Candy Crowley: Welcome to the second presidential debate between incumbent President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Tonight’s format will be a “town hall debate,” in which the candidates will be asked questions directly by members of the audience which they will promptly ignore in order to recite scripted talking points. Following this — and much to the irritation of both candidates — I will ask a follow-up question to drag them kicking and screaming back to reality. As for the first question, Governor Romney, you won the coin toss, so you get to answer first.
Mitt Romney: Do I get to keep the coin?
MR: I think I get to keep the coin.
MR: I’m pretty sure the rules say I get the coin. I think I deserve the coin, because ensuring that the wealthiest Americans (like me) continue to have money to invest in small business is how we’re going to get America moving again.
CC: Moving on.
Audience member, a college kid: Yo, ‘sup? I’m in college — Go Wombats! — and my mom and my dad and my professors are all like hassling me and saying “STFU, you have no job prospects.” So, like when I graduate — or if I graduate LOL! — what kind of jobs will I get? ‘Cause I totally want to be a video game tester.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. We need to make college cheaper and get the economy going. I know what it takes to make college cheaper. I know what it takes to get the economy going. I know what it takes to major in every discipline offered in the united States. And when I’m president, I’ll personally make sure that you get a job. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented Plan for AmericaTM, whose details, in order to remain trademarked and copyrighted and patented, must remain super secret. Thanks for the question.
CC: Mister President?
Barack Obama: First off, if you want a job after you graduate, we’ll need jobs in the US. Governor Romney over there wanted to bankrupt Detroit and outsource everybody else to China. That’s not what a president does. Next, we need a great education system to train you for those jobs. Governor Romney over there thinks hiring good teachers is a joke. That’s not what a president does, either. Three, we need to invest in green energy jobs, the technology of the future. Governor Romney over there would rather you did of black lung at the bottom of a coal pit. That’s not what a president does. That’s what the villain in a Charles Dickens novel does.
CC: Thanks for the vacuous non-answer, guys. What could you specifically do to get people to work right now?
MR: For the record, I didn’t actually say “Let Detroit go bankrupt.” That was merely the title of a NY Times article I wrote in which I stated that I’d rather see the auto industry fire most of its workers, slash wages and retirement benefits to the ones who remained, destroy unions’ collective bargaining rights, and have Washington wash its hands of the whole affair. Completely different. As for can do right now, I can cite statistics about how bad things are right now, which I therefore hope will convince people I can do something about them. Also, there’s my super awesome multi-point Plan for AmericaTM!
BO: What Governor Romney said isn’t true. He doesn’t have a 5 point plan for middle class to succeed. He’s got a 1-point plan for the middle class to suck it. [ To Romney ] How do you like that “ba-zinger,” bitch?
CC: Next question—
MR: Excuse me, but I think I get to respond to that ba-zinger thing—
CC: We have lots of other questions, sir.
MR: I’m pretty sure the rules say that I get to—
CC: You’ll have time to talk in a bit.
MR: No the rules say—
CC: Next question.
MR: But but but but…
Audience member, dude in thick glasses: Oy vey, Mister President! Your Energy Secretary had the chutzpah to say it’s not his department’s policy to lower these fercockt gas prices! I don’t wanna kvetch about it, but isn’t their job to deal with this meshuggina?
BO: Our top job here is to control our energy. That’s why I’ve invested in clean energy, fuel efficiency, and natural gas. Governor Romney over there thinks you should just hand your wallet over to Big Oil and Big Coal. That’s not what a president does. That’s what an oil baron does. I hope that distracts you enough that you won’t notice I didn’t actually answer your question.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. The President isn’t an energy leader: he’s too busy worrying about “breathable air” and “drinkable water” and “keeping birds from extinction.” I know how to make us energy independent. I know how to make cold fusion work. I know how to find all the coal and oil the world has right here in North America. That’s why I’ve just decided that one of the points in my Plan for AmericaTM is to drill, baby, drill, and lay pipe like a porn star. Thanks for the question.
