Analysis, discussion and opinions by members of Newsday's editorial board.
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Filler: Mitt Romney, Barack Obama go back and forth on last four years, Libya
And this one's a real setup for Barack Obama, "I voted for you in 2008, why should I vote for you again?"
It's an opportunity for Obama to share a memorized laundry list of what he thinks has gone right, auto industry, job creation, health care, financial reform, but I assume Mitt Romney will also have a memorized, hot response.
Obama then uses about half his time to say Romney will keep every promise he's made about the next four years if elected, and it will be ugly.
Romney says, on script, the last four years have been bad and if you re-elect him you'll get four more of the same.
And Romney has good points to make. Obama has not lived up to his predictions on unemployment or the deficit (Romney slips in a straight out lie here, saying Obama doubled the deficit, when he has actually reduced it a bit), but overall, Obama did promise some things and hasn't provided them.
And a sudden question, to Romney, on what he would do about immigrants living here, without green cards, contributing to society.
The questions, overall, seem to have favored Obama in a way. This one seemed like a complete gotcha to Romney. I think his stance on immigration is ridiculous, but I definitely have a sense the questions have been tougher on Romney than Obama.
Romney has been clear, he doesn't favor much of anything in the way of the Dream Act, or a path to citizenship, or driver's licenses, or anything at all for illegal immigrants.
Obama is strong on this question, because he is more right and more humane. He does favor the Dream Act, a path to citizenship, etc. And he has been wicked hard on illegal immigrants at the same time, deporting far more than George W. Bush, who was actually a very compassionate guy on the subject.
As I said, this is a very weak topic for Romney, and Obama is getting the better of him on it. Except that Obama, as Romney said, had a majority of both houses of Congress and never passed the overarching reform both men say they seek.
Moderator Candy Crowley wants Romney to walk back his "self-deportation" comment from the primaries, and he's having none of it.
Now he does address "self-deportation" and says we won't round people up, but we'll make it so they don't have any good reason to say.
And the bickering Bickersons resume, with Crowley ineffectively trying to referee.
And pension squabbling, with Romney saying Obama has investments in China, and Obama saying he doesn't pay attention to his pension because it's not as big as Romney's, which, at least in the Hofstra University media center, got big laughs.
Next question, to Obama: On refusing extra security to Benghazi consulate in Libya before Sept. 11, and who decided, and why.
Obama seems to not to want to answer this one at all, he's totally ducked it by talking about what happened after the embassy was overrun, not before it was overrun. And he's attacking Romney for his attack on the administration that night.
Now Obama is trumpeting the death of Osama bin Laden, when it's the death of our ambassador he needs to be addressing.
Now it's Romney who, given a softball to launch out of the stadium, is stuttering and whiffing at the ball.
And it's the whole "Obama went to Vegas" thing, which I get so tired of, along with the "The President takes too many vacations" meme. It's 2012. You can be president just as good in Vegas as in Washington, and communicate just as well on Air Force One as on the ground. The Oval Office is wherever the president finds himself these days.
Obama is standing up for Hillary Clinton and taking responsibility, but there is still no explanation of whether that embassy asked for more security, and whether it should have had it. Americans deserve an answer to that question.
And Obama wins a point about whether he called the Benghazi attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans "an act of terror" the day after it happened. That leaves Romney abashed and stammering. Moderator Candy Crowley affirms that Obama did use the phrase in his Rose Garden remarks on Sept. 12.