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    October 07, 2008

    Live-blogging 2nd presidential debate

    Posted by: Chris

    T1landhandshakecnn Once again live-blogging the debate here. Please chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section!

    Tonight's debate is in Nashville, Tenn., a city I know very well, having grown up just a few hours down the road in Memphis and later spent my college years at Vanderbilt University -- located just blocks away from Belmont Univ., the Baptist college where tonight's debate is being held.

    By the way, check out this debate precursor from Cindy McCain, making the jaw-dropping accusation that Barack Obama has "waged the dirtiest campaign in American history." Considering the McCains were convinced that George W. Bush spread the rumor that their adopted child was actually the illegit daughter of McCain and a black woman, that's absolutely incredible.

    9:03 p.m.: This time John McCain actually looked Barack Obama in the eye during the handshake!

    9:07 p.m.: McCain is clearly in "Mr. Nice" mode, referring to Obama directly. The townhall format works well for him, and he already seems more effective. Already cutting jokes with Tom Brokaw. Will he give us a Sarah Palin wink before the night is over?

    9:12 p.m.: How long did NBC have to look to find a black voter who is actually undecided?

    9:16 p.m.: Both candidates are effectivly advocating responses to the crisis, but Obama does not seem as sharp as in the first debate, and McCain seems more comfortable with the format.

    9:20 p.m.: Obama definitely hits his stride when going after President Bush. There wasn't enough of that in the first debate; there may well be more tonight. McCain's response? "Washington is broken," so elect him even though he's been there for more than a quarter-century.

    9:23 p.m.: McCain hits Obama on spending, but his figures are so inflated that he's not credible -- $800 billion in new spending. (FYI his campaign just today claimed the figure was $1 trillion.) McCain is more effective tonight but his energy level is still sagging a bit.

    9:27 p.m.: At least judging by CNN's undecided voter "squiggly lines," Obama scores much better talking positively about his plan than McCain did going on attack. That's a real quandary for McCain, who needs to do something to change the dynamics of the race.

    9:35 p.m.: Good Obama reply to McCain's "across the board" spending freeze; using a hatchet vs. using a scalpel. McCain replies with a harsh attack on Obama on taxes. At this point, most voters know that the tax increase will only hit the wealthiest Americans.

    9:40 p.m.: Obama mostly dodged the question but took the time to make a very effective rebuttal to McCain on taxes. For the third or fourth time, McCain says "we know what to do" without ever saying what to do. And then finally, on Medicare, says, "We need a commission." That's a solution?

    9:44 p.m.: McCain is definitely more animated, engaged and comfortable in this debate. The charge against Obama's thin record is his best, of course, but so so weakened by McCain's own selection of running mates. Obama's reply slamming McCain's long record of opposition to incentives for alternative fuels sticks pretty well, as well.

    9:54: p.m.: McCain's health care response got completely jumbled in the numbers. Fuzzy math anyone? And I hardly think most voters have a problem with small businesses being fined for failing to provide health insurance for employees.

    9:56 p.m.: Great question on health care: a responsibility vs. a right. McCain's answer was telling and no doubt appeals to libertarian types. It's a "responsilbiity" but there's no fine or other government mechanism; just wishful thinking, for small businesses to live up to that responsibility. It strikes me as very similar to McCain's view on workplace protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He's opposed to discrimination but not in favor of any law that says so.

    10:01 p.m.: Clearly the Obama camp was ready to reply on the "Obama doesn't understand" line about foreign policy.

    10:07 p.m.: McCain says we need "a cool hand" as commander in chief. Barack Obama or John McCain -- who is the "cool hand" and who is the "hothead"?

    10:11 p.m.: Who do we think talks softly and who do we think carries the bigger stick? (Stop your snickering.) McCain has boxed himself in on Pakistan and Al Qaeda, so much so that even his rookie running mate gets that he's wrong.

    10:14 p.m.: There's your biggest debate moment for Obama -- nailing McCain on "bomb bomb bomb, Iran," "annihilating North Korea," and "next up Baghdad." McCain says he was "joking an old military friend" about bombing Iran when anyone who has seen the video knows that it was on stage in front of an entire room.

    10:28 p.m.: The CNN "squiggly lines" are running very contrary to my own view that McCain is much better tonight and Obama started off, at least, slightly off his game. Obama has scored much, much stronger on almost every answer than McCain. I'll be very curious to see if it's repeated in the post-debate numbers.

    Strange that the candidates didn't shake hands afterward -- though Obama did shake Cindy McCain's hand. I wonder if he knew about her pre-debate quote (mentioned above). Although I am more disposed toward Obama based on policy and as candidates generally, I believe Obama was more effective than McCain tonight. Not by the same margin as the first debate; McCain was definitely better than the first time around.

    Obama's "bomb Iran" reply will get the most comment around the water cooler; and for McCain it was referring to Obama as "that one," which undid a lot of his efforts to appear more warm toward his opponent than the first time around -- making eye contact, being looser, etc.



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    1. bfadds on Oct 7, 2008 10:00:03 PM:

      John McCain's non-verbal cues at the beginning of the debate are making me laugh. This might be something to look at a little...

    1. Andoni on Oct 7, 2008 11:21:16 PM:

      Obama won on substance.

      When McCain said "that one" and pointed to Obama, that is a clip of disrespect you will see played over and over tomorrow.

      Also telling is that Obama stuck around to shake every hand in the place. McCain left fairly quickly --- either a sign that he was upset because he knew he lost ------ or he couldn't stand to be in the room with Obama much longer.

      Obama looked presidential. McCain was a caricature of one of Obama's ads. By zig-zagging around the room while Obama was speaking, it looked exactly like "erratic behavior."

    1. Allan on Oct 8, 2008 2:17:21 AM:

      To McCain's credit, he did shake Obama's hand at the conclusion of the debate, but most networks missed the shot. It was when McCain crossed in front of Brokaw's teleprompter, rendering Brokaw incapable of speaking.

      Obama won, McCain lost, and Brokaw failed America.

    1. Tim in Newark on Oct 8, 2008 8:22:16 AM:

      I thought McCain was kind of childish. He kept wandering around like a kid trying to get on camera. You often see this when a news reporter is doing his report and the kids are making faces in the background. Reminds me of my six-year old autistic son trying to get attention.

    1. Tim on Oct 8, 2008 5:33:09 PM:

      Honestly Andoni, could you kiss up to the campiagn talking points any more? Everyone is going to see what they want but zig zagging around the room, and "that one", if a political team brought up those points I'd be assured that their man lost the debate. Obama was strong on the economy and weak on foreign issues, McCain had plenty of votes to talk about but Obama hand rejoinders for most of them. Neither side scored a deep hit and both did well for their campaigns. But there were no major gaffes. Personally I was amazed that Obama didn't realize that he made a diplomatic error in the discussion with Pakistan, that could lead to hostilities should he become president. McCain laid a trap but didn't spring it with enough force to draw any blood.

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