Hofstra Debate Live-Blog III

* Another non-winner for Mitt: an immigration question. He’s not answering question, but is off to the races on immigration subject generally.

* Huh? Romney wants kids will have path to citizenship? Since when? Did I miss an Etch-a-Sketch Moment?

* Obama doing pretty well on immigration, hitting big positive and negative points.

* Romney probably not helping himself getting drawn into weeds on immigration. Don’t know why Obama doesn’t just say “if I had filed bill you would have attacked me for it.” Interesting that Mitt makes “self-deportation” sound like right of self-determination.
Whoa! Now he wants to go back to Chinese investments! Now he’s badgering Obama on his pension, letting Obama get off quick line about size of pensions. And Crowley has to tell Mitt to sit down. Bad exchange for Mitt.

* ‘Bout time for foreign policy question. And here it comes! Libya! Very hostile framing.

* Not answering question, but Obama hitting “toughness” theme pretty hard.

* Big moment for Mitt, given time his campaign has spent on Libya. Will he come out and blame Obama? Takes “he went to fundraiser” tack instead. Then follows non sequitur to Syria, Israel, Iran, and finally the “apology tour” chesnut.

* Crowley mentions HRC apology. Obama could have sounded more gracious about her. Sounds a little rattled. Goes large on “offensive” Romney attack.

* Mitt calling Obama liar. Crowley responds for Obama. Very weird exchange; hard to say how it played.

* Gun question! Will Mitt go with Fast & Furious?

* Unclear where Obama’s going with anecdote. Very cautious reference to possibility of assault gun ban being reintroduced. Don’t know if he’s said this before.

* Huh? Mitt says automatic weapons are currently illegal. Takes big leap to Santorum Lite on families. Then brings up Fast & Furious, as wingnuts undoubtedly cheer, and gradually gets excited about it.

* Crowley brings up Massachusetts assault gun ban. Mitt basically says NRA told him it was okay. And now he’s doing the Bipartisanship Shuffle!

* Obama does quick hit on assault gun flip-flop and then drops back to punt.

* Lost track of the number of questions, but don’t think Candy is going to hit 12 or 13.

* Looks like final question will be Mitt on outsourcing. He fluidly switches to China-bashing. Big opening for Obama in rebuttal. Mitt gets two more “trickle-down government” lines in, then back to China-bashing. Most blatantly protectionist pitch by a Republican candidate since Nixon. Now just back to general attack on Obama’s economic policies. I imagine even low-information voters are noting repetition.

* Guess they’re going into overtime.

* Obama gets in quick shot on Mitt encouraging overshore investment, then back to Mitt’s investments in China.

* Now Mitt asked about repatriating technology, goes right back to exact same litany on China-cheating and “making America attractive.”

* Wasn’t connected to larger themes (like Mitt’s union-bashing!), but nice that Obama mentioned we don’t necessarily need more subsistence jobs.

* Final question to Mitt: what’s biggest misperception about him. Time to whine! Gets 100% in again (don’t believe Obama campaign invented that problem for him). Does shout-out to God. Full-on Care Bear number now, and then back to Obama-bashing with same words used earlier. Still gunning hard for referendum vote.

* Obama may be wasting chance to mention vast nastiness aimed at him, instead reframing “role of government” pitch, and then “two futures.” Goes right at 47% full on! And this will be final word, I guess. Strong wrap with GI Bill reference.

Before I look at Twitter or listen to “experts” and spin, I’ll say Obama won this one, not by knockout, but by decent margin. Did everything he needed to do, and got a little lucky with nature of questions, and some notable Mitt floundering.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.