Here we are, live from an apartment in Minneapolis, covering the final presidential debate in what has already become one of the most historic races in the country... The topic is domestic policy. Let's get underway...
8:01: Bob gives his opening remarks, the respective analysts give the strategy just before him, each side has invoked the names Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy...
8:02: First question, economy, economy, economy... Why is your plan better than his?
McCain goes first: Reagan count: 1
"Americans are hurting right now, and they're angry." McCain starts largely on policy, now gets into Fannie and Freddie... a shadow shot at Obama?
Here comes the plan: his plan for the goverment to buy bad mortgages, keep people in their homes.
A decent answer to the question about those who don't need it. A solid start for McCain.
Great depression already mentioned, Obama touched on the issue of CEO pay, but not specifics.
Invokes middle class: List-
1. "let's focus on jobs" tax incentives.
2. Provide middle tax cut for those makes less that $250,000... Obama touches on their agreements, but Obama about to point out the differences. Obama is a bit stutter-y tonight.
3. Long-term changes that need to be made. Energy and education.
McCain: What's this story? A plumber?
"Joe" six pack maybe? Here comes the raise taxes on small-business owners line. "American dream."
Address Joe... tells him he can help, keep taxes low, help with healtch care.
And there it is, small businesses... McCain finished on Obama wanting to raise taxes on "Joe Plumber."
Stump speech material reused again...
A fundamental difference even?
This is an old stump line, we've seen this before, about corporate tax breaks. If you're seen the ads, you've seen this before.
Independent studies say Obama's better for middle class...
A good finish about Joe the Plumber. Nice way to address the small business issue.
"Tax and spend" liberals anyone?
Class warfare. I'm waiting for him to say "socialism."
Another line McCain has said, about not raising taxes, but he drove it home there.
Goes back to 95 percent. Talks about Warren Buffett and Exxon Mobil.
Goes back to break for the middle class. (McCain winking at someone off screen.)
McCain seems feisty tonight.
Tax rates for business 35 percent. Another line we've seen before in debates, even Ireland I think.
McCain driving home the favor of small businesses.
8:13: Question 2: Wow, Bob, nice question. Basically, how do you lower the deficit with your plans? Bob wants specifics.
Proposes net spending cut, Bob gets in there, he wants answers!
Cut: $15 billion on subsidies to insurance companies... eliminate programs that don't work. "Line by line," more material from a last debate.
Still waiting to see what he's going to cut.....
Goes back to health care... energy policy... young people and college... he's talking investment, long-term goals.
He goes back to homeownership. Great Depression count: 2
Bob gets back in there! He wants answers. This is the best moderator yet.
Energy: stump speech, millions of jobs, job creation.
OK- Back to the spending freeze. Nice line! Hatchet and scalpel. The old dog's learned a new trick.
Spending out of control... he knows how to save money.
Ethanol, that hits home with "green liberals" Obama has ties to that industry, check the NYTimes for more.
Back to earmarks, he was doing so well. Back to overhead projector, we've heard that before.
Didn't answer what he'd cut in HIS plan.
Spending freeze, a logical answer, that it doesn't work...
Obama seems to be getting to the point that we need to spend better, not necessarily less, like investment.
Here comes the tie to Bush, linking the defecit to him and McCain?
Yes. 4-out-of-5 of Bush's budgets. There it is, the centerpiece of his own campaign.
"I am not President Bush." He's needed that the whole campaign.
Bloomberg and a spending freeze? All over America?
Promises to balance budget. Job creation and energy independence.
Eliminates spending, but he still hasn't said what of his own plan he would cut. But neither has Obama.
Rounds it out with a stump speech... fought against all the things his campaign stands.
Stand up to his own party?
"Tort reform" and trial lawyers... supports charter schools, pay for performance, clean coal (and ethanol).
A "history of reaching across the aisle," stealing from McCain.
Fox News agrees with Obama? That must mean something!
Gives credit to McCain, back to the link to Bush.
Back to his record, "I got the stars to prove it."
Climate change, spending, earmarks, torture... a decent list of what he's disagreed with. They both answered the call well...
I thought it was kind of convincing...
8:24: Question 3: Bob's on his game tonight. Wow, what a question! Can you say what your ads say to the other's face?
Goes back to town halls? This one doesn't stick. Says he regrets it, anyone seen the polls lately??
