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Who Won the Last Presidential Debate at Hofstra

Debate Rebate: Our Reactions to the Last Presidential Debate

They may have very well saved the best for last. This was the most direct, most on task, most like an actual conversation debate we've had thus far. And not a moment too soon. The candidates were juxtaposed beautifully and answered questions not only on specific policies, but on the conduct of their campaigns. It was nail-biting, uncomfortable at times, but deftly handled by moderator Bob Schieffer. Here's what we thought:

Citizen: Wearing each other's "team" ties in what I hoped was a nod toward cooperation, the economy was ripped open right at the start. Both candidates spoke straight at the camera, directly it seemed, to me. It was eerie and wildly effective, with Joe the Plumber becoming an instantaneous celebrity, the cornerstone of their duel over small business taxes. Earmarks and pork barrel and budget overruns, oh my. I do like Obama's line of needing a "scalpel, not a hatchet," if only because it comforts me that he intends to cut spending as well.

When Schieffer pinned the candidates down on the negative aspects of the campaign I was breathless. It was baldly frank (seeming, I mean it is politics) talk, and when McCain whipped out the stat that Obama had spent the most money on negative campaign ads, it hit home — but was parried well by Obama's stat that six in 10 perceive McCain as negative. Then, the politest knock down-drag out on Ayers and ACORN. We knew it was coming all day, but when it did it was all the more potent. When Roe v. Wade popped up, I was actually heartened to hear civilized talk of the difference between choosing judges for their ideologies, and choosing judges for their adherence to the Constitution — it could be the most cogent debate on the issue we've had thus far.

To see the rest of my thoughts, and what Liberty has to say,


As for the "Gore sighs" the nonverbals that will kill a performance: both were guilty of the smirk, if only perhaps to relieve the tension. I know I could barely handle it, it stands to reason it had to express itself somewhere, so to speak. In all, the debate was like a floaty butterfly fairy tale meets a brick wall. The second you got caught up in the story Obama was spinning, then came McCain with his smack down of reality. Even 20 months in, it was confusing and captivating and perfectly encapsulated these diametrically opposed yet unflinching campaigns — and illuminated the very choice we all have to make in 20 short days. Now as Bob Schieffer's mother says, "Go vote now. It will make you feel big and strong."

Liberty: In the most high tension, and perhaps most conversational, debate John McCain came out looking for a game changer. McCain seemed rested and eager (did you hear the Al Gore sighs?) while Obama seemed reluctant and a little low on energy. Still, Obama's calm demeanor allowed him to rise above a potential catty debate, and focus on his issue advantages.

Coming out strong, McCain's crisp statement: "Senator Obama, I'm not President Bush" had no matching punch line from Obama, perhaps giving McCain an edge in the sound-bite battle.

In the middle, the candidates spent much time talking about attack ads, leaving me lamenting that this is what the American people get to listen to from their presidential candidates. By noting that William Ayers has become the center of McCain's campaign, Obama made McCain's campaign look deaf to the real issues facing the American people. After setting the record straight about his strained connection to Ayers, Obama then took the opportunity to make a positive and reassuring argument about the capable people who will advise him, such as Warren Buffet and former NATO head Jim Jones.

After a discussion on healthcare, which left me thinking Obama knows more about McCain's plan than McCain does, the two got talking about abortion. Obama called out the McCain/Palin refrain that he supported infanticide, pointing out that there was already a law on the books requiring care to babies of botched abortions when he voted against an Illinois bill for other reasons.

Obama then took the dialogue to another level saying that he wants everyone to work together to reduce the number of abortions and promote adoption. McCain went on to slam the pro-choice movement with the pejorative "pro-abortion." I'm still wondering if considering the country's at war and in an economic crisis, and after eight-years of a pro-life President and more Roe v. Wade, whether the abortion discussion was worth the time.

While this was McCain's best performance by far, I think Obama maintained a presidential and informed presence. Maybe I can find Joe the Plumber and ask him what he thinks.

What did you think?


