by Kevin Flynn - Wednesday October 8 2008 08:08:34 AM
From the Associated Press:
Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain tried to rectify perceived shortcomings and played against type at key moments in Tuesday's presidential debate, but neither seemed to change a campaign dynamic that favors Obama for now.
...Obama seemed to get the better of him in a discussion of whether the United States should violate Pakistan's sovereignty if that's what it takes to kill al-Qaida terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. McCain quoted Theodore Roosevelt, who said, "Talk softly, but carry a big stick."
But Obama "likes to talk loudly," McCain said. "In fact, he said he wants to announce that he's going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable."
Obama shot back: "Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan. ... If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin Laden and take him out, then we should."
He continued: "Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible."
McCain smiled and said, "Thank you very much." But the smile faded when Obama said: "This is the guy who sang, 'Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,' who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That, I don't think, is an example of speaking softly."
...On several occasions, McCain said major challenges are easy to overcome, without offering details for doing so.
...As for a huge social program with long-term financing problems, McCain said, "It's not that hard to fix Social Security."
Democrats and Republicans have to "sit down together across the table," he said. He did not suggest what they might say at that table.
Obama, meanwhile, seemed to see innovations in energy use and production as critical to economic success at home and diplomatic advances overseas.
"We're going to have to come up with alternatives," he said, with the U.S. government "working with the private sector to fund the kind of innovation that we can then export to countries like China."
"Energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia," which exports oil, Obama said. "If we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petrodollars that they have to make mischief around the world."
Dependency on foreign oil, he said, is "bad for our national security, because countries like Russia and Venezuela and, you know, in some cases, countries like Iran, are benefiting from higher oil prices."
...Taking issue with a description of his tax plans, Obama said, "You know, Senator McCain, I think the 'Straight Talk Express' lost a wheel on that one."
From the New York Times:
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama debated for 90 minutes on Tuesday night before a nation in economic crisis, each promising anxious Americans that he had the better plan and vision to lead the country through what both men said was the most dire financial situation since the Great Depression.
Mr. Obama placed the blame for the financial crisis on deregulation and the lack of fiscal discipline under President Bush, whom he repeatedly linked to Mr. McCain.
...“Senator McCain and I actually agree on something,” Mr. Obama said. “He said a while back that the big problem with energy is that for the last 30 years politicians in Washington haven’t done anything. What McCain doesn’t mention is he’s been there 26 of them and during that time he voted 23 times against alternative fuels.”
...The debate occurred on a day when the stock market dropped more than 500 points.
...“Fannie and Freddie were the catalyst, the match that started this forest fire,” he [McCain] said. “There were some who stood up against it. There were others who took a hike.”
Mr. Obama nodded disapprovingly.
“Now, I’ve got to correct a little bit of Senator McCain’s history, not surprisingly,” he said “Let’s, first of all, understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system.
“Senator McCain, as recently as March, bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator.”
From the Washington Post:
On a day when the stock market took another sharp plunge, presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama clashed repeatedly here Tuesday night over the causes of the economic meltdown that has shaken the country and offered sharply contrasting prescriptions for how to restore stability.
Obama...[accused] the Republican of favoring Bush administration policies that he said had helped put the economy in dire straits. Those policies, he charged, called for less regulation and were based on the belief that by letting markets run wild, "prosperity would rain down on all of us."
"It hasn't worked out that way," he continued. "And so now we've got to take some decisive action."
...Although economic issues dominated much of the debate, some of the most pointed exchanges were over foreign policy.
...Obama accused McCain of getting his facts wrong and said it was McCain whose rhetoric was belligerent.
"This is the guy who sang, 'Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,' who called for the annihilation of North Korea," Obama said. "That I don't think is an example of 'speaking softly.' This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, 'Next up, Baghdad.'"
...Audience member Lindsey Trella asked both candidates whether they view health care as a commodity.
Obama described the need for a "moral commitment" to providing health care and sharply criticized McCain for offering a $5,000 health-care tax credit without also explaining that he would impose new taxes on benefits. "So what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away," he said. Citing other parts of McCain's plan, he added, "And that is fundamentally the wrong way to go."
...Obama said his plan would exempt small businesses and would provide a credit to companies for their employees' premiums.
Foreign policy occupied the last third of the debate, with the candidates clashing repeatedly on Pakistan and on their overall approaches to the use of U.S. military forces.
..."It's true, there are some things I don't understand," Obama said
..."I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 while Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us. That was Senator McCain's judgment, and it was the wrong judgment."
The two men had an extensive joust over the worsening situation on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where violence has flared in recent months; they sparred over Obama's pledge to send troops after Osama bin Laden and into al-Qaeda havens in Pakistan if necessary.
"If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out," Obama said.
With Americans reeling under what Obama called the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the rivals in the November 4 election differed frequently and showed occasional flashes of the rancor that marked their recent rhetoric on the campaign trail.
Two quick polls taken immediately after the debate, by CBS News and CNN, both judged Obama the winner.
...Obama said McCain and Republicans had supported the deregulation of the financial industry that led to the crisis. He said middle-class workers, not just Wall Street, needed a rescue package that would include tax cuts.
"We are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and a lot of you, I think, are worried about your jobs, your pensions, your retirement accounts," he said.
...Obama said McCain's policies would help the wealthy and strand workers at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Obama has solidified his national lead in polls and gained an edge in crucial battleground states in recent weeks as the Wall Street crisis focused attention on the economy, an area where polls show voters prefer the Illinois senator's leadership.