After his loss in the first presidential debate, U.S. President Barack Obama bounced off the ropes and accused his Republican rival Mitt Romney of untruths in a furious opening to the second presidential debate, AFP reported.
Minutes into the debate, Romney and Obama stood toe-to-toe a few feet apart, angrily accusing one another of distorting each other’s policies and future plans on oil production and energy.
"Governor Romney says he has a five-point plan. He doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan, and that is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules," Obama blasted.
Obama displayed more energy and passion than he showed in the whole of his limp 90 minute performance two weeks ago, which sent his poll numbers tumbling, noted AFP.
Romney took the first question of the town-hall style debate, about the jobs crisis, and bemoaned the plight of ordinary Americans who he said had been "crushed over the last four years."
"I know what it takes to create good jobs and to make sure you have the opportunity you deserve," Romney said.
Obama was quick off his stool in response, looking 20-year-old questioner Jeremy Epstein straight in the eye, fixing him with an intense stare as he promised to quicken the U.S. economic recovery.
He rapped Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout which he engineered and which he said had saved a million jobs, and brushed off his Republican rival's denials.
"What Governor Romney said just isn't true. He wanted to make them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open," Obama said.
The town hall setting, which had each candidate seated at a stool on a red carpet, and free to roam around, tested the body language of the two candidates, and capacity to empathize with the anxieties of everyday Americans.
The Middle East and Israel only came up once during the debate, when a participant asked Obama about the extra security that had been refused to the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
While he did not directly respond to the question, as CNN host Wolf Blitzer noted after the debate, Obama responded by taking responsibility for the deaths of the four Americans in the attack on the consulate and promising to fully investigate it. He then went on to blast Romney for issuing a press release the day after the attack and trying to score political points.
Romney, in turn, did not point out that Obama had not directly answered the question. He did, however, attack Obama’s entire policy in the Middle East, saying, "Look what's happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya. Consider the distance between ourselves and -- and Israel, the president said that -- that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.
We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Syria -- Syria's not just a tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a military, but also a strategic -- strategically significant player for America," he added.
"The president's policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and -- and -- and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes," charged Romney
An interesting moment was when, in responding to Romney, Obama said that he had held a press conference in the Rose Garden the day after the attack and said it was a terrorist attack. Romney then accused the president of not having admitted it was a terrorist attack at that point, at which point moderator Candy Crowley confirmed that Obama had indeed said that.
Obama then asked Crowley to repeat that one more time, which she did, and Obama received a round of applause from the crowd.