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 once again bested McCain. McCain continues to come off uneven, temperamental, angry, and frustrated.

Posted by mtb memphis | Report as abusive
 

No one is telling you not to vote for this or that..but the fact is look before you leap…McCain still don’t get it, he is too angry, most words he says are full of fallacy’s.

Posted by Eddie Jacobs | Report as abusive
 

I think, beyond a shadow of a doubt Obama won this one. He had logical answers to most if not all of the questions asked of him and slander thrown at him by Mccain, as well as the superb body language of a person that is confident and ready to face a nation calmly and collectively with eyes focused on the path ahead. As for Mccain, he really let it go tonight with a lot of blinking, stammering, and just general shoddiness in his overall rhetoric and plan in anything asked or contested. 20 more days and we’ll see who America decides is best fit to lead and watch for the next 4 years.

Posted by Ryan Rice | Report as abusive
 

History in the making. Obama the new president of America

Posted by Kamesh Tenneti | Report as abusive
 

Obama is the best candidate for the american people. This was a better night for McCain but Obama won for sure.

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive
 

I’ll take my chances with Obama. Not only does he present a sensible, if imperfect, case, he presents it well. Clarity, confidence, and conviction. He may not be a statesman yet, but he looks to be well on his way. Good luck, sir.

 

Wow, doom and gloom from the Right on what happens if Obama takes the election. It reminds me of my neighbor in 1992 explaining that if Clinton was elected we would have “double digit inflation and record deficits.” If memory serves we ended his eight years in the black and with the economy humming.
Get over it. If the majority of this country will actually vote for a black man for President (still sadly questionable) he’ll win and the country will be better off for the change. You know what they say about stirring the pot to keep the scum from collecting at the top.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive
 

Watched with about 10 friends in Chicago. General consensus was that this was definitely McCain’s most forceful appearance in the 3 debates, but he didn’t deliver any knockout and neither did Obama. Obama was cool and collected and more direct with his explanation of his positions. McCain relied a bit too much on Republican talking points, while Obama stuck more to the issues. McCain appeared agitated at times. Obama won by presenting himself as someone people could be comfortable with as President (versus a relatively nationally well-known McCain). This was Obama’s debate to lose and by not losing, he won.

Posted by JML | Report as abusive
 

Obama sounds good and promises the moon, but never explains how he is going to pay for all the grandiose ideas. Everybody loves the idea of free health care, free college education, and world class schools at every level. I believe it is irrational for Obama to still be promising all these things after voting for the $850 billion bail out, and in light of the current $10 trillion dollar deficit.

Evidently all the Democrats and most of the Independents can’t do math either. McCain has the courage to propose a spending freeze, which is the only rational thing to do in the present situation. Being rational apparently is not what the voters want right now. They want lofty rhetoric and grandiose dreams, and that’s just what they will get with Obama. Obama clearly knows all the right buttons to punch with voters – promise huge increases in spending and massive reductions in taxes. Hello!? Can nobody see that won’t work?

McCain answered all the questions succinctly and with solid examples. Obama gave round about answers and always evaded the tough questions, consistently returning to his mantra of spend-tax-spend some more. Obama clearly knows all the right buttons to punch with voters – promise huge increases in spending and massive reductions in taxes. Hello!? Can nobody see that won’t work?

Posted by Bill Clark | Report as abusive
 

Point #1: Angie above … Old Testament God did order war, but Jesus was absolutely a pacifist. So if your right if your Jewish and belive only in the Old Testament but your wrong if your Christian and believe in Jesus’ teachings.

Point #2: ‘Joe the Plumber’ is non-sense. As a small business owner and someone who contracts exclusively with small tech businesses; the majority of us actually pay our employees more then we pay ourselves. Why? 1) cause they are salaried and we aren’t, 2) because I’d rather re-invest that money into my business .. and the business can write-off many of the things I would otherwise paid for out of my pocket: my car, my new computer, my home office, my travel and food expenses, etc.

