October 8th, 2008
07:30 PM ET

A privilege to join the debate

Editor's Note: Phil Elliot says he is a registered Republican, but remains undecided in this election. He asked a question at last night’s presidential debate. Here's what he told us about the experience. 

Phil Elliott
Registered Republican
Undecided Voter

What a privilege to live in the United States and be asked to participate in one of the debates! It was a full day's schedule for those who had the opportunity to sit on the stage at Belmont University. I was honored to be able to ask the candidates how the current economic crisis will affect our Nation's ability to act as a peacemaker in the world. The basic answer was: For a strong military we need to have a strong economy. Both candidates presented several options for military actions but I had hoped to hear more about diplomacy, consensus building and working in concert with other nations. The economy is obviously in the forefront but what about other issues that are important but seemingly not so urgent.
I guess I was hoping for that elusive flash of brilliance that would give us all hope for a more peaceful world.
OK – back to reality – Neither Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain knew the questions that would be asked and it seemed like most of the time they would just use the question as a starting point to say what they had already determined to say -some of which we've heard before. I thought they both carried themselves well. Sen. McCain seemed believable when he would say "I know how to do this"
It was an incredible experience for me to be in the same room. And it was inspiring to be around Tom Brokaw. He spent some time with our group in the morning preparations. I'm still not 100% sure who will get my vote but am profoundly grateful to have been involved in this process.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Presidential Debate • Raw Politics
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Grok

    Since when does repeating the phrase "I know how to ..." have anything to do with actually knowing how to do something?

    If he knew how to do those things don't you think he'd be able to tell us how he'd do them?

    Sorry, but McCain who launched as "country first" has become "win at any cost" and this has made him a joke in terms of leadership potential.

    October 9, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  2. Kirk Overstreet

    I haven't heard from both canindates what their going to do about Imagration. This is an issue that covers all the hot button issues they are talking about. If we resolve the Imagration issue it will help our economy, health care, and security issues.

    We have many undocumented people in America that are seen by the hospital and has no one to bill because they don't have SS# or Drivers license. The insurance and America has to pay the bill.

    They are not taxed so the economy is in a bind. If they are citizens they will have to pay taxes.

    We don't know who is who when a crime happens because we do not have them finger printed and a photo idea. Ask our next President what they will do about this.

    This a big issue that is not getting addressed. Many Americans have friends and co-workers or even live next to someone that is not a citizen.

    October 9, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  3. LL

    My Gosh – the guy is reflecting on his own experience. Why must everyone be so ugly here? This whole campaign has turned into an ugly mud slinging fest by both sides (please spare me the "he started it" argument!)

    As someone who has yet to make a decision myself, I must admit that the angry, hostile tone that so many have taken is making me think long and hard.

    Phil – Thanks for your view from inside. It was a privileged experience!

    October 9, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  4. JR

    Well we just turned the corner onto the road to national socialism, for all you who do not know what that is it is like socialism but instead of being for the poor it is for the wealthy and the rich. It is the opposite of socialism.
    As Arizonians who have always voted for McCain we will not support him anymore as he and the Gov are acting like others did a few weeks before Krystal night. He is sowing the seeds of hate, only to suit what is now looking like the vain ambitions of a grumpy old man who is running around with a very far right wing lady, who has a word, a smile, a wink and a funny little wave, and we have seen that before in history.
    This no issues other than hate and racism that McCain Palin are running is the most disgusting thing I have ever witnessed in politics.
    Well other than when they blew up that reporter in Phoenix who was uncovering a lot of sleaze on a lot of "people" America needs solutions and we want to hear issues and Governor Palin and John McCain when you point a finger at someone keep in mind in that same hand there are three fingers pointing back at you.
    Better to lose an election with honor, In spite of a lot we always respected you Mr. McCain for what you were. Mr. McCain than win it with disgrace, To this family that has always supported you, the words of hate coming out of your rallies make us ashamed of what you are becoming. I hope you get your bus back on the road and out of the mud.

