“He doesn’t understand” and “Bush” references pepper debate

September 27, 2008

rtx8ysz.jpgWASHINGTON – There wasn’t a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment at the first presidential debate of 2008. But there were several lines both White House hopefuls kept using throughout the evening as a way of getting in subtle and not-so-subtle digs at each other.
By our count, Democratic contender Barack Obama mentioned the unpopular President George W. Bush 10 times over the course of the 97-minute debate, trying to suggest Republican rival John McCain would represent the same as the last eight years.
“John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly that’s just me opposing George Bush’s wrong headed policies since I’ve been in Congress,” the Illinois senator said.
McCain had his own way of using words to undercut his rival, focusing on Obama’s four years in the U.S. Senate versus his 22 years in the legislative body. 

He said seven different times that Obama just didn’t understand a range of issues, from strategy in Iraq to the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia.
“Well, I was interested in Senator Obama’s reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia.  His first statement was, ‘Both sides ought to show restraint,'” McCain said. “Again, a little bit of naivete there. “He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.”
Obama on nine occasions said that McCain was right on various issues — sometimes in praising him but also sometimes just agreeing with a comment.  He agreed that McCain was correct about the surge of troops in Iraq dramatically cutting down violence, and he agreed that presidents had to be prudent in what they said.

Obama also said McCain was wrong on at least three occasions.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg (McCain and Obama pass each other on stage at debate)


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This debate was a bore, and didn’t reveal anything I didn’t already know. If judged only by this debate, I’d say McCain did better, barely. It’s going to help Obama more though, because for the most part he was able to hold his ground on foreign affairs and national defense, which are supposed to be McCain’s strengths.It’d be a lot more intersting in the future if both candidates were hooked up to polygraphs during the debates.

Posted by onchu | Report as abusive

Sen. McCain has been “absolutely right”! Sen. Obama agrees. Sen. McCain won the debate. He is the most qualified to be the next President of the USA.

Posted by Lucy | Report as abusive

I recent the paternalistic tone that McCain used during the debate. I make less than $40 000.00 a year and I find unlikely McCain is going to provide me and my family with better alternatives. I need decent health insurance, good education and food for my kids. Obama seems to have in his plans what I need. Irak is an economical and political disaster. A distraction from the real target that I understood was Bin Laden and his terrorist organization Al_qaeda.

Posted by alaciel | Report as abusive

When Obama agreed with McCain, I thought he showed he can be bipartisan on some issues and not just disagree because he is the opposite party. McCain lost me when he wouldn’t even look at Obama. Aside from the debate itself, I don’t think we need a hair trigger like McCain and we certainly don’t need the confused Palin.

