Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ambitions of empire: Live-blogging the third Obama-McCain debate

By Michael J.W. Stickings


7:20 pm - Good evening, everyone. As I did two of the first three debates, the second presidential and the only vice-presidential, I'll be live-blogging tonight's third and final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. It's set to start in just over an hour and a half from now. I'll be updating this post frequently over the course of the debate and, very likely, well into the early morning hours, as I cover not just the debate itself but the reaction to it in the media and in early polls. Some of the co-bloggers may also stop by to offer their comments, and I certainly welcome all of you to add your comments at any time.

7:26 pm - One quick point before I go have dinner... One of the key questions going into the debate is this: Will McCain take the gloves off, so to speak, and go after Obama directly on Ayers, Wright, or anything else of that sort? In other words, will he go after Obama's character and values as reflected in his past associations? He held back in the second debate, but, with Obama's lead solid and perhaps widening, desperation is evidently sinking in for McCain. In desperation, what will he do? My suspicion is that he will be typically snarky, dropping a few not-so-subtle hints here and there. He will go negative, but it will be implied, not direct. He is apparently reluctant to bring up Wright, against the wishes of his advisors, but Ayers is clearly in play. And both Obama and Biden have criticized him for going negative not to his face but at rallies and in ads. Put another way, McCain is a coward, or is at least behaving that way, preferring to unleash Palin and the partisan mobs on Obama. McCain will likely try to make the "trust" case against Obama without seeming nasty and vindictive, but that will be hard to do. I'm not sure he can.

An opening would come if Bob Schieffer, tonight's moderator, asked him directly about Ayers and Wright, or even about the anti-Obama mobs. But Obama will be waiting. As Dan put it earlier today: "You think Obama doesn't know have a snappy comeback to McCain's stupid questions about Ayers and ACORN?" Of course he does. No, Obama won't bring up the Keating Five scandal or McCain's ties to various lobbyists (e.g., for Fannie and Freddie and for Saddam), but he will point out that McCain is simply trying to distract from the real issues of the day, specifically the economy. And, as we have seen throughout this campaign, negativity doesn't work. From the primaries to now, voters have reacted negatively (and angrily) to the negativity, particularly independents, who are tonight's target audience. Indeed, at the last debate, whenever McCain went negative, the lines tracking Ohio independents (on CNN) went way down. And McCain must know this. So expect him to continue to talk about character and values, and to draw the usual distinctions, all part of the culture war in microcosm that the race has become for McCain-Palin, but don't expect fireworks. Instead, expect Obama to be well-prepared to push back effectively and, I hope, decisively, if and when McCain makes it personal.

Okay, I'll be back a bit later. Stay tuned.

8:11 pm - Just to clarify. I mentioned above that "independents" are tonight's target audience. Perhaps I ought to be more specific. The targeted independents are the "undecideds," or those whom CNN calls "persuadable." Whatever. Maybe they are. Or maybe they're just too clueless to make up their minds.

Anyway, Obama will definitely target them tonight -- he has his liberal-progressive base sown up, after all. For him, it's about making his positive policy points and, in terms of style, looking and sounding presidential, just like he did in the first two debates. It's trickier for McCain. He needs to reach out to independents, many of whom have supported him in the past, but he also needs to play to the rabid GOP base. The base wants him to go negative, to focus on Ayers and Wright. I suspect he'll throw a few scraps to the base while overall emphasizing the independent-friendly elements of his personal myth, namely, the whole maverick thing.

8:30 pm - For what it's worth, CNN's electoral map has Obama above the 270 electoral-vote threshold. This fits with most other national and state polls. What is interesting, though, is that Obama is now ahead in Virginia, long a fairly safe Republican state. Indeed, a new CNN poll has him by a whopping 10 points there, 53 to 43.

8:33 pm - Our friend and co-blogger Mustang Bobby is live-blogging tonight's debate over at his place. Check it out.

8:44 pm - Canadiens 3, Bruins 0, early in the second period. (I'm originally from Montreal, you know, where we love our Habs.)

9:00 pm - And here we go... Live from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York...

