Tales from the Trail

Last presidential debate ends, will the spread narrow?

October 16, 2008

The third and final presidential debate is over after intense sparring between Republican hopeful John McCain and rtx9lnj.jpgDemocratic contender Barack Obama.

Have voters heard enough from the two candidates? McCain has been falling behind in recent polls, was he able to close the gap or was Obama able to solidify his lead?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Comments
191 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Obama was a statesman. McCain, bless his heart, scared me a bit. I like McCain, but i think it is time to retire or relax a bit. I think that the presidency will destroy what is left of him. As for me and the country, McCain seemed struggling for air, was uncomfortable and defensive. Obama took a high road, a true diplomat. Obama clearly showed
leadership. Even McCain’s laugh seemed strained and honestly, a bit horrific and worn. Objectively, the debate was Obama’s win. I would have McCain learn relaxing techniques, but a bit late for that. This was a fellow american that got to McCain. I fear what North Korea, Russia, Syria etc. could do to him.

 

Obama clearly won the debate. He is a much more thoughtful, dignified presence. McCain is all over the place. He’s aggressive, demeaning and argumentative.

I have no doubt that Senator Obama will win on November 4.

The Republicans were saddled with a horrible choice with McCain. It should have been Romney.

Posted by Lizz | Report as abusive
 

McCain won. It is doubtful that people who back Obama will be swayed however. Democrats tend to be shallow thinkers and lovers of the big fable – communism.

Posted by daniel stiles | Report as abusive
 

I did not see the debate, but I was able to follow the full CNN live transcript on the internet, and even without watching the candidates, from the text, it was obvious of who would be a better presedent to take this country forward! OBAMA

Posted by Kris | Report as abusive
 

Hey, Jessica, “lifelong republican,” (you guys seem to be everywhere – is that part of Mr. Axelrod’s astroturfing method at work?) how is it that when Obama speaks the words sound real, uhhhhh, uuuuum, nice uuuuh, uuuuh, and all, but after he’s done, you don’t really have any idea what he said?

McCain has more executive experience in his pinky finger than The Obamessiah has in his entire, uuuuuuh, uuuuuummmmm, body.

Posted by TheReSa | Report as abusive
 

Obama clearly won my vote. McCain appeared to be grimacing or leering much of the time. McCain also was unable to stay on point, He meandered around the topics and his facial theatrics seemed to say this is not a debate but a gurning contest and I came to win!

Posted by ellen | Report as abusive
 

sorry John, you got bug eyed too many times, like a deer in the head lights, and that lump in your cheek? is that a mind control chip from Vietnam? Sorry John-Boy Obama whipped your

Posted by Will 1547 | Report as abusive
 

I thought was about even in their responses.However,McCain’s
facial expressions and tone of his voice were from an angree man.
My concern is if he were to become President it will be my way or the highway.That can be scary.My other concern is that it has been reported that he has a”shortfuse”.

 

McCain won it because he’s been a target of ageism and blatantly partisan media… He gets my sympathy vote. I’m tired of people saying he doesn’t “present himself” well. Wouldn’t you be cranky if you constantly were under severe scrutiny, but your opponent isn’t? I mean, Obama’s okay if you don’t look into his campaign financing issues… heck check this out the recent “Northland Couple Warns of Political Credit Card Fraud” article somewhere. It explains it Obama’s campaign financing in one simple example. As for me I explain it with one word… FRAUD.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

Yep, Obama won again. I was kind of frustrated with the amount of rhetoric between takes. McCain needed to focus more on the issues while maintaining a certain level of discretion. McCain’s responses were lame to say the least. I will give credit to how he defended his record. It was informative and more concise that I expected but on the other hand His reactions were very revealing. It was embarrassing. Obama wasn’t much better but he did do what he needed to do. There was a bunch of rhetoric but he defended himself on pretty much every point of contention. He did a better job than I expected. He kept the same cool as the previous debates.