Posted by Just a voter | Report as abusive

Well the BIG DEBATE is over and what a laugh!Are we really living in a society of responsiblity and serious issues facing our economy or what? Well we all know that politics is a dirty game and we also know that the objectives on the campaign trail is to outwit or at least out perform our competitors.BUT THIS WAS TO BE A SERIOUS DEBATE ABOUT AMERICA AND ABOUT OUR FUTURE, OUR ECONOMY AND OUR VERY EXCISTENCE!It yet again turned out to be a “tug of war” on personality traits and who is best for the big job!INSTEAD – of being what is good for US AMERICANS! WHat about us, what about the serious matters facing our economy and our future as the world’s “supposedly leading nation”?Why are these people EYE SPECIALISTS? All we hear was I did this, and I did that. I have done this for so many years and I have done this on that occasion. I,I,I was the trend of the night!What happened to we? WE AS AMERICANS WILL DO THIS AND WE WILL DO THAT!After all it seems as if our major mistake is allowing the “top dog” to believe that HE runs the country solo! Wake up – you dont! Perhaps that is the biggest problem of all – they think that they rule and run the roost ALONE!Well they don’t! It is time that the candidates realise that they are the respective leaders of a team supporting them. They don’t have magic powers and wands which is going to get us out of trouble! Not one of them has this magic potion or formula they are going to present or disclose once they have the top job!What they do have is support! The current support of their parties and soon perhaps the support of the country! The only way we can save America is by ensuring that we have the best capable TEAM running our country. The only guy who is getting this Presidential race right, seems to be Wolf Blitzer of CNN. At least he always starts his show by giving recognition to “the best team in politics”!Perhaps if our candidates start realising that although they are given the floor it doesn’t mean they own it!They are being positioned and elected as captain of the team! NOT THE TEAM THEMSELVES! If they start referring to the competent teams they head up, I believe they will go a long way further in gaining trust. We do not want a rogue commander in chief. We want a stable country again, and sorry to say this, but no individual has that capability to pull it off alone!Start talking about the team you are bringing to the play offs! The team that will bring the cup home again and stop talking about you! You are only a pawn on the chess board Mr Candidate. And although you are the King on the chess board, start realising that it’s the pawns who defends you, it’s the rourkes in your team who pull of great stunts and you always need to protect your Queen! She is even more capable than you and moves a hell of a lot more too! Your moves as the Kings is as restricted as a pawn if you didn’t notice!Your team is either good or bad, however it is a team game Mr President elect!What we heard last night was more like a contest of my dad is stronger than you’re dad! Mc Cain could easily find a job as a tour guide, because he was so intent on letting us all know where he has or hasn’t been before! It is not the Presidents job to be everywhere or have been everywhere! It is his job to have the right TEAM in the right places!Sure you need to have a good understanding of what goes on in the world, HOWEVER, it is more important to have a good knowledge of people and ensure that you have the right TEAM on the field! If the President surrounds himself with goody two shoes, we are at risk! The President should be the head recruiter surrounding himself with specialists. Specialists that may not even be out of his own party, but get the best man/woman for the job! Then start giving credit to them – the specialists!For GOD’S sake we are not entrusting any individual with our country, our economy and our future! We are entrusting YOU with the responsiblity to manage the BEST TEAM who can run this country! Start telling us about your team, your team’s plan and your teams capability and we will be a lot more informed. Prove that you are capabe of running the team and ensuring that your team will be results driven! Tell us who you are going to rope in as your specialists to get us out of this mess and stop talking about you!You have won the confidence of being the respective candidate for both our parties, now tell us who you are going to use on the TEAM to pull this off! You already have the highest job in your party, but getting the top job in the country is not about you – it’s about us! All of us! Republicans, Democrats and Independants!You see, when you were running for party elect, you had the priviledge of running down the opposition! You are now running for the country and that includes all of us Mr Candidate – not just you’re party members! You need to now stop talking about yourself and your party and start talking about ALL OF US! Your people Mr President!That’s the biggest problem we are facing now and most certainly the laughing stock for any anti American! We used to be this brilliant patriotic nation, the so called land of milk and honey! The country where anybody had the chance to make it! What are we now? The fools of the International world. We are unpopular and nobody want’s to come to America anymore! With good reason that is! We have become the bully on the block, the fighter in class, the maverick nation filled with tantrums! What happened to this big peace keeping nation, advocates of democracy and living the American dream?We have allowed our values to be misguided and our trust in Government has let us down! We have always led the world by example and now we are being led by the consequences of our own mistakes.First and foremost, we need to stand up as one nation (team) again, put a team leader in the top job, and ellect the best team on the field! We need to stop this tug of war at home and get our act together! We need to find other ways of getting our respect back in the world, instead of going to war. It’s the war which has sunk us, sorry to say!Why are we moaning after all? We are a country at war and during war times everything sinks to the bottom! The economy, the morale, the trust – everything! The problem is we don’t actually view ourselves at war! Why not? Well it’s not happening here on our shores you see! It’s more the President who is playing war games than a war to us as Americans! Yes our children and our families are over there, but hell it’s not a war to us like it is for the people in Irak? They are at war and their economy is a lot worse than ours!Our war games have however now caught up with us and we are now starting to fight a war of our own! A war alltogether as this is about to get very bad for us with no shots even being fired on our own shores. With the amount of money we have spent on the war so far we could have rebuilt America! Instead we have made ourselves vulnerable! If ever we were weak – it’s now! Why? Well just look at the economy now! What would happen if we were now attacked again, as vulnerable as we are now?Lets rather not go there but focus on getting our act together again and fast too!As for the President’s men? Wake up boys and talk to your people, involve your people and use your people!Perhaps Palin and Biden will realise that it’s now about AMERICA and give us a better debate next week.Make sure to visit my blog at: http://chasemorgan.wordpress.comGOD BLESS AMERICAChase Morgan

