Regardless of who the polls deem the winner, one thing is clear after tonight's debate: Game on. After a performance that was largely deemed lackluster and overly professorial in the first presidential debate, President Obama came out swinging, and things got downright heated at certain points this evening. (Seriously — did anyone else get really uncomfortable when Obama and Gov. Romney were both standing and walking toward each other?)
If you didn't watch, you not only missed that awkward feeling you get during a family argument at Thanksgiving, but you're also behind the curve on plenty of zingers, some unfortunately sexual-sounding retorts, and enough meme fodder to keep the interwebs humming for days. Here's what you need to know to get up to speed:
1. Moderator (and CNN chief political correspondent) Candy Crowley was a boss. She was tougher than Martha Raddatz, and delivered on her promise to be a more active moderator than town-hall debates usually allow.
2. Disruptive behavior was forbidden during the debate, but the crowd broke into applause when Crowley did some on-the-spot fact-checking on Romney's claim that the president never used the phrase "act of terror" in his Rose Garden address after the Benghazi attacks. Whether you're pro-Mitt or not, the somewhat-painful smackdown (and the extended close-up on Romney's face when it was delivered) was tough to stomach.
3. Ready for some potentially inappropriate one-liners to use tomorrow? Take your pick from Romney's "I appreciate wind jobs" or Obama's "I don't look at my pension, it's not as big as yours."
4. Obama took the first stance on women's issues, pointing to the Lily Ledbetter Act when queried about pay equity for women and opining on reproductive health care in the same response. "Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians making health decisions for women. I feel that's a mistake."
5. Both candidates were visibly angry at moments, and it's not an overstatement to say it looked like it might come to blows. Luckily, both men reigned in their tempers, but an audible gasp from the audience was telling — this isn't daytime TV, folks, and no one wants to see it get truly ugly.
6. In what is now the third debate, there was still no direct mention of marriage equality. But Romney may have taken an unintentional stance with the following: "But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea." Maybe it wasn't his intention to belittle unmarried parents, but thousands of single moms and dads, people raised by single parents, and people who aren't legally allowed to marry reacted on Twitter.
7. Binders full of women. Google it.
8. Romney shut down Obama with one serious, play-by-the-rules zinger: "You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking. That wasn't a question — that was a statement."
9. After weeks of dodging it, the president finally addressed the infamous "47 percent" remark in his closing argument, and Dems everywhere finally exhaled.
We asked on Twitter, but let us know in the comments: What would you ask in a town-hall debate?
Photo: Courtesy of Barack Obama Flickr