In the end, McCain defended his voting record but didn’t defend the issues that he flies a banner for. Obama defended himself from a lot of attacks effectively. While he could’ve done a better job with stating the issues, he did better than McCain. Obama was the professional in the debate.

Posted by David | Report as abusive
 

McCains big idea tax health insurance. That says it all. Vote Obama for your Momma

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

McCain looked and sounded neurotic! he might be a loose canon in office. Obama looked and sounded tired. you
have to be “nuts” to run for President!

Posted by m.r. | Report as abusive
 

If you ask me, Joe the Plumber won.

But, nevertheless, McCain who I voted for to the senate in our state, came off very angry, bitter and spiteful. did anyone else see him rolling his eyes in frustration?

Posted by andy | Report as abusive
 

Interesting. Many calm rational well thought out statements citing issues saying that Obama won. A few shrill, angry, untruthful personal attacks that say McCain won. McCain made his bed. Now he’s lying in it. He’s won the support of the people to whom he appealed and lost the presidency.

Posted by Stephen Manion | Report as abusive
 

Senator Obama was cool and collected in the face of Senator McCain’s intimidation and aggression. He was focused on highlighting his plans for America. McCain killed himself by going all out to pick a fight with Obama. McCain obviously has some rehearsed lines on the economy that he kept repeating in-between his aggressions. Obama is our next President. He has my vote. I am fully persuaded about Obama!!

Posted by AYO ABRAHAM | Report as abusive
 

Elizabeth: I am distressed that nearly half my country thinks McCann is the better option! We are in denial of our economic challenges ahead and Obama raising taxes to level-set lack of fiscal responsibility will be the least of our worries! Palin is a wonderful speaker; juggler of work/life balance (we think); confident achiever in anything she will tackle. President of the U.S.???!!! Obama is a visionary and capable of leading change — but my real fear surrounds those of us who aren’t “getting it.” Cheers to the audacity of hope/Obama!

Posted by EZ | Report as abusive
 

McCain won the debate. I liked the health care plans and the greenhouse effects. I’m a long-time Republican, and I value our party’s morals. Obama did pretty good, but not as McCain.

 

I have to admit that McCain was a little bit stronger in the first few minutes, but Obama has regained control of the debate almost immediately. McCain has brought up Obama’s eloquence as a negative, but in fact the eloquence is one of most important attributes of a good politician. Interesting was an issue of the health care. Obama picked perfectly on two issues with McCain’s plan, if one can call it a plan. $5,000 is not going to buy anyone a decent health care plan (perhaps one day in the hospital). Obama’s estimates of $12,000 is much closer to the reality. I agree completely with a mess that it would create with large companies, hungry for quick profits, picking on this loop-hole and dumping mediocre coverage that people already have and can barely afford as is. McCain responses were an empty rhetoric. Bbringing up “Joe the plumber” stunt up was a total fiasco.
MacCain is not only Bush, but he is no Reagan either and his actor’s skill are rather lousy, that’s why he “flat lined” on that one. The description of a rookie VP candidate, Palin, to be a Washington game changer was bluntly idiotic. Obama’s choice of Biden was very wise. Bringing in an “old dog” of politics to the game bridges the gap of his limited experience. He did not shy away from admitting that he will depend on his advise on the foreign issues. The tax issue? Show me one middle class hard working American and even a small business owner making $250,000 taxable (note the word: taxable) income. I know of relatively large corporations claiming less income then that, after they were done filling all the loopholes in the US tax law. The McCain’s comment on 11% business profit taxation base in Ireland is also misrepresented and out of context. EU (not only Ireland) requires business owners to give hefty contribution to the pension plans, and other social benefits, first year 5 weeks vacations, not mentioning job security guaranties that in the economical downturn, is plainly disastrous. The other issue is a VAT taxation on capitalized equipment, which US companies never heard of.

Posted by Wes Surowka | Report as abusive
 

Obama was magnificent tonight. McCain seemed as though he was going to lose his temper and Obama remained calm and presidential. Obama was born to lead!