Posted by Chase Morgan | Report as abusive

In reviewing responses posted so far, I’m amazed there are respondents who actually seem to believe McCain won this debate!To the contrary, McCain showed everyone willing to listen and see, that he-is too slow on his feet, too petty, and too cranky to be running the USA,-too hung up on military issues and the war in Iraq,completely clueless about the lives and plights of his own countrymen and -women,-and completely oblivious to the fact that even his beloved military power is not sustainable if the US as a society falls behind our competitors around the world.Obama made the one important point of the night when he stated that our government, our policies, and yes, our budget, must reflect our values as a people, and must serve us as a people. Everything else flows from this insight.Americans who cherish their country and want us to have a bright future, must now develop the strength to cross a threshold in American history – we must go out and vote in November for the first black man for President in our history.We have to vote for Obama, not because he is black, but because he is the only candidate who will save our country, and us as Americans, from a long slide down into second rate status, one the Republican administration of George W. Bush has already sent us on, and on which John McCain promised last night keep us on.A last point – we can be thankful that enough pressure was put on McCain to force him to show up for this debate – which he had hoped to avoid. We finally got to see his true character, and graphically understand where he would be taking us.

Posted by fbla1805 | Report as abusive

I second the points in your post, Chase. I’m acutely frustrated with this election.One can successfully argue the merits regarding the surge in Iraq, as Sen. McCain is quick to do, but there just is no defending the original invasion of that country. It can only be seen for what it is: one of the most costly, unremunerating, foreign policy catastrophes our nation has ever engaged in. Sen. McCain thinks it was a good idea and he’s now running for president. Obama is a neophyte and the most liberal member of the US Senate. The only real skill he has demonstrated is the use of his mouth. All the rest is based on “trust me,” which should never meet America’s standards.I’m livid for the following reason: Here we are at possibly the most complicatedly critical juncture in our nation’s history since the Civil War. Yes, even more so than WWII because we had the confidence, the means, and the national engagement necessary for overcoming the problems we faced at that time. If nothing else, the following two attributes had to be found in any candidate we choose for this election: a sharp mind and experience. Yet the people of the United States chose two candidates, neither of which have both of these necessary qualifications. Have we become so self-loathing that we refuse to choose leadership embodying the most bare bone required traits, a sharp mind and experience? It doesn’t take much to recognize that neither of these two candidates offer the leadership we so desperately need right now. America, where is your common sense? There were better candidates offered to us, but we rejected them for reasons unclear to me, and once again we’ll pay the price with future mistakes and the resulting disasters.

Posted by Ginchinchili | Report as abusive

Here is what I heard:Ping…Look, uh,Pong, weave…blah, blah, blahPing…Look,uh,Pong, weave…blah, blah, blahRepeat for one and a half hours.Guess what? It is going to be a close election, just like the last several. The country is divided and pols aim to keep it that way. And, this is the first time in my long adult life I truly believe a Depression is around the corner. How many apples you going to get in trade for those repossessed Bemeers and foreclosed McMansions? Why do you need tax cuts and health care if you don’t have income or daily bread. How much food do they grow on the east coast for their population? A few days…

Posted by HRP | Report as abusive

In watching the debate last night I found it to be very unsettling and blatantly disrespectful that John McCain did not directly address nor look in the direction of his opponent, Barrack Obama. Not only that, but he never once looked into the camera to address the American people. He kept his eyes down and/or towards the host of the debate. I find his lack of respect very troubling. One of your main goals as a Presidential candidate is to appeal to the American public and have their confidence. However, if you cannot give the common decency of looking at your opponent let alone into the camera to the American people, how can you convey confidence and demand respect. If this is the way he handles himself in a debate between himself and his opponent and cannot address the American people directly…how is he going to handle being president of the United States?