John Lewis: check the "Kill Him!" blog for that one statement.
Not sure that's true... he hasn't repudiated a lot. This is the campaign that compared Obama to Britney Spears.
He's driving it home with the spending... went back to public financing, something Obama backed out of.
The spending drove his point home though... Didn't address the question, Obama probably won't either, though.
100 percent negative? Not entirely true...
Less interest about their hurt feelings than the issues from Americans? That's a decent step away from the question.
"I don't mind being attacked." Kind of plays the crusader card, taking one for the team even.
Gets back to his bread and butter, middle class economics and investment, "politics as usual" and "change." Didn't address the question.
Obama is spending so much on negative ("unprecedented")
Joe the Plumber comes back. Goes back to the business angle.
Here comes the reports of "terrorist and kill him." Check the earlier post.
Palin rallies, but doesn't mention her name.
Obama downplays the comments from Lewis, but says he thought it was inappropriate and Lewis agrees? I didn't see the latter statement.
Cynical Americans: here comes the change angle.
Nice finish there about Palin.
Calls them "fringe people," I think that's the closest thing to a statement against them he's made.
Defending his voters, goes back against Obama's. T-shirts?
Almost doesn't respond... but trying to keep above the fray it seems.
Goes back to the issues he wants to fix, invokes "8 years" ie. Bush again.
Doesn't want to portray each other as bad people.
Still claims Ayers to be a terrorist and talks about Acorn, trying to bring doubt to Obama.
Setting the record straight?
Obama condemns the attacks again, says he was 5 years old when the bombs were going off.
Says Ayers is a professor (true) and attempting to discredit any relation with him. Does it well, I think.
Says he's not involved with Acorn and neither is his campaign except earlier in his career.
Giving his list of associates: a pretty star-studded list, pressed the Democrats and Republicans on the list. Showing
Goes back to the ads, about Ayers' living room, Obama chimes in saying it's simply not true.
He's still calling for an investigation, almost admitting that he doesn't know the extent of the relationship. Perhaps that way he can keep the doubt up just long enough?
8:35: Question 3: Another good question, why would your running mate be better than the other?
Foreign policy, that's Biden's main strength. Obama goes back to where Biden's from, but that's kind of Palin's line... "Hockey Moms" anyone?
"He shares my core values." Again, with the 8 years ie. Bush line... and he's back to a stump speech, but says he and Biden are on the same page there, so still kind of answering the question.
"A role model to women." Still going after the Clinton bloc?
"A reformer." Reading off her list, facing oil companies, etc. etc. I'm waiting for "Maverick."
Reformer, and goes back to special-needs families? That came out of nowhere just a bit.
Bob: Is she qualified?
Really diplomatic on this one... he can't seem too high and mighty here...
Will he make an issue out of special needs?
Goes to the spending freeze and what it will do to special needs issues. That one landed.
McCain: (Same question)
Says yes, but that he was wrong on a number of issues. Iraq, foreign policy, Biden's so-called specialty.
Attacks Obama about spending, way off from Biden...
8:46: Question 4: (So far, I think Bob's winning the debate) Question about reducing foreign oil imports in the first term.
Attacks Obama and goes into the old conservative standby: Nuclear energy.
Ensures there will be "No problem."
Drives home the point about about investment.
He went beyond the first term limit, but says we can do it and touches on national security. Nothing about driving?
Approves of drilling, but moves to investment about new energies.
"We invented the auto industry." Obama says we need to reinvent the auto industry to make it greener, essentially.
Hits free trade and the raw deal for American businesses.
Drill, baby, drill! Says we need to drill now, not just "look at it" as Obama said..
Colombian deal, touching on taxes saying it puts U.S. business at a disadvantage.
Free trade with Colombia a "no brainer." Says Obama doesn't understand ie. "not ready to lead."
Talks about protecting workers from oppression there, I'm not sure it was a solid counter to the issue of U.S. business interest...
OK, back to business interest with the auto industry... moves back to energy and wants more innovation from Detroit, calling it one of his "higher priorities" and says it accounts for 30 percent of oil consumption, I think that was one of the first mentions of that fact.
Back to national security, says Obama will meet with Hugo Chavez but won't negotiate with Colombia, a bit off topic.
Paints Obama again as a tax-and-spend liberal.
8:55: Question 5: Consider supporting cost of health care instead of expanding coverage, given financial crisis?
