Oct 17 2012 By Cheryl Mullin
A FIRED-UP President Barack Obama persistently attacked Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a critical debate, offering a striking contrast from his listless performance two weeks ago.
Obama blasted Romney’s economic plans as damaging to the middle class and accused him of flip-flopping on issues like energy and gun control.
He appeared angry – a rare emotion seen in the famously cool president – when Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, criticised his response to the deadly attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans at the US Consulate in Benghazi last month.
He pointedly told Romney that any suggestion his administration “would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do”.
The stakes of the town hall-style debate at Hofstra University, just outside New York, could not have been higher.
With just three weeks to go before Election Day, the race is locked in a dead heat and many Americans are already casting ballots in states that allow early voting.
It is not clear whether the debate will help Obama regain the momentum he lost after his poor performance in the October 3 debate.
But his forcefulness last night was bound to cheer supporters disheartened by his previous performance.
Romney also gave his supporters reasons to cheer. He appeared confident and comfortable, as he had been in the first debate, and aggressively returned Obama’s fire.
Mr Romney said the middle class “has been crushed over the last four years”, and that 23 million Americans are struggling to find work.
Economic growth has been slow throughout Obama’s term in office, and unemployment only recently dipped below 8% for the first time since he moved into the White House.