So Joe, if your paying yourself 250k+ a year and worried about Obama then 1) your either doing really really well or 2)you have a really really bad accountant.

Posted by Juls | Report as abusive
 

obama won, america won, the democrates won, this is not a one single won, this is a won for the next 20 years, because with this election the democrates will hopefully take over the white house with a huge win over the republicans that will leave them out for a long time.

Thank you barack obama!

A jew for obama!

Posted by a jew | Report as abusive
 

McCain did great! Obama sounds just like Clinton (Bill) same old “government is the answer” and guarantor of all we need…Can’t anyone see that national health care would cost a fortune and be as ineffecient as most other federal programs. What kind of cool-aid are people drinking? McCain is “what you see is what you get.” Better the devil I know than the one I don’t know.

Posted by Andrew Severson | Report as abusive
 

I felt that McCain brought more heat than light and Obama brought more light than heat. Obama’s responses reflected knowledge of the relevant issues and plans for addressing them. McCain’s responses frequently focused on complaining about and attacking Obama. Many of his answers came off as esentially extended sound-bites or campaign trail talking points. He failed to be definitive in his answers to many of the questions. However, the most damning thing about McCain is his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate. I was for him when he ran against GWB, but he’s not the same man now.

Posted by Marge | Report as abusive
 

To Juls Iam Christian and if you remember Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple and overthrew thier table. He was not a pacifist. read Matt 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:I came notto send peace,but a sword

Posted by angie | Report as abusive
 

I find it interesting how the republicans seem to be using fear as a tactic I think americans are tired of the fear and prefer the message of hope that Obama has been speaking of in the debates. I was unsure but after 3 debates It seems I agree with obamas policies.

Palin was also a major factor in my decision.

Posted by gary | Report as abusive
 

i think the comments in this thread are more interesting than the debate. such intense divisiveness… it’s crazy that we all have this us vs. them mentality about republicans and democrats. seriously – america (which i love dearly and would give my life for) – is a totally schizophrenic nation.

end political parties, end the electoral college system, and let’s have our next president be the one who the majority thinks will do the best job.

either that, or we split into two separate nations, with south and the mountain west being one nation, and the coasts and the great lakes region being a separate nation.

Posted by doug | Report as abusive
 

Oama won the debate … little more need be said … now lets se if Americans think that intelligence and “Eloquence’ are disqualifiers for the office of President …. so it goes ….

Posted by Barrie O. Ward The Canadian Geezer | Report as abusive
 

Will the spread narrow? What does it matter?

Obama’s answers were simple and to the point. Even if you didn’t agree with some of them there was content you could actually grasp and discuss. McCain was all sarcasm smirk, and snark. Other than his loony health plan, I have no idea what he actually stands for, since he has yet to answer a question in one of these debates clearly. If he’s elected, I fear for this country.

 

Mccain looked bad, sounded bad, spoke bad, and made bad points.

Posted by Paler | Report as abusive
 

Go John McCain; I can’t even imagine a world where Obama would be President. I believe American spirit would cease to exist.

Posted by Shaun McCreedy | Report as abusive
 

Its been five years since I came to this country, has seen two presidential elections. I am not a republican or a democrat…..little changes in common man’s life, whether we have a republican or a democrat in the office.
Being an independent observer who can’t even vote, I find that Obama appears more intelligent, actually answers a question that is asked and not just attacks his opponent. Whereas McCain, didn’t really answer the questions that are asked, he is always more interested in attacking Obama and I still don’t know what he stands for.
Its hard to predict who would win the election but this election will make or break my beloved adopted nation, United States of America!

