At the second of three presidential debates, US President Barack Obama faced off against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, taking questions from a panel of undecided voters.
Tuesday's debate was held at Hofstra University on Long Island in New York, and 82 undecided voters from the area posed questions to the two candidates on a variety of topics.
The candidates were able to walk around the stage and usually spoke directly to the people in the audience who had asked the question.
Many of the questions related to the American economy, and how each candidate proposed to combat unemployment, ensure there were opportunities for recent college graduates and women, and implement tax changes.
Romney said he would work toward combating America's unemployment rate.
"I spent my life in the private sector," Romney said. "I know why jobs come and why they go. And they're going now because of the policies of this administration."
Obama countered by saying Romney's five-point plan to get the economy going again was really a one-point plan that would only target the wealthiest Americans.
Obama on offense
Criticized for being soft on Romney during the last presidential debate two weeks ago, Obama took a more aggressive tone at times when it came to dismissing Romney's campaign pledges and discrediting the former governor of Massachusetts.
Obama looked amused during some of Romney's responses to the audience's questions, which also touched on gun control, immigration, and America's energy policy. Romney was quick to defend himself against allegations made by Obama, sometimes interrupting moderator Candy Crowley from CNN to clarify his points.
One of the more pointed exchanges came when the two candidates argued over Obama's response to the terror attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya.
Romney criticized Obama for continuing with campaign stops the day after the attack in Benghazi, even as his Middle East policy was "unraveling before our very eyes." Romney also said it took too long for the truth about the attack - that it was a planned terror attack and not a result of a protest outside the embassy - to emerge to the American public.
Obama came back strong, saying "the suggestion that anybody on my team […] would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive."
The final presidential debate is scheduled for October 29 in Boca Raton, Florida, and will focus more on foreign policy issues. The election is scheduled for November 6.
mz/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)