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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...

Barack Obama is a better, more assertive debater now than he was back at the beginning of the campaign. Yes, still some professorial moments, but he was much quicker to deliver a counter punch, and more direct (which also translated into less lofty and aloof) when making some of the key points on his debate wish list.

Early on, I wrote down that he missed an opportunity to raise the costs of the Iraq war during one of the economic discussions. But then he did add it to his list the next chance he had to speak. That ability to self correct was not as sharp in some of the Democratic primary debates.

John McCain, too, had a wish list – and his was dominated by the goal of stressing experience and directly questioning whether his younger rival was ready to be commander in chief. His tone was at times almost disdainful, to the point many of our analysts, even some of the Republicans, found it too condescending or disrespectful.

Some voters, though, like bluntness, and it will be interesting to see where public opinion stands on the commander in chief question down the road a few days. If nothing else, that constant McCain mission was proof his team is concerned that if Obama emerges from the debates as a “safe” choice, the race could break in the Democrats’ favor much as the 1980 contest broke toward Republican Ronald Reagan when he answered the “safe” question in that “change” election.

The sharp contrasts on policy approaches should help any voter just tuning in more closely, but this debate won't have too long of a shelf life.

The financial bailout negotiations are continuing this weekend and will retake control of the headlines. Plus, Senators McCain and Obama will meet twice more in the next few weeks, and their running mates will debate this coming Thursday.

Then, the dominant question will be whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is ready to step in as commander in chief. Same question as Friday’s night’s faceoff – when it was Barack Obama’s challenge.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Dr. Frederick W. Chapman

    In commenting on the first presidential debate, some CNN analysts have said that Sen. Obama sounded "professorial" at times - as though that were a bad thing. The clear implication is that it is somehow undesirable for a world leader to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and deep understanding of the most pressing issues of our time.

    This negative characterization of professors is a slap in the face to scholars who have dedicated their whole lives to the pursuit of knowledge, often making tremendous personal sacrifices to do painstaking work which benefits us all. It is not only anti-intellectual, it is hypocritical for society to benefit from our greatest thinkers and then turn around to criticize the smartest people we have for daring to open their mouths and speak their minds in public.

    Can we afford to pay the price of academic mediocrity? In the last eight years, the world has been led to the brink of disaster by the reckless policies of a "C" student. We desperately need the best and brightest to lead our deeply troubled country to real solutions to many complex problems. When one of the best and brightest finally does apply for the toughest job we have, do not bemoan that fact - count your blessings and then cast your vote for him!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:06 am |
  2. Joe Delaney

    – Anderson, your coverage on the debate was well done. But when you introduce "seven of the brightest minds in politics" and all they talked about is who did better than who, and who scored more than the other, quite frankly I feel like thats a disservice to the viewers. How about getting these 'brightest minds in politics' to talk about things that might really get a voter some decent information, such as; will Obama's plan for the economy really work? Will McCain's? Their stance on the energy crisis and health care, will it fix the problems that we are facing? I want to know which man is really going to do some good and I want to hear about the things that should really decide electibility, not little things like flags on the lapel or ex-pastors or comments of either side being an elitist. If you remember Teddy Rossevelt went on safari's, killed elephants and tigers, and gobbled up Puerto Rico and the Phillipines, he himself was elitist too and yet many call him a great president. So lets stop deciding this election on little things and start talking about the things America really needs to hear about.

    September 29, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  3. shelly

    Cynthia, you need to set back and relax before you open your mouth, be intelligent and smart enough to realize that if Mccain dies (well, Mccain is not even that good anyway) you have a damn president that cannot even give a simple answer to a very simple question that is all over the news in our daily lives. I am an immigrant and sad to say that i am not able to vote for obama. I watched the debate and watched it over and over and for me obama agreeing mccain in certain points that make sense to the people and good for the people doesn’t make him fool as a potential president of this country it only shows how reasonable and intilligent he was and able to accept good judgement that will benefit for the good of all american people wether you are democrat, republican,independent etc. which makes a person a strong leader. Mccain is rude by not looking at him despite the fact that he was asked many times to address his issues to obama coz he was talking about Obama but he refuses to do so, It only shows how arrogant he is and make me think he probably worried he will forget his script if he will looked at Obama because he is angry.:) Peace! this only my view. Mccain only think for himself when he chooses Palin.