9:01 pm - First things first, though. What am I drinking tonight? How about some Johnnie Walker Green Label? Sure, why not? Over to you, Mr. Schieffer...

9:03 pm - Apparently Schieffer wants to cut through the bull... Ah, yes, another bad day on Wall Street. Such fun. And McCain immediately name-drops Nancy Reagan. And, as expected, he's trying to tap into populist anger, much of which is fully understandable, if not fully justifiable. Main Street vs. Wall Street. It's about reaching out to homeowners. "We've got to put the homeowners first," McCain says, criticizing Paulson et al.

9:06 pm - It's "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression," says Obama. And, as expected, he immediately focuses on the middle class, which thus far has distinguished him from McCain: focus on jobs, tax cuts for the middle class, help homeowners, address long-term challenges (energy, health care, education). Solid points. McCain's first answer was a bit rambling, a bit forced, but Obama looks and sounds strong tonight. Clear and determined. In response, McCain brings up "Joe the Plumber" from Ohio. He's trying really hard to connect to real Americans, but it seems phony. And negative, like it's about protecting Joe from Obama, whose policies McCain misrepresents. Thankfully, Obama stays positive. This is what he will do... again, tax relief for the middle class.

Creature: "Right off the bat McCain seems more grounded and less erratic from the seated position... And McCain is trying too damn hard to look at Obama. It's creepy."

9:11 pm - McCain is suggesting that Obama wants to wage class warfare, "to spread the wealth around." It's the Robin Hood smear that's been making the rounds on the right. Seriously, how can "Joe the Plumber" spread the wealth around? Basically, McCain is trying to paint Obama as some sort of big-government socialist. But it's not working. "Spread the wealth around" seems to be McCain's catch-phrase tonight. Stupid.

9:14 pm - McCain has a silly little grin on his face, Obama simply looks earnest... But Obama is struggling a bit with the spending/budget question. "Investing in the American people" is a lame answer. Still, he's emphasizing fiscal responsibility, which is good.

9:17 pm - And McCain name-drops Hillary Clinton! But he's not answering the question. Maybe because he'd balloon the deficit just like Bush. He proposes, again, and across-the-board spending freeze and brings up the hatchet/scalpel metaphor. "I know, I know..." he keeps repeating, just like last time. And he goes negative on earmarks again, as if cutting earmarks would make much of a dent in the budget. Obama: earmarks constitute a tiny percentage of the budget. Good point.

9:20 pm - McCain says he can balance the budget in his first term. "I'm not Bush," stresses McCain. Right, he needs to run as far away from Bush as possible. And this was very well done. But all he's saying is that he can, not how he will. McCain certainly seems stronger and more focused tonight. The Meet the Press-like format suits him. "You have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush," says Obama, especially on "economic policies."

9:25 pm - Leadership in this campaign. It's turned nasty. Oh, come on, Schieffer. There's no equality here. Calling McCain "erratic" is nothing compared to what McCain and Palin have been saying. And it isn't just a "tough" campaign, McCain. You've turned it into a character assassination. And holding more town halls wouldn't have helped. McCain brings up John Lewis's comment that McCain-Palin are like George Wallace in '68. Oh, it's Obama who's gone negative? McCain can prove it? This is pathetic. Watergate? Where did that come from?

9:30 pm - Obama points to a CBS poll showing that Americans by an overwhelming margin think McCain has been more negative than he has. And he points to the McCain campaign's attempt to distract attention away from the economy. Solid answer. He can take the attacks, but voters want a more positive campaign. McCain repeats his claim that Obama is the one who has gone negative. Obama is absolutely right about what John Lewis said. His campaign immediately disagreed with the connection to Wallace, but Palin never denounced those who were shouting "terrorist" and "kill him" at those rallies. "I'm proud of the people who come to our rallies," said McCain. Oh really? All of them? McCain seems genuinely pissed off, but his refusal to acknowledge what has been going on at his rallies is simply appalling. Good for Obama to get out of this back-and-forth. He's in the right, but it's a non-winner for him.

