Romney breaks debate rule on not asking direct questions to opponent

Mitt Romney asked President Obama direct questions twice during a combative second debate on Tuesday night, violating rules agreed to by both campaigns.

The questions were emblematic of the testy back-and-forth between the candidates throughout the night, as each questioned the rules, talked over the other and challenged moderator Candy Crowley at moments when she attempted to guide the candidates on to new questions, posed by gathered independent voters in the debate's town-hall-style format.

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The first direction question posed by Romney was during an exchange on energy in which Romney asked Obama how many permits to drill for gas and oil on federal lands he had cut.

"So how much did you cut?" Romney asked the president five times, as Obama avoided a direct answer while Romney repeatedly interrupted him.

Later, Romney asked Obama if he was saying the attack on the U.S Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was “not a spontaneous demonstration.”

"Is that what you're saying?" he asked.

The official debate rules, which were agreed upon by both campaigns prior to the first debate, say in Section 5, subsection e, that "the candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates." 

The candidates bickered over the rules all night. Romney questioned whether he was owed the last question in multiple instances, and at one point, after expressing concern that he wasn't given the last word on a question about equal pay for women, Obama said "I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here."