Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Presidential Election

October 17, 2012

Candidates fan out after combative debate

(Continued)

"As the facts come out about the Benghazi attack we learn more troubling facts by the day," Ryan told "This Morning" on CBS. "So that's why need to get to the bottom of this to get answers so that we can prevent something like this from ever happening again."

Romney, brimming with confidence, distilled the essence of his campaign message early in Tuesday's 90-minute debate and repeated it often.

"I know what it takes to get this economy going," he said over and over. And this: "We can do better." And this: "We don't have to settle for what we're going through."

Obama, with both the benefit and the burden of a record to run on, had a more nuanced message.

"The commitments I've made, I've kept," he said. "And those that I haven't been able to keep, it's not for lack of trying and we're going to get it done in a second term."

Obama also was relentless in dismissing the merits of Romney's policies and rejecting his characterizations of the president's record.

"Gov. Romney doesn't have a five-point plan," the president argued. "He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules."

The candidates were in each other's faces — sometimes literally — before an audience of 82 uncommitted voters from New York. It's a state that's already a sure bet for Obama, but the voters there stood as proxy for millions of Americans across the nation still settling on a candidate.

"They spent a lot of time cutting down the other person," said 22-year-old Joe Blizzard, who watched with a crowd of 500 students at the University of Cincinnati. "As someone who is undecided, it was a little disappointing."

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Presidential Election