9:36 pm - And here we go... Ayers and ACORN. I didn't think McCain would be this direct, but it looks like he's going for it. Solid answer from Obama explaining his connections to Ayers and the whole ACORN thing. And he does well to shift over to those who do influence him, including Lugar and Buffett. But McCain keeps hitting Ayers. McCain's campaign isn't about "getting this economy back on track," nor about jobs, it's about smearing Obama at every turn.

9:40 pm - A question about the running mates. It's pretty easy for Obama to praise Biden, which he's doing well. He just needs to be careful not to seem overly dismissive of Palin. And now it's time for McCain to talk up Palin: she's a reformer, yadda yadda yadda... As one commenter points out, men seem to be responding favourably to McCain, whereas women seem to be going for Obama, at least according to the gimmicky tracking thing at the bottom of the screen on CNN. "I'm proud of her," says McCain. Methinks he doth praise too much. Obama's really trying not to go negative on Palin, saying just that she's a capable politician who has excited the GOP base, but McCain does criticize Biden. And McCain once more attacks Obama on spending. So petty.

9:47 pm - Is is just me, or does this debate seem to be dragging? It's like the answers go on and on and on.

9:48 pm - "Canadian oil is fine." Hey, thanks McCain. Fantastic. You do realize the vast majority of us are against you, right?

9:49 pm - McCain is rambling on energy. Nuclear, clean coal, etc. We can "easily... eliminate our dependence" on Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil? Really? Just by putting our minds to it? There was absolutely nothing of substance in McCain's answer. Obama, at least, has a plan: expand domestic production (including off-shore drilling -- but "we can't drill our way out of the problem"), alternative energy (solar, wind, etc., plus highly fuel-efficient cars). This is a good issue for Obama. And McCain just seems to be smirking whenever Obama's speaking.

9:51 pm - McCain deconstructs Obama, who said we need to "look at" drilling. Apparently this isn't enough for McCain, who wants, of course, to drill, baby, drill, even though it won't make much of a dent in the price of oil and won't add much to the overall oil supply. McCain is seriously bitter tonight, claiming that Obama knows nothing about Latin America. Needless to say, Obama proves him wrong.

J. Thomas Duffy: "Well, so much for the "fireworks" ... McLame just did a turn of what Keith Olbermann calls "Old Man Yelling At Cloud" ... The Right Wing Freak Show, no doubt will applaud, but he didn't hit Obama with anything other than the talking points he's be spouting for the past two-weeks ... And, whether it was due to his virtually shaking, he seemed all proud of himself, not bothering to listen to, or address, Obama's response ...
Obama just blew an opportunity, talking about if Palin was qualified ... He should have asked how McCain could have chosen a running mate just found to be in violations of ethics ...

9:55 pm - Brilliant statement on energy from Obama... and all McCain can do is bring up Hugo Chavez?

Dan Tobin: "Mccain acts as if spent nuclear fuel stays out to sea on aircraft carriers... it comes to port in Newport News shipyards, then gets dumped... that's the point, McCrazy."

9:57 pm - Health care. Another good issue for Obama. (Of course, McCain will call him a socialist again.) The key is to lower costs for those who already have insurance and to provide coverage for those who don't. Solid answer. McCain's trying to be compassionate, but he's rambling again. A $5,000 refundable tax credit... the core of McCain's plan. What good would that do? Do people really want to have to find their own health care in the free market? And "Joe the Plumber" comes up again. I guess he's the target audience tonight. Yes, yes, socialism... see? McCain completely misrepresents Obama's plan (even though, speaking as a Canadian, we have a pretty wonderful health-care system up here. There is choice, everyone is covered, and, the quality is excellent). Obama responds to the tax credit idea: People would lose employer-based care, especially those who need it. McCain will tax health-care benefits! And people who are sick and need care won't find what they need in the free market (where they'll be denied coverage) -- my point, not Obama's.

10:04 pm - "Joe the Plumber" is rich? So says McCain. He's so snarky and bitter. Seriously, what good will $5,000 do? Does McCain have any idea how much good health care costs? (No, obviously not.) But McCain keeps playing the "spreading the wealth" card, accusing Obama of being a class warrior. Which is just plain silly. Obama has the facts on his side, and, rightly, he keeps coming back to the details of his plan.

