McCain “disappointed” that media declared debate a tie

September 27, 2008

mccain3.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain, fresh from his first debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama in Mississippi, expressed regret on Saturday that his performance didn’t win over all the pundits in the press.
“I was a little disappointed the media called it a tie but I think that means, when they call it a tie, that means we win,” McCain said during a telephone call that was caught by cameras filming him at his campaign headquarters.
Both camps claimed victory after the 90-minute debate on Friday.
Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, sought to lower expectations for the next debate in Tennessee on Oct. 7. It will be conducted in a town-hall style with questions from an audience.
“We will be a decided underdog in that encounter, and John McCain is the undisputed town hall champion,” Plouffe told reporters on a conference call, noting that McCain — who is fond of the format — had challenged Obama to do joint town hall meetings throughout the summer.
“He clearly feels, even more than the foreign policy debate, this is his home turf. So if we can just escape relatively unscathed against the undisputed town hall champion in Tennessee, we’ll be thrilled.”
Obama has held regular town halls of his own throughout the 2008 campaign and does not appear to struggle with the format.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain talks on the phone at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, on Sept. 27)


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Almost all the polls show Obama winning the first debate by double digits. Why? Because he was presidential, respectful, concise, measured, and composed. This tells me that the Republican spite and snarl is beginning to turn people off. Obama got in his jabs – but also had to contend with sloppy moderation and an opponent who showed disrespect to the borders of contempt. If Obama resorted to this sort of tactic – even in fair retaliation – he would have been lamblasted by the MSM. It’s true that Obama had to spend much time defending himself against McCain’s arrogant barbs – but he acquitted himself well and for the most part, batted them all away. There are more debates – more chances – and more ammunition to use against McCain. He can do better – but I thought he did well and played it smart.

Posted by Daniel Staniforth | Report as abusive

I noted that during the debate last evening McCain did not look at Obama or make eye contact with him. This morning, on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle
this was again repeated. McCain was not looking at Obama
but Obama was looking directly at him. What is the meaning of this peculiar behavior? Is he afraid that Obama might see something in his eyes? Or is he simply refusing, in this primitive behavior, to recognize his existence?

McSame is out of touch with the modern world. It wasn’t the MEDIA that called it a tie, it was the people who watched it, and 1/2 of them are brain dead and think McSame won it. The half that has a functioning brain saw our next president whip McSame’s lying butt.

Posted by sfrose | Report as abusive

Y’all can buy in to the “Aw Shucks” Hype The campaign is selling…. If you choose to. Fact is … Once Obama got past the first debate…The rest will be a cakewalk.

Posted by Bubba | Report as abusive

Obama presidential? He kept referring to his opponent by his first name “John” constantly – yet no one in the media noted it. If McCain would’ve said something like, “Now Barack, you know that’s not correct” – the media and bloggers would be up in arms about “lack of respect” – it was universally a tie – not sure what websites you’ve been looking at – the DNC’s site? CBS News? MSNBC? Yes, those are bastions of impartiality aren’t they?

Posted by Michael Reed | Report as abusive

So the Obama team is already downplaying expectations for the next debate. This after they downplayed expectations for the first, and then claimed that since Obama didn’t get absolutely smashed in the first debate he must be the winner. We should all remember the last team to play the reduced debate expectations game — the Bush team. So keep cheering for Obama — another presidential candidate seeking to win by lowering the bar. Great for America!!!

Posted by Ron Cohen | Report as abusive

I am disappointed too. McLame looked like a frustrated child as Obama picked apart his canned statements with ease.
McLame offered no substance at all. Obama was detailed and busted McLame on ever lie he told.

It was not even close.

Palin/Biden is next. Ten bucks says he has her crying in frustration in the first 20 mins.

It’s almost over.

I watched the entire debate, and was stricken by McCain’s obvious rudeness. He ignored the moderator’s calls to end his comments, and forced Obama to insist on rebuttal time.

His refusal, or inability to look at Obama was a real puzzler to me. Even when the moderator urged him to “speak to [Obma] directly, he stared stubbornly ahead.

