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September 27th, 2008
02:13 PM ET

The Next President: Debates – Round 1

Editor's Note: See highlights from the debate and get the best analysis with John King and the best political team on television. Watch the special The Next President: Debates – Round 1 Saturday at 10p ET and Sunday at 9p ET.

John King
CNN Chief National Correspondent

It was a highly anticipated moment – and turned out to be a dramatic study in both the substantive and stylistic differences between John McCain and Barack Obama.

On Iraq, Iran, Russia and many other international issues, not to mention the domestic economy and taxes and spending, the two nominees offer the American people a clear choice.

Whether the first presidential debate was a game-changer is the morning-after question, and on that there is of course a somewhat predictable partisan divide.

But, if you accept the tie goes to Obama rule, the view most heard in the hours after Friday night’s debate, from both Democrats and even many Republicans, was that the Democratic candidate had at a minimum held his own in a forum that was for the most part conducted on his Republican opponent’s turf.

Beyond that, I’ll leave scoring the debate to the partisans and the experts.

But a few observations...

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Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
September 27th, 2008
10:45 AM ET

First Presidential Debate: What They Didn’t Say

Editor's Note: Frank Sesno co-moderated last week's "The Next President: A World of Challenges; 5 former Secretaries of State share what advice they have for “The Next President.” (WATCH HERE) Frank shares his thoughts on the first Presidential debate:
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Watch Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama debate the financial crisis and foreign policy in the first Presidential debate
Watch Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama debate the financial crisis and foreign policy in the first Presidential debate

Frank Sesno | BIO
CNN Special Correspondent

Okay. So the debate featured a few good moments but no knock-out blows. McCain attacked Obama’s experience and Obama challenged McCain’s judgment. But both candidates left a lot out. Partly because the time and questions were limited. Partly because they wanted to.

Let’s start with Iran.

John McCain didn’t say what he’d actually do if the Iranians called up and said, “Hey, we’re ready to talk. You don’t trust us and we don’t trust you but we’ll try this one again as long as you give us a little respect.” Just how would President McCain handle that call? Take it? Ignore it? Say he’d talk but only after the Iranians sign a friendship pledge and shut down their nuclear program? (We know that when a similar missive came in 2003, the Bush administration didn’t even write back.) For all the discussion about conditions and pre-conditions, just how does John McCain propose to deal with Tehran?

Senator, your answer please.

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Filed under: Frank Sesno • Presidential Debate • Raw Politics • T1