Comment from LaurenS78: "McCain acts like a spoiled 3 yr old. Nana-nana-boo-boo." We already have a ton of comments. See below.

10:07 pm - McCain claims he has no litmus test for judicial nominees. He's bipartisan, Gang of 14 and all that. So McCain just said he would consider someone who was for abortion right? Huh. I wonder how that will play with the Palinesque GOP base.

Dan Tobin: "Gee.. for saying he doesn't have 100% negative ads... Mccain sure has an attack for every comment he utters." Indeed.

Creature: "Enough with the plumber, John. This is just stupid."

10:10 pm - Obama: No litmus test either, but Roe was rightly decided. There is a right to privacy in the Constitution. Abortion is a complex issue, but there's shouldn't be state-by-state referendums. Good answer, if unfocused. "We have to change the culture of America," says McCain. But that's just extremist anti-abortion rhetoric. He's accusing Obama of supporting partial-birth abortion, but Obama stresses that he is against it as long as there is an exception for the life of the mother. Which is pretty much what most people think is sound, moral policy, isn't it? McCain may want to change the culture, whatever that means, but Obama, again, is the one with the substance: No one is pro-abortion. It's about reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and focusing on education. McCain is really playing to the anti-abortion GOP base here. Surely independents -- oops, sorry, the persuadable -- won't like this.

Dan Tobin: "As far as I'm concerned, this show is simply a vetting process for Senator Obama to become our nation's next President... as for John Mccain, well... he's out of the question. He's simply aiding in the vetting process for Obama."

10:16 pm - The last question, on education. Another good issue for Obama. More teachers, affordable college, etc. His tuition credit proposal is excellent. "It's the civil rights issue of the 21st century," claims McCain. What? Oh, the right to a good education. But there isn't much to what he's saying. Just the usual right-wing emphasis on charter schools. And, of course, he accuses Obama of just wanting to throw money at the problem. But at least his loan plan is decent. Obama is extremely confident here. The mismatch in terms of understanding of the issues has been clear all debate, but it's as clear here as anywhere. (Again, McCain is trying to look like he's actually engaged, looking at Obama, smiling, etc., but he's trying too hard.) McCain's pushing vouchers, which is pretty much the entirely of the right-wing position on education. Terrible, terrible idea. What would happen to the public school system? And he's pushing reform... but where? Obama responds to the voucher idea -- they don't work -- and McCain smugly interjects. I'm sorry, but he's behaving like such an arrogant twit. (I'm thinking of another word, seven letters, that begins with 'a' and ends with 'e' and that refers to a part of the body down below.)

10:27 pm - "American needs a new direction," says McCain, in his closing statement. Yes, yes, he has a "record," yes, yes, he's been around. What a load of vapid drivel.

10:30 pm - Obama makes the case for "fundamental change. Solid statement.

And that's it...

10:32 pm - Initial reaction: McCain was feisty, angry, and negative, but I'd say this was another win for Obama. It was a draw on the economy, and the back-and-forth on Ayers didn't do much to tip the debate either way, but Obama pulled well ahead towards the end, on energy, health care, and education.

10:34 pm - Predictably, Bill Bennett thinks McCain the conservative beat Obama the liberal. Whereas McCain was aggressive and strong, Obama was flat. Paul Begala is right that McCain did well early on, but that Obama picked it up later on. And that the reaction shots really hurt McCain. David Gergen agrees that McCain excelled early on, but McCain "swerved off track" when it got personal (on Ayers, etc.: "an exercise in anger management") and Obama won the last half-hour.

Dan Tobin: "If Americans were waiting for this debate to choose one of them, well... they've got problems... but hopefully they will make the correct decision in the voting booth. The fate of our fragile democracy is in their hands."

10:36 pm - I just don't get this line that Obama was flat. He was calm, collected, and, as I said throughout, solid. Was it his best debate? Maybe not, but it wasn't his worst, and I thought he did well, both in terms of style and substance. John King says it was McCain's best performance. Sure, but his bar was pretty low.