    October 9, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  5. Mike D

    Phil, Thank you for taking the time and making the effort on behalf of all citizens.

    Food for thought – what did you think of all the security you undoubtably had to go through? Is this sense of safety worth giving up our personal freedoms? I'm not referring to just the interview, but your travel to the debate location – airport, parameter, etc.

    As part of this country's process forward, we need to take a look inward and see what we have become.

    October 9, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  6. Connie

    They have lower the rate,they gave out checks to help, now the bailout.None of it help.America companys that paid a living wage move out.Why dont they just say freedetrade has backfired on the US.and the people.We the people let it happen and we just keep buying more imports.

    October 9, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Clark

    When did the American people become takers rather than givers? When did we decide we wanted to people children with the government being our parent taking "good" care of us?

    I want smaller government and focused government with priorities of national security and maintaining infrastructure and common sense laws.

    I don't want socialism ... I want to voluntarily help those around me without the government as the middle man.

    Is Senator McCain exactly what I want? No .... but then Senator Obama is for big government, taking care of me and government involved and in fact dominating every aspect of every day life.

    So who am I going to vote for? The guy that is closer to my values ... Senator McCain!

    October 9, 2008 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Darrell

    I am so tired of hearing McCain and Palin avoiding questions by trying to answer every issue to slam Barrack Obama. They are so wealthy and out of touch with middle class america they have no clue what we are going thru. I lost my job, my home is in foreclosure, and I have no idea what to do next. I'm 62 yrs old and cannot find work. My retirement is worthless in this Bush created economy. Yet all I hear about is wealthy CEO's who did something really really bad, but have so much power over the canidates that no form of punishment will ever come to them. I want to know what the candidates plan to do if anything about the CEO's who devastated this country ! None of the canidates have said they are going after anyone. Just let the middle class pay the bill and let the CEO's keep the money and hope it never happens again. I am sick of politics, sick of the Republician party letting it happen under their watch and although a lifetime registred Republician, I will NEVER vote for anyone on the Republician ticket again, Federal or Local.

    October 9, 2008 at 11:22 am |
  9. drew

    Please do not presume that Obama "answered the question exactly the way you wished to hear it". You do not know what this man wished to hear. Please.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  10. chowlover

    Hey Phil...These two candidates are about as opposite as it can get-from every angle. To still be undecided is so lame. It leads me to suspect that you may have no real opinions to begin with.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  11. Mary ...Florida

    Phil, thank you for your comments here. I loved your question last night and I too hoped they would pick up on your word "peacemaking". I felt your questioned begged an answer about a new approach that truly puts diplomacy first. Thanks for sharing about your experience.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  12. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    Mr. Elliot, I hope you will do your research and think long and hard before rewarding the Republicans with another 4 years.

    Another thing to consider is that taking into account the mortality tables, there is a 1 in 6 chance that if McCain wins the election Palin would become president.

    Here is a list of reasons why this former Republican is voting for Sen. Obama:

    Bush's legacy of $10 Trillion in national debt

    The fact that McCain was complicit with the Bush/Cheney lies to attack Iraq.

    The $490 billion deficit Bush is leaving behind.

    The 759,000 jobs lost this year.

    And finally, because hard-working Americans declare bankruptcy everyday because they can not afford their health care bills.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  13. sarah

    I think Obama was thinking of the internet but got mixed up. He stumbled a little like he'd realized his error too late.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  14. Sylvia

    Excuse me larry, but spare us–we don't need a lecture from you about who invented the computer. it's clear Obama meant the internet.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  15. Diane Hadley Gonzales

    I don't know why people don't talk about McCain taking notes every time Obama was asked a question at the debate? Like he knew he couldn't remember the questions, (looked like a senior moment, to me!) Obana is so smart, he doesn't need to take notes. I thought it was very telling! Diane Hadley Gonzales

