Second Presidential Debate Sets Up Thrilla in Boca

Like the “Thriller in Manila” — the epic world heavyweight boxing championship between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier — the second presidential election between Republican challenger Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama was a bruising battle between two political heavyweights.

Ali and Frazier fought three times; Romney and Barack Obama will square off three  times. The first fight — in 1971 — was won by Frazier. The first debate was won by Romney by a wide margin of 67 percent to 25 percent, according to a CNN Poll. The second boxing bout was Ali’s. The second debate won by Obama by a narrower margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, according to a CNN Poll after  that debate.

The third Ali-Frazier match up was to be the decider.  Billed as the “Thriller in Manila” by  promoter Don King, the 1975 fight, however, was stopped after the 14th round, when Smokin Joe’s trainer, Eddie Futch, pulled his battered warrior out of the fight, resulting in a TKO for Ali.

Like the “Thriller,” the candidates last night ducked and dogged questions on employment, taxes, energy, immigration and Libya. Both needed a TKO. Neither politician landed a knock-out punch. Obama’s camp claimed victory. Romney’s corner called it a win too.

Surprisingly, both candidates did the rope-a-dope on housing, diverting attention away for  this disastrous domestic issue and jabbing at other issues. Although more than 3.5 million Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure over the last four years, no one mentioned housing. Although millions of Americans will be forced to lose their homes to short sales, no one bothered to talk about it. Although banks are selling millions homes at auctions, not a word was uttered in their defense.

Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN — playing the part of referee — selected the questions  from 80 uncommitted voters, who were hand-picked in advance by Gallup. No  sucker-punch questions emerged; but the candidates were both lively and engaged.

Round two is over. The final bout will be Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., focusing on foreign policy. Like the greatest boxing fight of all time, the third and final Romney-Obama confrontation could have historic implications. These two men are caught in an epic battle for the souls of American voters. The next debate could prove to be the greatest heavyweight political bout of  all times.

Stay tuned. We may get a surprise knock-out come Nov. 6.

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