via Tumblr

Competing for a shrinking sliver of undecided voters, many of them women, their engagements at times bordered on physical as they circled each other or bounded out of their seats while the other was speaking, at times more intent to argue than to address the questions over jobs, taxes, energy, immigration and a range of other issues. – Rivals Bring Bare Fists to Rematch

WHEN YOUR first debate is as bad as President Obama had, it doesn’t take much to turn perceptions around and he did, big time. Obama also won the sound bite war, which you’ll see once the clips start spinning. It was, however, Mitt Romney’s second time standing equal to Obama. Democrats should be thrilled, while Republicans will be pleased Romney held his own.

The problem with both men throughout the debate is there disdain for each other made them both look small, if you aren’t into partisan coliseum antics.

The event made it easy to see why there are so many independents today.

Candy Crowley respected both men equally, but the same cannot be said for either Romney or Obama toward her, both men taking their moment to act like a spoiled, entitled frat boy.

The weirdest moment for Romney was “binders full of women” when he was talking about equality. It went viral on Twitter and Tumblr.

The first citing of “women” came from Mitt Romney: There are 3.5 million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office.

On Ledbetter, Obama killed it, while Romney ducked it:

And this is one of the reasons why one of the first ““ the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it’s named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that. And that’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.

Obama also scored by mentioned Planned Parenthood and the importance of the organization to women.

Romney brought up work flexibility for women and made it sing, after a meandering answer on pay equity. The problem was boiled down by conservative Ross Douthat on Twitter.

Romey’s answer to gun violence, citing the family, was his best moment.

But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the ““ the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea.

Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will ““ will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system.

Then he blew it by bringing up Fast and Furious, with the CNN dials heading down in a dive.

Obama was ready for the question on Libya, his best moment by far.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

It should bring up real trepidation for next week for Team Romney, because it’s on foreign policy, which has not been a good issue for Romney during the campaign.

Romney’s closer, “We don’t have to settle…” had to be effective, for whomever was still watching.

Obama finally mentioned 47% in his closer, which wasn’t as clear and concise as it should have been, but doesn’t really matter.

The big kaboom was when Mitt Romney got caught up in whether Obama said terror attack when he first spoke in the Rose Garden. It was reminiscent of the Fast and Furious awkwardness, Romney wanting to emphasize the “terror” point and getting tripped up in it.

Crowley corrected him on the point at first, then gave him half the point back, which no one heard, but you’ll read in the transcript below.

The reaction to this was best represented in the battle of the two partisan networks. MSNBC jumped on this segment, while Fox did a clip reel to rebut the point Romney was making.

The transcript reveals that it wasn’t as clear cut as Democrats want to spin, but they are winning the spin on the Libya issue, because Obama’s sound bite was so crisp, while Romney clearly looked flustered. From the transcript, emphasis added:

CROWLEY: Because we’re ““ we’re closing in, I want to still get a lot of people in. I want to ask you something, Mr. President, and then have the governor just quickly.

Your secretary of state, as I’m sure you know, has said that she takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your secretary of state as far as what went on here?

OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to…

ROMNEY: Yes, I ““ I…

CROWLEY: … quickly to this please.

ROMNEY: I ““ I think interesting the president just said something which ““ which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.

It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It ““ it ““ it ““ he did in fact, sir. So let me ““ let me call it an act of terror…

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He ““ he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take ““ it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

ROMNEY: This ““ the administration ““ the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

CROWLEY: It did.

Romney can’t afford to be this sloppy on foreign policy next week.

On the other side, Benghazi is still very much in the stream, which isn’t good for Obama.

What in the debate convinced Ohio voters to move one way or the other? Answer that and you know who “won” the town hall.