Creature offers his final thoughts here. Including: "It's over. In my book McCain is the loser. One tiny, angry, cranky, eye-rolling, seething loser. My disdain for John McCain runs deep and I can't wait until I never have to listen to him again. Please, John McCain, get off my TV and out of my world."

I'll be back in a few minutes...

11:38 pm - Well, that was more than a few minutes, but I was watching some of the post-debate coverage on CNN and MSNBC, then The Daily Show.

Going into the debate today, the key word was "game-changer." As in, McCain needed one. And as McCain himself put it, he intended on "whipping" Obama's "you-know-what," as if the sadistic father was going to beat the petulant child. But, of course, he didn't end up doing anything of the kind, and the debate certainly didn't change the game in McCain's favour. The consensus, such as there is one, seems to be that it was McCain's strongest debate performance, which isn't saying much, and that he did well early on in the debate, on the economy. But then he went personal, and negative, on Ayers and ACORN, looked nasty and vindictive doing so, and lost the debate. I think that's about right, but, to me, the pundits are overlooking what I thought was Obama's excellent performance. Like I said above, he wasn't flat, he was in control. He handled McCain's attacks well, doing so without counter-attacking (on Keating, for example), and then peaked towards the end, on health care, energy, and education, three of his best issues.

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, as usual, offered some of the most poignant observations, noting, for example, that his ACORN attack went nowhere and that Obama successfully diffused the Ayers smear, while most of the crew at CNN acknowledged -- and are still acknowledging -- that Obama prevailed.

And the people seem to agree. A CNN poll of debate-watchers gives it to Obama 58 to 31, with Obama's favourables rising and McCain's falling during the debate, and with Obama winning decisively on the issues, including taxes. Similarly, a CBS poll of uncommitteds gives it to Obama 53 to 22, another overwhelming margin. Again, I think a lot of this has to do with Obama's refusal to join McCain in going negative and his answers on the three key domestic issues at the end, but, as Maddow rightly pointed out, a lot of it also has to do with McCain's temperament. People clearly aren't reacting well to it. The smirks and the grunts, the eye-rolling and the shiftiness, McCain simply looked like an angry, bitter old man seething just below the surface.

I expected McCain to play the maverick card, and he did, as well as to play up character and values, which he also did, but what I didn't expect was the explicit negativity: attacking Obama for wanting to "spread the wealth around," pressing the Ayers connection (and getting rather emotional about it), etc. And I expected him to play up his experience more, his supposed leadership, his reformist tendencies (however phony). What he did instead was contrast himself with Obama in terms of taxes and spending, that old Republican stand-by. But Obama did what he had to do, sticking to the substance of his policy proposals and challenging McCain on the facts. In the end, McCain's attacks were what fell flat. And while Obama presented himself again as supremely presidential, fully in control and on top of things, it was McCain who acted like a petulant child.

12:08 am - By the way, I thought Schieffer did a fine job. I didn't really notice him much, but he was there when he needed to be.

12:09 am - WaPo's Chris Cillizza has some first thoughts here. I don't agree that Obama's "vaguely arrogant" (if they were arrogant at all, and I don't think they were) facial expressions were on par with McCain's "contrived" expressions. McCain's weren't just "contrived," they were just nasty, and assholish. In this regard, McCain came off far, far worse. Like Cillizza, though, I was surprised that abortion was one of the key issues. But it was largely because the question of judicial nominations came up. Schieffer should have stepped in, though, and brought the discussion back to, say, SCOTUS appointments (a huge issue that hasn't been given nearly enough attention this campaign) and/or other high-profile judicial issues.

12:17 am - This doesn't happen all that often, but I must disagree with my friend Steve Benen, who thinks that this was McCain's worst debate performance. "On the substance, McCain had nothing new to offer. On his demeanor, McCain seemed angry and dismissive (did anyone count how many eye-rolls we saw?). On rhetoric, he was clumsy and repetitious." Well, I agree with all that, but he still did better, that is, was more effective, than he was in the first two debates, especially on the economy, when he was tapping into populist anger. But I think we forget that he did do fairly well at times in the first debate, on foreign policy. So allow me to restate: I sort of disagree with my friend Steve Benen.