    September 29, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  4. Lisa

    To Cynthia also... Why did you feel the need to mention that you were black. I totally agree with Arnelia, you give blacks a bad name. How in the world can you say that mccain/palin will make you feel safe if they are elected. I am embarrassed FOR you. This lets us all know how uninformed you are. Believe it or not, Saturday Night Live was not that much of an exaggeration! They were dead on! If you believe mccain/palin are a good choice for our country then maybe you have a problem.Obama stating that he agreed with Mccain a portion of his statement notes how confident Obama is in his position of the issues. Mccain would never admit to agreeing with Obama whether he did or not because his GOP pride won't let him. Most people saw how disrespectful Mccain was to Obama by not looking him in the eye. That urked me the most. He acted as if Obama was beneath him and he wouldn't give him any respect by looking him in the eye. He would look away and give idiotic smirks as if he made no sense. He spent half of his debate time trying to make us think Obama "didn't understand" but yet he would never address him.

    So cynthia if you feel safer with the mccain/palin ticket, you still have slave mentality. Black people have come too far and understand too much to believe republicans are looking out for minorities.

    September 29, 2008 at 2:15 pm |
  5. David m. Karnes

    I listen to the debate to me McCain sounded much more experince obama sound like he was reading from a Qcard He couldn't remember McCain name called him jim,tom and forgot to refer him as Sentor a big no-no they know.no class no president

    September 29, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  6. Tim from Wisconsin

    The debates did much to display "Who the Candidates Are" to those who are undecided. However, current McCain & Obama supporters tend to look positvely or negatively at statements based how whether it supports their candidate or not.

    To convincingly sway supporters, I recomend an unbiased fact-checker be a third leg to a future debate. How would each stand if facts couldn't be distorted or stretched?

    If the debates were based on truths, Mr. McCain would loose much support.

    September 29, 2008 at 9:53 am |
  7. Arnelia in Guam

    To Cynthia...I feel very sorry for you. How can you look at the interviews done by Sarah Palin and McCain unstable ways and say you would feel more safer with those two running this country. Furthermore, foreign policy was "supposed" to have been McCain strong area, but Obama change that real quick. Please don't mention the fact that you are black again because you give Blacks a bad name.

    September 28, 2008 at 12:38 am |
  8. wil

    I've been watching CNN and MSNBC and most commentators bring up the fact that John McCain never looked at Obama. It just reinforces the notion that John McCain is a racist and disrespectful of blacks. When John McCain stated throughout this campaign..."I wish Obama would do like I tell him and debate me in 10 town hall type debates". That's what you expect some dad to say to his son.
    Then with his condescending attitude of NOT looking at Obama, as the old southern plantation owners not looking at the blk slaves as they felt the slaves weren't worthy of being in their company so they wouldn't acknowledge them.

    The upside to all of this is that John McCain, has gone through hid whole life being the closet racist that he is, and in the final days of his political career, Barack Obama will be the black man that stops him from ever being president. John McCain is living in the wrong era.

    On another note, I'm retired military and a Viet Nam veteran, and I detest McCain using his military experience, for his own political gains. He makes it appear he's the only POW that was captured and abused, yet he agreed with Bush in setting up "Gitmo"...a place of torture...how hypocritical.

    September 28, 2008 at 12:36 am |
  9. John

    Stop already!! I'm getting a stitch in my side from laughing so hard! You guys are so funny. I love the way everyone at CNN and other media stations slam Sara Palin for her bridge to nowhere the whole time sit and wait for the congress to pass a $700 billion dollar bridge to nowhere!

    Joe biden also voted for the bridge to nowhere. I'm sure the Dems and Republicans will reach a deal sometime this year maybe even tonight.

    I predict that one guy will hold the purse strings, and the deal will include the big payouts for the big guys at the head of those failed banks and corperations.

    So next ime you're on the beach and see a nice 80ft yhat sail past, you can rest assured that you own part of it!

    September 28, 2008 at 12:15 am |
  10. Theresa

    When Obama and Biden say the war in Iraq was a mistake, they undermine the sacrifices and hard work of the brave young men and women of our miliary. We must support our military and honor their sacrifices by ending the mission in Iraq with VICTORY. Obama and Biden should be ashamed of themselves; they want to abandon the mission with failure. What type of Commander-in-Chief tells his military, you failed in Iraq now go to Afghanistan and try to win there?

    As John McCain pointed out a number of times "Obama does not get it." We cannot allow another Vietnam. John McCain experienced that loss first hand and abandoning the mission in Iraq will weaken this country beyond repair.

    Please vote for experience, John McCain, and allow McCain to fight this war on terror and protect this great nation. He has the experience, knowledge and wisdom to protect this great country.

