October 16. 2012 - HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (USA TODAY) -- President Obama and Mitt Romney took questions Tuesday night from undecided voters in the second of their three debates.
10:39 p.m. ET: And that's the end of the town hall-style debate. The next debate is Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. and the topic is foreign policy.
10:36 p.m. ET: Obama refutes the Romney attack line that "government creates jobs." He says "everybody should have a fair shot" and that "everybody should play by the same rules." Obama says there is a fundamentally different vision on how to move the country forward. He brings up Romney's 47% line: "Think about who he was talking about," Obama says, noting that many of those people are veterans and seniors. "I want to fight for them. If they succeed, I believe the country succeeds."
10:34 p.m. ET: A man asks: What is the biggest misperception about you as a candidate? Romney says Obama's campaign has tried to mischaracterize him. "I care about 100% of the American people," he says, in an oblique reference to his statement about 47% of Americans are "victims" and rely on government support. Romney talks about his faith, his work at the Olympics and his efforts in Massachusetts to pass a health care law. He says if he's elected he'll balance the budget.
10:31 p.m. ET: Obama says he's been pushing more pressure on China when it comes to trade. The question from Crowley to the candidates: How do we bring back manufacturing jobs from China? Romney says to make sure people play fair and to encourage entrepreneurs. Obama says "some jobs aren't gonna come back" because they're low wage, low skill jobs. Romney says: "Government does not create jobs."
10:29 p.m. ET: Obama says he and Romney agree about lowering the corporate tax rate. Obama wants to close loopholes, he says.
10:28 p.m. ET: The press filing center is filling up with surrogates for Obama and Romney. The post-debate spinning has already begun and Romney is talking about how to keep jobs in the United States.
10:25 p.m. ET: A woman named Carol asks Romney about outsourcing jobs overseas. Romney is talking about American jobs lost to China. He vows to make things more attractive for companies to keep jobs in the United States. Romney criticizes China's currency policy, and blasts Obama for not labeling China a currency manipulator. He talks about the need of bringing down tax rates on companies in order to be competitive.
10:24 p.m. ET: Obama says he and Romney agree on the importance of families and good schools. Obama uses his time to talk about retraining workers, the importance of community colleges and other education-related topics. He slams Romney for saying hiring more teachers doesn't grow the economy.
10:22 p.m. ET: Romney says he was able to pass an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts because both sides of the debate came together. "That's what we need more of," he says, bemoaning the gridlock in Washington.
10:20 p.m.ET: Romney says he's not in favor of new gun legislation. He tells Nina that we need to enforce existing laws and "change the culture of violence." Romney says one answer is to improve education and schools, and another is to have two-parent families if possible. He criticizes the Obama administration on the "Fast and Furious" program, the botched federal investigation of gun trafficking.
10:18 p.m. ET: Obama says he wants to support the gun laws that exist and do a better job on background checks. He says he'd like to get an assault weapons ban re-introduced in Congress. "I want a comprehensive strategy," he says.
10:17 p.m. ET: Next question comes from a woman named Nina to Obama: What has your administration done to limit the availability of assault weapons? Obama starts out by stating his support for the Second Amendment.
10:15 p.m. ET: Romney is calling out Obama, challenging the president on whether he said in the Rose Garden the day after the Libya attack that it was a terrorist act. Now Obama gets out of his chair to challenge Romney.
10:14 p.m. ET: Obama is asked about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's statement that she takes full responsibility for what happened in Libya. Obama notes: "She works for me," suggesting that he bears some responsibility too. He says it's "offensive" that someone would play politics when lives were lost.
10:11 p.m. ET: Romney says the buck does stop at Obama's desk when it comes to what happened in Libya. He says many days passed before Americans were told that it was a terrorist attack, and not a protest. Romney noted Obama flew to Las Vegas the day after Stevens was killed, that it had "symbolic significance." Romney says the administration's response calls into question Obama's foreign policy.