12:22 am - Alright, that's it for me. It's been a long evening. I need to watch the debate again, or at least parts of it, and think it over before commenting further. And I'll do that... later today!

Thank you to all of our readers for spending some time with us tonight. Make sure to keep checking back daily, and multiple times daily, for extensive election coverage, and much more, from the Reaction team.

Thank you to all the commenters for letting us know what you thought of the debate. Much, much appreciated.

And thank you to Creature, Dan, and JTD for some fast and furious commentary along the way. You guys are hilarious. And, as always, insightful.

Good night, everyone.

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  • This Acorn issue is about the lowest that the McCain party has sunk in their mudslinging. Acorn pays their employees based on how many voter registrations they turn in. Palin is truly clueless to say that there is voter fraud going on. It isn't voter fraud until someone shows up to vote with a voter registration card and official ID to match that registration card. Someone please explain this to her! This is simply a case of employees trying to scam the Acorn Company. They were probably sitting on the sofa eating hohos instead of going door to door registering voters. Did Obama support Acorn? Yes, because he knows how important it is for his campaign to get new voters. It is sad that we even need companies like Acorn! It should be a government lead initiative to get new voters. This is ridiculous and everyone knows it! Wait, I take that back…. It’s obvious that Palin doesn’t.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 PM  

  • This should be good. I can't wait.

    By Blogger creature, at 8:58 PM  

  • I cannot wait either... It would be nice if someone reported that the National Black Republican Association existed or that an interview with Dr. Thomas Sowell would be nice. There are those of us in the black community that are not voting Obama but judging by all the media, one would never know that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 PM  

  • Right off the bat McCain seems more grounded and less erratic from the seated position.

    Though he did just lie about the Fanny and Freddie again.

    By Blogger creature, at 9:05 PM  

  • And McCain is trying too damn hard to look at Obama. It's creepy.

    By Blogger creature, at 9:08 PM  

  • Spread the wealth. Obama's a socialist. Watch out. McCain's fucking arguments are old and tired.

    By Blogger creature, at 9:14 PM  

  • I want a fact check on this Joe the plumber guy... Joe Werzberger.
    I bet he doesn't even exist.

    Mccain is the Penguin from Batman... hee hee hee

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:16 PM  

  • Why did Mccrazy mix up FDR and Clinton!??

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:17 PM  

  • Hatchet's and scalpels... WTF!? does Mccrazy want to do to us?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:18 PM  

  • Get rid of ethynol subsidies? Mccrazy just lost Iowa and Ohio.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:19 PM  

  • Mccrazy avoided balancing the budget... he's being disingenuous.. sliding away from the question with no real substance.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:21 PM  

  • I am watching that stupid little red-and-green-line thing that runs across the bottom of the screen on CNN (men=green, women=red). Yeah, it's a gimmick, I know. But I am fascinated at just how large the divergence is between men and women when the two candidates speak. Men almost always view McCain's comments more favorably, the reverse is true for Obama. Is there really *that* much of a gender gap? Or is it just because of the small sample of the test group?

    Oh, and McCain said the "Americans are hurting" bit again. Seems like a new theme.

    (Just for fun: The John McCain Political Rally Bingo Card: Link Here! Enjoy!)

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:23 PM  

  • Mccrazy is ranting... Obama agreed with Mccrazy fighting in the Senate, but Mccrazy thought he didn't.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:25 PM  

  • Fucking town hall meetings. All the negativity is Obama's fault.

    By Blogger creature, at 9:27 PM  

  • Dan - McCain has *always* been against ethanol subsidies, and hasn't shied away from the issue from day one. He readily conceded a year ago he would lose the Iowa Caucus because of that issue, but he would stand by it on principle.

