NEW YORK - Bye-bye birdie, hello binders?
After the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Big Bird was the big morning after water cooler talk. Now, Sesame Street, PBS and Jim Lehrer all feel so two weeks ago as conversation pieces.
The town hall format of Tuesday night’s second debate lent itself to some new conversation starters and memorable moments.
1. 'Binders full of women'
When asked about equal pay for women, Mitt Romney answered with a breakdown of his efforts in hiring women to Cabinet positions during his time as Massachusetts governor.
MS. CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women.
MR. ROMNEY: Thank you. And — important topic and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the — the chance to pull together a Cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are — are all men?
They said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?
And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And I brought us whole binders full of — of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my cabinet and my senior staff that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.
2. Crowley interjects during candidates’ conversation about Libya
A question about the attack the killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens led to this exchange between Romney, Obama and debate moderator Candy Crowley.
MR. ROMNEY: I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.
MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.
MR. ROMNEY: I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.
MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.
So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)
MS. CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
MR. ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration — (applause) — indicated that this was a — a reaction to a — to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
Here's what the president said that day in the Rose Garden:
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.
Both candidates had trouble getting the name of an undecided voter, Lorraine Osario, down straight, leaving people wondering why they were having such difficulty.
MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, I’ll be right back with you. And Lorraine Osario has a question for you about a topic we have not heard —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is for Governor Romney?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes, this is for Governor Romney, and we’ll be right with you, Mr. President. Thanks.
MR. ROMNEY: Is it Lorraina (ph)?
MR. ROMNEY: Lorraine?
Q: Yeah, Lorraine, yeah.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good. I look forward to it. Was — Lorena? Lorraine.
4. Pension jab
When Romney took the offensive questioning the president about his pension, Obama struck back with a quip.
MR. ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it — it doesn’t take as long.
5. Jeremy wants a job
Undecided voter Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year-old college student, spoke for many young people working toward a degree when he voiced his concern over finding a job after graduation. Romney finished his answer with a memorable guarantee.
Q: Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. Can — what can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will