10:08 p.m. ET: A man asks about security in Libya and the deadly attacks that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. "Nobody is more concerned about their safety and security than I am," Obama says. After hearing about violence in Benghazi, Obama said he ordered more security at all U.S. embassies and to investigate what happened. "When folks mess with Americans, we go after them," Obama says. Then he criticizes Romney for "trying to make political points" by issuing a news release. "When it comes to our national security, I mean what I say," Obama says.
10:07 p.m. ET: Obama says he can deliver Democrats for a comprehensive immigration overhaul nd challenges Romney to get Republicans on board.
10:06 p.m. ET: Romney now is explaining about his investments and defends them as being managed in a blind trust. (Earlier, Obama brought up that Romney has overseas investments.) Romney asks if Obama has looked at his pension and Obama quips his isn't as big as Romney's. Romney's point was that pension plans invest overseas.
10:04 p.m. ET: Romney is correcting Obama, saying he thinks the E-Verify system should be a "model" -- not the entire Arizona immigration law. Romney says he doesn't want to round up 12 million illegal immigrants. "I am in favor that if people are committing crimes we should get them out of the country," he says.
10:01 p.m. ET: Obama says he's done "everything" he can on his own to fix the immigration system. He notes he put more agents on the border and is going after illegal immigrants who have "hurt" the community, such as criminals and "gang bangers." Obama says he doesn't want to harm children of illegal immigrants who are going to school. He notes that Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act, supported "self deportation," and called the controversial Arizona immigration law a "model" for the nation. "We can fix this system in a comprehensive way," Obama says.
9:58 p.m. ET: A woman asks Romney about immigration and people who are already in the United States and have green cards. "We welcome legal immigrants to this country," Romney says, adding that he wants a streamlined immigration process. On illegal immigration: Romney says he won't grant "amnesty" those who are here illegally. He supports an employment verification system and he wouldn't give drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. For children of illegal immigrants, they should have a "pathway" to become a permanent resident.
9:57 p.m. ET: Romney says Obama is "great" as a speaker, but the record shows "he just hasn't been able to cut the deficit." The election is about who can help the middle class, Romney says.
9:54 p.m. ET: Romney tells the young man that the last four years haven't been as Obama described. "We just can't afford four more years like the last four years," Romney says, noting that jobless rate hasn't dropped. Romney notes Obama promised to overhaul Medicare and Social Security and deal with immigration. "This is a president who hasn't done what he'd said he'd do," Romney says. "The middle class is getting crushed under a president ... who doesn't understand how to get the economy working again."
9:53 p.m. ET: "The commitments I've made, I've kept. And those I haven't been able to keep, it's not for lack of trying," Obama says to a young man in the audience.
9:50 p.m. ET: Obama says there are some things where Romney is different from Bush, but it's not positive. Obama charges that Romney has gone to a "more extreme place on social policy," noting that Bush supported immigration reform, didn't want to turn Medicare into a voucher program and "never suggested we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood."
9:49 p.m. ET: Obama says he has been "digging" his way out of policies from his predecessor that were "misplaced." He's talking about his job creation record. "When Gov. Romney says he has a different economic plan, the centerpiece of his plan is tax cuts. That's what got us from surplus to deficits." And then he zings Romney about trade, saying he's the "last person" who'll get tough on China.
9:48 p.m. ET: Romney says Bush "had a very different path for a very different time."
9:45 p.m. ET: An undecided voter says she blames some of the current state of affairs on the Bush administration and asks Romney how he differs from George W. Bush. Romney responds first to the last exchange, saying he doesn't believe government bureaucrats should decide who gets contraceptives. As to the woman's question: "President Bush and I are different people and these are different times," Romney says.
9:42 p.m. ET: Obama notes that when the Romney campaign was asked if the GOP nominee would support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the response was "we'll get back to you." Obama pivots to health care and contraceptive coverage, and where Romney stands on women's issues. He notes that he wants to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. "These are not just women's issues, these are family issues, these are economic issues," Obama says.