The answers were boilerplate campaignspeak, but the actions of both candidates showed me who I want in the White House next year. I opt for grace and thoughtfulness. No one with half a brain can wonder for whom I will vote.

Posted by Jerry Ulibarri | Report as abusive

Want to thank Daniel for his concise and articulate description of the debate last night. Spot on.

Oh yes….The wait for Thursday night will be like a kid waiting for Christmas.

Posted by Bubba | Report as abusive

Michael Reed, don’t jump to conclusions. About 15 minutes after the debate the news station I was watching declared that Obama called McCain “John” while McCain kept saying “Senator.”
However, instead of lack of respect, it shows me how much more comfortable and personable Obama can be in comparison to McCain. I think it shows serious fear that McCain couldn’t even look at Obama, haha.

Am McCain won! As be better, am tell things good. Obama am lie, as not know to do with terorists! Palin as keep eye on terror, as know to do, and McCain as tell truth. America #1!!!

MCain and Palin! As be get! As be get!

Am for McCain Palin, am say AS BE GET!!!!

Posted by Jimmybug | Report as abusive

Michael Reed wrote: “yet no one in the media noted it. If McCain would’ve said something like, “Now Barack, you know that’s not correct” – the media and bloggers would be up in arms about “lack of respect”

Nonsense. Desperate nonsense. McCain could have called him “Barack” and no one would have batted an eye. This is just another manufactored nontroversy by McCain supporters, but there’s no lipstick on this pig either.

Ron Cohen wrote: “So the Obama team is already downplaying expectations for the next debate.”

More desperate nonsense. The only ones playing the downplaying expectations game is the McCain campaign regarding the VP debate. They are vehemently trying to downplay expectations for Sarah Palin.

Posted by Anna Hudson | Report as abusive

As for Rob C…nice try, but it is McCain who has lowered the bar the entire campaign with his playground tactics like “suspending” his campaign to “resolve” the financial crisis. Let’s not even mention his lowering his standards by bringing Palin on board. That’s ok because Obama has shown time and time again that he is above people like yourself who try to bring him down to there level…kind of like McCain.

I was surprised to see McCain cowering. He was utterly unable to look Obama in the eye. Oddly, he somehow managed to look both angry and ashamed. (No wonder he doesn’t want to go face to face with with an enemy. They would walk all over him, behaving as he does like a scared and embittered child.) Only one person displayed Presidential Dignity and Authority: Obama.

Posted by patmac | Report as abusive

Wow – the press and many of you are so blind. McCain did not do everything right, nor did Obama. Obama was virtually crushed on Foreign Policy, however. Did no-one hear him say, for example, that if Pakistan did not crack down on militants and help (or something like that) that he would just “let them have it.” That is a virtual declaration of war! His position to sit down with the leader of Iran (and other such countries) and just chat without preconditions is also outstandingly naive…

The bias for Obama is impressive! If McCain or worse Palin had said that we will just let Pakistan “have it” the press would have had a field day. I am just so disappointed that after 8 years of Bush we now are facing Obama. Gore was far the intellectual superior of Obama, but would never have one as we don’t elect on intellect or credentials, we elect on the basis of charm and good looks. The press crushes Palin who is the only one of the 3 with any management experience and let’s ONE TERM OBAMA get away with virtually everything.

I have *always* voted with the democratic party, but this is a joke.

Posted by Benjamin Alper | Report as abusive

PALIN/mccain..The Bushies…Are a Bridge to nowhere.

…………….So I Say

…Thanks…But… No Thanks

Posted by Bubba | Report as abusive

‘Spot on’? What an idiot. You Obamacrats are about to find out that your meat doesn’t come from the grocery store. And, I really ‘hit the nail on the head with that one’. What morons. All dressed up like adults, but still living their parents’ basements. Stick a fork in them, they’re done.