Join The Conversation
Choco-cat Choco-cat 8 years
I don't know if UnDave is still on here, as I'm behind on my thread checking, but: yes, my mother is pro-choice but anti-abortion. This means she thinks women should have the legal right to make up their own minds about their own bodies (guess what I am ;) ), but boy-oh-boy does she think abortion is wrong on a personal level.
jnj213 jnj213 8 years
Being pro-choice does not mean you want people to have abortions. All I ask is people be responsible when they have sex, but wait, we just teach abstinence. Good call America! The important thing to be doing is reducing the need for abortion. Make contraceptives available and educated people about sexuality, I don't understand why this is considered so bad. It may be a little awkward but it's a lot better than just ignoring the fact that sex is a natural beautiful thing.
vireland vireland 8 years
An article just came out on Bloomberg that Joe the Plumber owes 1200.00 in back taxes.
gemini7827 gemini7827 8 years
ckeller825 ckeller825 8 years
I think McCain was rude, especially in this debate, because he thinks that will tell America how serious he is about wanting to be President. With that said, did you guys see McCain's eyes almost fall out of his head during the debate? I had my boyfriend rewind that part five times because I couldn't stop laughing!
stuffedbunny stuffedbunny 8 years
Thinking that discussing a women's right to choose a legal termination is a waste of time is a very dangerous thought. It is ALWAYS worth the time. These rights are constantly being challenged by state courts and our legislature. Abortion will exist no matter what the law dictates and restricting access to legal and safe abortions will increase the deaths of young women and restrict access to those who can not afford the "back alley" terminations. Basic research will show you the horrible deaths that many women have because they are denied access to proper medical facilities to terminate unwanted pregnancies. There are tens of thousands of children languishing in our foster care system that need to be adopted; if and when all children born in this country are given safe and loving homes then come to me and ask for me to change my viewpoint. Many women fought for our right to choose and it concerns me that young women do not recognize that. Women have only had the right to vote for eighty years and giving up the right for basic health care to choose a safe termination is going backwards.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
That's completely ridiculous. I know plenty of people from the military that have no business teaching let alone teaching without certification.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
>"Did anyone else go WHAT?! when McCain slipped in the strange idea that military personnel shouldn't have pass teaching certification tests after he just went on and on about how we need to crack down on only keeping top quality teachers!! Where did that come from!?" Yes, also agreed. Straight from the battleground to the classroom with no teaching credential?
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
geebers geebers 8 years
This debate was definitely my favorite. And I still don't understand the Undecided voters. I am sorry but unless you live in a cave you have to have some idea of where you lean by now.
christinecsmith christinecsmith 8 years
McCain did AWESOME!! I was very impressed. This 'tax the rich and redistribute as we see fit' really ticks me off. This is a free country. We make money and USE AS WE SEE FIT. Other socialist countries have done the same thing, and guess what - all citizens ended up poor. No one got rich, and the poor still existed. Finally someone stood up to Obama's tax plan! I LOVE JOE THE PLUMBERs EVERYWHERE! SUPPORT THE AMERICAN DREAM!
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
If he had used the "special needs" label more generally I think it would not have come off quite as badly. Since he seemed to use the words interchangeably, though, it makes one wonder if he really understands the issue as much as he says. Down's syndrome is often shown at birth, autism doesn't usually arise until early childhood, worst, society likes to lump these kids together as "retarded," assuming they're the same, and that's a pretty bad mistake to make when you're talking about funding research.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Yeah- I don't even get who John McCain was trying to appeal to with the whole allowing for ex-military to teach without a certification. I mean, I know someone who got a bachelor's degree + MBA while in the military, and someone who got a bachelor's + phd entirely on the GI Bill. These aren't like, stupid people who can't get certified, and I am all for continuing programs like the GI Bill. Maybe preferential hiring for ex-military or a bonus for teaching in high-needs areas would make more sense. Or even having special certification programs for people to get certified while in the military.
em1282 em1282 8 years
chatoyante, I caught that last night, and I didn't hear the whole statment he was making, but someone on here said that he was talking about special needs children in general. I was confused by it when I heard it at first, and it didn't come off very clear to me.
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
I totally caught that he confused down syndrome with Autism, chato!
em1282 em1282 8 years
Thanks for doing that word count for me and insinuating that Obama's going to win based on, what, "poor" people who only are voting for him because they like shiny things? I guess by talking about "Joe Six Pack", the McCain camp is people who drink lots of beer. Riiiiight. I also know about PR, and marketing. Anyone who knows anything about politics knows about that.
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
Yes, and "Joe Six-Pack" and "Joe the Plumber" aren't targeted to any particular group at all. Yawn.
pitip pitip 8 years
Of every 10 words Obama says 3 are "middle" or "poor". If you know about marketing, pr and positioning you know that those people that consider themselves as middle class or poor are his target and that is the vast majority. This has been a well bought and strategized campaign. May you lay in the bed you make.
pitip pitip 8 years
Of every 10 words Obama says 3 are "middle" or "poor". If you know about marketing, pr and positioning you know that those people that consider themselves as middle class or poor are his target and that is the vast majority. This has been a well bought and streting campaign. May you lay in the bed you make.
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
I think Obama should have called McCain on his long, rambling nonsensical sentences more. Some of the time I didn't even know what exactly he was talking about. "Town hall meetings...parents come with kids, children...precious children who have autism...Sarah Palin knows about that better than most." Come again? If I were a parent of a special-needs child, I'd be offended by that repeated proclamation. What makes Sarah Palin know about children with special needs more than any other parent in the same situation? And how can it be anything other than insulting for him to continually confuse Down's syndrome with autism? Ugh.
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
I think he is em!
em1282 em1282 8 years
...and hold up, Obama appeals to the "poor majority"? Isn't he too elitist for that?
em1282 em1282 8 years
Well, sexylibrarian, at least I know where Russia is. ;)
em1282 em1282 8 years
"Targeting the poor majority"? OK now you're making no sense. But maybe that's just my sheep-y Obama brain talking, eh? ;)
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
Well good CG. In my book Obama won.
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