Feisty Obama turns the tables on Romney in 2nd debate

Commentators from both sides of the Atlantic offer sharp analysis on the US election campaign.

President Obama came roaring back in last night's presidential debate with Republican Mitt Romney at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island. A poll by CNN of a group of registered voters declared Obama winner of the debate by 46% to 39%. An impressive 73 per cent said their opinion of Obama had shot up.

It was an energised , passionate Obama - entirely different from the listless character we saw in the Denver debate with Romney just 12 days ago when the CNN panel gave Romney the verdict by 67% to 25%.

Obama flew into Denver just hours before that debate. He seemed woefully unprepared and reluctant to challenge Romney . This time the president had spent days boning up, with Sen John Kerry playing the role the role of Romney in rehearsals . And there was no shortage of challenges!

The two men argued with each other to to toe, interrupting each other often . It was great television. "There's never been a presidential debate like this before," said one TV commentator. "I thought they were going to ask each other to step outside ," said another.

At one point Romney snapped to Obama, "You'll get your turn in a minute ."

One of the sharpest clashes came over oil drilling in the US. Catch it on www.cnn.com.

The whole debate was streamed by the New York Times ( see above if you have ninety minutes to spare).

The questions came from members of the audience, who read them out to the candidates.

Romney told one student questioner that his job as president was to make sure there was a job for him on leaving university.

Obama challenged Romney's tax cut figures. "The math doesn't add up," he said. Obama mocked Romney representing himself as a champion of the coal industry. "In Massachusetts you said of a coal operation, 'This plant kills people."

Romney, one of whose themes was how he would get tough with China, was frequently wrong-footed by Obama, completing an answer to a previous question when he was supposed to be on to a new one.

At one point Romney denied Obama had called the Benghazi atrocity an act of terror. Obama declared he said just that in the Rose Garden the day after the killings . The moderator agreed that Obama had.

Obama had the last word and he chose highlight Romney's remark to a private audience about the "47 per cent of Americans " who depended on the state . Obama made it clear he was on their side.

Opinion polls which had Obama ahead before Denver saw a slippage after that debate . Now the Democrats are hoping that the new combative Obama has turned the tide.

Just 21 days to the election - and one more debate to go at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida just five days from now. This time it's all foreign policy.

It sure beats the X Factor.

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