 

Every election since late 80s I had a clear choice.
This time none of the choices feel right. I would
like to skip this election but there are so many
local issues that I need to vote on. I will have to
write in something for the presidential choice.

Posted by nochoice | Report as abusive
 

for any intelligent American, there is no doubt that McCain clearly lost the debated. he does not have anything new to offer apart from pres. bush policies of the last eight years. unlike the republicans, the democrats always represent the American majority and not the only few who are wealth. go Obama go

Posted by kasera | Report as abusive
 

Morals huh, besides abortion name a difference betwwen the two candidates in morals. Besides isn’t that why we live in America because we get to choose our morals? McCain lets stay in the war. Since when did God condone war.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

McCain is clearly the more knowledgeable candidate. To me the choice is between true experienced leadership and a guy who knows how to speak well and look good for a camera. It’s obvious John McCain knows what he is talking about and can actually get things done for America.

Posted by Carol Wyatt | Report as abusive
 

Obama WON. Although both candidates refused to stay on point and answer Bob’s questions, Obama remained more composed, calm and cool while McCain could not contain his disdain and utter contempt for his opponent. His body language did not play well into the prize fighter strategy of the McCain camp who have been training their candidate to attack, attack, attack like a fearless Kamikaze. I’m more convinced each day that John is privately an ideological hot head behind closed doors no different than Bush Jr. Although both candidates were not 100% truthful with their answers, I felt that Barack with his Law credentials was more equipped to retain information and communicate effectively to his audience while McCain relied on memorized tag lines. I respect McCain for his passion and heroism however I don’t think he thinks like a CEO, more like a battalion leader. Country first, economy, education, healthcare, human rights, and energy second. His timeline for energy independence from OPEC and Venezuela was not believable to me.

Posted by Tom I | Report as abusive
 

Come on people!!! You think Obama won because he was more calm, are you people for real??? You should be upset if you cared about the United States which there are 57 in Obamas mind( there are 57 muslim states). Mc Cain should be upset and so should you. Our country is going to hell fast and only the ones who are responsible for it are not upset. They are trying to stay cool so what they are really up to goes unnoticed. If Obama gets this election( God Help Us) see how long you stay calm when you cant feed your family, or pay your taxes and you wont know this country in less than a year. You are being sold a bill of goods by a guy that was a lawyer. I would much rather go with someone you knows how to fight for something and against wrong. Obama is empty words. If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything and Obama is the anything here. GOD HELP US!

Posted by Angie | Report as abusive
 

good point

The McCain’s comment on 11% business profit taxation base in Ireland is also misrepresented and out of context. EU (not only Ireland) requires business owners to give hefty contribution to the pension plans, and other social benefits, first year 5 weeks vacations, not mentioning job security guaranties that in the economical downturn, is plainly disastrous. The other issue is a VAT taxation on capitalized equipment, which US companies never heard of.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

Clearly Obama is my choice this election. Mcpain was well Mcpain, He is absolutely scary. He completely lost me with his choice of VP Palin was what broke the camel’s back. Go Obama!!!!

Posted by Paulobeside | Report as abusive
 

I think that John McCain is the best man for our country. I have watched all three debates. Every time Senator Obama is asked a direct question he never answers it. The underlining difference between the two men is that one wants to take us down the road to socialism and the other wants to restrain this direction help the US to get back to less government and less taxes. I really do feel that your associations do affect how your think and governs. No one can say if they spend quality time with someone that that person does not affect their way of thinking one way or the other. I am voting for Senator McCain because It trust him more.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive
 

I can’t believe anyone with a 6th grade education or beyond can honestly look me in the face and say McCain won this debate. McCain just kept repeating some of the same lines/lies time after time. He cannot sit across the table from anyone and convince them with his irritable and angry demeanor. I mean honestly people, this guy is SCARRY and the person he chose as his running mate is just a sign of his lack of judgement on really important issues and it also shows that he Truly DOESN’T PUT COUNTRY FIRST, but only his desire to win at all costs. Any woman who does’t see this as an insult to their intelligence and a cheap attempt to manipulate them, needs to have her head examined.

