Mitt Romney: 'I love these debates'
By Justin Sink - 10/17/12 01:55 PM ET
Mitt Romney argued that President Obama failed to explain his second-term agenda during Tuesday night's debate, and stressed that he loved the showdowns with his opponent.
"I have to be honest with you," Romney said, speaking at a rally in Virginia Beach. "I love these debates. These things are great."
Notably, Romney did not mention the administration's handling of the terrorist attack in Libya, a frequent refrain in recent stump speeches but a stumbling block on Tuesday night.
Instead, the Republican nominee launched into attacking the president's performance, declaring he found it "interesting the president still doesn't have an agenda in the next term."
"He’s got to come up with that over this weekend because there's only one debate left on Monday," Romney quipped.
Romney then began reeling through some of the questions from the previous evening, referring to the participants in the nationally televised town-hall discussion by name — and pivoting into questions he would have asked the president on the same issue.
He said the woman named Katherine who spoke about women in the work force deserved an explanation for why the unemployment rate for women had risen, and that the president had evaded the question on gasoline prices.
"When it comes to his policies, and his answers, and his agenda, he's pretty much running on fumes," Romney said. "The American people want real answers."
But there's a risk that the pointed lines and sharp retorts might have come too late for the Republican nominee, with snap polls after Tuesday night's debate each giving the president a win.
Still, Romney and his allies looked to exhibit confidence in the debate's immediate aftermath, hoping to prevent a backslide after making huge gains in the polls after his first debate.
Romney's statements contrasted with a wry Obama, who told an audience moments earlier in Iowa that he was still working on his debate form.
"I'm still trying to figure out how to get the hang of this thing, debating," Obama said to loud cheers. "But we're working on it. I've got one left."
And in a statement Wednesday, the Obama campaign swiped at Romney's criticism.
“One of the reasons why President Obama won last night’s debate is that he has a vision for his second term with specific, achievable goals to strengthen the middle class," Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. "All that Mitt Romney has offered to date are sketchy deals like a tax plan that would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and a jobs ‘plan’ that independent news organizations and fact-checkers have pointed out won’t actually create jobs. If Mitt Romney wants to talk about plans, he might want to start with coming up with some of his own.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who introduced Romney at the Wednesday event, said that he "did not hear one thing from Barack Obama that suggests the next four years is going to be any different than the last for years."
"So, Mr. President, if you can’t lead step aside and let a real leader take over the White House," McDonnell said, adding that voters saw Tuesday night a "tremendous contrast between the two men on the issues that matter."
"Boy, didn't he do a good job in that debate once again?" McDonnell said.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Romney stressed that there were now under three weeks left in the election, and Virginia's opportunity to swing the contest.
"In 20 days we decide what kind of America we're going to have," Romney said.