about Libya…'” Carrie/Keri/Kerry…who are you friend with? Maybe it’s time to lighten up on the coffee talk yo.”

Obama told his team to beef up securities at all embassies and consulates in the region. He told them to investigate exactly what happened, and he said we’re going to find out who did this and we’re going to hunt them down. Because he goes after people who hunt down Americans. He’s also taking responsiblity for what happened, “because he has to greet those coffins when they come home.”

Romney says the President is right, he is responsible for what happened. And he’s mad at him for going to Las Vegas for a fundraiser. He says it was clear it was an attack, and it calls into question the President’s policy in the Middle East.

Obama said no one is more interested in getting the facts than he is. And he said Hillary works for him. He’s the President. Which has to got to drive Hillary crazy. He’s still mad at Romney for playing politics with the Benghazi affair.

Romney just questioned Obama about calling the attack an “act of terror.” And Obama’s like “that’s what I said.” And Romney’s like, “I want that on the record.” And Candy’s goes, “he did say it.” And the crowd clapped and I could feel Romney’s entire body clench. That might be the low point for him tonight.

Question Nine: Gun Control

Obama says there is more to do in terms of enforcement, and that weapons designed for soldiers don’t belong on our streets. He wants to reduce the violence in general. He wants an assault weapons ban. But he says they’re using cheap handguns in Chicago, so that’s not the only way to go. He wants to catch violent impulses before they occur. Like Minority Report?

Romney is going off course about two-parent families being able to end violence. This is going to alienate voters. Ultimately he thinks changing culture will limit violence.

Editor’s Note: My aunt (otherwise known as my research department) just sent me the transcript from the Rose Garden speech about Benghazi. It’s unclear if Obama is referring to this attack directly as an “act of terror,” or he’s talking about them broadly. Judge for yourself.

Question Ten: What will you do to keep jobs here in the U.S.?

Romney wants to make America the most attractive place for business in the world. He says China artificially holds down the value of its currency. He will label China as a “currency manipulator,” which I’m going to call them all the time now. I’m also going to use it for people I don’t like on the subway.

Obama wants to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China or profit offshore.

Question Eleven: What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you? Editor’s Note: Barry, that WAS a tough question!

Romney cares about 100 percent of the American people. He wants 100 percent of America to have a prosperous future. Romney believes in God. He went to the Olympics. He was able to get 100 percent of his state insured. He says we don’t have to settle for the way things are. He says he will get America working again. He’ll reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for future generations. He’s done these things!

Obama doesn’t think government creates jobs. He believes in the free enterprise system. He believes in self-reliance. He believes everyone should play by the same rules.

And it’s over. Thank God. That was the most awkward 1.5 hours of my life. But I do always love a chance to see the good people of Long Island stick it to their candidates. Brings back memories! Until next week, my friends!

P.S. I think Michelle and Ann color coordinated tonight!

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Filed under Around Town, Oh Baby It's a Wild World

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