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Who won last night's debate? The national papers say...


New York Times gives Obama the win: "[T]the contrast with the weak and failed ideas that Mr. Romney proposed could not have been clearer. The president noted that he had signed legislation that increased pay equity for women; Mr. Romney not only refused to say whether he would have done so, but condescendingly said he had hired many women when he was the governor of Massachusetts and had given them flexible schedules.

"Voters who watched the first debate might have been left with an impression that Mr. Romney was the candidate of ideas and that Mr. Obama’s reserves of energy and seriousness had been tapped out. On Tuesday night, those roles were reversed."

USA Today, once again, calls it a tie: "In the end, each candidate achieved what he needed to do, with early reaction suggesting either a split decision or an Obama win. Political activists and national journalists on Twitter, who almost universally saw a Romney win in the first debate, were divided this time, as was wider commentary. Instant polls by CBS and CNN both found an Obama victory by 7 points."

Wall Street Journal takes a seat on the sidelines: "Mr. Romney could have done better making the case for his agenda, in particular explaining why his policies will work better than Mr. Obama's. Mr. Romney is rarely good on the why. He was most persuasive on oil prices and tax-rate cuts for small business, least effective in missing a chance to mention Mr. Obama's many failed energy investments while claiming to love solar and wind power as much as the President does. But the biggest contrast in the agendas for the next four years is Mr. Romney's willingness to put ideas on the table—Medicare reform, tax reform—that meet the economic and fiscal problems of our time."

Washington Post waits for the next one: "Next week’s foreign-policy debate will offer a chance for the two candidates to flesh out other differences on the subject. In the end, on the domestic front, the debate performance of both has been about as disappointing as their dodging on the campaign trail. Mr. Romney’s tax math is indeed suspect. Mr. Obama’s silence on the subject of entitlement reform is disappointing. But Tuesday’s town-hall debate at least offered a snapshot of the candidates’ views on a wider array of issues, and a portrait of two men who are determined, in the homestretch, to prevail."

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