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Mayor Bloomberg Weighs In On First Presidential Debate; Hofstra Begins Preps For 2nd Debate

Political Fact Check Site Finds Both Obama, Romney Stretched Truth Wednesday
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file/credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file/credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he did not watch or listen to Wednesday night’s presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but was briefed on the debate by staffers.

The mayor said he was disappointed to learn that in 90 minutes neither candidate discussed gun control, an issue Bloomberg has championed in recent years.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb with reaction from Mayor Bloomberg

“They’ve been cowed by the NRA and they are unwilling, explicitly, to say what they would do, if anything,” Bloomberg told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

The mayor also downplayed the importance of the first presidential debate as an indicator of how the election may go, noting some past losers did well in the first head-to-head event.

“Let me just remind everybody that if you go back to Mondale, my recollection was back in ’84 I think it was, Mondale beat Reagan in the first debate,” Bloomberg said. “And John Kerry beat George W. Bush back in ’04.”

Many pundits and polls declared Romney the winner of Wednesday night’s debate.

The independent mayor has so far not endorsed either man for president.

The second presidential debate is set for Oct. 16 at Long Island’s Hofstra University, where preparations have already begun.

“It’s a really big deal for Hofstra to be able to host this event, to bring all of these people to campus,” university vice president Melissa Connolly told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell at Hofstra University

The basketball arena is being transformed and come debate night, it will look like a TV studio in an arena, said Connolly.

The Hempstead university also hosted a 2008 presidential debate that Connolly said had a big impact on the university community.

“Students were more engaged, our alumni were more engaged, we were hearing from them more, they were writing about us more,” Connolly told Haskell.

Connolly said having the debate on campus is also an invaluable learning opportunity for students.

“They can look outside the classroom. They can experience history while it’s happening,” said Connolly.

The university has raised $4 million to pay for the debate and for a series of programs and high-profile speeches around the debate.

After the 2008 debate, Hofstra saw an increase in web traffic and donations, Connolly said.

The only vice presidential debate will take place Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

Meanwhile, Back Out On The Road …

Romney felt so good after the first debate that he made an unscheduled stop in Colorado Thursday to take another jab at his opponent, saying President Obama thinks he can fix the economy with “trickle down government.”

“Where he will raise taxes on small businesses which will kill jobs, I instead want to keep taxes down on small businesses so we can create jobs,” Romney said.

Not to be outdone, the president also made a campaign stop, but with a post-debate CBS News poll of uncommitted voters giving Romney the win by a 2-to-1 margin, Obama went on the attack.

“When I got on stage I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney, but it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country promising $5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy. But the fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that,” Obama said.

The folks at the Annenberg Center’s factcheck.org said both men swapped a number of false claims and exaggerations during the debate. They said Obama might want to walk back the $5 trillion tax cut charge.

“He’s only giving you half the picture there because Mitt Romney, in addition to these tax cuts which include a 20 percent across the board tax cuts, said he would eliminate some tax preferences, like deductions, particularly for upper income earners,” managing editor Rob Farley told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Romney earned a thumb’s down when he claimed that health boards set up under Obamacare would determine what treatments people would get.

“It’s just not true. There’s a board and it will seek to find some savings in Medicare over time but specifically in the law its says it can’t ration care,” Farley said.

The debate did one important thing for Romney. It showed he could be president.

Nearly 78 percent of uncommitted voters in the post-debate CBS News poll said they now see Romney as a strong leader, a 20-point jump. Obama’s number’s also increased as 59 percent now say he is a strong leader, a 12-point jump.

Will you watch the second presidential debate at Hofstra University on Oct. 16? Share your comments below.