Town Hall Style Gave Obama An Edge

It had all the trappings of a pro wrestling match. An explosion of umbrage. A referee who wasn't quite impartial and was quite willing to inject herself into the fray. And two candidates going on and off script in their attempts to beat each other to a bloody pulp. In the end, it's hard to declare either candidate a victor in the second presidential debate Tuesday night in Hempstead, N.Y.

President Barack Obama certainly turned in a much better performance than in the first debate. The president assumed control quickly and dominated the first 30 minutes. But as the evening wore on, Mitt Romney asserted himself on the economy, taxes, and healthcare. He saved his best line for last: "We don't have to settle for [this]."

But because the town hall format favors style over substance and because the president improved so much over his first debate performance, it's hard not to give him a slight edge overall on the evening—as quickie post-debate polls did. But those same polls also revealed when it came to substance, Romney again hammered the president.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Analysis & Political Strategy