Obama comes on strong, Romney stands ground in second debate
CNN's Candy Crowley, who moderated the debate between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, says both were "incredibly intense" and "came to play."
President Barack Obama fought back and Republican challenger Mitt Romney mostly stood his ground.
The second of three presidential debates on Tuesday night brought the desired energy from the president sought by worried Democrats after a lackluster performance in the first encounter nearly two weeks ago.
A forceful Obama defended his policies and challenged Romney on shifting positions on key issues while arguing his Republican rival's proposals would favor the wealthy if elected in three weeks.
Romney repeatedly attacked Obama's record, saying millions of unemployed people and a sluggish economic recovery showed the president's policies had failed.
"Most improved -- that award goes to Barack Obama," said CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen. "I think he had a much stronger debate tonight."
Romney also performed well for a second straight debate, Gergen said, adding that Obama got the edge on Tuesday night.
A snap CNN/ORC International poll showed 46% of respondents thought Obama won, compared to 39% for Romney. The result was within the survey's margin of error.
Both candidates walked the floor with microphones in hand at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, raising their voices at times and repeatedly challenging each other's points during the 90-plus minute debate that featured a town hall-style format.
Moderator Candy Crowley, the CNN chief political correspondent, tried in vain at times to prevent each candidate from going over allotted time, with Obama speaking for more than three minutes longer than Romney on the night.
Obama was on the attack from the start, but waited until his final answer -- with no chance for Romney to respond -- to raise his opponent's controversial "47%" comments at a fundraiser in May.
In remarks made public by a secretly recorded video of the event, Romney described 47% of the country as people dependent on government aid who refused to take personal responsibility.
"Think about who he was talking about," Obama said, listing people on Social Security "who've worked all their lives," veterans "who've sacrificed for this country," students, soldiers and "people working hard every day."
The president said he wanted to fight for those people "because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds."