A Former Obama Speechwriter Liveblogs the Hofstra Town Hall

Obama. Romney. Ordinary Americans. What could go wrong?

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10:40 p.m. Closing thoughts. My head is spinning! The walking around, the aggressive body posture. It's all so nerve wracking and exciting! The last time I was this invested in a debate on Long Island, two big kids were deciding whether to throw me in a dumpster behind Syosset High School.

Mitt Romney was on his heals during much of the debate, culminating in that fact-check by Candy Crowley on his deceptive answer on Libya. Barack Obama wasn't afraid to be aggressive, but he also wasn't the kind of officious, smiling aggressive of Mitt Romney. Romney's style lands him somewhere between a personal injury lawyer and a rich guy talking to a gate agent after his flight is delayed.

It remains a quandary: How to call Mitt Romney on his many overlapping, interweaving deceptions? But I think Barack Obama is cracking the code. I think we saw a successful recipe not just for this debate but for the final weeks of this campaign. And Mitt Romney did not like it.

10:21 p.m. That Libya back and forth was extraordinary. And the fact the Mitt Romney so thoroughly internalized his own BS that he was unprepared for the president to point out that, yes, he called it terror the very next morning ... well ... it was quite a moment! And the fact that Candy Crowley had the brass to call Romney out on it -- that's why she's there, and man has she done a phenomenal job. Jim Lehrer could only wish to have such a pair.

10:09 p.m. That immigration conversation was intense! This whole debate is intense. A lot of walking around. A lot of Mitt Romney smiling while being aggressive. (There should be a world for smiling while being very aggressive, maybe it only exists in German.) Mitt Romney's answers were tortured, because his position is tortured. That's what debates are for, I guess.

9:51 p.m. This answer from President Obama comparing Mitt Romney to George Bush made me very happy. And the fact that Mitt Romney struggled to describe any real differences moments earlier .... That was not a good moment for Mitt Romney.

9:45 p.m. Mitt Romney's obsession with the rules is prickly and sad and off-putting, like a kid raising his hand and reminding the teacher that she forgot to assign homework.

9:30 p.m. I'm sorry, I'm still amazed. We should NEVER stop being blown away by the strange conviction of Mitt Romney, as he advocates for policies that change constantly. And then he's outraged when he's questioned about it! That takes chutzpah. Really, really weird chutzpah.

9:30 p.m. Mitt Romney riffing on what his tax plan COULD be. And he is directly contradicting the policies he campaigned on for two years. It is incredible. Has there ever been a person this cynical at the top of a presidential ticket?

9:12 p.m. Romney's plan to create 12 million jobs is nonsense. His campaign can't support it. The studies he refers to don't exist. And yet out of his mouth it comes. We will not have a successful political system unless we have a system that makes it not just wrong but politically foolish to make these kind of claims. If politicians aren't held accountable for spouting bullshit, we'll drown in it.

9 p.m. Hey there, sports fans. Another debate is upon us. Obama. Romney. Undecided voters. Who will come out on top? How did the undecided voters manage to find the debate hall without accidentally eating soap or getting lost, etc?

These questions and more will be answered tonight!

Presented by

Jon Lovett is a writer based in Los Angeles. He previously served for three years as a speechwriter to President Obama in the White House.

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