Posted by Renee | Report as abusive

Who won the debate? Who was supposed to win the debate – the American people! After these last eight years and the latest national meltdown of the economy, that’s right, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO WIN THE DEBATES!But it seems that the Arizona Senator will not even personally engage the Illinois Senator in debate. It appears that the Arizona Senator does not believe the Illinois Senator warrants even a voluntary gaze in his direction. Barack Obama, the “liberal.” the “Democrat,” the “other,” appears to be the Arizona Senator’s arch enemy, the “them” in “Us and Them.” I’ve seen and heard this behavior before, divide and conquer, but why would anyone want to divide one’s own people and conquer them?We, the American people, did not win this debate; it appears that someone, perhaps some group, wants us to do four more years of “Us and them,” no matter who becomes America’s next President. So if we Americans want to win this particular electoral season’s debate, we are going to have to get those “Us and Them” Americans to realize we are all “Us.” Then maybe the Arizona Senator will actually engage a person who appears to be a worthy opponent and us Americans can decide on a President, together.Oh, and as to the question of whether the Arizona Senator is uncomfortable because he has never had to face off against a demographic repertoire like that possessed by the Illinois Senator, I am not the least bit interested. My interest is in the future of America, an interest I believe all true Americans should hold much more sacred than the Arizona Senator’s discomfort.

Posted by DMD | Report as abusive

Obama came out the clear winner, displaying class and knowledge and rose above the nasty comments and mistruths thrown his way by McCain. Obama knew the facts and had solutions to today’s problems and answers to solving those that could arise in the future. One can always tell when someone is being dishonest by the fact that they won’t look at you when they speak to or about you. McCain never looked at Obama, either when speaking to him or when being spoken to by him. Rude is a good word for that kind of dishonest and somewhat shifty behavior. McCain was supposed to win this debate heads and tails above Obama, he didn’t flop on his face, but he didn’t come close to winning either.Thursday ought to be amusing if it weren’t so frightening, watching Palin mutter through trying to answer questions she knows nothing about and repeating over and over buzz words or sentences that she’s been coached on. Biden’s knowledge and experience will wipe the floor with her and Americas Republicans will see and have to finally admit that she is, in no way at all, capable of running the country, should something happen to McCain.

Posted by Carrie | Report as abusive

McCane to me continued his streat talk. He understands priorities, and as a senitor needs to be a part of the important tasks necessary to solve our financial crisis. The debate did show where each candidate sees their strengths and focused their answers toward them. If you graded the resuts on style and presence they were not too differentiating.I feel that Obama needs to focus on McCane not Bush. Mc Cane does represent change and Obama needs to show the differnces. McCane needs to be more passionate and use his knowledge to and experience to counter at a higher level.

Posted by SteveO | Report as abusive

Re: SteveO above me – at what point do you plan on learning to read and write the English language correctly?Perhaps Obama is right to be so concerned about the state of our system of education if someone commenting on the debates can’t even spell one of the candidate’s names, let alone the word “straight” or “senator” or “results” or “differences”.Re: the debates – McCain came across as a tired old man. He is supposedly an expert on foreign relations, but he failed to address how we squandered the good will of the world post 9/11. Only an idiot, aka George W. Bush, could have failed us so miserably in that time. Now we have a huge hole to climb out of; go ahead – bet on the old man with short arms and a semi-literate VP to pull us out of that hole.

Posted by Matt Vella | Report as abusive

Vote for McCain. Obama is a pandora box. If elected we might to be sorry to find out what was inside…McCain is plain and clear like water and strong like steel. Look at Obama’s admirers: Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez, and the rest of international gansters. Watch out, America!