    Without the safety within our borders, all of these other things Obama talks about, i.e. "early childhood education," don't really matter.

    September 28, 2008 at 12:12 am |
  11. Rhonda

    McCain did not have the courage to look his opponent in the eyes and he grossly underestimated Obama’s foreign policy knowledge, resulting in a LOSS during last night’s debate. McCain showed he is out of touch on the major economic issues affecting the vast majority of Americans and that he is COMMITTED to continuing the war in Iraq, despite the DEVASTATING fiscal impact it continues to have on our economy. Furthermore, not once did McCain make reference to the concerns and needs of middle class Americans during last night’s debate – this group is simply not on his radar! John McCain is no maverick – he represents straight up “old school” politics.

    In contrast, Obama has demonstrated his ability to multi-task, to maintain calm under pressure, to disagree and hold firm to his convictions, while agreeing with his opponent when agreement is possible – a vital skill to effective negotiations. Obama presents himself as a self-confident and open-minded statesman who possesses the integrity, the intelligence and the temperament to best represent the interest of the American people at home and abroad. John McCain “talks” about change, while Barack Obama “inspires” change. A McCain-Palin administration is an awfully frightening thought … actually, it’s a nightmare!

    September 28, 2008 at 12:06 am |
  12. Trisha Simpson

    The world lost their respect for americans when they re elected Bush for a second term. Americans this is your chance to get it right. A vote for Barak Obama is a vote to regain the respect of people around the world. If you elect John Mccain you will have 4 more years of Bush. The more he tries to distance himself from bush the more similar they appear to be, and you will have no choice but to sit by and watch the fall of a great country. Obama is the only one of these candidates capable of fixing the underlying issues that are destroying your country today. The reason why this race is so close is sadly because of his colour wether we want to admit it or not. come on people get right for a change.

    September 27, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  13. alex

    The age of the extreme right political dinosaur is over. Adieu to the right wing self-righteous moral majority that came to DC to clean up the White House of the evils and inmorality left by the liberal democrats guided by former Pres. Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal. I am disgusted by these people that call themselves true "americans" and say that they represent real american values. These are the same people that got Pres. Bush elected twice and have lead my country into total collapse and catastrophy. These are the same people that have and will continue to deny that Pres. Bush's administration and therefore John Macains' politial montra is and will simply equate to disaster. These are the same people that continue to deny reality even when the facts are undenaible. This administration in my opinion has been the most corrupt, the most unconstitutionally and morally wrong, the most incompetent, the most crooked, vile and hyopcritical that I have ever seen in my life time. I am outraged by everything that our Pres and Vice-Pres have done to hurt our great nation's standing in the world. I am ashamed of our Pres and Vice Pres. They know that they did not come square with the american people on WMD in Iraq and that just served as justification for the illegal invasion of that nation. It hurts to see that our treasury and soldiers used as pawns to achieve some contrived political ambition not based neither on solid intelligence nor the truth. The republicans still live in denial. They will never admit their failures, no they are to proud and full of themselves to admit their lack of true foresight and wisdom when dealing with the middle east. Another thing that is so appauling is the way in which Mr. Bush used this hypocritical notion of social justice "compasionate conservatism"and when he has had to demonstrate it he failed. In terms of the mess and legacy that he will leave us, I wonder how much of this he will take personal responsability or will he delegate this to others. It was under his watch that we have lost so much, it was under his watch that we are at the brink of collapse and high standing in the world. Grow up Mr. Pres and be a man. Show some real character and admit that you and your policies have failed not only your own party, youe nation and the world.

    September 27, 2008 at 11:53 pm |
  14. Murphy Smith

    I found the debate very interesting last nite.
    I felt Mccain didn't take advantage of what he could of when talking about the economy. Everyone knows Mccain has the experiance over Obama but are we really going to hear this over the next few weeks everytime he talks.
    I felt Obama was more like a marrionette doll everything was very scripted and he sounded very well coached. But to me this sounded very planned out and practiced.

    The biggest problem I have is I can find no Impartialness on the media. You turn one channel it feels like i'm waltching the democratic convension again. You turn on the other you are waltching the Republican. This is very disheartning to me who is an independant and would like to hear impartial views.

