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Time, gentlemen, please! Obama, Romney bicker over the debate clock

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama confront each other during the second presidential debate Tuesday night.

Updated at 10:32 p.m. ET: The second presidential debate Tuesday night was a football fan's dream, turning into a battle over time of possession as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney battled almost as fiercely over the clock as they did over what they would do in the White House.

Candy Crowley of CNN, the beleaguered moderator, time and again had to interrupt the candidates' interruptions, reminding them that they would have time at the end to equal things up.

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An hour and 10 minutes into the debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Obama cut into Romney's answer to a question on immigration, prompting Romney to interject, "Mr. President, I'm still speaking" — and then saying, "I'm going to continue."


It wasn't the first time Romney cut off Obama, who did more than his fair share of interrupting, too. Twenty minutes into the remarkably contentious debate, he headed off a presidential interruption by snapping, "You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking."

That produced an audible gasp from the audience in the debate hall, NBC News' Ali Weinberg reported.

Sharp exchanges between Obama, Romney at second debate

The debate was littered throughout with exchanges like this:

OBAMA: I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here.

CROWLEY: OK. The timekeepers are all working. 

and

CROWLEY: I've got to — I got to move you on —

ROMNEY: He gets the first —

CROWLEY: — and the next question —

ROMNEY: He actually got —

CROWLEY: — for you —

ROMNEY: He actually got the first question. So I get the last question — last answer —

and 

CROWLEY: We're going to move you along —

OBAMA: (I'm) used to being interrupted.

Full debate coverage at NBCPolitics.com