Posted by SAM | Report as abusive

Paul Rafeal — didn’t you read the article: “Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, sought to lower expectations for the next debate in Tennessee on Oct. 7.” That’s the problem with those who “believe” in Obama — ignoring reason and fact, giving in to emotion. You do have a choice — you can vote for someone who has dedicated his life to this country, or you can vote for someone WHO HAS NEVER SACRIFICED ANYTHING FOR THIS COUNTRY. Reason v. emotion. That is your choice. It is obviousl that Obama backers are emotionally driven, and their bad judgment will drive him in to the White House. When he gets there and fumbles and ets you down, maybe you’ll learn your lesson, maybe you’ll just latch on to the next smooth talker, or maybe four more years of incompetence on top of the last eight years of incompetence will be too much and bring this country to its knees. It’s your gamble, and no one is more likely to gamble than someone ruled by emotion.

Posted by Ron Cohen | Report as abusive

The media has already elected Obama to be President since the first day of the Democratic primary.

What is more news worthy to any newsman or women to be able to cover the “historical” moment..

That debate was clear that Mccain won. Obama appeared lost and was obvious he memorized the stuffs as he kept repeating the same few points over and deliberately switched topics so he can continue to repeat the same stuffs over and over.

Posted by Kratos | Report as abusive

I am totally afraid that if Obama were to become president he would really muck up foreign relations. Quite clearly John McCain has the experience and has been in touch with what is going on from beginning to end. Obviously, Obama has not a clue. He never did answer the question asked, “when and why haven’t you been to Afghanistan?” He surely sidestepped the issue. He is talking out of total inexperience. And worse, he hasn’t had any contact with these leaders. How can he say what he would do? He has no idea of what is really going on in the Middle East. Clearly John McCain does. So what if Obama has Charisma, that doesn’t make him smarter or more able to lead our country, it just makes him more likable. But, when he starts to try to socialize this country of freedom and democracy, I don’t think his charisma will take him very far. So far as I know Socialism has not worked for any country so far. And as I hear it, Socialism is Sen. Obama’s goal. Then there are his ties with racist and bigoted associates. That is really scary to me.

If candidate McCain is disappointed the media tended to think it was a tie — he must be downright depressed that polling insta-polls and focus groups seemed to indicate the regular voters thought Obama had actually won.

Sam…Sam…Sam…tsk tsk tsk! You neocons are just so blatantly unwilling to admit your boy, with all his (so-called) experience and years in government, just fired blanks all night! On top of that, he was obviously rude and unprofessional, and I guess McInsane doesn’t have enough nerve to look in his eyes as he lies!

Posted by Victoria | Report as abusive

McCain should sacrifice his dream of becoming the next President and remain in the Senate. He will be more effective as a Senator for the next few years because whoever inherits this economic mess is not going to enjoy the fame for long. Soon the effects of the bail out will be visible and people will want “heads”! President Obama’s true colors will surface and he will be looking for sand to hide his beautiful head.

Posted by Candace | Report as abusive

McCain had so many chances to blow O away, but did not take advantage of it. Friends and I think his campaign is purposely throwing this election. His behaviour of late is just too strange and coincidental – not the real mccain!

Posted by Candace | Report as abusive

What Democrats and Independents still out there on the fence need to understand is, even if Hillary was your choice, like she was mine, or you are older or white and just can”t feel cozy about Obama this race, this election, this country is not about Obama. It is about all of us and when you compare values and really look at who you are about to vote for or not vote for, Obama is the clear choice if you really want to see our country prosper and grow once again. Some of you may be lucky enough to have jobs, retirement or investments to fall back on, but millions of your fellow Americans don”t after what Bush and the Republicans have done to the USA. Do the right thing, not because you love Obama, but because you love America. Obama gives us a much better chance at survival in these impossible times for so many Americans. Don”t forget Biden either, there is no way no how Biden will allow the corruption, greed and ignorance we have seen in DC continue and he is a seasoned expert on foreign affairs. The Democratic ticket is a good one this election, don”t be on the wrong side of history and miss the chance to say you voted for the right team.

Obama / Biden

Posted by Democrats 08 | Report as abusive

Shockingly MCcain whipped Obama in all areas. Obama campaign should be feeling naked right now. Given the 1st round media gave it a tie. had it been the last round it would have been bye bye Obama!

