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Decision 2012: Obama, Romney Get Aggressive In Second Debate

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President Barack Obama sparred with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the second of three presidential debates Tuesday night. The president came out swinging, determined to do better than last time. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

The stakes were high for President Obama going into the second presidential debate. His lackluster performance in round one upset many of his supporters and gave Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney the boost his campaign needed.

The president was criticized for holding back in the first debate. But Tuesday night, he did not shy away from directly attacking his opponent. The candidates on everything from the auto industry bailout to immigration to Romney's jobs plan and access to contraception for women.

"The president wants to do well, I understand, but the policies he's put in place, from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have," Romney said.

"If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, 'Here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election,' How we're going to do it?" said Obama. "You wouldn't take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn't add up."

The intense level of engagement between the candidates was markedly different from what we saw in the first debate, in part because they could actually walk around the debate space freely.

Both candidates sparred throughout the evening. Romney hammered the president on the national deficit, using it to punch back at Obama when he attacked Romney's budget and tax plans.

"When we are talking about math, that doesn't add up. How about four trillion dollars in deficits over the last four years, five trillion? That's math that doesn't add up," said Romney. "We have a president talking about someone's plan in a way that is completely foreign to what my real plan is. And then we have his own record."

President Obama also accused Mitt Romney of shifting his position on the coal industry.

"When I hear Governor Romney say he is a big coal guy, and keep in mind, Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said 'this plant kills' and took great pride in shutting it down," Obama said. "And now suddenly, you're a big champion of coal."

On Tuesday night, no one steered clear of tough fights. But whether the president's performance was strong enough to erase his first-debate slump remains to be seen. The candidates have one final debate. It will be held on Monday.

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