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President Barack Obama and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney butted heads in the second presidential debate that took a more aggressive tone than the first.[/media-credit]

The second debate in the presidential election was held Tuesday night between President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and President Obama exchanged many topics, issues and disagreements. Concerning the character of the debate, however, representatives of both sides agreed both candidates were aggressive, exemplified in multiple interruptions of each other and moderator Candy Crowley.

The University of Wisconsin’s College Republicans watched the debate from State Street Brats. Following its conclusion, Chair of College Republicans Jeff Snow described Romney’s performance as admirable, though he noted the atmosphere was more contentious than the first debate. 

“I think Romney came out strong in the debate,” Snow said. “It was obviously a different setting for both candidates.”

Many who watched the debate noted Romney’s discussion of the attack on the American embassy in Libya and, in particular, the president’s reaction to it.

Romney stated Obama did not acknowledge the attack to be connected to terrorism until two weeks later. Snow contended Obama did not spend enough time explaining the issue during the debate. 

“I think that he was given only 90 seconds on the Libya issue,” Snow said. “Obama failed to mention that the attack was not caused by a YouTube video, but was a planned attack on the anniversary of 9/11. … Romney won the second debate of the race, and momentum is definitely on his side.”

Madison Democrats watched the debate from Obama for America’s office Tuesday night. 

Peter Anich, chair of Students for Barack Obama, said he thinks the debate was a clear victory for Obama. The president gave concise answers, and his positions were very clearly on the side of the American people, Anich said.

“I think that in the first debate, Obama was playing it safe,” Anich said. “But within three weeks of Election Day, it’s not time to dance around and be polite to Romney. We have to take things seriously and call him out when he is lying to the American people. It’s comical, the way Romney changes his stances again and again.”

Anich said he was pleased with Obama’s performance and that he was also impressed with the moderator’s performance.

UW political science professor David Canon said he agreed with Anich’s assessment of the president’s performance.

“I think that Obama won the debate, because he was more aggressive on a broader range of issues,” Canon said. “Romney was better at attacking the president, but he never went into detail about how he would correct the issues, while Obama did a good job of aggressively defending his record.”

In particular, Canon noted Obama’s aggressiveness when “he looked straight at him and said that what he [Romney] said was offensive.”

Noting the character of the debate, Canon said both candidates were guilty of aggressive behavior.

“The tone was a little too aggressive for both candidates,” Canon said. “They both interrupted each other, they didn’t let each other finish saying things, they were ignoring the moderator. There were several times where Romney told the moderator ‘No, I’ll keep talking.'”

Canon, however, said he was pleased with the topics covered. The debate was a better exchange, and there were better questions asked on a broader range of issues, like women’s health, gun control and education, Canon said.