CC: Fantastic evasion of the question, gentlemen. Let’s try it again. Can you answer the question posed: should government do something about $4-a-gallon gas prices?
BO: We have focused on domestic energy: oil imports are the lowest in 20 years, and cars have the greatest fuel efficiency in history, and that will save money at the gas station. You know… eventually.
MR: You didn’t build that! (Ba-zinger!) You cut permits on federal land in half.
BO: Not true.
MR: How much did you cut permits by, then?
BO: We’ve produced more oil since—
MR: Don’t care. How much did you cut permits by?
BO: We changed how permits—
MR: Don’t care. How much did you cut them by?
BO: To answer the question, I need–
MR: Shut it. How much did you cut them by, then.
BO: Look, we had a bunch of companies with federal leases who weren’t using the land in the hopes of eking a bigger profit out of it. We said “use it or lose it,” took away the inactive leases, and are now re-letting let to make a profit and energy.
MR: Fine… but now production on government land is down–
BO: Is up.
MR: Is down.
BO: Is up.
MR: Is down.
BO: Is up.
MR: Is down times infinity!
BO: Is up.
MR: Fine… but now gas is $4 a gallon. It was only a $1.86 when you took office.
BO: When I took office, the economy was on the verge of collapse as a consequence of the same policies you’re promoting. So, yeah, I bet you could bring gas back to a buck-eighty a gallon, but only because you’d implode the economy a second time. How’s that for a ba-zinger?
CC: Next question—
MR: Excuse me, but I think I get to respond to that economic collapse thing—
CC: We have lots of other questions, sir.
MR: I’m pretty sure the rules say that since he went first, I go last—
CC: Not in the follow-up, sir.
MR: No the rules say—
CC: The rules of debate also say the candidates don’t get to directly question each other, don’t they, Governor How-Many-Permits-Did-You-Cut?
MR: But but but but…
CC: Moving on.
Audience member, soccer mom: Governor Romney. You’ve promised to cut tax rates, but also to eliminate deductions like the mortgage deductions and education credits. Those things are important to the middle class, you know?
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. We need to make bring the tax rates down, and reduce deductions for high-end earners. I know what it takes to reduce tax rates. I know what it to reduce deductions for high-end earners. I know what it takes to cut all of this revenue form the government and yet still produce money from the vacuum. I know how to make lead from gold. And when I’m president, I’ll personally make sure that you don’t ever pay taxes again. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented, top secret Plan for AmericaTM. Thanks for the question.
BO: First off, we need to reduce the financial strain on the middle class. I’ve reduced taxes on the middle-class by $3600 and on small business 18 times. Governor Romney’s buddies over there are blocking tax relief for the middle class right now in Congress. That’s not what a president does. Next, we need to keep those middle-class deductions, and ask for the wealthiest Americans to help pay their fair share. Governor Romney over there went on 60 Minutes and said millionaires should pay a lesser percentage of taxes than ordinary blue collar workers. That’s what a president says. That’s what a dick says. His tax cuts and defense plans add $8 trillion to the deficit, and the only plans he’s revealed to pay for it are killing Big Bird and Planned Parenthood. That’s not presidential. Hell, that’s not even mathematical.
CC: Governor Romney, suppose you were elected President–
MR: I presume I will be.
CC: –and when you get there, you find that perhaps the numbers don’t quite add up. Would you be willing to—
MR: Well of course they add up, you twit. Look, I balanced the budget of Massachusetts every year for four years, so I know how to add up numbers. Granted, Massachusetts law requires a balanced budget, so I couldn’t engage in deficit spending even if I wanted to, but that’s neither here nor there. On the other hand, look at the President: he doubled the deficit, from $10 trillion to $16 trillion. Because everyone knows that a 60% increase is the same as doubling… er… wait… Look, I know how to add.
CC: Moving on, next question.
Audience member, militant feminist: In what ways will you challenge the status quo of the male-centric man-ocracy, in particular, the unequal pay rates between women and their male oppressors that have dominated herstory?
