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The world's worst-kept secret stopped being a secret at the second presidential debate.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney really, really don't like each other.
For a little more than 90 minutes on a stage at Hofstra University, the president and the Republican challenger took advantage of the town hall format to joust over job creation, economic growth, taxes, energy policy, gender equality, national security, education, guns and even the country's misconceptions about each of them.
It was a substantive debate - probably the most substantive in the past 20 years. Both men were on their games. Both hit their marks like professionals - each, for example, said nice things about wind energy producers in Iowa and Colorado, two battleground states both men would love to win.
And both scored points.
Romney hit Obama hard on the issue of job growth, noting again and again that 23 million Americans were unemployed and that the unemployment just had dropped below 8 percent for the first time in more than 40 months.
Obama countered by arguing that 5 million new private sector jobs had been added on his watch and that the jobless numbers had been creeping upward for more than 30 months. That, though, probably was cold comfort to the Americans who don't have work - or who feel that their jobs are not secure.
Obama pounded Romney hard on his tax and budget proposals, which the president said would cost $8 trillion. Obama said Romney couldn't or wouldn't say what deductions or loopholes in the tax code he would eliminate to make up the difference.
Then, turning to the Republican, Obama said that Romney had been a very good businessman and should know better.
"You wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal," the president said. "And neither should the American people, because the math doesn't add up."
The president addressed Romney as he spoke with something that resembled contempt. And Romney glared at him with something that resembled loathing.
Nor was that the only exchange in which the candidates displayed personal animosity toward each other.
When Romney answered a question about Libya by saying that Obama had traveled to Las Vegas for a fundraiser and Colorado on a political trip, Obama glared at him. Moments later, Obama said that he found "offensive" the suggestion that he or anyone on his "team" would play politics with a national tragedy after they had lost members of that team.
Their handshake at the end was perhaps the most perfunctory in the history of presidential debates.
In a way, the two men's mutual antipathy is refreshing.
One thing that turns many Americans off about political campaigns is that they find them phony - that politicians don't believe the mean things that they say about their opponents and that they don't care about the mean things that get said about them.
To many citizens, this makes their leaders seem less like human beings and more like more than robots.
This is particularly true with two men as detached and disciplined as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
The illusion that these candidates are something other than flesh and blood got dispelled Tuesday night. These guys not only genuinely don't like each other and don't trust each other, they seem to actively detest each other.
To be sure, some of their scrapping may have been posturing. After the last debate, each candidate - particularly Obama, who lost the first one - doubtless had been coached by handlers to be assertive. Each man spent a lot of time trying to convince America that he was the alpha male and that his microphone in fact was bigger than the other guy's.
But a lot of the animosity was real. These guys see the world in different ways. Both love their country. And each is convinced that the other guy would be a disaster in the White House.
That's hard to say. Each candidate said things that will energize his core supporters. Each worked hard to woo the dwindling number of undecided voters.
Each hit the other guy hard and each withstood some massive shots.
Romney closed the stature gap with the president. And Obama reminded voters of why they liked him in the first place.
The last presidential debate is Oct. 22.
I wouldn't expect it to end with these two guys doing a duet of "Kumbaya."
John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism, host of "No Limits" WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.