I expect the opposite to happen in biden – palin…esp on foreign policy…

But one thing is for sure…Obama needs to polish up fast if he plans to COMPETE with Mccain in terms of depth… that a US president should have. cheers

Posted by shehryar ali | Report as abusive

If you truly are an undecided voter and haven’t seen Bill Moyer’s interview of Andrew Bacevich, you owe it to yourself and to your family to see this interview, and perhaps read Bacevich’s book, before you vote…. 08/watch.html

Posted by Ahmed | Report as abusive

I have never voted for a Democrat for president before. I am a fiscal and social conservative. By all rights I should be a solid McCain voter. But…

The debate Friday night confirmed for me a growing sense over the past month – that Obama, by temperament, by his preference for reflection and yes, his “coolness”, is better suited for president in this global, 21st century. While I appreciate the rugged, “go with the gut” cowboy persona, it was better suited for a Teddy Roosevelt presidency. In today’s world, I believe that John McCain is better suited to serve his country by continuing his maverick role in the Senate.

Posted by Keith M | Report as abusive

Some of the punditry may have called it a tie, but the regular voters polled call it a win for Obama.

Polls conducted by CNN, CBS, as well as two focus groups, (one by GOP pollster Frank Luntz and another by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg), USA Today/Gallup and even Rasmussen (with a Republican house bias), all have Obama winning the first debate.

Posted by patwal | Report as abusive

The contrasts between the two were indeed glaring. I expect politicians to talk like politicians.

What McCain could not hide was the smirking, angry, disrespectful person he really is. After 8 years of that, I’m not voting for it again.

The people who referred to one senator referring to another senator as being disrespectful because he used his first name…your sheets are showing.

Posted by Indie | Report as abusive

Oh please. “Media” says “tie” according to McCain? Get over yourself. POLLS SAY OBAMA WON. Americans say Obama won. Obama was concise, polished, eloquent (without the teleprompter – HA!) and (despite less experience with foreign policy than McCain) equally informed. John McCain came off as winded and angry! His body language said it all. The “maverick” is scared. Could it be because McCain is losing in all aspects of the race? YES!

Posted by Stefanie | Report as abusive

“I was a little disappointed the media called it a tie but I think that means, when they call it a tie, that means we win,” McCain said…

he was supposed to be the foreign policy guru, the expert, the years of experience. soooo… i would say that he should have blown obama away. yet, many said tie, and polls say obama won.

how can that be rationalized as a win?

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

Say… I think McCain won handily. He showed great strength and insight. Obama talks a good game like Clinton did and although I voted for Clinton I learned from him that words can be deceiving and charming. McCain is a true American Hero! He is not job hopping or shopping like Obama.

Posted by Cindy | Report as abusive

Say… I think McCain won handily. He showed great strength and insight. Obama talks a good game like Clinton did and although I voted for Clinton I learned from him that words can be deceiving and charming. McCain is a true American Hero! He is not job hopping or shopping like Obama.

Posted by Cindy | Report as abusive

That photo shows McCain with all of those computers behind him. We know that he doesn’t know how to use a computer so this is just for the cameras.

Posted by larry | Report as abusive

McCain didn’t win a thing. He got up there and showed his true colors – a grumpy old man who loves to tell lies and be disingenuous.

He misstated history, policy and flat out lied.

I expect more than lies from a veteran/POW. As far as I’m concerned he has dishonored all veterans with his lies and behavior. American veterans are better than that and they deserve to have someone better than that to represent them.

Posted by MargaretO | Report as abusive

shehryar ali

Were you watching the same debate as everyone else? Was Obama’s answers too intellectual? Every focus group has Obama the winner. These are ordinary people not pundits. There is no way McCain won this debate. But even those who may think it was a tie, McCain still loses. This was McCain’s turf. He says he’s the foreign policy expert. But he got facts wrong and names wrong. He proposed nothing for future US relations with other countries around the world. He said absolutely nothing about how the world views us. And you really think he won? WOW!!

Posted by Sabreen60 | Report as abusive

Senator McCain has probably been a good Senator for many years. But age affects us and changes us. We should not measure the capability of a man over seventy by his performance when he was a younger man. Our judgement changes as we get older, and very often our temperament becomes more extreme and our behaviour more erratic.

