The Debate - A Defining Moment on the Role of the Federal Government
Possibly buried in the middle of the debate was a stark difference about the role of the federal government. Tellingly, Obama answered the question without saying a single word about the Constitution -- the supreme law that creates the federal government and defines its role. Instead, he rattled off a bizarre string of metaphors -- the government provides "ladders" and "gateways" and a "framework" for personal success. A half-hearted attempt to soften the brute force of federal power.
Romney began his answer by pointing to the text of the Constitution on the backdrop of the stage. And in other answers, he pointed to the 10th amendment and pointed out that states and localities have the primary role on education.
I suspect that the PBS folks set this up as a stand-alone topic because they assumed it would play to Obama's advantage as he talks about Uncle Sam handing out free kittens to everyone while Romney Warbucks lets everyone starve. I think the answers helped Romney (well, at least in my books).