The debate was town-hall style with questions coming from 82 attendees selected by the Gallup Organization to serve as a representative sample of American voters. The questions covered previously debated taxation policies, job growth and education; however, new subject matter such as energy, women’s health and immigration emerged.
“We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work,” Romney said. “That’s why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.”
“Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan,” Obama said. “He has a one-point plan, and that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”
Obama further criticized Romney’s tax plan, claiming that Romney himself wouldn’t take such a “sketchy deal.”
“And neither should you, the American people,” Obama said.
When CNN Chief Political Correspondent and moderator Candy Crowley probed Romney to address the fact that his numbers might not add up, he responded, “Of course they add up.”
The candidates argued over energy – Obama claimed oil production is at the highest it’s been in sixteen years and coal production and jobs have increased. Further, he championed energy sources of the future: solar, wind and biofuels.
According to Obama, China and Germany are making investments in clean energy and America must do the same to maintain control of its economic future.
Romney said oil production on government land is down by 14 percent, and Obama is to blame for cutting licenses and permits on federal land and water. Additionally, Romney said he could get North America “energy independent” in the next eight years under his policies, which include more drilling, permits, licenses and a pipeline from Canada.
The debate focused briefly on unequal pay for women in the workplace.
Obama cited the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 – the first bill he signed as President – which outlaws discriminatory compensation. Romney approached the question by citing a SUNY Albany survey that said Massachusetts had the most females employed in senior leadership positions than any other state.
Romney also focused on what he felt was Obama’s failure to follow through on the immigration reform promises of his 2008 campaign.
“Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer to those that want to come here legally and for those that are here illegally today?” Romney asked.
“I’ve done everything that I can on my own and sought cooperation from Congress to make sure that we fix the system,” Obama said.
Obama noted the streamlining of the immigration system and the recent increase in border patrols, and he further advocated for cracking down on illegal immigrants that are criminals.
Conversely, Obama noted Romney’s support for self-deportation and quoted him as saying that the Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which allows law enforcement officers to stop people under suspect of being an undocumented worker, is a “model for the nation.”
Both Romney and Obama advocated for lowering corporate tax rates; Romney said that he wants to make America the most attractive nation for business, label China as a “currency manipulator” and enforce fair trade.
Obama encouraged closing loopholes to companies that outsource and said that Romney has invested in companies that were “pioneers of outsourcing to China.”
“Governor, you’re the last person who’s going to get tough on China,” Obama said.