HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (WKOW) -- Tuesday night, the undecided voters had the chance to ask the questions, in a town hall style debate, and it got President Obama and Mitt Romney fired up.
Invited members of the public joined the candidates on stage, and the two both took advantage of the more intimate style, moving around the stage to address those undecided voters directly.
The candidates were not given the questions in advance, but they had to have expected the very first question on the list would be jobs-- coming from a college student unsure about his future, and looking for some reassurance.
Here is part of the candidates' responses:
"We're bringing back an economy, it's not going to be like the last four years, the middle class has been crushed over the last four years and jobs have been too scarce," said Romney. "I know what it takes to bring them back."
Romney talked about expanding the college loan program and said his administration would make it easier for students to afford college. Obama suggested building a better education system across the nation and build upon the private sector jobs created during his first term.
"We've worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks, but I also want to make sure community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future," Obama said.
Later, the two went over their immigration plans. Obama saying his efforts have streamlined the immigration system, and Romney saying it's broken.
"If we're going to go after folks who have come here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gangbangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students -- folks who are here just because they're trying to figure out how to feed their families," Obama said.
Both mentioned the need to provide a path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants who have spent their lives as Americans. Romney said he wouldn't help illegal immigrants who are standing in the way of people trying to come into this country legally.
"I will not grant amnesty to those come here illegally, what I will do is I will put in place employment verification system and make sure employers who hire people who come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so," said Romney.
There were many more topics brought up during the debate, including a heated discussion on energy policy. Romney criticized Obama's energy plans and said he would focus on oil, gas and coal. Obama said he is for oil and natural gas, but he will focus on other renewable energy sources too.
As for taxes, both said their plans would benefit the middle class and spur job creation, and both suggested their opponent's plan would not. Romney said he intends to cut taxes across the board, especially for the middle class to help small businesses hire more workers. Obama wants to raise tax rates on upper-level incomes.
When asked how the two would address pay equity for women, Obama said he has started taking steps, referring to the first piece of legislation he signed that made it easier for women to see the same pay as men for similar jobs. Romney said as governor of Massachusetts, his administration had a number of women in leadership positions, and criticized Obama for putting women into poverty in his term.
When asked about what happened at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, President Obama said the responsibility falls to him. Romney says the president's team either didn't know all the details -- or didn't tell the truth -- about the death of four Americans there immediately after the attacks.
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (WKOW) -- The pressure is on the President to deliver a better performance in Tuesday's night second presidential debate.
President Barack Obama admitted his first debate was less than stellar, but the format at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island might favor him a little more, if he can connect with the audience. Republican challenger Mitt Romney hopes to continue his momentum after a good showing during the first debate.
The candidates will take questions from the audience about domestic and foreign policy. The audience members are undecided voters. CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate and has said she would also ask follow up questions. She says, "The challenge is that they've got to connect, not just with the people that are looking into the television and watching them, but to the people that are on the stage with them. They have to keep those folks in mind. It's a much more intimate and up close adventure with voters. The candidate that makes a connection with the person asking the question is also making a better connection with the person back at home."
Viewers and voters will also want to pay attention to the candidates' body language, since they won't be behind a podium. Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala agrees with Crowley on the importance of connecting with the audience. "If you do that with empathy, compassion, understanding and cool strength. you will win the debate and the election," said Begala, who's a senior adviser for a pro-Obama super PAC.
Tune into WKOW-TV Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. for the presidential debate. You can also watch it online at www.wkow.com/live.
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