"The devil's in the details," CBS' Scott Pelley reminded Mitt Romney during a discussion of taxes and the economy in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday night.
But when Yahoo! News asked voters if those details seemed abundant and forthcoming -- either from the GOP candidate or in Barack Obama's interview -- they offered mixed responses.
"Both interviews left me craving more substance," Emily Cole, an undecided voter in Indianapolis, wrote in a first-person account for Yahoo! News. "As election season rushes toward its close, I can only hope that the debates provide more details than these interviews did."
Ahead of next week's first debate, the "60 Minutes" segments furnished Obama and Romney one last stab at primetime viewers. In their own words, here are voters' reactions to the dueling interviews.
When Pelley finally squeezed some specifics out of the governor, I found his plan alarming. The worst was his vagueness on Medicare. "I don't want any change to Medicare for current seniors or for those that are nearing retirement," Romney said confidently. For the younger people -- i.e., voters like me -- he talked about making Medicare "more means tested," which means, in Romney's words, "higher benefits for low-income people and lower benefits for high-income people."
Although this idea seems promising in theory, it lacked specifics and sounded suspiciously like he's trying to throw younger voters under the bus.
President Obama's policy offerings were similarly vague. Although the president did include more hard numbers in his answers than Romney did, his rhetoric about the "spirit of cooperation" felt practiced and hollow, and his answers did little to ease my fears about the United States' mounting deficit and lackluster job growth.
-- Emily Cole, Indianapolis
On health care, Romney continued to run away from his own policies when he was a governor and before he was a presidential candidate.
"We do provide care for people who don't have insurance," Romney said. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital."
The comment shows just how out of touch the Republican is. His statement ignores the fact that the person who had the heart attack might have avoided it altogether with care aimed at prevention. Emergency rooms don't see patients who aren't yet in critical need. When they do, it might be too late and the costs very high. Every voter should understand that there has to be a better way.
-- Jeff Musall, Newberg, Ore.
President Obama, interviewed by Steve Kroft, said that his biggest disappointment was not being able to change the tone in Washington. While everyone would like to see business handled with ease in the legislative halls, I was surprised the president did not cite job creation as his biggest disappointment. This was the interview where he could've pivoted on the issue of jobs and taken some responsibility, even if just to get it over with and move on.
With unemployment higher than when he took office, Obama may be the first president in American history to end his first term (and possibly his entire tenure) with zero or negative net job creation. His answer also reinforced where his priorities lie. Changing the tone in Washington is a broad and grandeur goal, albeit a shallow and meaningless one at that.
-- Douglas Stewart, Bridgeport, Conn.
As a voter, I was disappointed in the direction "60 Minutes" took in its interviews, as well as how each candidate chose to approach them. This was a prime opportunity to speak plainly to the American public, answer questions with clarity and help the undecided come away with a clearer picture. Yet, both President Obama and Mitt Romney took the platitude approach again. I feel as if I have heard all the same phrases before. Nothing new was offered and, for that, I am disappointed and left undecided.
Unlike a debate -- in which there is pressure to answer on the spot and under a time limit with your opposition staring you down -- these interviews took place under less stress and should have resulted in a less protective stance. Every question from the economy to foreign policy was given answers with zero substance.
-- Sylvia Branch, Cleveland
Mitt Romney said Sunday he believes both Medicare and Social Security should be needs-based -- that those who are richer should receive less benefit. That mirrors my own thoughts, that the rich really do not need their Social Security payments. Of course, as CBS' Scott Pelley mentioned, the devil is in the details, and I am sure that determining what constitutes "rich" will be a point of contention. However, I think that anyone with an income in excess of $500,000 may survive without government payment and was glad Romney realizes limits should be applied.
-- Morris Armstrong, Danbury, Conn.
What struck me most about each candidate was the response to one of the last questions in their interviews. Both were asked, What's your big idea? Obama said, "I think there's no bigger purpose right now than making sure that if people work hard in this country, they can get ahead." Romney's response: "[M]y message is restore the kind of freedom that allows America to lead the world."
I am very concerned about the economy. Both candidates should have responded to the final question with "the economy." Using "freedom" as an answer to an honest question seemed disingenuous. Our nation is still free; our form of government has not changed since Obama took office.
Romney's response seemed contrived and aimed at his Republican base specifically. With such a close election, Romney should have thought about an answer that would speak to all voters.
Obama's response did.
-- Whitney Levon, Chicago
Obama says it could be worse, whereas Romney believes it could be better. Those are the ideologies facing voters this November. In my view, Obama has a better perspective than his opponent. The economy does hurt, but it could be much worse. I seriously doubt a Republican administration would have done any better the past three years.
"60 Minutes" pointed out to Romney that when he was governor of Massachusetts 10 years ago, Romney supported abortion rights and refused to sign a "no new taxes" pledge. Romney rebutted by talking about Obama's changes during the current administration. Instead of first taking responsibility based upon past "experience," Romney deflected the question.
For Obama's part, he touted his success by claiming his administration allowed millions of jobs to "survive" thanks to bailouts. That is an interesting perspective to have, but Obama's take doesn't alleviate the suffering of everyone who lost jobs three years ago. Not everyone works in the financial sector or the auto industry.
-- William Browning, Branson, Mo.
Obama's interview focused more on the economy, and he claimed he has not raised taxes on middle-class Americans. Interestingly, his health care plan does indeed raise taxes -- as I see it -- on the middle class, because the health care reform was ruled constitutional as a tax. The penalty for not having insurance is also going to be a tax on Americans, and will impact more than six million Americans, including me. I feel strongly Obama is not telling the American people about the full impact of his health care plan, and that worries me.
-- Jeanne Rose, Cincinnati
- Politics & Government
- Mitt Romney
- Barack Obama