10:34 PM. McCain says our challenges are unprecedented, and that Americans are hurting. He says he doesn't know what will happen at home or abroad. That's... obvious, and true, but it's not nearly as strong as Obama's answer. McCain makes the case that he "knows what it's like to keep one's hope going through tough times." He very well may, but it doesn't sound truthful, it sounds like a plea. McCain, for much of the night, has sounded like an old guy past his prime asking for one more shot - which, of course, is exactly what he is.
10:32 PM. "What don't you know, and how will you learn it?" Obama gives a funny answer on Michelle knowing a lot more that's wrong with him than he does. He says that it's unexpected challenges that consume most of a president's time. He says he "wouldn't be standing here" without America giving him the opportunity to do so. He may be biracial, and he may have a funny name, and he may have been raised in Hawaii, but I believe his rags-to-riches story - the fundamental American dream - will really ring true with average, middle-class Americans. It is truly a great American story, and should be acknowledged as such.
10:29 PM. Sorry, John, but Ohio liked Obama's answer on Israel more than they liked yours, though that has been true with pretty much everything tonight.
10:28 PM. In the context of McCain never taking military options off the table with regards to Israel, his Pakistan policy makes absolutely no sense.
10:27 PM. McCain is dead-wrong on foreign policy (as he is on most things), but he is much more comfortable talking about this than health care of the economy.
10:26 PM. The bald pink-shirted guy who keeps smiling at McCain, Terry Shirey, gets to ask him a question! What are the odds? McCain pats him on the back and they shake hands. Nice, but obviously a stunt, like everything else McCain does... though I bet Terry is thrilled.
10:24 PM. McCain finally gets a laugh on his answer to whether or not Russia is once again the Evil Empire. He said, "maybe." That was indeed funny, and he deserved the laugh on this one.
10:22 PM. Obama: we have to "anticipate problems ahead of time." Correct. This is something that the pig-headed, narrow-minded Bush administration was totally incapable of doing.
10:21 PM. I'm sorry, I just can't take McCain at his word on the Russia/Georgia issue, considering Randy Scheunemann (who lobbied for the Georgian government) is one of his top advisors.
10:18 PM. Stop the presses! McCain acknowledged Obama is correct on "a couple things." The ultimate OMG moment of this campaign... if not OMFG.
10:16 PM. Well, if the election were decided by the CNN graph, Obama would win in a walk.
10:15 PM. Obama started strong on his rebuttal to McCain's Pakistan nonsense but then lapsed into his "Wizard of 'Uhhhs'" routine. Somewhat of a missed opportunity.
10:13 PM. Poor Tom Brokaw. He can't get a word in!
10:12 PM. McCain mocked Obama's supposed naivete on the Pakistan issue. He has had several moments now where he has come across as old, cranky and, frankly, not very likable. Man, what happened to this guy? What a shame, and a disappointment.
10:11 PM. Obama on Pakistan: "We can't coddle a dictator" ... Very strong and resolute on his belief that, if bin Laden is in Pakistan and their government isn't helping out, we have to go in and get him.
10:08 PM. Pakistan enters the discussion. It's a shame Palin's not around to flub this answer.
10:05 PM. I believe that was a brilliant answer on international policy (like Darfur) and national security by Obama. He agrees with McCain, and me, that America is and can be a force for good - but he argues that we can't do the things we need to be doing (like helping to end the genocide in Darfur) because we have tarnished our reputation and depleted our resources in Iraq. He is absolutely, positively, 100% right about this. I commend him for speaking the truth. John Kerry never could have done this four years ago.
10:03 PM. The Ohio voters respond very well when Obama ties our travails and failures in Iraq to the current economic crisis. He's right about this issue, and the people seem to be agreeing.
10:02 PM. Obama turns around McCain's charge of "not understanding" by saying he doesn't understand how we could go to war in Iraq while Osama bin Laden remains at-large. Good move.
10:01 PM. McCain's get-out-of-jail-free card with the CNN graph is "America is the greatest force for good the world has ever seen." That gets 'em going like crazy. But is McCain himself still a force for good? I say no. I have to say, though, this was a very good answer by McCain. It reminds me of the nobility and decency for which he once stood.
9:58 PM. SCORE! Obama: health care "should be a right, for every American." He's absolutely right on this one. And the graph goes wild. Obama hits back on the "He wants mandates!!!" hogwash that McCain just threw out. Knocks McCain for voting against children's health care. The graph goes down as the candidates get into policy wonkery and specifics, but they really like the more general "everybody needs health care" populism.
9:56 PM. Health care: privilege, right or responsibility? McCain: it's a responsibility, but "it's mandates I'm worried about." The graph likes this answer. Oh snap. The look on Obama's face shows that he's about to hit back on this.
9:55 PM. Poor McCain. By my count, he's tried to make at least five jokes tonight, and the audience has not laughed at ANY of them. The latest one was an "I might need a [hair transplant]" flop.
9:54 PM. It's striking to me how much better Obama seems to be doing with CNN's uncommitted Ohio voters graph. I don't know if that's representative of the whole state of Ohio or the country as a whole, but it's interesting. On this answer (on health care), McCain is also weirdly doing better among women than men. Pigs are indeed flying.
9:52 PM. It appears to me that Obama is getting better as this debate goes along.
