*This post will be updated frequently throughout the evening, with the most recent updates appearing a the top of the post.*
Update 13 – Midnight: One final point: I still don’t like how CNN’s post-debate panel always seems to include several of their mainstream journalists. Leave the political commentary to actual pundits, please.
Update 12 – 10:39 PM: Luntz’s focus group is saying they believe Obama won the debate. The pundits on Fox aren’t giving Mc high points. I personally thought it was about the best Mc could do. He is not a slick talker and he didn’t hit Obama on every point he needed to, but he was more aggressive and detailed tonight than he has been in the prior two debates.
Both the Fox focus group and the CNN focus group had very few people who said they had made up their minds on who to vote for after tonight, so while both groups give the edge to Obamain “winning” the debate, they give neither candidate a clear advantage on who won their vote.
Update 11 – 10:35 PM: Here’s the full video of tonight’s debate.
Update 10 – 10:27 PM: Closing statements.
Mc: I have a record on reform, have been a careful steward of your tax dollars, healthcare needs to be affordable, education needs to be reformed, we need to stop spending so much. Obama or I will be in charge where we go on spending, please look at our records.
O: We can’t adopt the same 8 years of policies and handle them for another 4 years. We need change. I will work with Rs and Ds and will work hard for you.
Update 9 – 10:16 PM: Education issue: Obama: We’ve got to get our education system right. More money or reform? We need both. In some cases we need to invest – early education, to close achievement gap. Make college affordable. We can’t do all this without parents – parents must show more responsiblity.
Mc: Choice and competition in schools is where it’s at. Reward good teachers and find bad teachers another line of work. Give kids the opp. that the Obama’s and Cindy and I have to send our kids to the schools of their choice. Throwing money to the problem is not the answer. Some of the worst schools in our country get the most money and still don’t perform. Give students a loan payment program they can work with.
O: (B.S.: Should feds play larger role in education) -it should play a role but doesn’t say how much. Says NCLB is a unfunded mandate failure. We can’t give out vouchers as a way of securing our education. Disagrees with what Mc says about his (Mc’s) education record is wrong. We can’t say we’re going to do things without how we’re going to pay for them. It’s not going to happen on its own.
Mc: Reminds Obama about the DC voucher program, says he’s suprised O didn’t spend more time paying attention to that issue. Re: NCLB, was a great first beginning but it was flawed. It’s not doing what it should do. Let’s reform it and fund it.
O: Talks about vouchers in DC again – the data doesn’t show it solves the problem.
Update 8 – 10:06 PM: Roe V. Wade – would you appoint a justice to the SCOTUS that would overturn SCOTUS.
Mc: We should not have a litmus test on nominees. I was on Gang of 14 that Obama had a chance to join but didn’t. Mixes up Judge Bryer and Alito.
O: RvW should stand at the fed issue. Women should have the right to choose. Reasonable people can disagree on this difficult issue. I will look for judges who have outstanding intellect, etc. Brings up Lilly Ledbetter issue.
Mc: Brings up born alive act in Ill, partial birth abortion. Present votes.
Update 7 – 9:56 PM: I missed the question, but it had to do with healthcare.
O: Healthcare must be a top priority. Describes healthcare plan.
Mc: Talks about his healthcare plan. Says Obama will fine businesses who don’t provide healthcare.
O: Says Mc is wrong. (Sorry, it’s hard to follow this discussion) Explains his plan some more, talks about Mc’s plan and how it’s not good enough.
Mc: Quips about Joe the Plumber being “rich.” Explains how Obama’s plan would hurt Joe, and how his will help. Government is not the answer to healthcare.
Update 6 – 9:47 PM: How much would you reduce dependence on foreign oil? Mc hasnt’ given a percentage but is saying how he will. Within 7 -10 years we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil from Middle Eastern country. Brings up a sidenote about Obama’s NAFTA waffling re: Canada.
O: Gives essentially the same answer Mc does. We can’t drill our way out of the problem. Brings up support of altnerative energies. These have been priorities of mine since I’ve been in the Senate.
Says NAFTA is flawed but workable. Mc has voted with Bush on free trade.
Mc: I admire Obama’s eloquence, but you have to listen to his words. Explains his support of free trade and Obama’s opposition to the Columbian free trade agreement.
O: I won’t sign agreement because it doesn’t do enough to protect labor unions from harassment and targeting. I supported Peruvian FTA. Back to energy: Must hold automakers feet to the fire in making more fuel efficient cars.
Mc: O won’t sign agreement that will help Columbians but will sit down with Hugo Chavez in a face to face meeting – Chavez has funded those who are targeting Columbia labor unions.
Update 5 – 9:40 PM: Re: People your veep choices: Why would the country be better off if Joe Biden became VP than McCain’s veep?