Posted by Adolfo | Report as abusive

What Mr. McCain doesn’t understand is that Mr. Bush presided over the end of the Reagan era..and that he (Mr. McCain) is presiding over the end of the Bush era. It took Mr. Bush 8 years to bring an end to the last 28 years. It will have taken Mr. McCain 8 months to administer the coup de grace. Although Mr. McCain frequently invokes the name of Ronald Reagan, I don’t think that he really has any use for the man’s philosophy except in a cynical political way, i.e., to get democrats to switch sides at a critical juncture in America’s history.I am calm about the future at this point…and am ready to see the Obama/Pelosi/Reid legislative agenda for the first 100 days, come noon on January 20th.It ought to be a doozy of an agenda that will turn over a new leaf for Our Great Nation and for Our Best & Finest Soldiers, Marines, Sailors & Airmen (I just love those guys!).What happens during the aforesaid first 100 days will eclipse in a positive way the negativity of September 11, 2001, and all that has ensued since then.OK Jack

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

mccain was petulant, snarky, and condescending by turns…i is a wonder that he made it through the debate with out exploding he was sooo angry..I had for many years admired mccains proported record but during the last months i began to look at his real actions as reported by his collegeas and the congressional record…He was for a time a maverick but not since the late 1990′ has he been so bold…Then he sold his soul to the rightwing religious groups, hagee and Dobson, with his VP pic. All excitement then he bannished her to the nether regions after she got him crowds and funraising!!!i find his temper troublesome and his arrogance even more so…He is a problem for we Americans.and a diappointment to me… He did not win but he will appeal to the low information voter he seems to attract.

Posted by Docb | Report as abusive

McCain is the one who doesnt understand… doesnt understand that the American people are smart enough to know that when he claims he has traveled the world and has vast experience that why didnt he utilize that “experience” when he made a choice on Bush’s premeptive war why didnt he draw on that “experience” when there was so much doubt about the intelligence and faulty info that he should have used that “experience” to vote not on the war as Obama did.

Posted by Brad | Report as abusive

McCane was very rude during the debate – just basically condescending and rude. As part of the general public, what should we expect from this demonstration – that we are insignificant or something? Too bad that he had already turned some voters off with that petulant behaviour.The arrogance of dumping an unqualified VP on America is a slap in the face for Romney, Huckabee etc and all of us – can you imagine what they must be wishing for him?He burns a path of destruction everywhere he goes.He has little or no experience to lead just that of being a POW and a dunce of a Navy man. It seems that he has been noticeably absent from The Senate especially when voting on Veteran’s Affairs – it’s amazing that he still has a vote from them. Why is it that they are unable to read and understand how much he has shortchanged them – he has his top quality medical care but they may not ???Wake up America and vote Obama / Biden 08

Posted by Rosie | Report as abusive

Americans who cherish their country must recognize that we are now on a long slide down into second-rate status. With McCain that downward slide will be even faster.After seeing the mind-boggling dishonesty of McCain and his Rove-team this past week, it should also be clear to all of us that we must secure a landslide victory for Barack Obama to secure a victory at all.We need a massive voter turnout in this election for President, and we need an overwhelming majority of votes cast for Barack Obama.I urge every reader of these lines to take his or her responsibility as a citizen in a democratic country seriously, and register today to vote, if not yet registered.I urge you to convince your friends and family to do the same.And I urge you to take your electronic calendar or appointment book, and allocate right now, well in advance, a sufficiently large time block to be able to tolerate waiting lines, and cast your vote on election day. Or, alternatively, to set wheels in motion today to vote in early elections or by mail ballot.No one can do this for us – we must each make the effort needed!

Posted by fbla1805 | Report as abusive

power supply…

The framework also clarifies thinking on the military’ s role in transitions to democracy. The key element concerns the credibility of future pay- offs. Since oligarchies need a repressive military in ways that democracies do not, the oligarch’ s commi…

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