9:51 PM. It's very striking to me how populist Obama has become over the last few months. I dare say he took a page right out of Hillary Clinton's playbook (or at least the Hillary Clinton of March-June 2008).
9:49 PM. Eh. McCain shouldn't refer to Obama as "that one." It comes across as condescending. McCain is clearly more contemptuous of Obama than vice versa, and he also can come across as old and cranky, so he needs to be careful.
9:48 PM. I love this answer by Obama on the environment. "We can't simply drill our way out of this problem." Boy, is he ever right about that one. If I had my way, we'd start weaning ourselves off of oil - foreign and domestically - tonight. Tonight. Or tomorrow morning at the latest.
9:47 PM. Obama: the environment is "one of the biggest challenges of our times." THANK YOU! He also says it's an opportunity. THANK YOU! If you've been following this blog, you know that I care deeply about the environment. I believe the climate crisis is the biggest threat to our survival as a country and as a species. Obama says he favors nuclear power as part of his energy plan... eh, I don't like that. Obama has a good knock on McCain voting against alternative fuels, and for McCain being in Washington for 26 of the 30 years that McCain rails against on the campaign trail.
9:45 PM. The CNN graph likes when Obama talks about how great American workers are.
9:43 PM. Finally - a question on the environment! Thank you, Ingrid Jackson!
9:43 PM. In line with the last debate, the CNN graph does NOT like when McCain goes hard after Obama.
9:42 PM. Mac says he's "not too popular" with Republicans on certain issues. He's not too popular with uncommitted Ohio voters on this question, at least according to CNN's crazy graph at the bottom of the screen.
9:41 PM. Social Security's "not that tough" to fix, my friends? I beg to differ, dude.
9:40 PM. Man, if I've heard this once, I've heard it 100 times. Democratic candidate says, "I'm for the middle class, Republicans are for tax cuts to the wealthy." Don't get me wrong, it's true, it's just old news.
9:39 PM. The brown-haired lady in blue in the back (behind the blonde woman who asked one of the questions) smiles fondly whenever Obama is speaking. She and the pink-shirted guy who likes McCain should have a fight.
9:37 PM. McCain has gotten a couple things wrong in his answer here. One, he keeps trying to make cracks at Obama, but the audience ain't laughing. Two, he incorrectly says that Obama wants to raise taxes on.... EVERYBODY... AHHHHHHH!!!! Third, he just compared Obama to Herbert Hoover. I'll bet you that AT LEAST a third of Americans have no idea who the heck that guy even was.
9:35 PM. Obama , again: "I am standing up for the little guy!!!" MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS... "I want to use a scalpel to cut the federal budget, not a hatchet."
9:33 PM. Obama, invoking 9/11, says that people will need to make a sacrifice, particularly when it comes to things like fuel-efficient cars. I LOVE his idea of doubling the Peace Corps, and strengthening volunteer service. This is the community organizer at work.
9:30 PM. Question: what sacrifices will you ask people to make? McCain says re-evaluating our bureaucracy and eliminating earmarks. Again he hits Obama on earmarks. Then he says spending has to be cut, i.e. a "spending freeze." Much different from Palin's answer last week, when she said that McCain/Palin wouldn't have to cut anything from their economic plan even in light of the current fiscal crisis.
9:28 PM. Obama's priorities: #1 energy (which is tied to economy and national security), #2 health care, #3 education.
9:25 PM. McCain is losing right now in Florida largely because of his stances on health care and Social Security. When asked which of these is the most important priority (along with energy), McCain stumbles and mentions something he did in a bipartisan fashion in 1983. Then he goes into something about energy, then back to health care. Is this really going to assuage the doubts seniors in Florida (and other places) have right now?
9:22 PM. Interesting that the woman asked how either party can be trusted, and McCain goes into his bipartisan credentials. If someone's pissed off and doesn't trust either party, why would you try to align yourself with both of them?
9:21 PM. A woman asks how Americans can trust either of them to fix the economic mess, when both parties were akin to it. Obama agrees that people have a right to be angry, but doesn't really take credit for anything, instead using it as a way to just hit Bush/McCain again. Obama details what he'd do for average people without reeeeally answering the question.
9:18 PM. McCain has now used "cronyism" twice.
9:17 PM. Brokaw asks if things will get worse before they get better. Obama says he's confident in the American economy. McCain seems to be writing a lot.
9:15 PM. McCain: catalyst for the economic crisis was Obama taking money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama: catalyst for the economic crisis was McCain et. al. deregulating shit like crazy. I don't know anything about the economy, so I have no idea who's actually right.
9:12 PM. McCain makes the first Main Street/Wall Street reference of the night. What's tonight's over/under on that - 4? 5? 30?
9:11 PM. Oh god, there's Obama's "Senator McCain is right" again. Will they make another ad about it?
9:10 PM. On appointing the next Treasury Secretary, McCain mentions Meg Whitman and talks about eliminating cronyism... Obama again: MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS.
9:08 PM. Good McCain has come here tonight. He seems friendly and folksy, and not like the jackass he's been over the last two weeks. The bald guy in the pink shirt sitting in the front row seems to be smiling almost shamelessly while McCain speaks.
9:06 PM. Once again, Obama comes out of the debate by knocking Bush, tying him to McCain, and clearly bullet-pointing his plan... no golden parachutes... MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE CLASS... etc. etc. etc.
9:03 PM. Holy shit! McCain looked at Obama!
9:01 PM. I like that red stage!