President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney met for the second presidential debate of election season on October 16 at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. The candidates were fired up and ready to address questions from the audience in a town hall debate moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. It was the first presidential debate moderated by a woman in 20 years.
The event at Hofstra was conducted as a town hall-style debate. In that format, it’s not the moderator who asks questions of the candidates. That’s the job of uncommitted voters, those who haven’t yet decided for whom to vote. Each candidate has two minutes to respond. The 82 voters in the audience were all from the local area. They submitted their questions before the start of the debate, and Crowley then selected which of the questions would be asked. “[The voters’] questions will drive the night,” Crowley said at the start of the debate. “My goal is to give the conversation direction and to ensure questions get answered.”
Citizens Ask the Questions
The first person chosen by Crowley to ask a question was 20-year-old college student Jeremy Epstein, a first-time voter from Long Island, New York. He asked the candidates what each of them would do to make sure college students like him can find jobs and support themselves after graduation. “We have to make sure that we make it easier for kids to afford college, and also make sure that when they get out of college, there’s a job,” Romney said. He spoke about a scholarship program he created while governor of Massachusetts that helped top students go to state colleges tuition-free.
“Your future is bright,” Obama told Epstein. “The fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical.” He spoke about the jobs created during his first term as president and said he wants to build more manufacturing jobs in the country. The candidates addressed questions on other topics, including the economy, taxes, gun control and equality in the workplace.
A Front Row Seat to History
TIME FOR KIDS Kid Reporter Bridget Bernardo, 11, reported from the debate as part of the TFK team. She wrote about her experience:
It was exciting to attend the second Presidential Debate at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. Debate moderator Candy Crowley told those lucky few in attendance, “journalism is like having a front row seat to history.” She was absolutely right.
I arrived on campus to check-in and saw crowds of excited students demonstrating and expressing their political views. From there, I went to the Media Filing Center, where all the journalists work and file their news reports. I went right to work, speaking with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee. I also spoke with political science students from Hofstra who were working at the event.
Soon, it was time to head into the debate hall to watch President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney answer questions from undecided voters. Both candidates were energized by the town hall format. After the debate, I got a look at “Spin Alley,” where clusters of reporters surround Congresspeople and members of each candidate’s team for interviews. It was a lively scene.
Then, I went outside to get the impressions of people who had attended the debate. Finally, feeling excited and exhausted at the same time, I jumped on the media bus, looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
Check back soon for Bridget’s full report and video. Keep up with election news and make your choice for President in TFK’s poll at timeforkids.com/election12.