Saying your opponent doesn’t understand is disrespectful. It is not the mark of a leader, or of a president. It is the mark of a man with low self-esteem.

Posted by Sue Wingrove | Report as abusive

McSame can “pretend” that he won the debate all he wants but that doesn’t make it reality. McSame seems to have a problem with reality and truth. What he did show the country is that he’s an old, angry, rude and classless man who has sold his integrity to win at all cost. He has proven that he does NOT put his country first but rather his own selfish ambitions. To seriously subject this country to the high risk of leaving Palin to run this country when at his advanced age and health history, is unforgivable! Palin can study for the debate, memorize the facts she’s been fed but that does not give her a serious grasp of the dire situations that this country faces! McSame is only for himself and Obama proved that he’s Presidential, smart and has good judgment, unlike McSame who has no judgment or bad judgment! He’ll just try to continue “tricking” the people of this country to focus on anything but the real issues because he has no real solutions, just lies and tricks! He proved himself to be a small UNFIT man! Mean spirited and bad tempered.

Posted by Susan Kunin | Report as abusive

McCain disappointed that he didn’t win debate? He’s surprised? After watching the debate, the first thing that struck me was that McCain infused his rhetoric with that snarky condescending tone that has become a permanent feature of the republican party. It was the same nasty snarky tone that was used at the RNC convention. I had very high hopes for Obama, but did expect McCain to hit a “home run” on foreign policy, which has been touted repeatedly in the media as his strong suit. Let me say, I was bitterly disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high for McCain on that front. Obama struck me as calm, poised, and well versed in matters both economic and foreign. I keep hearing from Republicans that Obama isn’t knowledgeable on foreign policy. I find that quite intriguing as, can any republican justify to me how exactly McCain is knowledgeable on foreign policy? I noticed that he got the name of the new Pakistani president incorrect (he referred to him as Kidari), he either doesn’t know where Spain is (in an interview when asked about the prime minister of Spain he railed against Latin America…and then he didn’t know that Spain was a NATO ally). Also, he said that Pakistan had a failed state prior to the military coup by Musharaf, which is simply not true. He argued passionately for the military surge in Iraq, but didn’t lay out any specifics on how he would deal with Al Qaeda, the real culprits of 9/11. If, given all of this information, anyone can point out to me how exactly McCain is more “knowledgeable” I will be very interested to hear you make your case. I, for one, think that Obama had a very reasoned foreign policy perspective and it is not based on emotion, but rather intellect and the depth of his obvious knowledge on the matter. Living abroad at present, I can say that even our greatest ally, England has lost respect for us. I don’t feel that McCain is the right man to return the dignity and respect to our country that we have been lacking over the last eight years. Obama is the right choice for me.

Also, Benjamin Alper I was taken by your comment about intellect vs emotion. I acknowledge that emotion is what saddled our great nation with Bush, I would strongly disagree that McCain is the intellectual superior to Obama. McCain was lucky to graduate from college, which I know because he has touted it. Obama is ivy league educated and didn’t muddle through. He is intellectual and dynamic and meets the standards that I thought were meant to be (or at least should be) those necessary to be president. When you set the bar too low, you get people like Bush, Palin and Quayle. I think the republican party should attempt to raise the bar. These intellectually stunted individuals are an insult.

Posted by elisa | Report as abusive

“Obama…does not appear to struggle with the format.”

That is a subjective comment and has no place in straight news.

Posted by rpcvlawson | Report as abusive

For me, John McCain debated well but made a bad impression with his physical stance and closed body language. I don’t think it was intended as rudeness as some suggest but rather a projection of a self protective resentment towards Obama, who had trumped him the day before during the private White House meeting.

Obama debated well but could have shown more righteous anger and less diplomacy. “John is right” or ” I agree with John”. Speak directly to the people, Senator and ask them if they are better off now than they were eight years ago or even four years ago. McCain is a relic of the past, both on foreign policy and economic policy and Obama is the future. Do you want the past or the future?

The question should be easy to answer. I know it is for me.

Posted by Elizabeth | Report as abusive

It was clear that McCain has total disdain for his opponent. He probably feels that Obama has no business being on the same stage, but should instead be shining his shoes. This was supposed to be his shining moment during the debates, and he failed to knock out Obama. Instead, he came across as petty, angry, and condescending.