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

I can’t help but wonder if any of these people who are supporting Obama have thought about what will happen if these big companies that we have invested in (I.R.A.’s, 401K’s, college funds, savings AND checking accounts, etc.) just decide that they cannot afford to do business in America anymore. We’ve already lost way too many companies (AND JOBS and TAXES)because the large companies have left for cheaper labor and less taxes. And unfortunately, the small businesses which Obama says will be protected from higher taxes, will not be able to compete with the larger companies who stick it out in the U.S.A. for employees without higher wages, health insurance, etc. As a small business owner, I will be faced with two choices – raise my rates or close my business!!! This is the same for EVERY BUSINESS – LARGE and SMALL. So we ALL raise our prices. The result – Americans may make an extra dollar or two an hour, BUT EVERYTHING we buy, EVERY service we use, EVERYTHING, we as consumers spend our money on, will cost more. THIS IS CALLED INFLATION!!!! INFLATION LIKE NONE OF US, YOUNG OR OLD, HAVE EVER SEEN!!! I am not rich!! I have worked two jobs most of my adult life. I employ approximately 65 full and part-time people. Because my employees aren’t “limited” by unions, I pay those who work hard and are willing to give 100% when they’re on the job, very well. Those who just come for a paycheck, don’t really give their best, and don’t follow work rules and ethics get minimum wage – they’re giving minimal effort, they get minimum wage.
I believe in the American Dream. I feel I have reached it. I came from a large, lower income family. More than half of my brothers and sisters went to, and completed, college. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for our education, but guess what? WE WORKED. We worked full time jobs in the summer and during school breaks (at miminimum wage), we worked part-time during the school year, we took out student loans! There was no such thing as “Spring Breaks” to Florida or Cancun.
Now I have three grown children of my own. They have all graduated, with honors, from college. I could have stretched my budget thin and paid their ways through college but guess what? THEY WORKED.
Beyond the basic needs (food, shelter, water, air, clothing, love) I don’t believe in entitlements. I share, I care, and I give as I can, but working hard, with enthusiasm and dedication, goes far in reaching dreams.
I am a million miles from perfect, but I do know that hard work pays off over time.
The problems with the economy and the world started way before Pres. Bush. Yes, he’s made some huge mistakes, but he is only a part of every decision that has been made on behalf of the people of the United States. What about the other 1/3? (Congress) Maybe we are ready to vote for a change of the “ruling” party there too???? They have either supported Bush or made a lot of HUGE mistakes there themselves.
I am personally tired of Obama’s excuses. He didn’t know that the racist, anti-white, anti-American, Rev. Wright was a radical? He attended the church “regularly” for 20 years and didn’t figure it out until the news broke on television and in the news? He is very intelligent, and I fear for all of us if he really thought it was okay!!!!
I ask all of you if YOU really heard any of the “sermons” delivered by Wright. THEY WERE NOT CHRISTIAN SERMONS!!!!
I ask you to really think hard, do you think it’s really possible to pull off all these ideas of Obamas? There are definitely people in the United States who make over $250,000, but not enough to pay for all (or even half) of his proposals. He reminds me of a seventh grader running for a class office. “If I’m elected, we’ll have an all day party, every Friday, and 2 Mondays each month. We’ll have dances 3 times a month. There will be no more detentions, for anything! Everybody can wear whatever they want to school. There will never be another parent-teacher conference, and grade cards are out!!!” This sounds all well and good to all of the kids, but first it’s not possible, and second, we don’t all agree that those things are the best for ANYBODY; even the kids who voted for this young “politician”. It SOUNDS good, but it isn’t.
I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN!!!! I vote for who I think is the best candidate in any and EVERY election! I vote for the person that I think can really accomplish what they promise. If it were McCain making these promises and Obama saying “tighten the belt” on government spending, my vote would be for Obama. No one person is an expert on the economy, the war, the world, health insurance, etc. That’s why they appoint cabinet members to be their “experts”. I think anyone who has done ANY real research would agree that Ayers, Wright, Raines (made over 100 million in “bonuses”, and contributed huge amounts to Obama, at the same time Fannie Mae plunged to near death) or the movie stars who can’t even keep their own marriages together, are necessarily who the American people deserve to be deciding the fate of the next generations to come. These are the people that Obama associates with and relies upon for funding. It cost over $28,000.00 PER PERSON to attend Barbra’s big fundraiser for Obama. I wasn’t able to attend – how about you?
WE ARE ALL “ENTITLED” TO OUR OWN VOTE. Thank God for that. I just urge everyone to do a little research before you cast your vote. Don’t listen to ANYONE (including me!) except Obama and McCain. Study up a little bit. Be objective to both candidates. This election is way to crucial to every one of us to just jump on the bandwagon. Obama is an incredible orator, but can he really accomplish what he promises, or is it a popularity contest. What changed Hillary’s mind? Was it a promise to wipe out her campaign debt? A cabinet appointment? She’s a Democrat to death? I DON’T REALLY KNOW!!! I’ve gone back and listened to some of her speeches before the primary, and she’s not singin the same song as she was before about Obama OR McKain. JUST VOTE WISELY FOR OUR COUNTRY.

