Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Presidential debate: Which questions might trip up Obama, Romney?

Why don't you support the DREAM Act, Mr. Romney? What economic missteps have you made, President Obama? Both candidates could face tricky questions in Wednesday's debate.

(Page 2 of 2)

Romney, on the other hand, still hasn’t explained to some voters’ satisfaction why his position on health care has changed.

Skip to next paragraph

The fact-checker team at The Washington Post has also come up with a list of tough questions based on candidates' suspect claims. For Example: Romney has said he would reduce the size of government while boosting defense spending and reversing the slowdown in Medicare spending – a plan some experts have said doesn't add up. He could be asked what he would cut to make the numbers work.

Or Obama could be asked when he’ll start taking responsibility for economic missteps on his watch – and whether there are any economic decisions he regrets. Multiple fact-checking organizations have questioned his claim that 90 percent of the deficit on his watch came from Bush-era policies.

Beyond the economy and health care, it’s unclear – and somewhat doubtful, given that this debate format favors fewer questions and longer discussion times – whether domestic issues like immigration, gun control, trade, education, or climate change will come up. But some of those have pitfalls as well.

Immigration is a particularly thorny issue for Romney, given the resistance in much of the Republican party to any policy smacking of amnesty. On Monday, Romney clarified his stance somewhat on Obama’s controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, sometimes referred to as the DREAM Act-lite.

Romney has been pressured recently to explain what he would do about undocumented immigrants granted temporary work status under the program. DACA  essentially gives a two-year visa to some undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children, have lived here at least five years, and are still age 30 or under, among other requirements.

Romney told The Denver Post Monday that he would not rescind work permits for those who have received them – but that still doesn’t answer what he’d do about the hundreds of thousands who may have pending applications, or whether he’d allow the program to continue. It’s a tricky question for him, given how popular the program is among the Hispanic voting groups he’d like to court, and how unpopular it is among many conservatives.

Gun control is another possibility as a sleeper question, especially given the debate’s proximity to both Aurora, Colo., and Littleton, Colo., where the Columbine shootings took place. And it’s likely not a question either candidate would welcome, given how evasive they’ve been about gun control in the past – and how unpopular the issue is among many key swing voters.

On Monday, the United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund unveiled an ad featuring Stephen Barton, one of the shooting victims in this past summer’s Aurora movie theater shooting, posing that question himself.

“When you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself: Who has a plan to stop gun violence?” Mr. Barton says in the ad. “Let’s demand a plan.”

It’s unclear whether the candidates will have to answer that question themselves Wednesday night, but their answers to that – and other tough questions – might be illuminating.


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!