9:39 p.m. ET: Romney says he learned about pay equity as governor of Massachusetts, as he searched for women to serve in his Cabinet. (Kerry Healey was his lieutenant governor.) He talks about how he worked out a flexible schedule for chief of staff Beth Myers. "Women have lost 580,000 jobs" in the past four years, he says. His message: the economy under Obama hasn't been strong and he can do better.
9:37 p.m. ET: A woman asks Obama what he would do to ensure pay equity -- that women get paid the same as men for the same job. He talks about his mother and grandmother, and how he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. "Women are increasingly the bread winners of the family," he says. "It's not just a women's issue, it's a family issue."
9:32 p.m. ET: Obama says the cost of what Romney wants to do -- lowering tax rates and other changes -- would cost $5 trillion. He says Romney also wants to spend more on defense, plus extend the Bush-era tax cuts. Total: $8 trillion, Obama says. The president knocks his rival for not being specific about deductions and loopholes -- and brings up Big Bird again. "The math doesn't add up."
9:30 p.m. ET: Romney says he's not looking to cut taxes for higher income people. He argues that he wants to lower rates so people can keep capital and create jobs.
9:28 p.m. ET Obama and Romney have been sparring on tax policy. Romney said he wanted to eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends for people making $250,000 or less. Obama says the wealthy should be paying more, and he's challenging Romney that he said during the GOP primaries that he wants to provide tax cuts for the top 1%.
9:12 p.m. to 9:27 p.m. ET: Romney said he would ensure the wealthy don't pay less than they do now. "I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they're payinig now." He said he would provide $25,000 in deductions that families could choose how to use."
Obama conceded that the middle class has suffered. "I want to give middle class families and folks who are striving to get into the middle class some relief. Because they have been hit hard.'
In order to reduce the deficit, Obama said, "in addition to some tough spending cuts we've also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more.''
9:11 p.m. ET: Next question to Obama, about Energy Secretary Chu's statement that his job is not to control gas prices. Obama talks about what his administration has done to increase oil production. He says it is a "priority" to go after natural gas and talks about "efficient" energy to reduce demand, which will keep gas prices low.
9:09 p.m. ET: Obama: "What Gov. Romney said isn't true," about the auto bailout. "His prescription wasn't going to work" and slams Romney's economic plan as being "one point" to help the people at the top.Romney says Obama is "way off the mark."
9:08 p.m. ET: Romney talks about his 5-point plan, including his vow to create 12 million jobs during his first term. Now he circles back to Obama's attack on Detroit and the auto bailouts. He turns to Obama: "You took Detroit" and made it "bankrupt."
9:07 p.m. ET: Obama seems to have turned Jeremy's question about getting a job after college into a 5-point plan for boosting the economy, talking about clean energy among other things.
9:05 p.m. ET: Obama tells Jeremy that his future is bright, and says he wants to build on the 5 million jobs his administration has created. And he gets in a dig at Romney, for saying he wanted to "let Detroit go bankrupt."
9:04 p.m. ET: "I know what it takes to get this economy going," Romney says to Jeremy, the student who asked the first question. "Kids across the country are going to recognize ... we're bringing back the economy."
9:03 p.m. ET: First question from a voter named Jeremy, a 20-year-old student who asks Romney if he can support himself after graduation. Romney says: "We have to make it easier for kids to afford college and to get a job."
9:01 p.m. ET: Crowley is now live. There are 82 people in the audience. Two minutes to respond to a question, two minutes for follow up. And here are Obama and Romney.
8:55 p.m. ET: Crowley takes the stage to polite applause and tells the audience: "You have a front-row seat to history."
8:51 p.m. ET: Ann Romney and Michelle Obama are introduced -- and both are wearing fuchsia-colored outfits. USA TODAY's Maria Puente wrote about their fashion style today.
8:32 p.m. ET: The pre-game begins. Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, welcomes the crowd and introduces co-chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf and Mike McCurry.