    October 8, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  16. erik

    RE TERESA's comment: In Indiana, we got our "Obsession" disk in the mail last week, along with everyone else in our apartment complex... no targeting evident, just mass-mailing.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  17. Taylor

    Obama is promising all things to all voters. Health Care is now a right, not a privilege. He said so. Well... You could fight 3 Iraq Wars annually, for the annual cost of U.S. Health Care. McCain is a wooden, stodgy old wounded war veteran. Obama is the media's darling who can do no wrong; a great orator full of charm and empty promises. Enjoy your flashy, attractive young president, Liberals, who promises you everything. If your forefathers had supported FDR the way you have supported Bush, you'd be speaking German East of the Mississippi, and speaking Japanese West of the Mississippi.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:14 pm |
  18. larry

    Was this a McCain moment by obama?

    Quick takeaway from the 2nd presidential debate – Obama claimed specifically that U.S. government invented the computer, and Obama was very wrong. The computer was developed over a long period of time, and by most historical accounts trace back to Europe with British and German inventors in the late 19th and early 20th century for the conceptual idea of a computer. For a functioning machine, most historical accounts point to a Iowa State University professor and his graduate student:

    “I have always taken the position that there is enough credit for everyone in the invention and development of the electronic computer” – John Atanasoff to reporters.

    Professor John Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry built the world’s first electronic-digital computer at Iowa State University between 1939 and 1942. The Atanasoff-Berry Computer represented several innovations in computing, including a binary system of arithmetic, parallel processing, regenerative memory, and a separation of memory and computing functions.

    October 8, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  19. Max

    Am I alone in being tired of watching CNN interview "uncommitted" Ohio voters who are frustrated that the candidates, in the few minutes they are allocated in the debates, didn't explain exactly how they will help fill our gas tank, double our 401Ks, educate our kids and make us thin? "I didn't hear what I wanted" should be expunged from political dialogue. Each one of these men has about 30 minutes to appeal to 300 million voters. Of course they're going to speak in generalities. Anyone in that situation would. And what I want to hear probably isn't what you want to hear. Are we so narcisstic to believe that the candidates must address exactly our issues before we can make a decision? If you want more detail, go to the candidates' websites, read the newspapers, and become informed. Barack Obama's entire energy plan is on his website, a few mouse clicks away.

    I'm proud to be a decided, committed voter. I know I won't get my views heard on CNN that way, but as they say, country first.

    October 8, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  20. larry

    Yes, there are folk on here that only hear what they want to hear or are told what they are supposed to hear, see ACORN. I wish that they had had a non-partisan repesentative of the two main parties in the debate.

    October 8, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  21. TERESA

    I don't even know exactly what a "BLOG" is but I do know that I am completely outraged tonight!!! I'm a 45 y.o. Hispanic female who has been a registered republican until last year. I finally feel that there is hope for our nation. My active duty Army spouse is still not sold. However, today we received the MOST AWFUL DVD in the mail titled, "Obession". What a bunch of FEAR mongering!! Is it a considence that we received this a day after McClain fell down on the job?? I'm completely insulted and wish that this Clarion Fund had not targeted my family. Guess what?? IT DIDN'T WORK!!!

    October 8, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  22. Denise Sevier Fries

    Hello? You were 'there' but obviously not THERE: You say " I had hoped to hear more about diplomacy, consensus building and working in concert with other nations" but fail to recognize that Barack Obama answered your question exactly the way you wished to hear it! I heard him say he would keep military power as an option on the table but would prefer to exhaust all diplomatic options first....maybe you ought to review the tape of the debate.

    As far as McCain being 'believable', well, he actually said he KNEW how to get Osama Bin laden!! He said this with a straight face, but failed to say why he hasn't shared this big secret with his own party or President. If he has a real plan, why hasn't he shared it? He is as believable as any snake oil salesman...

    October 8, 2008 at 7:41 pm |