    September 27, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  15. bryan

    It was very obvious that McCain had to score big because his choice for vice-president is going to score very low. He failed to do so on so many points. But I noticed something by watching the debate couple of times that goes beyond words. He was making every effort possible not to look in the direction of Obama. I don't know whether he just doesn't like the man, is uncomfortable around him, or was trying to keep his composure by not looking at him, but whatever the reason, he showed a tremendous amount of fear and lack of respect for his opponent. As a Republican, I would like to see my representative to be able to look at his adversary directly in the eyes and debate him to submission, not to shy away from direct eye contact. I am not sure if he could reach out to the other side of the isle if he's not even willing to look at the other side of the isle. We need a leader in this economy that can bring us all together, and Senator McCain failed to convince me of that ability. And given his running mate, he has left many Republicans with the task of voting for the Democrats. I had chosen him over Bush, but I don't believe I can choose him over Obama.

    September 27, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  16. chuck

    I was so surprising to see John McCain saying that Henry Kissenger did not say that is was important for the next President to sit with leaders on rogue countries without pre-conditions. This just shows how McCain is out fo touch with everything. Just recently CNN had a story with all the past secretary of states in the US and Henry Kissenger did say it was urgent that The next President of the United States sit down with Rogue Leaders and talk without Pre-Conditions. I think John McCain should stop trying to say that he knows how to fix a problem and how he's been around and knows how to reach across the isle. John McCain --you were a POW and self praise is no reconmendation.

    September 27, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  17. Rose from Calif

    I saw the debate...I thought thou McCain had more experience in Foreign Policy, Obama hold his own party well. I am a Hillary supporter I didn't like the way McCain disrespected Obama by not looking at him. Like Obama wasn't there! And McCain lied again. McCain haven't voted to help Veterans and their families for along time!
    VOTING DOWN A BILL TO HELP VETERANS IS NOT HELPING, SENATOR MCCAIN?

    September 27, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  18. hong

    I think Candy Crowly Did A wonderful piece when she begun covering Barack Obama in Illinois on a cold winter day.It would be good one day to read Candy's full summary of this gentle black man rising to the top of his dream where no black man has never been.Watching last night's debates my mind was constantly on the late Martin luther King on the path he laid so that people like Obama can journey harmlessly and victoriously. If everything go in the Democrats favour then i will be able to say there's One America One people and One Destiny. Go Obama/Binden and don't quit on the journey to the White House and your followers are with you all the way in faith and prayers.

    September 27, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  19. Donna

    John McCain came across in this debate as a person who would be looking for combat – anywhere. This is scary!

    He didn't seem to have a focus on the economy or the needs of the USA people, which I found strange when so many have been struggling to make ends meet for the majority of this year.

    I am like many others in that I am tired of this war. It simply does not make sense to me that we have spent more time in Iraq than World War !!. When there is a need to be in battle, I can go along with it, but we went into Iraq under a false assumption, and we have stayed the entire time of the Bush administration.

    I don't think that the citizens of the US want to be in a constant war, as so many seem to be in the Middle East. It is time to address the needs of the people of this country, even if it seems not to have the glory of a war. Let's get back to basics! I think Obama does understand what is happening in this country!

    September 27, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Matthew

    Both candidates did not stir right into the current crises, but strayed off into other grounds. They were somewhere on mars and needed to come back down to earth. Driving around in America while the debates were broadcasting, people were lined down roads trying to get the little bit of gas the stations were reluctant to give. I asked the cashier why this gas problem is localized rather than nationalized considering people not being able to live abundantly with the number one source to everything on hold. In Atlanta it had been proposed by Mayor Franklin about extending public transportation by railway and bus accessibility. If this would have happened it could have been an immediate alternative in particularly the heavy populated areas. During the housing boom house, condos, apartments, business centers were being built on any and every corner possible. Who were buying these homes? Obviously those who were duped on pulled into credit debt including business owners, another faulting sub prime lending. All this happening and instead of getting these cons out of Wall street and where ever people are getting poorer while the rich just hit another pot of gold. None of these issues mentioned, instead false proposals that speak to those who are generally well off.

    September 27, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  21. Kent, Illinois

    Biden needs to ask Palin about "witches" in their debate next week. If the Dems let that go without acting on it I will be disappointed. That's too good .........the GOP wouldn't let that go if it was the Dems who believed in being saved from witches.............

    September 27, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  22. James

    I really enjoyed the debate. However, I found Sen. John McCain very unprofessional, rude and disrespectful. I felt his attitude toward Obama was; "WHO ARE YOU TOO TELL ME I'M WRONG. YOU ONLY BEEN IN THE SENATE FOR THREE YEARS AND I OVER 26 YEARS. SO, WHO ARE YOU? I DON'T HAVE TO ACKNOWEDGLE OR RESPECT YOU." This is why doing the entire debate he never look at Obama; to be more in depth even after the debate was over, he could not look him in the eyes.