Posted by Lynn | Report as abusive
 

To Sam above you know less about your Bible than you do elections. God ordered war many, many times in the Bible. Condone war he ordered it for the protection of his people. He even said at times to leave nothing behind women, children or animals of there ememies to keep the spead of there ways from contaimating the Israels. So get your facts straight

Posted by Angie | Report as abusive
 

McCain gave his best performance of the 3 debates tonight. I believe he’ll win in a very tight election. No question race will be an issue in McCains favor when you’re in the voting booth. And it’s an established fact Republicans show up to vote at a higher ratio than Democrats.

Posted by bill gordon | Report as abusive
 

During the last 40 years democrats have been weak defenders of the USA. Because of the mistakes of the Bush administration, many Americans are about to overcompensate and make a terrible mistake electing a liberal, weak President. Obama will not be a defender of the Republic. He is intelligent, like Jimmy Carter, and just as weak. With a Democratic congress social programs will increase and the military will be reduced. Bad timing in today’s world.

Posted by John Adler | Report as abusive
 

The American voter won. We finally got to see the ‘real’ differences between the candidates.

 

It seems Obama won the debate. It seeems Obbama won the entire media campaign. Still, I wonder: will the Americans have the courage to go out on 4th of november and vote for an African- American? My bet is that they will not. Despite everything they say about how much better Obama is, at the end of the day, all middle class americans will vote for the White candidate. Unfortunately, Obama as a president is too bold of a step for them

Posted by moredread | Report as abusive
 

As an ex-republican, I feel McCain did better tonight then the last 2 debates. Overall though, Obama won the debate and my vote. Obama’s intentions appear to be clear and objective and I view him as one who can discern what is best for the highest good for most of the American people, as opposed to McCain’s interest in serving the highest good for a smaller group of the American people. If Senator McCain used the term pro-abortion one more time I was going to shut it off; pro-abortion is not the definition of pro-choice. I’m also grateful McCain didn’t insinuate that withdrawing from Iraq was throwing up the surrender flag so I honor him for that! But was offended by some of the spars that were thrown by McCain toward Obama as they are not relative to the issues of the ever-downward-spiral of America’s economic issues. By the way, it is important for America to also regain their world status as a team player versus this “we serve only ourselves” outlook. As we can see by our falling economy it is effecting other countries as well.

Posted by Meg | Report as abusive
 

Telling people Palin has a tough husband was like saying “don’t worry, all you men out there, if Sarah finds herself in the oval office, she’ll have a strong man to tell her what to do.” I would think women would be insulted.

Anyway, McCain’s a mess. He’s acting like a fly stuck between the window and the screen.

Posted by Niko the Farmer | Report as abusive
 

Obama won. If you pay more attention to the content of what these guys were telling, Mccain has no solid points. He just makes some broad points and says “PEOPLE KNOW MY RECORDS”. The problem is that I don’t know his record. Can he explain me what he will do for Healthcare, ecomomy, war, retirement plan etc. instead of always telling “see my record”.

Posted by Easygoing | Report as abusive
 

Obama won. It should be obvious. Anyone that still thinks Macain presents fresh ideas, sound wisdom, or true leadership qualities is kidding themselves.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

McCain won, in my book. But I am sick at heart that so much of the debate centered around how Americans will be taken care of, instead of how they can help themselves, their neighbors, and the country. I agree with Senator McCain, that Americas best days are ahead – - but not if Senator Obama’s furtherance of socialism prevails.

Posted by Marilyn Clark | Report as abusive
 

Oh, give me a break Marilyn. I’m so sick of the Republican talking point about “socialism” and Democrats who want government to take care of them. First of all, Republicans are not shy about having government take care of their rich cronies. Secondly, if government isn’t there to serve the people, then what the bejeebes is its purpose anyway?