BO: First off, I was raised by a single mom, so I understand where you’re coming from, and that’s why the first thing I did as President was sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Governor Romney over there, when asked if he would sign it, said “Eh, maybe later.” That’s not what a president does. Second, we need to get more women into college, so they can compete for higher-paying jobs, which is why we cut out bank middle-men to expand Pell grant opportunities. Governor Romney over there thinks that fat cat bankers should decide who gets to go to college, and how much they pay. That’s not what a president does. That’s what Ebenezer Scrooge does.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. We need to get more women into high-paying jobs, or at least, into binders. I know what it takes to get whole binders full of women. Well, at least, to have binders of women delivered to me, none of which I ever staffed in senior executive positions during my time as CEO of Bain or Governor of Massachusetts, but… er…
Hey, we also need to have flexible hours for women workers, since they still need to cook dinner and wash the baby and do the laundry before their husbands get home. I know how to make flexible hours happen, and I know how to eat dinner and appreciate clean and folded laundry. And when I’m president, I’ll personally make sure that you have a job that’s lets you get home in time to cook dinner for your husband and kids. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented awesome-sauce Plan for AmericaTM. Thanks for the question.
BO: What Governor Romney said misses the point. There are other issues that need to be addressed. Take women’s health: Obamacare means that every insured women has access to conception. Governor Romney over there wants to let employers decide how and if women get that medical coverage. That’s not presidential. Governor Romney wants to defund Planned Parenthood, which helps low-income women with breast and cervical cancer screenings. That’s not presidential. And let’s not even talk about abortion: Governor Romney’s flip-flopped on that issue so many times (even over the course of a single day!) that he’s neither anti-choice nor pro-choice: he’s multiple choice!
CC: Moving on.
Audience member, disillusioned Republican: I’m undecided, but I attribute most of the countries woes to the failings of George W. Bush, that filthy stinking rat bastard. Convince me you’re not him.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. But first I need to argue with President Obama. It is not the case, as he said, that I want employers to be able to dictate their employees’ coverage. I simply support the Blunt Amendment, which makes it legal for employers to be able to dictate their employees’ coverage. It is also not the case that I don’t want women to have access to contraceptive coverage. I simply stated that allowing them access to contraception was a wholesale attack on religious liberty and allowing it would be a full scale war against God. And as for Planned Parenthood.. er, well.., yeah, I’m going to get rid of that.
CC: You’ve only got two minutes…
MR: Right. Okay, George W. Bush and I are different people. He’s from Texas; I’m variously from Utah or Massachusetts, whichever tax code is most favorable at the time. He depended on foreign energy. He didn’t crack down on China. He didn’t balance the budget. He didn’t care for small business. I know what it takes to make us completely un-dependent on foreign oil. I know what it takes to crack down on China. I know what it takes to balance the budget. I know what it takes to outsource — sorry, I meant revitalize — small business. And when I’m president, I’ll personally make sure that you aren’t George W. Bush either. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented, full-of-win Plan for AmericaTM. Thanks for the question.
BO: What Governor Romney said isn’t true. He doesn’t know how to get tough on China — he’s the dude that invented outsourcing jobs to there in the first place. Dude is still making millions off of companies over there! Did you know that Chinese money is called yuan. I’m sure you noticed that Mitt’s name looks like “R-Money,” but did you notice that his running mate’s name looks like “R-Yuan”? Coincidence? You decide. But I will concede that Governor Romney is not George W. Bush, because even Bush wasn’t dumb enough to get caught on camera telling off half the electorate for being do-nothing moochers.
CC: Next question.
Audience member, disillusioned Democrat: Obama, man, I totally voted for you in 2008 ’cause I believed in Hope and Change. Now I can do is hope I got enough change in my pocket to pay for gas. Damn, man.