 

Go John McCain; I can’t even imagine a world where Obama would be President. I believe American spirit would cease to exist.

- Posted by Shaun McCreedy

AMERICAN SPIRIT, CEASE TO EXIST?… WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?….. WHAT AMERICAN SPIRIT, BOMB BOMB IRAN ?…OR BOMB BOMB BOMB EVERYONE?

MCCAIN = WAR
MCCAIN IS NO MAVRICK, MAVRICKS DONT GET SHOT DOWN THAT MUCH!

Posted by vince | Report as abusive
 

McCain has the record and experience to lead this nation. Obama is a smooth talker with two terms as a senator under his belt. This nation is prepared to vote for a man who has done nothing more than make painfully vague speeches about “Hope” and “Change”.

In these times of global economic turmoil and strife, America needs a leader who has world experience and who would do everything in his/her power to keep this country the great nation that it is. McCain has earned this position through and through and is the TRUE agent of change. Unfortunately America is more wrapped up in the soon-to-be-abandoned promises, the buzz and celebrity that is Obama to make a sane and intelligent choice. Sad.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive
 

To McCain, you should of spoke about the pharmaceutical companies. They make this one drug called Valiums. You should check em out. No seriously, solid and stable is a requirement for the next President this time. McCain-Palin ticket seems very risky and scary right now

Posted by George | Report as abusive
 

Hey, I know… let’s give Joe the Plumber the overhead projector! I’m voting for the calm, articulate, focused, balanced and sincere Obama, the guy with some real ideas, and it’s not even close. Thought McCain was going to blow an apoplectic gasket with all that sputtering, rambling and contorted grimacing and eye-rolling. Embarrassing.

Posted by slh | Report as abusive
 

I have voted Republican in the last 4 elections prior to Bush-Kerry 04′ when I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for one.

Who is talking about Communism and Marxism? All of you super right winger fascists… Read Richard Marx – According to Marx – The United States is right where we should be in our evolution of government on its way to socialism – its funny how the “conservatives” are the ones going right on schedule with the bailout and Republican ideology has led to this, or how the Republicans are doing exactly what Osama Bin Laden originally hoped we would do after 9/11. It is you blind faith Republicans that let FoxNews dominate your viewpoints that have ruined the once proud GOP and ruined the county.

I am a fiscal conservative Republican, but Democrats have truly become the fiscally conservative party compared with what Bush has done to this country. Less taxes alone are not sound economic policy in the Keynesian model, smart efficient government is essential. I am sick of blind faith Republicans – I am voting for the more able of the two candidates most likely to lead this country out of this mess, Obama is not an ideologue, he is a pragmatist – just what we need.

The Republicans need to reevaluate themselves. Period.

