“Obama did better tonight than in Denver, but both were very strong in their points,” he said. “Romney won the first half on style alone, appearing much more comfortable with the format. But Obama got more comfortable about halfway through and started connecting.”
The debate was more contentious than the one in Denver, he said.
“The race may not change significantly after this — it’s still a horse race,” Swint said.
Former Congressman and presidential candidate Bob Barr of Smyrna said he didn’t think the debate changed things and was annoyed with the performance of CNN moderator Candy Crowley.
“She kept injecting herself into the middle of it,” he said. “Both candidates went on and on and often failed to answer questions that were posed to them. I think many of the questions that perhaps the citizens should have been allowed to ask, they either didn’t get a chance to or Candy apparently decided not to let them. So I didn’t find it a particularly enlightening debate.”
Barr also said Romney eked out a win “even though he wound up … with less time than the president.”
“I don’t find this particular format a particular good one for the debate because it’s so unstructured,” he said. “Even though President Obama is supposed to have a tremendous advantage in this type of debate, he really didn’t seem to take advantage of it tonight. He was somewhat petulant, a little bit impatient to try to get in even though he has more time, so I don’t think he really lived up to his potential of being somebody who benefits from this type of debate.”
One of the most charged topics of the evening was when the candidates spoke of last month’s terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the killings of Ambassador Chris Stevens, a State Department computer specialist and two former Navy Seals who were working as contract security guards.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said she took full responsibility for the attack.
Melissa Pike, chair of the Cobb Democratic Party, said Obama put Romney in his place on the topic.
“I’m glad that Romney finally got called out for the boldfaced lie of trying to paint the president into a corner, the one that he said the president took almost two weeks to say it was an act of terror. (Romney) just kept pushing it and I’m thinking, ‘dude, back off of this. It would be different if this was something that hasn’t already been hashed out, but this was researched, you need to back off of this,’ and he just kept on. ‘Is that what you said? Is that what you said?’ It’s like he was begging us to call him out. Fine. We’re going to call you out.’”
Barr said Romney failed to take advantage of an opportunity to knock Obama out of the debate during the question about the terror attack in Libya.
“He sort of muddled it a little bit,” Barr said. “The president answered it by saying once we found out that our consulate was under attack we got to go get these people. Well duh. No kidding. The question was why didn’t we know about it before hand and why didn’t you provide the security that was asked. Romney could have really hit him hard on that and backed off a little bit for some reason, but no, President Obama clearly didn’t answer that question and hopefully it will come up again in the final debate, because if there’s one responsibility the president does have it’s to protect our embassy, our people, our military overseas, and in this particular instance this administration failed absolutely miserably, and the president still has not chosen to answer questions how and why that happened.”
Candice Sherman of east Cobb, who works for Siemens Enterprise Communications, watched the debate with other Republicans at Tijuana Joe’s Cantina.
“Romney hands down won because he cast a vision for our future,” Sherman said. “He talked about how do you create jobs, how do you move the economy forward. I think the president was much more effective in his communication style and in trying to push forward his agenda, but honestly we just have a different view for how to move the country forward. Some of the things about being energy independent in eight years. The whole debate on the price of gas was $1.86 because the economy was going to collapse? Those premises just violate basic Economics 101 in my opinion.”
On the Libya terror attack, Sherman said, “I don’t think that the president is being honest with the American public on that front. I believe that it was politicized by his party and his organization such that they wouldn’t be known as having a terrorist attack against our country that close to the election.”
Yet Sherman said don’t count Obama out yet.
“I don’t think that you can ever count out the campaigner in chief,” she said. “He’s attempting to divide our country based on class warfare, and unfortunately there are numerous people that believe his rhetoric regardless of whether it’s truthful or not.”
Author and pollster Matt Towery said he gave Obama the slight edge, but only because he outperformed his last debate. Most importantly, last night set up the stakes for the third and final debate, which will be the most important one in deciding a presidential election since the debates began again in 1976.
Like Barr, Towery disliked the town hall setting, which he said needs to come to an end, given that questions were oftentimes out of left field and the candidates didn’t know where to stand and could not keep up with the rules.
“This one got completely out of hand,” Towery said.
As for who seemed more presidential, Towery said they were about even.
“In the first half, Obama was more presidential, but Obama seemed less presidential in the second half,” he said. “I think they were about even if you take the entire debate as a whole.”
Michelle Cooper Kelly of Marietta, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, watched the debate at home with her family. Kelly said it was clear to her Obama won.
“What I think it did was it put the president back into the playing field with Mitt Romney,” Kelly said. “I think Mitt Romney had a very good debate the first time, and I think that now the president has regained some footing. I think the chance of him winning is very favorable.”
Kelly said Obama did a good job of presenting his plan.
“He talked about the 47 percent which I found was important because I’m probably one of the 47 percent,” Kelly said. “I thought from a women’s perspective the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, he talked about that. I walked away with a very clear message of what the next four years would look like. And as far as Gov. Romney I kind of felt like he was a little on the defense. I’m still not sure I understand his five-point plan, how it will reduce the deficit even though I tried to listen very intently to gain my own insight, but I thought the president, he really showed up to win, he was ready, he was prepared and I thought he did a good job.”
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) believes the debate signaled the end for Obama.
“My wife and I are sitting here in good old Marietta watching this,” Gingrey said. “We’re watching CNN post-debate to hear their analysis and they’re spinning it for Barack Obama, but I’m telling you I feel very, very confident that Mitt Romney will be the 45th president of the United States. We will not have a second term for Barack Obama, and anybody undecided that was watching this tonight and wondering about that, about whether or not Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are presidential and vice presidential, clearly we’re seeing the next commander-in-chief in Mitt Romney.”