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Obama, Romney square off in second presidential debate

EMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — An aggressive President Barack Obama ripped into Mitt Romney’s economic proposals in a town hall style debate tonight, accusing his rival of favoring a “one-point plan” to help the rich at the expense of the middle class. The Republican protested the charge was way off the mark.

“The middle class has been crushed over the last four years,” Romney said in the opening moments of the 90-minute debate, the second of three between the two men.

Obama strode onto the debate stage seeking a stronger showing than the listless performance in their initial encounter, which had sent shudders through his partisan supporters and helped fuel a rise in opinion polls by Romney.

The president was feistier from the outset, quickly challenging Romney on economics and energy policy, and accusing him of switching positions on coal production.

The two men interrupted one another early and often, speaking over each other to the point that neither could be understood.

“You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking,” the former Massachusetts governor tried to cut off Obama at one point.

Both men used the opening moments of the encounter to pledge a better economic future to a young man who asked the first question, a member of a pre-selected audience of 82 uncommitted voters.

But the president’s determination to show a more aggressive side quickly showed.

Rebutting his rival’s claim to a five-point plan to create 12 million jobs, Obama said, “Gov. Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. 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.”

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