Posted by JD | Report as abusive
 

Mccain couldn’t piece together a cohesive argument but instead stumbled over his words. Him and Palin have no constructive substance or solutions to any of the problems facing the country. Their appeal can thus only be for people who aren’t willing to let a person of color lead the nation.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive
 

I can imagine a reality where Mr. McCain is president and it is a scary dark world of ‘my way or the highway’ . We’ve had 8 years of this and a continuation will further erode the rights of the individual in favor of the rights of those who game the system to gain wealth . I would encourage you to vote for Mr. Obama and plan on new regulation of capital markets . Many challenges remain and I would prefer a cool collected mind capable of reasoned decisions over a I am always right viewpoint .

Posted by Andy Vollmer | Report as abusive
 

I think Obama responded to the questions in the same way G W Bush responds when he is asked about the economy, he tries. He is Bush already.

Posted by pro | Report as abusive
 

SORRY AMERICA, IM STILL HUNG UP ON THE WMD’S THING…..WHY DID WE GO TO IRAQ AGAIN?…..

Posted by vince | Report as abusive
 

hey everyone, did anyone notice?

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 Senator McCain gave us a good show of how not to be “presidential”. We, the American people, must endure
an election that seems so inane in contrast to the economic and social issues we are facing. I don’t know what Barack Obama will do, but, as a Republican who supported McCain in 2000 and voted for Bush twice, I am done with all that. Our national leaders, our President and our Congress, have allowed the nation to move to the brink of disaster for a few lousy dollars in campaign
contributions. Do they have any idea what they are doing now? No! The idea of Palin as President is more frightening than anything I can think of. I have met third graders smarter and more articulate than her.

Posted by JDEALSO | Report as abusive
 

who the hell is joe six pack or whatever his name was, In america we have Joe, Mark, Mike, Osama, Mohammad, David, Anna , Susuana, Julie, BOB, frank, ali, eli, shajinder, mahinder, the bus driver , cab driver , fire man, and so on,,,, who the hell is joe, Diffrent people have diffrent problems, America needs help for all not just joe, Mccain proved he is soooooooooo stupid….i hope people realize this fact!!!!!!!!!

peace

IT DOSENT MATTER WHO YOU VOTE FOR ZIONISTS AND FREEMASONS RUN US ANYWAYS!

Posted by vince | Report as abusive
 

Angie:

Shortest verse in the bible is “Jesus wept.”

He must have been thinking of you.

Posted by eet | Report as abusive
 

Obama won
Healthcare and economy.
Americans should look at the rest of the developt world and see how other countries are managing goverment run or goverment regulated healthcare and HOW everybody has coverage and lov cost , no bankrupcies, as i recal one interview given by the prime mionister of Switserland he said something like it would be a nacional scandal if somebody was going bankrupt due to medical care. (they have not for profit hmo system.)

Posted by mel | Report as abusive
 

The concern about the credit markets is indicative of the problem. Our house of cards is based on debt and profits to be made a) from interest in debt; b) borrowing to improve and expand businesses (a good thing)
and c) workers who borrow to feed sometimes irrational consumer spending. The house of cards – we have been told – will crash if credit is frozen because a, b, and c will be serverely impacted. We need to face reality. We just can’t afford irrational excess. It’s going to be a brutal ride.

John McCain is not a conservative. He will turn his back on every conservative notion he is now espousing if he is elected. Barack Obama is a liberal, but liberal spending measures and an endless series of bailouts is not the answer.
Americans should get basic health care and catastrophic health assistance. One should be able to get a college level education for free . . . not Harvard, Princeton or Yale . . . but an adequate useful education. There should be a series of skilled worker programs for those who do not want to or are not qualified to go to college.
There should be compulsory military or other service for anyone receiving these benefits. Those not receiving benefits because they are wealthy should also be required to do compulsory service for a shorter period of time. The idea of something “compulsory” might raise
feeedom concerns, but the benefits to our nation would be profound. We should all be working to rid our nation and our individual citizens of debt. We are way over our heads.

