Election 2014  
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9 Best Blows Landed by Obama in Presidential Debate

The president punctured Romney’s armor of jovial smugness through a combination of rehearsed rejoinders, on-the-spot quips and deft deflections of Romney’s attacks.

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The utterance of the term “ gang-bangers” caused much excitement among the many high-minded folks who occupy the Twitterverse. We note here that Obama's characterization of his own deportation efforts is a bit disingenous. Yes, while he has announced that his administration will stop deporting people who would be covered by the DREAM Act if it passes into law, it has deported more than a million undocumented immigrants. ( Mother Jones' Adam Serwer, calling Obama's remarks a low point for the president, reports on the administration's aggressive deportation strategy here.)

7. Daughters v. sons. In a question that reaped dividends for Obama, Katherine Fenton, a young woman, asked the candidates how they would address the income disparity between men and women, which she described as “females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn.” The topic offered Obama an opportunity to not only tout his signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act (which allows people who suffer gender-based pay discrimination to bring suit against their employers even if they only learn of the discrimination years after the fact), but to also highlight the fact that, when one of his campaign aides was asked by the Huffington Post if Romney supported the act, the aide replied, “We’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“And I've got two daughters and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody's sons have,” Obama said. Gee, I wonder who’s sons he’s talking about? Romney, who has no daughters, frequently describes himself as the father of five sons, an obvious point of pride.

In fairness to Romney, it should be noted that, a few hours after the initial exchange with Stein, the campaign did "get back" to reporters, saying that the governor, if elected president, had no plans to try to change the law. However, HuffPost’s Sam Stein reports that Romney adviser Ed Gillespie says that at the time the bill was before Congress, Romney opposed it. [UPDATE: Gillespie issued a statement after this article first published, saying that he had been wrong to say that Romney had opposed the Ledbetter Act in 2009; rather, the governor simply never took a position on it. For the record, Romney running mate Paul Ryan voted against the bill.]

Romney had little with which to counter Obama’s reputation as a champion of equal pay, so he launched into a riff about how, as governor of Massachusetts, he sought to name record numbers of women to cabinet and other high-level state positions by asking women’s organizations to send him recommendations, which led to him claiming to have solicited “binders full of women” a phrase that quickly went viral as a social media meme. (Aside from the hilarious phraseology, the story is also apparently not true, at least as recounted by Romney, per this report from AlterNet’s Sarah Seltzer.)

8. I knew George W. Bush. And, Governor, you’re no George W. Bush. Overshadowed by Romney’s Libya flub and Bindergate is a gem of rhetoric from the president, offered in a rejoinder to an answer Romney delivered to a questioner who asked what distinguished Romney’s policies from those of the 43rd president. Obama picked up that ball and ran with it, painting Romney as being far to the right of the reviled W, wrecker of the economy and Iraq warmonger.

Obama, as quoted in the debate transcript:

You know, there are some things where Governor Romney is different from George Bush. George Bush didn't propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform. He didn't call for self-deportation.

George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, so there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush, but they're not on economic policy. In some ways, he's gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy.

 
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