President Obama actually showed up for the second debate, and while the feisty contest was nowhere near as one-sided as his Denver defeat, most pundits say that the president made the comeback he needed. Some 46% of viewers thought Obama won the debate, while 39% called it for Mitt Romney, according to a CNN poll.
- "Debates are about moments," and Obama had three big ones: His quip that Romney's pension was bigger than his, his victory—with help from moderator Candy Crowley—in a scrap with Romney over the Benghazi attack, and his closing attack on Romney's 47% remarks, writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. Romney had his share of moments, but when he tried to catch Obama out over Benghazi, he was "hoisted with his own petard by Crowley in what will be the single most memorable (and replayed) interaction of the debate," he writes.
- Andrew Sullivan, who set off a panic among Obama supporters after the first debate with his analysis that the president may have thrown it all away, was satisfied: Obama "came back like a lethal, but restrained predator," he writes at the Daily Beast. "He behaved like a president. He owned the presidency."
- Fox News declares that both Democrats and Republicans are split on who won, and rounds up a few opinions: Charles Krauthammer, for one, calls the debate "Frazier vs. Ali" and gives the win to Obama.
- The debate was "effectively a tie, or perhaps a slight edge to the challenger," decides Yuval Levin at the National Review. Obama landed some punches by attacking Romney "as a cold-hearted plutocrat and calculating flip-flopper," but "Romney for the most part responded ably, and more importantly he attacked Obama’s record very effectively and argued for his own agenda reasonably well," he writes.
- Mark Halperin at Time gives Obama a B-minus and Romney a C. Obama was vastly improved over Denver and "did well in terms of being presidential, emotional, and solid, without slipping into an off-putting hipper-than-thou mode," he writes, while Romney "flunked his main test of reacting to a more aggressive Obama" and "lost control of the event, the thread of his message, and the pleasing, accessible manner he displayed in Denver." The debate "puts a full stop to the reverberations of Obama’s Denver disaster that were still echoing, giving the incumbent an undeniable win," he decides.
- Alan Schoder at CNN is among those calling the debate a big win for Obama. The president "laid out a persuasive case for re-election, point by point, drawing sharp contrasts with his opponent while avoiding rudeness," he writes, while his opponent's "defining moments were too frequently negative." Romney's "attempts to directly confront the president carried plenty of dramatic charge," but "left an impression more of petulance than leadership."