BO: It’s been a rough 4 years. But I said I’d give the middle class a tax break; I did. I said I’d end the war in Iraq; I did. I said I take out Bin Laden; I did. I said I’d give you affordable health care; I did. I said I’d save the auto industry; now I’m cruisin’ in a Caddy. And as for all those things I said I’d do but didn’t (mumble mumble deficit mumble mumble immigration reform mumble mumble 5.4% unemployment) … Governor Romney over there had his cronies in Congress stop me. That’s not what a president does.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. Barack Obama is a nice guy, and I like him, but let’s face it, as a President he’s a complete and utter failure and he should be ashamed to show his face before you good people. He blew up the deficit. He couldn’t control unemployment. He could pull together immigration reform. He couldn’t even convince Republicans in Congress to change their minds about one single thing, like, for instance, their over-riding desire to blow off any useful legislation in order to make Obama a one-term president. I know what it takes to get to a deficit zero. I know what it takes to make unemployment zero. I know what it takes to reform immigration. I know what it takes to make Obama a one-term president. And when I’m president, I’ll personally make sure that you aren’t Barack Obama either. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented, not-in-any-way-secret-Muslim Plan for AmericaTM. Thanks for the question.
CC: Moving along.
Audience member, sassy lady: ‘Sup, how you doin’? So what’s youse plans for dealing with dose immigrantses wit’ no greens cards dat have become productives members of society?
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. My dad was born in Mexico, so I know what it’s like to be a struggling Hispanic, and Ann’s parents were born in Wales, so she knows what it takes to tolerate BBC news. I want to make America attractive to smart classy immigrants, but not so attractive to bring in all those dingy illegals. I think that the children of illegals born in the U.S. should have “pathway to permanent citizenship”… say by serving in the Army, because — I don’t know if you caught this at the V.P. debate — my running mate is big on waging some new wars with Iran and Afghanistan, and we’ll need some tank fodder. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented, Plan para AméricaTM. Mucho gracias para la pregunta.
BO: What Governor Romney just said isn’t true. I’m for the DREAM act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented but patriotic immigrants; Governor Romney said he’d veto it. I’m against the Arizona Law that lets police detain folks if they look “illegal” enough; Governor Romney hired the guy who wrote it to be his immigration advisor. I’m not taking smack-talk about immigration reform from a guy whose only bright idea is “let illegal immigrants haul their own ass out the of States.”
CC: Governor Romney, would you like to take this moment to clarify your position on “self deportation”?
MR: No, because I just realized that President Obama insulted my wealth two questions ago. You can speak ill of my magic tax cuts or my Bronze-Age views of women, but by God Almight don’t you ever… insult… my money.
BO: Candy? Can I…?
MR: Mr. President, I’m still speaking.
BO: Yes, bu–
MR: Mr. President, let me finish.
MR: Will you people let me talk. I’m a wealthy man with an unbelievable sense of entitlement here.
CC: Make it short. See all these people? They’re waiting on you.
MR: Look, all my investments are now handled by a blind trust, which as we all know is an age-old ruse, especially since mine is handled by my very own personal lawyer, but it gives me plausible deniability in front of commoners like you people. Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?
BO: I have to say–
MR: Have you looked at your pension? Have you? Huh? Have you? Answer the question, man.
BO: You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.*
* Actual zinger.
MR: You’re damn right it’s not. But your pension has investments in China and the Cayman Islands, too. Granted, your rinky-dinky $100 K will probably pull some pathetic profit off them when you’re finally able to look at in in 11 years time, whereas I’m raking in several million a year that I have access too right now… and I guess I also just implied that everyone with a pension is in their own way guilty of selling out America a little bit… you know what? Water under the bridge, how about that?
CC: About time.
Audience member, cubicle drone: While in the lounge last week looking for my stapler — it’s a red Swingline stapler — I overheard people talking about Libya, and why your administration did give them extra security to prevent the attacks. Why?
BO: When it comes to our diplomats, the buck stops with me. As soon as we heard the consulate was compromised, I had my national security guys beef up security everywhere, and investigate exactly what happened and who did it. Governor Romney over there went on TV in the middle of it and made some cheap shots for political gain. That’s not what a president does. That’s what a douchebag does.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. It was a terrible tragedy, sure, but the greater tragedy is the day after it happened, the President went off to Vegas to play blackjack and then Colorado for some skiing, and his administration didn’t come clean about it being a pre-planned terrorist attack instead of a spontaneous video riot for two whole weeks. Our president is yellow-bellied and weak-willed on foreign policy. I’ll accentuate this by throw out the words “apology tour” again in the hopes that people watching this on Fox News haven’t seen how thoroughly this centerpiece of my campaign has been debunked.