    I feel Mr. McCain is out of touch with the middle class American. We all know him to be a lier and a cheat; moreover, one who's only out to help the rich. Obama, I, feel is for the middle class more so than McCain. McCain, want to save taxes for his rich friends whiles Obama wants to cut taxes for the Middle Class American. Understand, if taxes are not raised on some American, how do we pay our debt to China who now refuse to lend us more money.

    The Economy is a blood colt in the American veins. We have nowhere to turn and nothing to look forward too but a financial hardship that may last for three to ten years. I don't think Obama or McCain can do much to save us. However, I refuse to have McCain in office with four more years of the "GOOD OLD BOY NETWORK". I would feel safer with Obama in Office more so than McCain. I feel if McCain get in Office; he going to get America Blown To Hell by the Russian.

    September 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  23. Kent, Illinois

    Yeah, the VP debate is gonna be a game changer. I heard that the GOP has fixed it so Biden has to stay away from Palin. Thats not a debate.........thats another "forum". Pretty sad really. Palin has alot to answer to after her Kindergarten like display with Couric. I think I could of held a better stance on things with Couric.............and I'm not running...............

    September 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  24. candy

    barack obama looked calm and professional...intelligent and composed.Mccain,on the other hand ,looked nervous and ready to explode.Obama was the clear winner.We do not need
    a hot-head ,hair-triggered person like Mc Cain in the top position of president...he is Bush's twin...an elitist and a war-monger,We need a president who is willing to negotiate without pre-conditions,and we need to stop thinking we can police the world.

    September 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  25. Shane

    Ok lets look at the big picture, for anyone suggesting that Mccain was suppose to throw a knockout punch at Obama at this debate is seriously disillusioned? But he did good, since Obama is always going to have an advantage over this election simply because he’s a democrat and there is republican rule over the past 8 years for the presidency. For Mccain to be this close on winning the election on november is for me, simply amazing and beyond belief? How can this man be so strong? After all that Obama has said since the primaries and at this latest debate on so many times agreeing with McCain really reinforces the idea that Obama is full of it. I know for a fact that most democratic voters are totally opposed to any kind of war much less afghanistan and yet Obama agrees on continuing the war? But I would pick McCain anytime to conduct a war over Obama????? And there are so many instances that Obama played around the questions? No direct anwsers… and McCain seemed more calm and collected as Obama’s answers were lengthy and hard to follow. Anyways, McCain clearly has more experience.

    September 27, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  26. Roy Brooks

    We are in the catagory of pepole that may not be able to vote due to
    moving requirment or loss the house we will be moving to another county but will not qulify for voteing inthat county due to time restaints and will not live in this county on Nov 4.
    There are probably many pepole in this position.
    What do we do???

    September 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  27. CRAIG WILLIAMS

    So John Mccain didn't win the debate last night. His move to go to washington, and postpone the debate last night didn't work. And he needed a victory to show the American people that the old man could lead. now his campain is behind in the polls and and the next person up to the plate is Sarah Palin vs Joe Bidden. The Mccain campain will get worse before it gets better.

    September 27, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  28. kita

    It seems to me that he has a temper. He was rude and impatient during the debate. This only a 90 min. debate and he blew up. The questions that he answered were jumbled up. I felt like he was giving us the old "run around" or "tell them what they want to hear" speech. Pretty typical.

    September 27, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  29. kita

    I do not think that McCain would be able to hold ground as a president due to his inability to multi-task. This is not a position that allows you to handle on problem at a time. There will be so much thrown at him at one time and we can't have him going into hiding.

    September 27, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  30. Alyse

    I noticed while watching the debates that the only time McCain made eye contact with or even looked in the general direction of Obama was when they shook hands in the greeting. Obama looked at McCain while McCain was speaking and while he was speaking, while McCain looked only at the podium or at Jim Lehrer. To me, this showed a certain narcissistic attitude held by McCain that I am not sure I would have held against him otherwise. I am a long time Obama supporter, but I never felt so outraged directly at his opponent until last night. It seem simply disrespectful to Obama.

    September 27, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  31. Lamont austin

    Obviously Obama won, there was no tie, there was'nt a time when Mclame shook up Obama, but there were obvious times when Mclame seemed pressured. How can you win a debate when your wrong on the majority of the issues? you cant. Mclame's bad strategic calls from trying to postpone the debate to iraq, to the fundlemenlal aspects of our economy are all deal breakers for me when it comes to Mclame being fit to be president, its obvious he's finished....

