master debaters

Scenes From the Battle of Long Island

HEMPSTEAD, NY - OCTOBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama talk over each other as they answer questions during a town hall style debate at Hofstra University October 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York. During the second of three presidential debates, the candidates fielded questions from audience members on a wide variety of issues. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Photo: John Moore/2012 Getty Images

President Obama promised his supporters a more animated, lively performance at the second presidential debate on Long Island tonight, and he kept that promise, refuting Mitt Romney’s claims at every opportunity. But, surprisingly, it was actually Romney who ended up initiating the most heated exchanges of the night by directly challenging Obama on three separate occasions. (Which by the way, is against the rules that both candidates agreed to.) The first squabble occurred when Romney accused Obama of cutting access to oil exploration on public land.

Later in the debate, after Obama called out Romney for investing in Chinese companies, Romney confronted Obama again by asking him whether he’d checked his own pension lately — a gotcha move Romney also pulled on Newt Gingrich during a primary debate.

Near the end of the debate, Romney instigated a third confrontation when he accused Obama of lying about how he’d described the attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. Moderator Candy Crowley eventually stepped into the fray with a ruling: Obama was right, and Romney was also kind of right, in a way.

So if you’re an undecided voter who enjoys bickering and unintelligible cross-talk, this debate was pure heaven.