master debaters

What You Missed in the Presidential Town Hall Debate

US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R) participate in the second presidential debate, the only held in a townhall format, at the David Mack Center at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012, moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley.
Romney either despises Obama or he’s about to throw up. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Length of Pre-Debate Handshake: Three seconds

Length of Pre-Debate Handshake in First Debate: Six seconds

How Many Times “Ronald Reagan” Was Mentioned: One

How Many Times “Big Bird” Was Mentioned: One

Most Nervous Questioners:

Three Most Frequently Mentioned Foreign Countries:

1. China: 21

2. Libya: 11

3 (tie). Syria: 3

3 (tie). Canada: 3

Two Testiest Exchanges:

Three Most Objectively Inaccurate Statements:

3. “For young people who’ve come here, brought here oftentimes by their parents, have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag, think of this as their country and understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers, we should make sure we give them a pathway to citizenship. And that’s what I’ve done administratively.” —Obama. Those young people won’t be deported, but they don’t have a path to citizenship.

2. “That’s already illegal in this country, to have automatic weapons.” —Romney. It’s perfectly legal to buy, sell, or own automatic weapons made before May 19, 1986.*

1. “In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years.” —Romney. “There are 253,000 more women working in the United States than was the case in January 2009, when President Obama took office,” the Times reports.

Two Whiniest Romney Whines:

Biggest-Sounding Binders: “I brought us whole binders full of women.” —Romney, on searching for qualified women to serve in his cabinet as governor.

Hairiest Hand: Romney

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Most Dubious Biographical Detail: “I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business.” —Romney, seemingly referring to Bain Capital as a small business.

Nicest Thing Romney Said About Obama: “He’s great as a — as a — a — a — as a speaker and — and describing his plans and his vision. 

Nicest Thing Obama Said About Romney: “I believe Governor Romney is a good man. He loves his family, cares about his faith.”

Most Simultaneous Hand Gestures:

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Word or Phrase Least Likely to Have Been a Part of Your Debate Drinking Game: Gangbangers (as in, “If we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gangbangers, people who are hurting the community.”)

Most Amusingly Benign Description of Self-Deportation: “Self-deportation says let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented, illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead, let people make their own choice. And if they find that they can’t get the benefits here that they want and they can’t find the job they want, then they’ll make a decision to go a place where they have better opportunities.” — Romney, on his plan to force undocumented immigrants to leave the country by making it impossible for them to work here.

Biggest Failed “Gotcha” Attempt: Romney on Libya

Least Convincing Explanation for Flip-Flop: “Well, Candy, actually, in my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation, and it’s referred to as a — as an assault weapon ban, but it had at the signing of the bill both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted. There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that hadn’t previously been available and so forth. So it was a mutually agreed upon piece of legislation.” —Romney, on why he signed an assault-weapons ban as governor but opposes one now.

Winner: Obama

*Correction: This sentence originally said “after” instead of “before.”

What You Missed in Second Presidential Debate