Posted by Niko the Farmer | Report as abusive
 

I have to disagree about shrinking the government at the moment; what will replace it? Corporations? Corporations have not shown to an interest in the general good of the people. Their goal, the very reason for their existence is to extract money from the people, and only for a profit. Roosevelt might have said “Speak softly and carry a big stick” but as President, Roosevelt held the ideal that the Government should be the great arbiter of the conflicting economic forces in the Nation, especially between capital and labor, guaranteeing justice to each and dispensing favors to none.

Obviously the last 5 republican presidents have forgot that they are the steward of the people, not just his political and business interest people.

Posted by C.D.Walker | Report as abusive
 

McCain clearly demonstrated he could answer the questions while Obama responded in a calm manner he never really said anything other than we will look in to it. People need to look past the calm voice and into the substance. What is the most significant bill Obama has authored in the Senate?

Posted by Ned | Report as abusive
 

John McCain won hand down. He put Barack Hussein Obama on the defensive.

Posted by Herman | Report as abusive
 

Obama clearly won the debate. The problems facing our nation are deep, and the next President will absolutely have to have an even temperament in building consensus. In this format, more than in the prior two debates, it became painfully clear that Senator McCain lacks the temperament to accomplish such consensus building. His approach to the policy differences showed an obvious spirit of anger and contempt toward both Senator Obama and his views. This is the same polarizing style of the Bush administration in which you talk a good bipartisan game, but consistently refuse to find the middle ground. Then, when your policies fail, you demonize the other side and blame them for your own failures. Enough of the polarizing! We need a candidate capable of holding the center, and who doesn’t just say “country first” as a meaningless campaign slogan.

Posted by David | Report as abusive
 

McCain won he had the other guy on the ropes hail to the chief

Posted by Tom Reingruber | Report as abusive
 

In previous debates, and generally in America there has been great resintment aganst Saudi Arabia, granted 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabians. My question is as a nation Saudi Arabia has since 9/11 stood hand in hand with America, It increased oil productions to meet American needs, it clearly has made hundreds of arrests regarding terrorism, it has shared information and inteligance and has even gone as far as staying silent on u.s and foreign issues that brought rage to the Saudi Public, why then do we still as Americans hate to give them money in exchange for oil?… why are we so filled with hate that we wouldnt want another nation to prosper?…it dosent seem just !

Posted by vince | Report as abusive
 

I think Mr. Obama did a much better job between the two. While I would very much have enjoyed hearing some specific ideas in regards to how to reform our economy, I did really like Mr. Obama’s comment about a $4000 tax credit for students preforming some sort of community service. Anyone from someone in our armed forces to americorps volunteers to ANYONE doing documented community service. I did this on my own in undergrad and it would have been quite helpful to be given aid for my education for the work I was already doing, and I’d like to believe it would push even more people to have a reason to get involved!

This was a real point. While I wish many more concrete examples would have been given, I feel Mr. Obama certainly put forth an attitude and plan that was trying whilst Mr. McCain only sputtered, got increasingly angry and repeatedly avoided anything to add substance to his points.

Posted by candace | Report as abusive
 

McCain keeps saying “Look at my record” because he doesn’t expect people to do so. Fortunately many have. Obama is, indeed, running against Bush. And Obama is winning.

Posted by Stephen Manion | Report as abusive
 

To Lynn who says McCain doesnt care about this country. Well he is the only canidate who has fought for this country at the risk of his life. Obama wouldnt get his hands dirty! McCain could have come home early from POW camp but choose to stay with his men till the end. Obama drops his friends in the first sign of trouble (his preacher, past assocs, ect.) And he will drop all you 8th grade grads who must have rode the short bus.

Posted by Angie | Report as abusive
 

Obama won. McCain is frightening, and even more so when you consider Palin as his vice-presidential selection.

Our country is in very troubled times, with two wars, a recession, poverty and homelessness that have not lessened even in the presence of “prosperity”. Obama is a leader, who with the hard work of Americans in and out of government, can help us get back on the right track and address these problems.

McCain is an angry, bitter old man who put his quest to be president ahead of the interests of his country.

Posted by Cathy Greer | Report as abusive
 

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