    ARIZONA RON FROM TUCSON
    its blissfully obvious who will win

    September 27, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  32. Maureen / Newman, California

    I have been following this election very closely. I am a Democrat and an Obama supporter and think that he did an excellent job last night. What I found most interesting last night though, was the reaction from the Independents. This group seemed to respond to Obama in a very positive way. Good news for Obama.

    Looking forward to the VP debate this Thursday. No amount of cramming will save Palin. After watching the few interviews Palin participated in, I can see why the GOP has sequestered her. I will ALWAYS remember this election as the time when the Republicans made a mockery of women's rights and discrimination against women. A time when the GOP threw in an obviously incompetent woman just to try to obtain votes from women and the EXTREME religious right. But I will also remember it as the election when 18 million people voted for an extremely intelligent, informed, caring, qualified woman named Hillary Clinton. And though she lost, she will always fight for women's rights. I see right through the GOP. Not such a "Grand" group of people in my eyes.

    September 27, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  33. Barbara Casey

    Am I the only person who thinks McCain's performance (in the debate and over the past week) was that of a senator seeking re-election rather than that of an applicant for President of a powerful nation in trouble?

    His debate demeanor was more whiny than disdainful, I thought... and mostly he dwelt on "solving" smaller issues such as earmarks and help for returning veterans.

    It seemed to me he was content to sit on his senatorial laurels, rather than show us a President with a vision. He did not look like a big-picture guy who will function well in the fast-moving years ahead.

    Re: choosing Palin - another example of McCain's "small picture" outlook. A knee-jerk response that isn't likely to serve the country well in the overall scheme of things.

    September 27, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  34. earle provincetown

    Sorry,but that debate was flat, and status quo, (polished&honed rhetoric ) a compilation of talking heads showing frustration of "Who said,I said First! I myself have decided to flip a coin,but it will be weghted on Obama's side only for the fact of his V.P. choice. Thanks for letting me offer my feedback, to this great network. Earl Illingsworth

    September 27, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  35. Cynthia

    Hello
    I am black and I feel that John McCain won the debate last night. I thought it was odd that Obama kept saying he agreed with John McCain. John McCain and Sarah Palin are my choices; I will feel safer if they are the president and vice president of these great United States.

    Cynthia

    September 27, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  36. Surya

    It was pretty interesting to watch a highly aticipated debate. I am an non-immigrant and do not have to vote. So I dont need to take any sides. It was entertaining to watch both the candidates. I have to say both the candidates played safe. What struck me through out the debate is that Senator John McCain did not look into the eyes of Senator Obama even once... once. If he cannot face a US Senator how can Mr.McCain face Putin or Ahmadinejad or for that matter any world leader? And still Mr McCain mentioned that when sees into the eyes of Putin he sees three letters K G B. I find this very disrespectful to Mr Obama. I was watching the whole commentary after the debate and The Expert Panel did not even mention this once. Is it just me or 'The Experts' did not see this or may be you think its ok not to look at the other person when you are talking about him. I hope you will bring up this 'topic' today.

    September 27, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  37. ABC, AL

    The first presidential debate clearly showed the difference between the two candidates’ governing philosophies, as indicated below:
    1. Obama was more idealistic and McCain was more realistic. For example, in the question of how to deal with the aftermath of the big $700 billion bailout, Obama said that some programs have to be delayed, but still stressing clean energy, education, health insurance etc., McCain emphasized cutting the spending and stimulating business.
    2. Obama clearly represented the left end of the Democratic philosophy – bigger government and expanded social programs. McCain wanted to restore the Republican ideal of smaller government and capitalism.
    3. In foreign affairs and national security issues, Obama claimed that he had better judgment while McCain emphasized that he had more experiences.
    These differences certainly offer the independent voters clear choices in November.

    September 27, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  38. netta

    Can't wait for the Vice President debate!

    September 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  39. netta

    I felt that both candidates held their own and made us forget their flaws and accentuated their strengths. Although, both performed, I felt that Senator Obama successfully painted Senator McCain as the same old War Monger as the the Bush /Cheney regime. McCain even laughed condenscendily at the idea of talking beforing punishing! That was really scary for me. Although Senator McCain is a well decorated War hero, it seems like his out look on Foreign Policy is War War and more War without any hesitations...very scary. I won't even talk about the economy because he didn't do mich to cover up the fact that he has no idea about what's going on for most Americans.
    Round 1 goes to Obama.

    September 27, 2008 at 2:32 pm |