    And, frankly, I actually *agree* with him on that specific issue (hey, even a broken clock is correct twice a day). Ethanol subsidies do greatly distort the market, and there are better ways to go about it. I'm willing to bet that McCain thinks he can get more votes elsewhere for his stand on that issue to offset losing Iowa (plus he gets a free pass at looking like he is willing to stand by an issue he really believes in, regardless of the populism)

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:27 PM  

  • Obama is spending unprecented money because he has it to spend! No one donated to your campaign MCCrack!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:32 PM  

  • Who cares about the negative campaigning!!! Let's get on with how this terrible economy is going to once again flourish! We need help and change and MCCRACK is not the answer.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:33 PM  

  • Mccain left both Michigan and now Wisconsin, and now he's pitting himself against ag states? C'mon.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:34 PM  

  • Obama awesome! No agreeing tonight on the merits of a tit-for-tat argument! Priceless..

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:35 PM  

  • Oh good grief!! Did the moniter HAVE to bring this carp up???
    What a waste of time!! WE dont need to hear his stuff about t shirts and who said what! John for cripes sake get over it with the town hall stuff
    This is a waste of time!! Talk about the issues!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:35 PM  

  • Mccain went to Ayers - oh no he didn't...

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:36 PM  

  • Is John Mccain's campaign still in "suspension?"

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:37 PM  

  • I hate John McCain. I can't wait until Obama wins and we never have to hear from this angry old man again.

    By Blogger creature, at 9:38 PM  

  • Mccrazy looked dumb and ranty -
    Obama nailed it, confident, and smooth as a President.

    As long as Mccain keeps the pressure on Obama, Obama can't turn to Mccain... this makes Mccain look worse actually.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:40 PM  

  • McCain Transition Chief Aided Saddam in Lobbying Effort

    why doesn't Obama respond with this report?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:41 PM  

  • Obama's pick of Biden as VP was for country...
    Mccain cannot say the same thing. He chose Palin to lull Clinton voters.. this is sexist.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:41 PM  

  • If Palin became President, she would cede Alaska.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:43 PM  

  • My mom thinks McCain looks like a sock monkey, stitched-on grin and all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 PM  

  • Yeah, Palin's brought all the crazies out of the woodwork. It's pretty scary.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:45 PM  

  • Mccain acts as if spent nuclear fuel stays out to sea on aircraft carriers... it comes to port in Newport News shipyards, then gets dumped... that's the point MCcrazy.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:48 PM  

  • Obama has my vote.

    case closed.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:50 PM  

  • Gee.. for saying he doesn't have 100% negative ads... Mccain sure has an attack for every comment he utters.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:52 PM  

  • McCain acts like a spoiled 3 yr old. Nana-nana-boo-boo.

    By Blogger :), at 9:52 PM  

  • Mccain is FOR NAFTA. He basically said it.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:53 PM  

  • Obama said, "Detroit dragged it's feet too long" - now THAT's mavericky.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:55 PM  

  • Mccain carves off segments of the electorate with everything he said in this debate so far... not a good "strategery" to qoute Bush.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:56 PM  

  • This Joe Werzberger guy is real popular.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:00 PM  

  • Obama has a clear agenda to help Americans...
    Mccain is ranty and all over the place with only warfare on his agenda..
    not good for Americans, nor the rest of the world.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:02 PM  

  • Enough with the plumber, John. This is just stupid.

    By Blogger creature, at 10:04 PM  

  • What the hell is Mccrazy saying? I don't even follow his logic... he's ranty, and incoherent.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:05 PM  

  • It's funny... Obama explained Mccrazy's plan more coherently than he did.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:06 PM  

  • Mccain said one time before that Scalia was "one of his favorite justices." I rest my CASE, pun intended.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:09 PM  

  • As far as I'm concerned, this show is simply a vetting process for Senator Obama to become our nations next President... as for John Mccain, well... he's out of the question. He's simply aiding in the vetting process for Obama.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:14 PM  

  • Oh my gosh, some of you have such selective hearing...Obama could be caught on video tape robbing a 80 year old woman on the street and you'd say "it didn't happen."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 PM  

  • Say huh Mr. anonymous?...

    you're just mad Mccrazy is not going to win.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:16 PM  

  • Thank you Mr. Michael J. Stickings for hosting this live web blog here on “The Reaction,” may this document serve as a testimony to the fact that Senator Barack Obama is clearly the last politician standing in this two year long presidential campaign.

