Criticized by pundits for not offering a muscular defense of his own record, Obama boasted of ending the war in Iraq, cutting middle-class tax rates, ending the don’t ask-don’t tell policy toward gays in the military, passing the 2010 federal health care overhaul and rescuing the auto industry.
His debate persona was a relief to supporters Cyndi and John Pederson, who drove from Des Moines. They said they were disappointed with Obama’s first showing.
“I think he stopped the bleeding last night,” John Pederson said. “It was a nice tourniquet. He came out swinging and at the top of his game.”
Romney’s reference to selecting women for his administration based on “binders full of women” particularly incensed Cyndi Pederson.
“What is that?” she said. “Does he have binders for African-Americans, for Asian-Americans? And did he really not know any qualified women himself?”
Appearing later in Ohio, Obama mocked Romney for casting himself as a champion of the coal industry.
"Does anybody actually look at that guy and say, ‘He’s really into coal,’" Obama said at Ohio University in Athens. "You have got to be on the level if you want to be president of the United States."
Romney spent his day in Virginia, where undecided voters could make the difference, Romney pushed hard to shore up his own conservative base. In 70-degree sunshine, the crowd sang the Pledge of Allegiance, waved American flags and was entertained by Lee Greenwood’s patriotic songs. Romney insisted that the election is “a choice between two different Americas.”
The “binders” comment didn’t bother Mechelle Bligh, a stay-at-home mother from Chesapeake.
“It tells me he’s for equal opportunity,” she said, “and that women want to go to work for him.”
The attack last month on the American consulate in Libya was on some Republicans’ minds, as well.
“Let’s face it,” said Timmie Spence, a Chesapeake retiree. “This country shouldn’t have any problem protecting our people.”
The administration is under fire after first saying the attack was incited by a video insulting to Muslims, then blaming it on a terrorist act.
“What’s troubling about this is that as we learn more about it, these facts just don’t add up,” Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republicans’ vice presidential candidate, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Romney didn’t mention Libya in his stump speech, concentrating instead on citing his love for America with his disdain for Obama administration policies. He insisted Tuesday’s debate went well and that he was looking forward to engaging the president again Monday, when they meet for the final time in Boca Raton, Fla.
“I love these debates,” Romney said. “Don’t you think that it’s time for (Obama) to finally put together a vision of what he’d do in the next four years if he were elected? I mean, he’s got to come up with that over this weekend because there’s only one debate left on Monday.”
He made the same point before a massive rally at a park in Leesburg. “We have an agenda for our term and our agenda’s going to get this country working again,” he told a raucous crowd. If Obama gets another term, Romney predicted, the nation will have $20 trillion in debt, about $4 trillion more than now.