Talks about the anecdotal evidence and goes back to his plan:
wants to cut costs, talking directly to camera, saying he'll save families $2,500 per year for those insured.
If not, you can buy into the federal health care, protect against abuse from health care companies, make it efficient and preventative care.
Back to the investment angle, claiming the plan is expensive now, but it'll be better later.
Talks about his plan to cut costs, reward staying healthy and the like.
Back to Joe the Plumber, AGAIN!
He's trying to say that Obama is ultimately a bad thing for the middle class, that's the theme here, it seems.
Coloring Obama's plan as nationalizing health care, like Canada and London.
Addresses the fine, says it's "ZERO" for small businesses.
This kind of sounds like an infomercial, talking directly to the camera, saying "you" a lot.
Turns to McCain's plan to attack it:
$5,000 credit will do nothing for older people, Obama says. Back to the campaign one liner: "McCain will tax your health care benefits."
Obama drives home the "fundamental differences."
Who works 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week like Joe the Plumber?
Goes back to the "big government" nationalization of health care line. Essentially saying Obama relies on government, saying he wants Joe in charge, wants smaller government, he's pushing to be Reagan-esque tonight.
Wait, the Dems have been in charge the past two years?
A decent response, touches back on the Chamber of Commerce... again back to Joe.
9:06: Question 6: Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade... here we go... Can you ever nominate someone for the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on that?
Stays to his line, federalist and wants let the states decide abortion and says he doesn't pre-screen.
Colors Obama as too polarizing to vote for a judge he doesn't agree with...
Direct question: "I would consider anyone" but says someone who doesn't support Roe v. Wade doesn't fit into his category of qualification... what??
Agrees there should be pre-screening.
Playing the middle ground on abortion, says he respects both sides, but lands on women's "privacy" and right to choose via the Constitution. He changes the nature of the debate there, trying to soften the political implications but still staying firm.
Story about a woman who wasn't getting paid equally... off topic, but at least gives an example.
"Proudly pro-life" calls for courage and compassion for women.
McCain's making this a more about the abortion issue than the Supreme Court.
Good first response there, saying who would vote to withold care from a dying infant?
Addresses the attacks well, and moves to common ground and , dare I say... change?
Says he wants to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Attacks the extreme pro-life stance, calling the health of the mother a common theme for advocates and says he wants more adoption, saying he's an adoptive parent.
9:15: Last question: what will you do to make the U.S. more efficient about teaching math and science?
Back to the investment line, he makes no secret about the cost, saying higher pay, investing, etc.
Hits the college affordability, saying he offers $4,000 credit for any community service and then he gets back to responsibility of the parents in the home. That's an old conservative line, isn't it?
Civil rights issue? Saying there's no point to sending students to a failed school in a bad area?
I have a question, in these bad areas, with all these poor people.... who can afford charter schools?
Did McCain just say he wants to deregulate the process of becoming a teacher? Troops to teachers program?
Obama: (Should schools get more federal money?)
No Child Left Behind-- hits the Bush policy there, saying it wasted money, hitting again on his theme of not necessarily less spending, but smarter spending.
Obama says he agrees with McCain on the charter schools and standing up to the teachers unions, but adds that vouchers won't solve the economy.
"I don't think our youth is an interest group," there's a one-liner, again saying he wants to invest.
Going back to the choice angle, competition within the school system. Hey, it worked in D.C., apparently, why not everywhere?
"Spending more money isn't always the answer," again, it comes back to the tax-and-spend liberal attack, he's driving that home, and says he wants more accountability and efficiency.
Touches on the fact that the most expensive school system is here and that's a problem.
Says he wants to do it better, take the challenge "head on." McCain makes some joke, smiles and laughs, Obama has no response, not looking at the camera.
McCain Final Statement:
"America needs a new direction" talking about 8 years ie. George Bush, taking on his own party and etc.
A long record of reaching across the aisle... making his point that these issues are really, really, really important saying the American people have to decide who they trust.
Final appeal, a long list of McCain's and asks for Americans to give him a chance to lead.
Talks about the hardships in America and says we can't accept the same policies and that he wants change, making his appeal, calls for investing in the American people.
He goes back to a long, hard road ahead, calling on people of all parties to come together and renew a spirit hard work for the issues.
Says he promises to work tirelessly.
And the last word: "Go vote now, it will make you feel big and strong," Bob.
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