Obama regains his footing in feisty second debate

President Barack Obama put his re-election bid back on firm footing on Tuesday night with a strong debate performance that is likely to thrill his Democratic supporters and earn him a second look from the few voters who remain undecided.

With the Nov. 6 election three weeks away, Obama's second of three debates with Republican rival Mitt Romney represented one of the final chances to make an impression with voters.

Obama made the most of it with a focused, aggressive effort. It was a sharp departure from his listless first debate two weeks ago, when Romney's dominant performance ignited a resurgence by the Republican that left the race virtually even heading into Tuesday's matchup.

Game on - he's back, Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier said of the president.

Obama made sure to work in all of the attack lines he had neglected in the Oct. 3 debate.

He hammered Romney for the wealthy Republican's low personal income tax rate and Romney's now-infamous dismissal of 47 percent of the electorate, as seen in a secretly recorded video of the former Massachusetts governor.

Obama also crisply outlined the accomplishments of his first term in office - from saving the auto industry to killing Osama bin Laden - and framed his answer on a question about women's rights in movingly personal terms.

Romney had his moments as well, especially when describing promises Obama had made and not kept.

Romney avoided the type of rout that Obama suffered in the Oct. 3 debate, but the night belonged to the president, analysts said.

I'd say it's a clear win for Obama, said Boston University communications professor Tobe Berkovitz. Certainly it would be difficult for anyone to say Romney won this debate.

Flash polls taken after the debate pointed to an Obama win. Meanwhile, Obama's odds for re-election on the Intrade prediction market climbed 1.6 percentage points, to 63.6 percent.

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