The town hall forum for the second Presidential debate proved far more energetic, on both sides this time, than the first one. I half expected a referee to suddenly appear on the stage and offer both the combatants boxing gloves so they could spar off.
The President had some energy and appeared far more involved than in round one. I suspect he received a stern lecture from his election staff about the performance he turned in the first time.
Romney was as energetic as the first time – perhaps a little too much so. He seemed unwilling to relinquish the floor even though asked to do so by the moderator. That annoyed me.
But his refusal to stop talking annoyed me more because there was one question which provided him the opportunity to do so and put the President on the defensive. That question was posed by a gentleman who had prepared it together with some of his co-workers.
“Who in the Administration was responsible for ignoring the Libyan embassy’s request for more security?”
That question was addressed to President Obama. Instead of answering it, he talked about attending the funerals of the four Americans murdered and the grief he felt at their loss. He talked about how he had been responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. He talked about ending the war in Iraq. He did everything to use his time other than even peripherally answer that question.
If I had been Mr. Romney, when it came my turn to speak, I would have stepped back, addressed that fact and “ceded” a minute of my time back to the President so that he could answer the questioner.
Of course hindsight is 20/20 and as I reflect on some debates in which I have been involved I realized that I might have better responded in a particular situation. Normally that happens about two minutes after the debate has ended and I have for all time lost the opportunity.
But this debate will not be over until the final ballot is counted in three weeks. And, I am sure, like the gentleman who asked the question, I would still like to get an answer from the President.