After floundering in the first presidential debate, all eyes were on President Barack Obama last Tuesday to see how he would rebound during round two.
With a much more aggressive approach, the president delivered and walked off the stage at Hofstra University as the clear winner.
With a general understanding that Obama just needed to show some life to turn in a more impressive debate performance, he took the stage with vigor and never let Gov. Mitt Romney take charge of the debate. Romney was on the defensive for much of the night, thanks to Obama's determination to highlight his challenger's greatest flaws.
Obama took opportunities to slam Romney's overseas investments, shipping of jobs overseas, and overwhelming tendency to change his position on key issues. Obama called out Romney's five-point plan, calling it a one-point plan that does no more than give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut and place it on the backs of middle-class Americans.
And Obama scored when Romney did all the talking about women and jobs. The "binders full of women" was perhaps the only glaring gaffe of the night from either candidate, but it hammered home the point that Romney is out of touch with women's issues.
Several times over, Obama called out many of Romney's assertions as simply untrue. When Romney set out to attack Obama's policies and record, Obama dodged and struck right back.
Obama was also assertive with his own talking points, even if they were familiar. He drove home his vision on how to strengthen the economy, bolster education, and invest in American energy: talking points which have become Obama's reliable responses.
He backed up his commitment to American workers, particularly during discussion of the auto industry bailout, and outlined his intended tax code, which is influenced by the Clinton presidency and created 23 million jobs.
The debate victory came at a perfect time for Obama. After his offbeat performance in the first debate, which showed Americans Romney was an energized challenger, his campaign lost a bit of steam. Winning that debate was a must. Now, the momentum is a big help heading into a debate on foreign policy, an issue the Obama camp has consistently felt the president out-performs Romney on.
The debate reaffirmed Obama is just as passionate and prepared to lead in 2012 as he was in 2008. The second debate showed Americans a more familiar Obama, confident on stage and invested in his plan for the United States.
With the election just two weeks away, his performance helped set the stage for the kind of candidate Obama is going to be in a tight race. And hopefully, it helped energize some previously unlikely voters to hit the polls on Election Day.