Obama held his own, was gracious to his opponent, was not afraid to look McCain in the eye, effectively explained his own perspectives on foreign policy issues, and showed a greater understanding of the complexities of the economic crisis and the problems affecting most Americans.

No surprise that most Americans felt Obama won the night.

Posted by labman57 | Report as abusive

This debate was Mr. Obama’s. The next two Obama-McCain debates will be inconsequential after the Biden-Palin “debate”.

On February 27th, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, I predicted that Mr. Obama would be the democrat nominee and the next president.

Today, September 27th, I predict that the Obama-Biden ticket will prevail on November 4th, and that the democrat party ticket will garner at least 301 electoral votes…at least 31 more than the 270 needed to win.

What is my crystal ball?

I don’t have one.

However, I do have a very shiny, new 50:50 (even odds) penny. I tossed it in February and again tonight.

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

McInsane didn’t look at Senator Barack Obama because despite all the BS about his being a hero blahblahblah, he is in truth, a yellow bellied coward. If he were truly a hero and a maverick there would not be any doubt in the minds of the voters that he rejected everything Bush stood for. Instead, he has more votes for Bush policies than against. As for the BS from the rightwing necons that by addressing McInsane as ‘John’ which is his name, Obama showed him disrespect is a steaming load. If anyone on that stage was guilty of disrespect it was McInsane,who not once looked at Obama even when at the end, they shook hands. He continued to look away. Those are the actions of someone who is disrespecting the other. Who was the real man Friday night? Without question,hands down it was Barack Obama, the next President of the United States. Get used to that idea rightwingers.

Posted by John the Elder | Report as abusive

My white progressive friends are all puzzled by McCain not looking at Obama during the debate. This is code that blacks and whites in the south understand quite well. It means that you don’t exist, you don’t belong on the stage with me, and that you are nobody. That is the code, period. Now, for people who are McCain supporters anyway, this kind of behavior is acceptable. However, for those independents out there that will decide the election, I think they will look at this behavior very negatively. We will see how it plays.

I also want my white progressives to understand that Obama cannot overtly attack McCain. He can make his points, but if he were to address McCain with the same level of disrespect that McCain addresses him, there would be a loud cry from the white establishment that says, Obama is an angry black man, that he hates whites, and he will destroy the country if elected. Obama understands that reality and refuses to be baited.

Is the country ready for Obama, I don’t know, it might be. However, Obama has to play this thing very smartly. He has many constraints on him that McCain does not have, but hey, those are the rules of the game at this point in the country’s history. I think he has done a masterful job to this point, given the total landscape.

Additionally, at this point in our history, Obama was never going to win in a landslide. At best, it was always going to be a single digit victory. I think the campaign understands that and is comfortable with winning that way.

Posted by Duke | Report as abusive

I am not disappointed but clearly McCain did NOT win the debate.

I think Senator Obama did very well and I am ready for president Obama to be elected so we can start working together to move our country in a healthier direction.

Posted by ldb | Report as abusive

Then McCain should be even more “disappointed” to find out most independant viewers said Obama won.

McCain forgot who he was talking to. His base is already in the tank. Though that may change after Thursdays VP debate.

Even if Palin does ok, there is way too much concern and doubt about her to the point that the McCain states she will get there. Will get there? Thats the sell? 2 wars? A collapsing economy? Broken relationships and tarnished reputation around the world?

On the Obama ticket you get 2 presidents for the price of 1.

Posted by sue | Report as abusive

I feel so sorry for McCain’s grasping, desperate defenders; their repeated declarations of loyalty are as much to an era and territory that no longer exists as they are to a worn-out man whose best days are far behind him. His (and their) party has been revealed as incompetent grifters beyond redemption – unable to manage the military, foreign relations, the economy, the environment, the health care crisis,or any other function of government. I know old habits die hard, but your ideology is dead – you bet the farm and lost. Our nation is in precipitous decline, and it’s because your kind empowered their kind. It’s over.

Posted by B. Churchill | Report as abusive