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Who Won the Second Presidential Debate?

Ned Helmes, former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman:

"I think there were some similarities to the last debate. I think the similarities were that Mitt Romney showed up to both and was willing to play very fast and loose with the facts. And I think that the difference is going to be that since this was a much more even exchange with the president, he was not as reticent to engage as much as he was last time. The reality is that because stylistically Romney was viewed as better in the first debate, what he said and the extraordinary number of misstatements that he made were straight up lost, because everyone was dazzled by the style. In this debate, however both of them were clearly very engaged ... and what I thought was time after time after time, and very effectively, the president was able to call out not simply the debate between Obama and Romney, but the debate that Romney has with himself -- saying tonight that he does not favor employers make judgments about what is contraception when only a month or so ago he endorsed the Blunt Amendment that did exactly that is simply being on both sides of the issue. ... I think this was clearly a win for the president. ... He [Romney] certainly came to talk about jobs and he certainly repeated it a number of times, so I suppose if I was in the Romney camp -- which gives me goose bumps just saying it out loud -- I would say, 'Well, they wanted to talk about jobs and he did.'"

Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist at Prudential Fixed Income:

"Clearly we have a few data points: We have the first debate where Romney did better and stocks responded favorably to that, and now we've had Obama come back stronger and we've seen stock futures drop off. They were up coming into the debate at 9 p.m. EDT, and they gave up those gains. So, not a gigantic move, but they did drop off a bit. I think it may not be so much so a statement on policy -- although it may be -- but it could be a statement about gridlock, you know, that even if the Romney policies were one of dropping tax rates and it ended up expanding the budget deficit ... having the Republican Congress and Republican president would decrease a lot of the circus factor that we have to deal with right now. ... That kind of focus on the rhetoric and with the gridlock situation we've had, it's probably something that investors have found a difficult environment to deal with; because at the end of the day policy-makers come up with something fairly moderate but modest, unexciting, and in most cases tax cuts ... but you're not looking at bold solutions, you're dealing with a lot of rhetoric coming up with every critical decision. .... I think it was important to change the momentum, the performance was so flat from Obama in the first debate that I think it was important for him to come in, if he was going to change the momentum, to come in and have a better showing. Presumably he has done that.

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