President Barack Obama came back strongly in the second presidential debate, but did we finally get policy specifics from either candidate?

This episode of Inside Story US 2012 comes from the sidelines of the second US presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

"The American people actually deserve to hear choices that are not bought and paid for by multinational corporations and Wall Street. This is why we do not hear the critical issues in the debate."

- Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate

For many observers it was a make-or-break moment for Obama's re-election campaign, after a poor performance in Denver had allowed Mitt Romney to close the gap in the polls.

Despite the unpredictability of the Town Hall format, there was a reminder of the carefully controlled nature of these events.

The Green Party's presidential candidate, Jill Stein, was arrested for protesting against the Democratic and Republican domination of the campaign.

Stein complained of a flawed political system as she was being arrested: "Well we're here to stand our ground. We are here to stand our ground for the American people who have been systematically locked out of these debates for decades by the commission on presidential debate. We think that this commission is entirely illegitimate."

The Town Hall structure of the evening - with questions set by an audience of undecided voters - gave it the potential to be the most unpredictable of the three debates before voting day.

Presenter Shihab Rattansi speaks to John Nichols, a veteran blogger and the author of The Genius of Impeachment.

"The interesting thing about that discourse [the discussion on energy] is that it was the most intense of the debate - they actually moved within a few feet of one another. I think they both realised they had gone too far in and started to back off a little. But one of the reasons for that intensity is that - while that issue may seem a little bit esoteric - an odd place to begin - it's very real in a number of the battleground states. Ohio is the biggest battleground state of this year. Southern Ohio is a coal producing region and it isn't all "clean coal".

John Nichols, author and blogger


Source: Al Jazeera