O: Biden’s got experience and foreign policy creds. His entire life he has never forgotten where he came from. Always fights for the little guy. On key issues, Joe Biden has always been on the right side.
Mc: Palin’s a role model to women, she’s a reformer, she took on a gov. of her own party, she took on corruption in her own party in Alaska. She’s given money back to taxpayers in Alaska. Negotiated with oil companies, has cut the size of gov’t in AK. She understands special needs families, like those who have kids with autism. She has ignited our party and people all over America. I am proud of her.
O: (BS – do you think she’s qualified to be president) I believe that will be decided by the American people. Admire her work on autism. Autism will require additonal funding for research, which a spending freeze won’t help.
Mc: Biden is qualified to be president. We disagree on many issues – mainly on national security. Wrong on Gulf War, dividing Iraq. Senator Obama is about spending more?
Update 4 – 9:26 PM: Negative campaigning – do either of you regret it? McCain: Some, yes – we should have had townhall debates to avoid some of the toughness of the campaign in how it’s gotten. I have stood up to Republicans who I think have been unfair to Obama. Obama has not always done so, and didn’t repudiate Rep John Lewis comments. Obama has spent the most on negative campaigning.
O: 100% of your ads are negative. I can take the attacks, but the American people should be hearing what’s most important to them. McCain campaign has said if we talk about the economy we lose.
Mc: Repeats earlier points. Says Obama’s incorrectly portrayed his plans on numerous issues. Did not hear a repudiation about Lewis.
O: Brings up what was overheard at some Mc/Palin rallies, like “kill him” and “terrorist.”
Mc: I will not stand for someone making out people who come out to my rallies to be awful people just because of a few bad apples.
O: Goes back to talking about economy, other issues – we must work together. What is important is to disagree without being disagreeable. Riiight.
Mc: You need to address Ayers and ACORN.
O: (Here comes the rehabbing of Ayers). I have condemned Ayers. We served on a school board together that was funded by a Republican. Lies about ACORN and his ties to them. It’s important to get the facts out. (Yeah? Let’s hear ‘em). I have good advisors – ACORN and Ayers have not shaped my ideas.
Mc: We need to know more about Obama and ACORN – he is not being completely upfront. Obama looks like he’s laughing.
Update 3 – 9:14 PM: Both of you have proposed programs that will add to the public debt to the tune of $200 billion according non partisan groups. What will you cut?
O: I believe in pay as you go. I will go through federal budget line by line, cut and trim programs we don’t need or that can do better. We can make an effort not on healthcare that will save on medicaid and medicare in the future. Invest in energy now and we will save money in the future.
Mc: Back to homeownership – start increasing home values. Need energy independence. Need a spending freeze. Names things he would cut (Obama did not).
O: Earmarks account for 1% of the federal budget. McCain=Bush on spending.
(Do either of you think you can balance the budget?)
Mc: Senator Obama, if you wanted to run against Bush you should have run four years ago. I’m not President Bush. (VIDEO OF COMMENT HERE)
I can balance the budget in four years (yeah right). I have fought against high spending. Obama how have you stood up against your party?
O: Names a few things that weren’t very controversial. Your policies are like George Bush’s policies.
Mc: I have a long record of reform. I’m not Bush. Your argument about standing up to your party isn’t very convinving, Obama.
Update 2 – 9:03 PM: Another bad day on Wall Street. Mc and O, you both proposed new plans this week. Starts with Mc.
-Mc: Americans are angry. We need short term and long term fixes. We must reverse decline in home ownership, put a floor underneath it. Let’s take $300B of that $700B allocated by Congress to buy up bad mortgages. Actually explains it much better than he did at the last debate.
-O: Worst financial crisis since Great Depression. Let’s focus on jobs, end tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas, let’s provide middle class tax cut (uh huh), access IRA, we must help homeowners to negotiate on mortgages. Senator McCain’s plan could be a giveaway to banks. We’ve got longterm challenges – energy, healthcare, invest in education.
-Mc: Brings up Joe the plumber and how Obama would raise his taxes. Didn’t say what Obama told Joe the plumber “Spread the wealth!”), dang it.
-O: Joe’s been listening to McCain’s ads. 95% of families will get a tax cut. Wrong.
-Mc: Brings up the “spread the wealth” comment. Mc sounds good on this point. “Why would you want to raise anyone’s taxes right now.”
-O: Goes back to 95% cut taxes number.
Update 1 – 9:00 PM: Showtime.
Tonight at 9 ET at Hofstra University, Mc and Obama will be going at it again for what will be the final presidential debate of this election season before the big day next month. As always, you can watch it on C-SPAN if you can’t get to a TV, and you can also check out C-SPAN’s Debate Hub to see what other bloggers are saying, as well as view insta-clips they will post of the debate. CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer will be tonight’s debate moderator. Let’s all pray that he does a much better job than Tom “Townhall” Brokaw did, and hope that his liberal bias doesn’t show.
