Bwog’s Debate Live-Blog
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog’s White House Bureau Chief James Downie live-blogs the presidential debate.
For those of you who want to watch the debate with your fellow Columbia students, the Dems, Repubs, and CPU are hosting a watch party in Tasti Lounge at 9 p.m.
10:37: The debate comes to an end. Overall, it’s probably a missed opportunity for McCain: the unique circumstances of this debate have made him only stay about even with Obama, and this was supposed to be his best chance to score a knockout blow. Also, it was a much smarter debate than in recent campaigns, with much of the night focused on policy, even if it wasn’t the current crisis.
10:35: McCain says Obama’s not ready for the presidency, also claims he’ll “love veterans and take care of them.” Obama closes by evoking his father’s admiration of America, and contrasting that with the current foreign views of America. He says “we need to send a message to the world” to change perceptions.
10:33: After McCain declares America much safer since 9-11, and Obama focuses on nuclear proliferation, following Al Qaeda outside of Iraq, and world perception. McCain signs off by saying Obama doesn’t understand something else, while Obama ties America’s standing in the world back to attitudes at home.
10:27: Yet another question McCain pauses on before answering. The gap in preparation hasn’t been huge, but it’s been perceptible, and one has to wonder how much better McCain would’ve done with more preparation and more foreign policy questions.
10:25: Is it really helpful to Obama is to “correct the record” every instance that McCain strays a little bit?
10:23: McCain is doing better on these non-Iraq questions, at least partly because he is not closely associated with the surge. Too bad the debate’s about to end.
10:19: Columbia alum shout-out as McCain commends Saakashvili. Both candidates want to be tough with Russia while clearly treating them differently from, say, Iran.
10:15: “Oh please” sighs McCain. The “young whippersnapper” effect grows.
10:13: Every time McCain says “what Senator Obama doesn’t understand,” he comes off as arrogant and sneering.
10:07: Obama brings up negotiation instead. McCain butchers Ahmadinjad’s name three times in going after Obama’s openness to negotiation without preconditions.
10:05: McCain’s tying almost every foreign policy question back to Iraq, without any pushing from Obama. He must be really confident that Americans are with him on the surge.
10:03: It’s almost as if McCain didn’t expect the Iran question, and he’s jumped right to forming a league of democracies, blaming Russia, and protecting Israel.
10:01: It’s the battle of the bracelets now.
9:58: McCain’s favorite person in the 80s was Ronald Reagan? Subtle!
9:57: Obama accuses McCain of being impulsive as well, “singing songs about bombing Iran,” and defends his Pakistan strategy. Obama calls it a 20th-century mindset. McCain, in his response, chides Obama for not being around when Pakistan was first dealt with.
9:54: Obama argues for increasing more troops. McCain hints at staying in Iraq for longer, but he also goes after Obama for suggesting being tougher with Pakistan.
9:50: There are so many possible frames an undecided voter can take out of this Iraq section, depending on whether they think the whole war, the surge, or the current situation is most important. For news clips, though, Obama’s “you were wrong” will probably do well.
9:45: Obama fires right back, saying McCain is “acting like the war started in 2007.” He’s done his best to take it to McCain.
9:44: Obama: “we have to use our military wisely, and we did not use our military wisely in Iraq.” McCain says the next president will only be focusing on the current situation, not the past, and focuses on Obama rarely visiting Iraq.
9:41: “What are the lessons of Iraq?” McCain says that the surge has worked, and that America will succeed leading to a stable ally/fledgling democracy in the region. It’s a more precise answer than the ones he’s given during the economy section. How well will Obama pivot?
9:38: McCain says that he will best control spending; Obama fires right back that he voted for all the Bush administration’s budgets. It’s almost 9:40, and we’ve just hit the foreign policy section.
9:35: For those of you who are interested in live focus group reaction, check out MediaCurves.com, which has live dial-based reaction.
9:34: McCain suggests that we should seriously consider a spending freeze, which seems a bit of an overreaction considering that he didn’t mention it the first time he answered the question.
9:31: McCain focuses on the size of government, talking about waste. Lehrer points out that they aren’t changing anything.
9:28: Obama uses a question about what he’d have to give up for the bailout to outline plans on getting off of foreign oil, college affordability, and infrastructure. Obama’s lead answers have been very compact and detailed.
9:25: This has been 25 minutes on the economy, but the last 15 have been about things that aren’t related to the Wall Street crisis.
9:23: The first instance of candidates talking over each other, and we’re only 23 minutes in.
9:21 – The debate’s been about tax cuts and earmarks, hardly favorable ground for Obama, though he’s trumpeting the “95% will lose” figure. Obama accuses McCain of supporting tax loopholes. Lehrer is really encouraging them to go at each other.
9:19: Obama better start moving this debate off of earmarks soon – McCain’s public image is heavily wrapped up in fighting earmarks. Instead, he’s challenging McCain on them. Also, a photo of the Tasti Lounge crowd is below the fold.
9:17: Obama meanwhile is trying emphasize how he’ll help the average American.
9:15: McCain criticizes his own party and earmarks. Each of his responses seems to be focused on integrity in some way or another.
9:13: Lehrer pushes Obama to say his response directly to McCain; McCain jokes that it’s because Lehrer thinks he’s deaf.
9:11: McCain deflects the question, and promises accountability in his administration. Obama responds that we need more responsibility, “but not just when there’s a crisis.” He brings back the “Wall St. vs. Main St.” theme.
9:10: Lehrer pushes them on whether they will support it. Obama points out that they haven’t seen the language yet.
9:07: McCain’s answer is not nearly as tight as Obama’s, but he’s also putting on the sympathy more than Obama.
9:05: Obama blames the crisis on the Bush administration, “which Senator McCain supported.” He is coming out swinging.
9:03: First question is on their thoughts on the financial crisis. Obama calls it the “worst crisis since the great depression.” He looks directly into the camera, bashing executives and pushing “Main Street.”
9:01: And we’re on. For the record, Bwog is watching PBS’s coverage. The first thing to note is that, unlike previous debates, Jim Lehrer can actually ask follow-up questions.
8:51: It’s unlikely that there has ever been a crazier run-up to a debate, nor a more decisive event so close to an election than the banking crisis of the past week. What most voters will miss tonight is that, while McCain and Obama will have to formulate some sort of plan to tell viewers, the plan that Congress and the White House agree upon will be what they’ll have to accept.
8:48: Let’s get right to it. Tonight’s debate comes to us from Ole Miss. It will run for 90 minutes (broken down into nine nine-minute sections), and will be moderated by PBS’s Jim Lehrer. The debate was originally supposed to focus on foreign policy, but, given the events of the past week, both campaigns have acknowledged that there will be economic questions as well.