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Obama-Romney 2: Women, security and 'trickle-down government'

Carolyn Kaster/AP

A liveblog of the second encounter between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., where the two candidates slugged it out on issues ranging from embassy security to "trickle-down government" to hiring women to executive positions in government.

10: 27: Romney goes back to calling Obama's approach "trickle-down government." Characterizes it this way: "We're going to take more money from people and hire more government workers." Says federal regulators "should see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. " Ends by saying, emphatically, "government does not create jobs."

Obama: GOP campaign has been "devoted to this notion that I think government creates jobs. That I think that is the answer." Says he's a believer in the free enterprise system. 

10:21: Romney uses question on assault weapons to attack Obama over Operation Fast and Furious. "This was a program of the government. For what purpose it was put in place I can't imagine. ...  I'd like to understand who it was that did this." Says administration has stonewalled investigation. 

10:08: Obama on diplomats: "They serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation. ... They're my representatives. I sent them them there. I know these folks, I know their families. So nobody's more concerned about their security than I am." But he doesn't answer the question, which was about security at the Libyan embassy before the attack. Romney hits Obama on "failure to provide security resources."  Says "on the day following the assassination of a United States ambassador ... when apparently we didn't know what happened, the president flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser." Such decisions "perhaps have a material significance," he says. 

Obama on Secretary of State Hilary Clinton taking responsibility for security decisions in Libya: "Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me." Says he takes responsibility. And adds, "the suggestion that anybody on my team ... would play politics or mislead when we'd lost four of our own, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president. That's not what I do as commander in chief."

10:06: Real slugfest over over pensions. But they're not talking about the Civil Service Retirement System vs. the Federal Employees Retirement System.  Or about the 1.7 percent cost of living increase in federal retirement programs and Social Security.

10:02: Obama defends federal efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants at border crossings. 

9:51: Obama on his accomplishments: "We have gone after al Qaeda''s leadership like never before." Romney: "This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he would do." On the plus side, "he's great as a speaker."

9:46: Romney: "I don't believe bureaucrats in Washington should tell people whether they can use contraceptives or not." First reference to "bureaucrats."

9:39: Romney on employment issues for women: As Massachusetts governor, "I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men." Says he told his advisers: "Gosh, can't we find some women who are also qualified?" Then "I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women." Adds that he's "proud of the fact" that a study showed he had more women in senior leadership positions during his administration than than any other state. 

9:33: Romney says he's a budget balancer: "I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years and balanced the budget." Also touts balancing budget of Olympics and in Massachusetts all four years as governor. 

9:23: Here we go on taxes. Obama backs a tax credit for hiring veterans. He also hits Romney for wanting to spend "$2 trillion on additional military programs even though the military hasn't asked for them." Says Romney hasn't specified cuts he'd make to federal programs and agencies.

9:19: They're really slugging it out here. 

9:12: Audience member asks if it's the Energy Department's job to lower gas prices. Obama doesn't address the department's specific responsibilities; instead launches into standard response about energy independence. Romney says oil production is down 14 percent on federal lands, because president cut in half number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and waters. Raps EPA for preventing building of coal plants. "We're actually drilliing more on public lands than in the prevous administration," Obama shoots back.

9:08 p.m. ET: Initial focus is all on jobs, but not federal jobs. Romney promises "rising take-home pay," but I don't think that applies to federal employees.  

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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