Posted by JDEALSO | Report as abusive
 

Obama=John Kennedy
McCain=Richard Nixon

‘Nuff said

Posted by Adam Swart | Report as abusive
 

Angie – I don\’t think that driving money changers out of the temple is quite the same as war. Pacifist doesn\’t mean he was not capable of getting mad; things angered Jesus and he took action. But Jesus condemned war and violence at all costs; even then Peter, trying to save him, cut off the Roman soldiers ear; Jesus picked it up and healed the Roman soldier before being taken away. Jesus was also rejected as the messiah by the Jews because they wanted a political conquer and he said \’the Kingdom of God is not of this world\’.

And I don\’t think that Jesus was literally meaning a sword. He was talking the word of God which is often alluded to in the New Testament as a \’sword\’. (but this conversation should be on a different blog)

Posted by Juls | Report as abusive
 

I always thought that judging someone by their appearances was shallow; but I have to say that Obama is clearly the winner – he is steady, focused, even when attacked. McCain is unfortunately not as charismatic, even though I truly like the guy. It really comes down to a divide between old politics and new politics. And the world is ready for a change.

Posted by Garrett | Report as abusive
 

Obama 60% McShame 30%

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive
 

Sen. Obama has won this debate in flying colors. Sen. McCain has been a disgrace to the GOP. He keep using negative attacks on Obama and that has hurt him more than anything. Get use to saying “President Obama”. Go Obama Go.

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive
 

i don’t understand why so many people think obama won because he “appeared presidential”? looks can deceive, remember? i admit – he is cool as a cucumber and mccain does seem fidgety, whatever. but obama is going to end capitalism as we know it and implement socialism. last time a president did that, what started out as a recession ended up as the great depression. let’s all grow up and realize that we are not in highschool voting for two people in a popularity contest.

Posted by lb | Report as abusive
 

Obama displayed wisdom, statesmanship, good judgement and character. This cannot be said of McCain in the same degree. These are qualities that are needed as president of America or a leader of any country for that matter. In the interest of America and the world at large, it behoove Americans to vote for Obama. He would serve Americans well and make the world a better place. McCain’s foreign policies will convert American into the world largest gated community. The world desires America to regain its leadership role. The qualities possessed by Obama and his policies would serve to achieve this. The world may not be able to vote in the upcoming American election but they will vote in a myriad of ways at least over the next 4 years.

Posted by James Chou | Report as abusive
 

OBAMA WON- Mccain did well the early stages of the debate, Obama come out Presidential afterwards and proved that he had what it takes to be the commander in Chief and steward of the falling US economy

 

Joe the Plumber won. McCain chucked the kitchen sink – with plumber attached – and missed.

Posted by KW Hwang | Report as abusive
 

I just scanned the last half of this, but how did religion get brought into this. The question was….who won the debate….Obama or McCain.

Being a Gen X’er, I see how easily public opinion (especially younger voters) can be swayed by the media(i.e. Internet, TV, Radio, Celebrities). All voters should never take anything they read or hear for granted. Do your fact checking and double check it all. Then make your decision.

Posted by Average Joe | Report as abusive
 

I’ve voted Republican all my life, including twice for George W Bush. I’ve come to terms with those mistakes and was thrilled to see Barack Obama secure my vote tonight.
Senator McCain came across as an studdering old man, bouncing from one topic to another, with very little substance. In fact, he sounded rather dull when he kept repeating the same lies he’s been touting for months about Obama’s tax, health and economy plans. Obama has been clear and specific about his plans for this great country…can’t McCain hear well, or what?

Posted by California Kate | Report as abusive
 

Barack Obama is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, focused, pragmatic and inspirational politicians to come along in many decades. He will win in a landslide, going away, despite the fact that a substantial number of people, for whom he will make a much better president than McCain would, will not vote for him because he is multi-ethnic. The Republicans have wrought great havoc these last eight years, and many of their leaders belong in the dock at a war crimes trial, but Obama and a strongly Democratic congress are a good first step and repairing the damage.

Posted by Acorvid | Report as abusive
 

e.g. …a good first shot AT repairing the damage.

Posted by Acorvid | Report as abusive
 

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