The punditocracy is calling this debate the place where McCain must make his “last stand” if he hopes to be able to persuade over the all-important independents and undecideds. I expect that the sparks will fly. At the last debate, the candidates were prevented from being able to interact much (per their respective campaigns’ requests). Tonight, all Obama has to do is show up. McCain has to make the case that he has made all year: That Obama does not have the experience nor judgement to lead this country in a time of war and economic crisis, and Mc also has to make a convincing argument to the American people that Obama’s ideas are bad ones in these rocky, turbulent times – times which require a steady hand, not someone who will need on the job training.
The economy and domestic issues will be the focus of tonight’s debate, and not a moment too soon, what with the news continuing to come out about how more people “trust” Obama to solve the economic mess we’re in:
My friend and fellow North Carolinian Lorie Byrd has a great post up for Republicans/conservatives who have become dispirited over the state of the race. Don’t give up, she implores – there’s still plenty of work to do and this thing may be able to be turned around if we continue to fight. We may not win in the end, but damn if we should go down quietly.
—– If you think what you heard from the Howard Stern “man on the street” interview segment a couple of days ago was infuriating, what til you read this:
I just got an astounding e-mail from a Republican consultant I know well. He’s a guy who’s always thought Obama had a “glass jaw,” and was always among those agitating for hitting Obama harder.
Recently, he conducted a focus group in an upper-Midwestern state, showing them the kind of ad he thought would work: A no-holds-barred attack, cut for an independent group, which hasn’t aired.
I’m just going to reprint his amazed e-mail about the focus group:
Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.
Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he’s too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON’T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT…but they STILL don’t give a f***. They said right out, “He won’t do anything better than McCain” but they’re STILL voting for Obama.
The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:
54 year-old white male, voted Kerry ’04, Bush ’00, Dole ’96, hunter, NASCAR fan…hard for Obama said: “I’m gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He’s gonna be a bad president. But I won’t ever vote for another god-d*mn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President.”
The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. “Well, I don’t know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I’m sick of paying for health insurance at work and that’s why I’m supporting Barack.”
I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized…this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy….
That’s the kind of “feedback” that could very well cause me to have a meltdown if I’m not careful. Can you believe these freaking people?
—– The “rehabilitation” of Bill Ayers reputation begins. Or I should say “continues” – the Obama campaign has already done their part on The One’s website – in fact, they did it well before it became fashionable to do so. I expect the Ayers issue to come up tonight, and also expect Obama to be prepared for it with his usual bogus talking points. He’s already running radio ads about the issue, trying to play it down. Character doesn’t matter, you know.
—– Just as they tried to do with Rev. Wright, the left are busy trying to find a “moral equivalent” on the right to Bill Ayers, so as to “neutralize” the issue. Obama’s in fairly good shape at the moment in the polls, so I don’t understand the desperation behind trying to make such a connection, but whatevs.
—– Rep. John Murtha is in hot water – again – this time for calling Western Pennsylvanians “racists.” Yet he’ll still win next month, no doubt, because he continues to bring home the bacon. (Hat tip: Multiple ST readers)
—– And speaking of racism, the latest leftie to pull out the race card is Chicago Sun-Times columnist Andrew Greeley. Here’s how his latest column starts off:
South Pacific” is a morality play for our time. Sarah Palin is the Ensign Nellie Forbush — an All-American girl as racist, this time a racist with her eye on the White House. She can stir up crowds to shout “Kill him!” at the mention of the presidential candidate of the other party a couple of weeks before the national election.
Right off the bat we can see that Greeley is obviously one who would never let a little thing like the facts get in the way of a good ol’ fashioned race-baiting rant.
—– Ed Morrissey links up to a piece Peter Wallison wrote for the WSJ that talks about how Obama essentially voted “present” on the issue of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Wallison makes a point I made in an earlier post about how Obama’s claim to fame on “doing something” about this issue consisted of “writing a letter” to the Treasury Secretary saying that action needed to be taken on the subprime loan issue, a claim to fame that would be considered laughable during normal times but not so much so during the era of Obamania. Wallison correctly points out that as a Senator, Obama had the power to try and enact legislation to tackle the issue … but didn’t.
—– Are “negative attacks” hurting John McCain? I think a better poll question to ask voters is: Do you think you will learn the full truth about a candidate’s record only by listening to what he or she says about it?
—– Howie Kurtz’s most recent column in the WaPo has a headline that reads: “National Review Boots Buckley Son For Obama Boost.” You have to actually read the article to know that he wasn’t “booted” – he resigned. Get with it, headline writers.
—– Some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters are helping to raise money for … McCain-Palin.