Tag Archives: 3rd presidential debate

live blogging the 3rd debate

Late start — sorry!

great format – this is the best exchange we’ve had so far.

btw, Joe the plumber is the brother in law of Joe Sixpack.  When they get together, however, the plumbing really gets a workout…

9:20 – profligate ways?  Joe the plumber doesn’t understand this…

Obama is looking uncomfortable here.

Finally McCain is learning how to focus on his message.  Ignore Schieffer – push the mortgage plan!

I’m amazed McCain hasn’t mentioned earmarks yet, not to mention the projector!

Never mind.

9:24 – Nice comeback finally about “not running against Bush”.  McCain has been doing his homework.

btw, I understand that Americans are angry. And they are hurting.

9:26 Tort reform?  Clean coal technology?  (McCain better come back with Biden’s quote here…)

Hmm…. there’s a chance here that McCain has an opening to finally distinguish himself from Bush.  And an attack on Obama.

Here comes Ayers!

9.28.  And it’s on the table!  Let’s see how they handle this. Remember, the women’s vote rides in part on this….

Obama looks uncomfortable, and John is giving no quarter.  Nice touch on the advertising disparity.

But they are both keeping Ayers off the table despite Schieffer’s opening. Smart move in my book.

Well, Obama is not going to repudiate LEwis.   Boxed in a bit on this one, I think.

Bad move by Obama. Don’t sink into this!  Stay on the high road!  McCain is ready to pounce – you can see it.

And he pounces!  “I’m not going to stay hear and listen to you bad mouth the United States of America!”

McCain is winning this section. Obama needs to return to the economy.   Obama don’t do it – don’t talk about Ayers! NOoooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Same for Acorn.  Repudiate them both, and move on.  Stop talking about them!

I can’t believe Obama is letting this go on – how could he walk into this?  Move on Barack!

9:44.  this is a tricky question.  If McCain handles it right, and Obama is not careful it could turn into an Obama vs. Palin experience issue.

(btw – Jack Goodman notes the lapel issue – Obama goes to bed with it on now.)

Obama has to be more aggressive – he needs to attack Palin on troopergate.

Schieffer forces the issue, and sets the trap. Let’s see if McCain springs it – it’s an obvious setup.

When did Biden become a liability?  Obama takes the high road, ignores Palin. On the whole, maybe the smart move as I read your comments.  What’s the focus group doing, btw?

9:50.  Back to the issues.  Energy. I’m surprised McCain doesn’t bring up Palin and drilling.

Ok, Obama brings it up instead.  Here comes a winning issue for McCain- Joe the plumber likes drilling. Drill, baby, drill!

Trade – nice segue here by Obama. This is a winning issue for him in the swing states.

But McCain doesn’t miss the drilling opening!  But I can’t believe he wants to campaign on free trade.  Is this a winning issue for him?  And was that last line necesssary – it came across as pretty harsh.  It makes Obama look more presidential I think…

automakers – hasn’t Obama already won Michigan?  is he criticizing Detroit? What’s he up to?

McCain is certainly not missing any chance to drive home his talking points even if they aren’t part of the question.

Health care:  this is another issue of concern to women in particular…Is Obama connecting on this?

Joe the Plumber!   Hell no, he’s not paying any fine!

John is smirking.  Does he have another attack line ready?

Finally, Obama goes on attack on McCain’s health care.  Nice rebuttal here, I think.

Cosmetic surgery and transplants?  Did McCain just equate the two?

SEnator government!  Very nicely done!

This is really a good exchange.

(yes, Schieffer writes the questions in consultation with many people).

Roe v. Wade and the justices.  McCAin was doing well until those last two sentences. What did he say, exactly – a litmus test or not?

Another nice exchange. they disagree and are spelling out the disagreements for voters.

Repeat after me: women are the swing voters in this election.  Obama is no fool.

Ok, this is red meat for the partisans.  Most Americans’ views on abortion are very centrist, and their views on this issue are quite settled.  Not sure this is moving anyone in the swing camps.

Nice effort here by Obama to occupy the center ground.  Oh, and a very nice counter by McCain with the adoption story.


Another issue of concern to women.  I don’t think Obama wants to lecture parents.

NOt much disagreement here.

“they left the money behind…” nice touch.   but will McCain attack Obama for spending?  I wouldn’t think so.

Instead, Obama attacks McCain.

McCain does great on vouchers.  but it’s an easy issue.


McCain plays the trust card, but not very smoothly at first, although he finishes strong.

Obama  “the same failed policies” – sure it’s old, but it’s effective.  That is his campaign, in a nutshell.

We want Trig!  Will Cindy shake hands?

Where’s the baby?

Ok, let’s hear it. Remember, we don’t want to know who “won” – we want to know if any voters were changed.

What do you think?

We are now going to be subject to the inevitable focus group feedback… sigh.  Remember my warnings about instant polls, focus groups, etc.  Unless they tell you the demographic weighting, we can’t judge the validity of these polls…Also, who does the spin for each campaign?

Ok, some quick thoughts. I think Chris is right – Obama clearly was focusing on women in the swing states.  He refused to take the bait on Palin which, in retrospect, was a smart move.  He made clear distinctions with McCain on education and health care, two issues of concern to women.  And he, for the most part, tried to stay on the high road.  I thought McCain was on the attack, and he tried to use Palin as much as he could.  But she’s been misused so much in this campaign as an attack person that I’m not sure how effective she is with swing voters, particularly women.  McCain’s best line was in saying that if Obama wanted to run against Bush he should have done so four years ago.  But it’s not clear to me that anything that was said today was enough to take the spotlight away from the economy.  McCain was clearly better prepared than he has been in past debates, but he’s running up against fundamentals that clearly favor Obama.  All Obama has to do is look like he belongs on the stage with McCain – he can even agree with McCain and still benefit.

But I think this was the best debate so far in terms of informing viewers about the differences between the two candidates. It’s really too bad this format wasn’t used for all three debates.  Don’t forget that both candidates still have favorable ratings above 50% – these are two very strong candidates.  We often forget this in the partisan back and forth.

Over 100 comments tonight – great job everyone!  I really appreciate your participation.  Hope everyone had as much fun as I did.   I’ll be on early tomorrow with the post-mortem and the inevitable dissection of the media spin.  Remember, if you go on to Nate Silver’s site, or Daily Kos, or Red State, don’t expect accurate analysis – it’s for the like-minded.  Think of these sites as facebook for politics – not sources of accurate information.