Momentum Shifts During Second Presidential Debate

BY: ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

In retrospect, many spectators and pundits considered the first Presidential debate to be a bit of a snore.

The second Presidential debate was a completely different story. Both candidates got heated and sparks most definitely flew.

Plenty was at stake going into this town-hall style debate. Obama's numbers had been slipping, meanwhile Romney had been on the rise just after being considered down and out. The Vice Presidential debate was considered by the media at large as a draw. Long story short; Obama needed to shift momentum in his favor, meanwhile Romney needed to keep his own momentum rolling. Who came out on top?

First, let's talk about small businesses.

The Second Debate and Small Businesses

There were a slew of topics covered throughout this debate, from energy to Libya, but the conversation always came back to the economy during the Presidential battle in Hempstead, New York. It's been noted for months that the economy is the number one issue among voters, trumping many social and typical policy issues that dominate campaigns. Neither candidate was afraid to take on the economic issues, and many of the economic questions and concerns from the crowd came down to issues impacting America's small businesses.

Both candidates spoke directly to small business owners who are taking a huge hit in today's economy. Mitt Romney made his case as the candidate with the experience necessary for small businesses to thrive, meanwhile President Obama noted his accomplishments during the past four years with SMBs.

“I want to make small businesses grow and thrive,” Romney said in the middle of the heated debate. “I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.”

“We’ve gone through a tough four years,” Obama admitted. “There’s no doubt about it. But four years ago, I told the American people and I told you I would cut taxes for middle class families. And I did. I told you I’d cut taxes for small businesses, and I have.”

During the previous debate, "small business" was mentioned 23 times. This time around? 21.

Note that this is the final debate where domestic issues such as small businesses and the economy will be covered directly. The third and final Presidential debate on October 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida concerns only foreign policy. Therefore, the second debate represented a crucial opportunity for both President Obama and Mitt Romney to get their respective last words in on how they would mend the economy, ease unemployment and give a hand to small businesses in need.

In many regards, we heard a lot of what we have in the past. Mitt Romney continued to emphasize his five-point plan to restore the economy, the fifth point of which is “championing small businesses.”

“I came through small business,” Romney emphasized. “I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That’s why everything I’ll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it.”

Meanwhile, President Obama reminded the audience of his record of cutting taxes for small businesses and middle class families, as well as his intentions to continue with such policies.

“I would cut taxes for small businesses, who are the drivers and engines of growth,” Obama stated. “And we’ve cut them 18 times. And I want to continue those tax cuts for middle-class families, and for small business."  

Mitt Romney perhaps had more specifics concerning small businesses, noting that businesses owners he had spoken to felt like they were being oppressed by Washington. 

“Regulations have quadrupled," Romney said. "The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president. I talk to small businesses across the country. They say, 'We feel like we’re under attack from our own government.' I want to make sure that regulators see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it.”

Furthermore, Mitt Romney was very critical of the President on healthcare reform, noting that the Affordable Care Act represents a deterrent to American jobs. Specifically, Romney stated:

“The thing I find the most troubling about Obamacare, well it’s a long list, but one of the things I find most troubling is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people.”

Moderator Candy Crowley and the general format of the debate did not always allow the candidates to respond directly to each other, leaving both frustrated a number of times. President Obama, however, was eager to respond to Romney's criticisms throughout the debate and made sure to get his words in. In general, the President was much more composed and on-the-attack in Hempstead, a stark contrast to the seemingly uninterested Obama we saw during the first Presidential debate. Obama was not afraid to drive his points  home and challenge his opponent's comments when the opportunity came about.

This debate will have the pundits' head spinning for the next few days, rest assured.

What About the Election?

Following the first Presidential debate, Mitt Romney was gaining heavy ground on the President, especially in crucial swing states. The horse race that pundits predicted slowly came to fruition in the polls.

This debate has the potential to change all of that.

The President most certainly redeemed himself of the lackluster performance during the first debate, meanwhile it may be too early to say whether or not Romney definitely lost ground. Judging from early reactions and polling, the second Presidential debate may very well be considered a win for the President. This creates a particularly exciting negative heading into the final debate, with both candidates effectively “tied.”

The Bottom Line

This election cycle has not been without its twists and turn. It's both reassuring and refreshing that small businesses continue to be part of the conversation as we remain less than three weeks out from Election Day. As small business owners head to the polls, moments from this debate may very well stand out in their memories.

The question remains open; who left the best impression on small business voters?

About the Author

Brent Barnhart

Brent Barnhart is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help business owners find their voices online and improve their content strategies. You can reach Brent or find out more at brentwrites.com.

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