Obama, widely criticized for a lackluster first debate, looked energetic and confident in the second contest, criticizing Romney for his “47%” comments and emotionally defending his response to the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.
In a turning point, moderator Candy Crowley of CNN fact-checked Romney's statement that the president took two weeks to call Stevens' death a terror attack, pointing out that he did so the following day in a Rose Garden address. (Crowley's decision was met by immediate criticism from the right. Breitbart.com led with the headline “Crowley's false fact check saves president, derails debate.”) Pre-debate, Romney was thought to have a distinct advantage on any questions about Libya.
Still, Obama's improved performance ensures the race will remain close, barring an unforeseen “October surprise,” until at least the next debate in Boca Raton, FL, next Monday night.