CC: Mister President, Secretary of State Clinton says the blame rests with her. Is she right?
BO: No, the blame rests with me. The day after the attack, I condemned it as an act of terror and vowed to hunt down the people responsible, and that’s on my head now. [ Turns to Romney ] And I strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious any tight-ass cracker jingo millionaire who would attempt to suggest otherwise. And you will know my name is Commander In Chief when I lay my vengeance upon thee!
MR: Oh, really? You called it an “act of terror” the day after?
BO: I did, motherfucker.
MR: You’re saying you called it an “act of terror” — not a video meltdown — the day after?
BO: Fact-check yourself before you wreck yourself.
MR: I want this on the record: you’re saying you called it an “act of terror” in your Rose Garden speech?
CC: He did, in fact, say “act of terror.”
[ Audience applause ]
CC: Now, please, shut up, sit down, and learn to use YouTube.
MR: But but but but… [ Sits down ]
CC: Moving on.
Audience member, apparently Linda Richman from Coffee Talk: Mr. President, you said you wanted to ban AK-47 firearms, which are neither “fire” nor “arms.” Discuss amongst yourselves.
BO: Look, I support the Second Amendment, but I don’t think that weapons designed for soldiers in combat should be on our streets. But I think that most gun violence doesn’t come from assault rifles; it from desperate people using cheap handguns. So we’ve also got to strengthen schools and reduce poverty. I think I’ve avoided that question sufficiently well now.
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. I agree with the President on much of what he said: I support the Second Amendment, and that reducing gun violence is more than gun control. But he left out a key ingredient: parents. You need two of ‘em, of opposite genders, because the real cause of gun-related fatalities aren’t guns, but slutty single moms. Thanks for the question.
CC: Riiiiiight. Next question.
Audience member, another fan of Coffee Talk: I keep hearing about the outsourcing of American jobs. What will you do to keep jobs in the Unite States?
MR: Great question. Important topic. Best issue raised tonight. We need to make America attractive for small business. We need to get tough on China. We need to deregulate business. I know what it takes to make college cheaper. I know what it takes to America look sexy to a businessman (binders full of women). I know what it takes to get tough on China, since their biggest corporations are some of my closest friends. I know what it takes to deregulate Wall Street. And when I’m president, I’ll personally make sure that you don’t get outsourced to a call center in Beijing. It’s my trademarked, copyrighted, patented Made-in-America Plan for AmericaTM. Thanks for the question.
BO: Look, after that Libya debacle and “single moms breed killers” crack, all I’ve to add is that Governor Romney invented outsourcing jobs to China.
MR: And all I’ve got to respond is that government does not create jobs. I repeat: Government does not create jobs. Also, if elected, I’ll create 12 million more jobs over the next 4 years.
CC: I see no cognitive dissonance there. And now our last question of the night.
Audience member, suddenly realizing his soft-ball question is going to be the last question of the night: Er… this will be a really tough one, I’m sure. What’s the biggest misperception about you personally that you’d like to clear up, you know, for the voters.
MR: It’s that I care about 100% of Americans. And now that I’m no longer allowed to talk, I really wish I hadn’t brought up percentages of Americans…
BO: A lot of people think I think that government is the sole creator of jobs, but I know that jobs are made by the reliance and initiative of people. Government’s job is to ensure that everyone gets a fair shot and pays their fair share. I also believe that Governor Romney is a man who means what he says… when he thinks he in private behind closed doors, bad-mouthing the 47% of Americans who are retired, veterans, students, and financially strapped as victims, moochers, and personally irresponsible slackers.
CC: Thank you both, and remember: whichever side whines about the moderator tomorrow is the side that lost the debate. Good night!