    If Americans were waiting for this debate to choose one of them, well... they've got problems... but hopefully they will make the correct decision in the voting booth. The fate of our fragile democracy is in their hands.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:23 PM  

  • Why do you say we have selective hearing? What do you think we missed?

    By Blogger :), at 10:24 PM  

  • My gosh... Mccain is forgetting Senator Obama's wife's name.. it's Michelle John....Michelle!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:24 PM  

  • Careful stewards of our tax dollars!! What about Keating 5!?
    Notice how Obama didn't raise KEating 5 after Mccain raised Ayers... that's genuine.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:29 PM  

  • OK. Did john say we should put soldiers straight from serving in war to teach in our childrens classrooms without taking any classes, testes, or anything?
    i dont get it. i just dont get it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 PM  

  • i thought sarah palins son had down syndrome, why does mccain keep saying autism?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:35 PM  

  • By the way... Red Wings are the best hockey team ever.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:35 PM  

  • what was that blog address they mentioned?

    By Blogger :), at 10:41 PM  

  • CNN commentators obivuosly did not pay attention to their meter at the bottom of the screen. Their imput sounds like they don't want to slam McCains poor manors and lack of knowledge of the real world.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:50 PM  

  • McCAIN CLEARLY won the debate tonight! He wiped the floor with Obama's gross, lying, sneaky butt!! I was so proud to be a republican tonight, and so happy that McCAIN WON!!

    McCain will be our next President. Only dumb people would vote for incompetent man like Obama who studders like a horse.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 PM  

  • Vote for MCAIN and PALIN! They will bring change to this country -- GOOD change. Not the BAD change that Obama will bring! Obama is VERY dangerous for this country!

    Don't forget that the only real difference between democrats and republicans is....IQ!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:00 PM  

  • All the OBAMANITES out there are crying right now, and I am laughing. I was SO proud of McCain tonight. He BROUGHT IT HOME, and he gave it to Obama. He was honest and had SLAM-DUNK answers every time!! He was pleasant, composed -- and didn't smirk and blink constantly like idiot Obama did!

    I know who are next president is going to be, and TRUST ME, it's not going to be OBAMA. He should give up now. He's already lost.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:03 PM  

  • The campaigning has gotten so out of control. Each candidate should just fill out a resume (including references) and let us read it ourselves and figure it out on our own.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:04 PM  

  • Anonymous said the following highlighted points in qoutations:
    "McCAIN CLEARLY won the debate tonight! He wiped the floor with Obama's gross, lying, sneaky butt!!"

    "Only dumb people would vote for incompetent man like Obama who studders like a horse."

    Mccain was more eloquent this evening than you are.

    "Don't forget that the only real difference between democrats and republicans is....IQ!!!"

    Obama voters already know this dichotmous opposition you raised... now before you go get your dictionary, this means fundamentally opposing views.

    "All the OBAMANITES out there are crying right now, and I am laughing. I was SO proud of McCain tonight."
    You are a legend in your own mind. Afterall, you are the same "anonymous" that questioned, "i thought sarah palins son had down syndrome, why does mccain keep saying autism?"

    Then, because you admit your confusion with following along during the real time event while Obama voters are listening coherently and reacting at the time they say it, you say, "The campaigning has gotten so out of control. Each candidate should just fill out a resume (including references) and let us read it ourselves and figure it out on our own."
    Now everyone watching this post can figure out who the real dummy is Mr. Anonymous.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:10 PM  

  • Obama won by a landslide on issues. Health care, economy, Joe the Plumber and even Ayers - Obama kicked McCain's ass. I am ready to vote today to put McCain and Moosegirl out of their misery.

    Vote Obama!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 PM  

  • Vote for who you feel will represent you. At least you care enough to vote. This country is falling apart and something needs to be done. A president doesnt make all the decisions alone vote for canidates that best address your needs. Fellow Americans stand up for WE THE PEOPLE and lets send our elected officials a message who their boss is... Lets make this election a recordbreaking voting one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48 PM  

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